Starched frilled veil

The trendy thing at the moment among re-enactors seems to be the frilled veil. Everyone makes one and after my try last year with my non starched frilled veil I was very exited to make a new veil. This time I wanted to try the nice starched kind.

I first read about frilled veils over at Medieval Silkwork and it was something I had never seen before. But after knowing about them I started to see them in so many pictures. It is often like that, that you don’t see things because you don’t know what to see. This is why it is so interesting to talk to other people about how they interpret a pictures, we all see so different things in the same picture.

Here is a picture of a four layer frill.
Four layers seems popular.
Layered frills.

Then I just had to figure out the best way for me to make them. First I wanted to do the measuring and marking before the sewing, but well I ditched that for this really simple “no measuring” way.

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First I cut a really really thin linen fabric into strips, I needed about 3,5 meter to make my frill that is about 80 cm finished.
The strips are 6,5cm wide before hemming. I cut them 100% straight by pulling out threads to use as guides for cutting. I also pull out a thread at 1 cm on one side, to guide me when doing the hem.
Then you sew together two strips using a really small felled seam and make a thin double folded hem. I do not hem all the way but leaves about five cm on each side of the long strip. When hemming and sewing the strips together I use silk thread.

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To make the holes when starching the veil I am using wooden dowel pins, these I also use when sewing the thing, here is where the no measuring comes in. I start by putting my first dowel pin in, I put the first in the middle of the sewn together strip. It is important that the felled seam is put as you see in my picture, this way it gets almost invisible in the finished veil.

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Then you add dowel pins and pin as you go along, one pin for every one dowel pin. Pull the fabric snug around the dowel pins.

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After a while you will notice that the pins are getting hard to handle, not is the time to do some sewing.

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Take the dowel pins out, now you get an idea of how it will look later.

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Where the pins are you are now going to sew together with some small stitches at the same place.

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To go to the next pin you can go in the hem without the threads showing.

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And then fasten the frill with small stitches again.

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Work your way through all the pins.

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Now it is time to make more frills. I put in three dowel pins in the frills I just sewed, this makes it easier to make the new dowel pins snug. Then you continue on, pinning and sewing until you get to the end of your strip.

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As you remember you did not hem all the way out on your strip, now you put the last dowel pins in, mark with a needles and then take it apart again.

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You can now cut of the excess fabric and hem the strip and the side of the strip.

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Then you can sew the last stitches on this side.

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Continue on the other side of the strips in the same way, and when you need to attach the third strip you make sure that the felled seam ends up like in the picture, in the middle of the fill. To make it more invisible. And you finish of the end of the strip as you did on the other side.

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Now you need to pleat the back of the frill. I do not measure at all, using the threads in the fabric and how the fabrics wants to lay you can get nice pleats anyway, and it is not deadly important that they are 100% exact and the same.

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I sew my pleats down with big backstitches, hare I used a waxed linen thread, but these will not be seen so it is not important what kind of thread you use, I had the waxed linen thread already on the needle so that is the reason why I used that in stead of silk.

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Then I took a strip of linen cut straight on the grain and enclosed the raw edges, just as you bind anything in a bias strip.

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Now it is done and time to starch.

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It was my first time starching anything and I decided to use a modern starch for this time. I used potato starch and water. I took 1dl cold water and whisked down 2 teaspoons of potato starch in a pot. Then I put the pot on the stove and kept whisking, it is supposed to simmer but not boil. And then with the heat it turns into slime.

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Then I applied the slime with my fingers to the fabric, generously on both sides. I let it sit for a few minutes to make the fibres soak up the starch. Then I took away the excess starch with my fingers, so slimy! Then it is time to put in your wooden dowel pins, my frilled veil took about 125 wooden dowel pins. Then you need to let it dry, I hanged it on my drying rack in the sun.

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When it is completely dry you can take the pins out.

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Sometimes the dowel pins stick to the fabric and you have to use some force to remove them. Look how crisp it has become.

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One stitch broke when I took the dowel pins out, but it is only to sew it back again.

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Then it is only to sew onto your favourite shape of veil, I put mine on a half circle veil of the same thin linen as the frill.

Cathrin Åhlén
And this is how it looks. The starching held up VERY well, I used it several days and at the battle of Mästerby it even held up to a light rain, I was quick to throw my open hood on but the ends of the frill was still in the rain. All I had to do when I came home was to take it of and put the dowel pins in again and to let it dry. The next day it was as crisp as when I starched it the first time.
As long as the starch is not washed away I believe that if the frills looks a bit flat you can mist it with water and put the dowel pins in and let dry, that would refresh the frills without having to re-starch it completely.

37 thoughts on “Starched frilled veil

  1. Just beautiful. I am so grateful for your tutorials. As a person who learns much better from pictures, whenever I want to make something, your blog is one of the first places I look. Thanks so much – now I know exactly how much patience this requires! (My garb wishes often exceed my skills…for now!)

  2. This is so pretty, I think I have to give it a try. Just one question: how big are dowel pins?

  3. Agnes: Oh the woven kind, that is so interesting. I like the layering of veils as well, I am thinking of doing some tries with my non frilled veils. It is is always nice to have some different ways to wear your veil.

    Leonie: Thank you, my dowel pins are 1 cm in diameter.

  4. @Cathrin: we actually think that most kinds of “Kruselers” were of the woven kind in different variations of layering, it is not difficult to weave the frilled edges and it certainly was not in the 14th and 15th century, it is only expensive today since the craft is not common any more. But it would even be possible to have more extensive waves/curles on the edges with the weaving technique, so it is quite probable. Of course, the larger pieces probably are not only woven but also contain sewn stripes (as in the burgos findings), starched stripes, beehive-sewn structures and maybe other techniques to make them as big as in the historic pictures and statues.

  5. well done!
    @ agnes: i think we can discuss a long time about what was most popular: weaving or sewing. anyway, i think weaving was used much earlier, and that from the 13th century onwards, and certainly the fourteenth century, weaving nd sewing frills coexisted. there is textual evidence from the low countries that clearly points in that direction. i can not give you the sources yet, since i’m writing an article on it, i’m sorry!

  6. Hi Isis,
    no doubt that some kinds of frilled veils have to be in sewing technique, the possibilities of the woven ones are not endless and certainly the Burgos findings tell us that there was a lot of “cheating” going on.
    For our particular region (Vienna and Eastern/Southeastern Austria) we can definitely say that most models were possible and probable in using long (5-7 meters) shawls with frilled woven edges in different layering.

    Very interesting thing is your statement about the texts, I’d love to read your article when it is ready. Is there some way we can stay in contact or something, so I get to buy/read it as soon as you publish it?

  7. Great instructions! Beautifully done!! Do you have research whether these veils were made with wool or silk? Love linen, especially for the South. It has a wonderfully clean and organic look and feel.

  8. Such a lovely style. But, alas, not one I can see working on most Florida days. It’s just too humid here. Everything from styled hair to starched things go limp so so quickly.

  9. I just saw your starched frilled veil on the winner (Seraphina) at our 12th night event yesterday and I have to tell you I am amazed at your stitching. It’s so perfect! Thanks for sharing and giving me a goal to strive for.

  10. Dear Cathrin–
    I was fascinated by the workmanship. and especially by how you work around things like short hair. My hair used to be very long, and I fear I got rather smug–now, due to a stay in hospital, it is VERY short, and I’m having to figure out ways around it.
    I am looking forward to reading more of your tutorials…but for this one, I have 2 questions:
    #1: you mentioned a swedish web store…do they have an English button anywhere?
    #2: where did you get the Dowell pins??
    Thank you for all of your hard work–
    Damietta d’Carnivalle
    Barony of 3 Mountains

  11. Thank you :)
    1# unfortunately the Swedish web store does not have a English button.but she does ship abroad. Putting the website through google translate works fairly well but you will have to use a separate website to see how much the prices are in dollars. Also there is metric measuring of course, but 1m = 100cm and equals 1yd 0.28084ft she is also at the moment having a 10% discount on all items in stock.
    2# I bought the dowel pins at my local hardware store.

  12. Thank you for the really, really helpful tutorial, it helped get me out of a procrastination loop I had on a project for a veil from 50 years later than this one. It’s turned out wonderfully, and I’m so happy (that’s my article ping back above this comment).

    Question, do you have any references/evidence for starch being used on veils in the 1400s? I’m trying to pull together a history of starch use, as I am sure it was being used before the more known and iconic ruffs of the 1600s.

  13. Love it. Question what are wooden dowels? Where can I find them? Do they come in sizes?

  14. @Daun. You will find dowels in most DIY shops i guess. i think you can get them in diff. sizes.

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  16. Such a gorgeous veil. I am planning on making one soon. What size dowel pins did you use? Thanks so much for your help and for your fabulous tutorial!

  17. What size dowel did you use. Did you cut your own or did you buy a bag full. If so where did you buy them?

  18. Many thanks for this amazing tutorial. I wonder how you finish the veil edges? (I mean, on the circular edges: is it a hem, a bias-tape, a hand-stitch…?)
    And same as Daun above, I wonder which dowel size you used on these frills.

  19. I am in the uk, would love to know what size dowels ie length and width, did you use?

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