I find myself rather suddenly in need of headwear for Abbey, my snood being elsewhere due to a miscommunication about garb I lent out.  So, last night I searched the internet for 15th Century headwear, intending to make something to fit with my 15th Century Italian gown.

I found the hennin,  many pictured on ladies wearing gowns very similar to the cut of my own.

The classic image of the princess wearing a pointy hat with a long, flowing scarf trailing from the tip is the example most people are familiar with.  Some hennins are portrayed as being conical, others as heart shaped, but the one I have made is a truncated cone.

I had absolutely no idea where to begin, so I searched Google for a “how to” guide, and found this.  Whoever wrote that guide is forever golden in my eyes, because it took me only a few hours to get a wearable hennin, and most of that was taken up in hand sewing.  After wearing it for the past 2 1/2 hours, I can quite honestly say it’s possibly the most comfortable headwear I’ve ever worn.

Hennin Components: clockwise from left, the cage, the sleeve, the comb, the scarf, and the U-needle

There are 5 pieces to this rather elaborate hat.

  • The comb, which sits around your head and is tied in the back to fit snugly.
  • The cage, which ties directly onto the comb.  This is the structural assembly that holds it all up.
  • The U-needle, which hooks onto the comb and allows for forward adjustment at any time you feel your hennin may be slipping backwards.
  • The sleeve, which fits over the cage and hides all that wire.
  • The scarf, to drape over the entire lot.

Me wearing my new piece of garb

The trickiest part in the entire thing is the cage, but a little perseverance will get you there eventually.  My hennin is slightly lopsided, but I don’t think anyone except me will ever look that closely at it to notice.

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