Website under construction

How to Make
Create the Mood

mid Victorian ball headdress

[add other pictures used as inspiration]
prepare base head band

Heads are oval and the headdress is most comfortable if it is designed to fit your own / the client's head.

The paper template should be very slightly larger than actual head size.

An oval paper template is used as a guide to bend two lengths of millinary wire with a few inches overlap added.
[black millinary wire was used for photographing more clearly]

Bend the millinary wire into shape and check it on the head before sewing. Few heads are exactly symmetrical.

The head band is made from double-glue millinary buckram so that fabric can be ironed onto both surfaces.

I decided on 1.5inches maximum height at the back tapering from the sides to nothing at the front: I made a paper pattern first trying it on a few times to check it looked correct .

sew wire and buckram together

To make the head band: wire the buckram edges on the inside. Use a stitch that goes into each hole twice: some people machine stitch the wires using a zig-zag stitch.

[checking the design: one wire pinned on outside, then checked again once the wire was sewn onto inside of head band]


[Both edges wired]

One section of wire remains at each end to be sewn into the opposite side tthe front, later. This gives flexibility to ensure that the headdress will fit exactly and makes the construction much easier.

cover head band base with fabric

Using the buckram base as a template cut out the covering fabric leaving a border of 2.5 cm (1 inch).

Iron fabric to the outer side of the head band.

Using sharp scisssors snip the overlapping fabric on the underside almost down to the wire, one side at a time..

Using the tip of a travelling iron, iron down each section of snipped fabric at a time, smoothing the fabric as you go.

The head band should be checked with the original template and on the head to ensure that the oval shape is retained and the head band looks even.
add hair pieces

1. bun case
This bun case was made for a 17th century outfit and, trying to speed up the construction process, I decided to reuse it to tuck my own hair out of sight.

A shaped base made from wire coat-hanger was covered with black net previously enriched with delicate gold braid. The sides were covered with false plaited hair. The loops are designed for hair clips to pin the bun case securely onto the head, two crossed hair clips per loop.

The bun case was sewn onto the back of the head band using two rows of stitches [one row only shown] following the Victorian illustration.

All stitches were taken around a wire on the inside of the bun case so everything is held together very securely.

2. front false plaits

I purchased a long plait and cut it into three, so that it looked the same length as the picture I was following.

The ends were glued with PVA to stop them unravelling. I always use a cermaic tile and put the glue on with a paint-brush so I have control over the process.

3. thick back plait

I used a hair piece I already had and hung it on a hook in the kitchen to plait it. Being artificial hair it was difficult to plait evenly.

This was cut into two pieces, one for the side loops and the other to cover the head band.

To stop the plaits from unravelling PVA glue was painted onto both ends and left to dry.

Long plait sewn to head band at back and sides with long stitches.

When the plait had settled overnight I realised that it was not even on both sides and needed re-sewing.

add decoration

1. lace frill

For the back lace frill I gathered a length of old gold lace.

This looked a little dull in the evening light, so I added a sequin at the end of each 'v'. These will catch the light in the ball-room. Each sequin was glued then sewn.

The frill was then sewn onto the head-band

2. back plait

Following the image, the second piece of plaited hair was sewn onto the band at the back. This needed a strong needle and a leather glove to push the needle through the layers.


3. side bows

To add a bit of glamour under lights fabric ribbons were made with an old-gold lurex lining. Four neat ends were required for the hanging ends of 2 bows.

Once the fabric was sewn together (leaving a few inches unsewn along one side) I ironed heat-sensitive glue onto the inside of the blue. The backing paper is put over the glue so that the glue does not stick to the iron.


Having cut the corners the ribbons were turned right-sides out and ironed on both sides to glue the two fabrics together.

The openings left on each length were sewn up.


Each ribbon was cut into appropriate lengths to make the two bows.

Each part of the bow was made separately.



When the parts are put together the bow looks as though it was made out of one length of ribbon.

Right and left bow - the difference is the hanging ends. The bows are sewn on at a slight angle as the headdress is worn lower at the back than the front

left-side bow

right-side bow

When I tried on the headdress a gap opened up around my ears, on both sides.

So additional hanging ends (of Victorian silk ribbon) were added under the fabric bows.

details of front to be added here

More artificial hair plaits were wound around the fabric at the front and sewn into place.


At the back a lining must be added to cover up the ends of the ribbons and the base buckram. add pic when lining done
to be continued

Create the Mood 's costume craft workshops and practical demonstrations with have-a-go for adults and older children can be organised in the UK. You provide the people and the topic and Create the Mood organises everything else. Contact us to discuss your ideas.

to top of page
last updated 12 December, 2011

Create the Mood