So, I was “tidying” a filing cabinet I used a few years ago and found a couple of sewing patterns. Well, actually, I found a lot of sewing patterns. Well, I found a couple of branded sewing patterns and half a dozen back-bodice-front-bodice-sleeve combinations (I think I must have drawn myself a new pattern every time I needed a new dress for a few years there). And three complete headcovering patterns I’d completely forgotten about.
I thought someone out there might be interested in them – any headcoverers out there? Anyway, so here they are. The grid is meant to be 1cm spacing, so you might have to print-and-scale-copy-by-hand or something if you want to use them.
Also known as “kite veil”, “simple veil”, or a million and one other things. This basic idea seems to be the most common sort of headcovering amongst non-denom Christian women at the moment (not that I really hang around much on headcovering sites these days).
It’s a fairly simple one-piece proposition, and best made out of polycotton knit, lycra, or some other sort of stretchy material – that gives the best drape. An old t-shirt is a good option.
You can adjust the size by measuring head circumference (that’s the horizontal length) and also from hairline to wherever you want it to fall (that’s the vertical length).
First, trim the front and back. You can do a simple seam (use a zig-zagging stitch) or attack elasticised lace. Then, I sew it together on the straight bit opposite the fold. This makes it into a tube-like thing which is simple to put on – just pull over your head and attach at the front. The whole process takes maybe an hour to make (I hand-sew) and about thirty seconds or less to put on in the morning.
For something “simple”, it’s the most complicated pattern here in that it has three pieces. I think I originally adapted it from a how-to at Shepherd’s Hill Homestead, although I can’t find it anymore and can’t even get onto the site at the moment.
I wore it for a while, but eventually decided that a kapp-style headcovering simply did not work with my head – it needed constant readjusting.
First, sew the front (and sides) of the brim.
Next, pleat the crown. I did 5 pleats up each side (opening down) and 4 pleats along the bottom (opening out), about 1cm deep. Pleats should be as long as to the grey line marked, and you can iron or not iron as desired – depends on the look you want. You could probably even sew them down into darts if you wanted – I think I did that once.
At the very least, sew the pleats down along the edge before you attach the brim. Finish it off with the binding – it probably doesn’t need to be as wide as in the picture, but apply it like bias-binding. I used to do it all the way to the front of the brim to finish it off nicely all the way along the bottom. You can also cut the binding longer if you want to make it into ties, but I found the angle was a little awkward, although that might be better if you make the pattern larger – which I probably would if I made it again, since it sits a bit further back on the head than I would like.
“Common Mennonite” Veil
That’s the name that was written on it by the lady that gave it to me, anyway (although I don’t think she was Mennonite). It’s the one from which I developed the hanging veil pattern I use. I might refer to this one as a “brimmed veil”.
Upon reviewing her instructions, I’m pretty sure the piece I’ve labled “brim” was actually meant to be a bias of some sort, but I believe what I did at the time was gather along the top and wear it with a brim, a bit like a cross between a veil and an open-back kapp. I found the press-stud closure (it’s labled “snaps closure” on the original pattern) to be a bit impractical and ended up pinning it, I think, although as I look at the pattern now, I think I might attach strings to the brim if I did it again, perhaps.
I couldn’t find the brim pattern for this one, so I’ve put in the brim from the last – I’d probably cut it a bit wider, though, or perhaps use the brim from the simple kapp. I think I probably conflated the two patterns when they were given to me, which is why I ended up making the other one like an open-back kapp.
Anyway, the original pattern has noted on it “this one pattern can be done a few ways for different looks”, and there are options for a smaller fit or fewer pleats (place the fold an inch in), a straight hem at the bottom (which would be easier to sew, apparently), and also a notation that the curved hem could be turned into casing for elastic.
I think with the gathers, brim, and elastic at the bottom it could become another simple kapp pattern, although I suspect it might have a back-shape reminiscent of Lancaster County Amish ladies (you know, the distinctive heart thing). I just don’t like gathering anything – I’d rather pleat any day (it must be the Scottish in me, but I honestly used to have nightmares about gathering. I could never get the hang of it). I presume that you should add ties at the edges of the brim.
This one was already on my computer; that’s why it looks different. I don’t know that I ever made it up, but it looks like it should work well enough, although perhaps with a wider brim than that.
I would probably use some sort of stretchy material like for my hanging veil headcoverings; sew the two bags together along the sides at bottom (top is to the left of the picture), sew the front of the brim, gather the front of the bag and attach the two. I’m wondering about attaching some sort of drawstring, elastic or tie to the ends of the brim.
I sort of want to make a snood now, because I think it might make things easier on those days I can’t be bothered putting my hair in a bun or if I have a headache or something like that. But I can’t seem to get anything to stay put on my head, even with some sort of pin or clip, unless my hair is tied firmly back, so there wouldn’t really be much point since I’d have to tie my head back anyway.
For another headcoverer’s take on the hanging veil (plus a pattern and lots of step-by-step pictures, check out the Seven Farmgirl Sisters’ Headcovering Tutorial.
You can also get lots of patterns from Candle On the Hill, who also offer the Friends Patterns patterns for various regional Amish headcovering/kapp styles. I haven’t used any of these patterns, though, so I don’t know what they’re like, and you have to pay for them. Candle On the Hill does offer a free headcovering (hanging veil) “pattern”, but what it actually is is a list of instructions basically amounting to “cut out a circle and hem it”.
Another note – I started off attaching the headcoverings with straight pins, which worked surprisingly well (although it looks a bit like you’ve stapled the headcovering to your head, according to several people who commented on it at the time). These days I use little white (1.5-inch) bobby pins, which you can find if you search online at cosmetic supply shops. I’m currently working through a 120g tub which should last me… the rest of my life. My headcoverings are mostly white, with a few pastels, so it works, but occasionally I revert back to wearing a bandanna-style covering, which I did for a while, and I sometimes pin those if they’re darker colours.
You don’t need a pattern for the bandanna-style covering – just take a large square (not smaller than 50cm square), fold it into a triangle, and tie it under your bun. I don’t really like how they sit – I always get annoying “wings” and it gets assymetrical very easily (yes, I’ve been accused of being OCD). But if you use a reasonably drapey material, it’s not so bad.
I think that’s about everything. A shout-out to any headcovering ladies out there! I hope you find the patterns useful.
Oh, another note – I mentioned at the beginning the bodice-and-sleeves patterns I used to make. I did it by tracing around a dress I liked, if memory serves, and toyed for a bit with measuring myself and drawing my own patterns. I had varying degrees of success (but got better at it when I was about 12 and realised sleeves were meant to be shaped at the top!).
These days, I use a pattern from Gehmans Fabrics, from whom I also buy my dress material (I cannot speak highly enough of the material offered at Gehmans – do yourself a favour and buy it rather than go to Spotlight. It’s worth the shipping cost) – although I do add an extra inch to the bodice and a few inches to the skirt and arms – I’ve come to the conclusion that the Germanic Mennonite women must simply be a bit of a different shape to me, but the dress pattern is simple (just six pieces, including separate cape pieces) and very easy to use, and comes on very sturdy paper.