making your own medieval dress pins

Dress pins
Dress pins are a must have for the person wearing veils and wimples and so. But they are surprisingly expensive for what they are. I do understand why but still, I am a student and sometimes it is hard on the wallet to pay around four to five Euro for one single dress pin.

A metal working friend of mine said “well do them yourself, they are really not that hard to make”. But I did not really believe her, nothing is hard when you already have the skills of the material.
But when cleaning my worktable I found a piece of silver wire I bought a few year ago to wire wrap some jewellery and I thought that I can try it anyway. You can not really do anything worse then failing and if you do you don not have to tell anyone that you even tried.

But really, they ARE NOT that hard to make. It took me around 20 minutes to complete my first two needles, they are not all that pretty, but they are not ugly and works perfectly. And they cost me virtually nothing at all and are in fancy real silver.

A popular type of pin heads are the wire wrap and there are a lot of extant medieval pins found with this type of heads.

Dress pins - 1
I started with a piece of wire, it is quite soft at the moment but don’t worry, we will harden it later.

Dress pins - 2
Using a round nose pliers I started to make the wire wrap.

Dress pins - 3
Keep twisting the loose tail around.

Dress pins - 4
Here are my tools, the small pilers are a bit to small to be easy to use, but I got them ages ago and they were dirt cheap. The big one is just a ordinary wire cutter.

Dress pins - 5
Work your heads and try to make them look even and nice. When you have finished the wrap, cut the remaining tail of.

Dress pins - 6
I make two pins at the same time, to save time.

Dress pins - 7
On my tiny anvil I hammer the thread with a hammer. Any hard surface will work, but there can be marks on it after so use nothing to fancy. The hammer is just an ordinary builders hammer nothing fancy at all. We hammer the thread to make it harder, as it first was to soft to be able to use as pins.

Dress pins - 8
I try to hammer the thread all around, it will become a bit flat but we will sand it later so no worries.

Dress pins - 9
Sand it down with a piece of fine sand paper.

Dress pins - 10
Then cut the pin in two, try to cut at an angle. This will save you time later.

Dress pins - 11
When just cut the end are a bit to blunt to be used as they are.

Dress pins - 12
I use a file to file the ends to sharp points.

Dress pins - 13
See the difference.

Dress pins - 14
And that was that, they are now ready to be used as dress pins.

Red cardinal

Being at my sisters home in North Carolina over Christmas makes my crafting nerves itch. I needed something to do with my hands! Luckily they have a Michael’s in the town she lives in so we took a trip and came home with an assortment of nice things.
Red cardinal - hair comb
Red cardinal - front view
Half an hour later and I had made this little hair comb, all materials I used is from Michaels. I am in love with the little bird and a got a bunch more of them, I really like the flowers to, they are made out of paper and found in the scrapbook section.
Red cardinal - in hair


So one is supposed to summon up the year that have passed and here comes my 2009

necklacesembroidered pendantsblack on black pincushionpair of stays2009-01-09 pocket hoops
I came up with a new version of my burned books necklace, did some embroidery. I started on a pair of stays and pocket hoops but it took me quite some time to finish them up.

casualsteam  shirt 1the finished jacket frontmy birthday cakegates print - under "construction"gray wool dress - front18th century pair of stays almost done
I made a steampunk inspired shirt, finished my striped jacket, became 21 and therefore made a cake, posted my panties tutorial, printed on fabric, made a gray wool dress and thought that I would finish the pair of stays soon. (it is not done yet ;))

summer dress finishednew dressbutton corset - details backPhotobucketnew necklace designblack warpcoin purses and a bow
I started march out with making a summer dress, then I made another dress to, I had a mini photo shoot all by myself on my balcony, I covered a corset in vintage buttons, I posted my “Victorian skirt” tutorial, I made more pretty necklaces, I wrote about the school I studied at and I also made some bows and purses.

finished rag rugcollectionre:design24 setup 5weaving damask - closeup on pattern
I made a rag rug, my sister turned 13 so I made her a cake, I was busy working with a final collection in school, I entered a competition and won my own sewing machine and I started to weave damask a technique that I totally loved.

button corset 2 - back
May was a bad month for me, my father passed away and that made me tired and I had no energy, to be able to keep the school work up I did not tell my teachers or classmates about it either, I had no time for being sad or being treated different since we were at the end of the term. I did some some things this month, I posted a tutorial on how I sew my corsets which is the thing that is most visited post in my entire blog and I covered a second corset with buttons.

swim dressfashion showorganic cotton jersey balloon dressdamask weave nr2empire waist balloon dressdamask dresscherries dresscarpetbagpanniers
This month was mostly about dresses! I made a swim dress, we had a fashion show in school, I made a organic cotton jersey dress, I started on a new damask fabric, I made a dress for my fathers funeral, I made a dress out of the damask fabric I made, I made a dress with cherries on it, I made a carpet bag and I finally got around to taking pictures of the finished panniers.

sewing a balloon skirtsteampunk heart - beside a pocket watch movement
I worked all of July so there was not really a creative month for me but I managed to make a tutorial on how to make a balloon skirt, drafted my first corset pattern for someone else then me and I also made steampunk hearts.

I did not make anything this month, but I moved and started a new school.

This month I did not make anything either, I felt bad about it and made a tutorial on how to make a pencil skirt and a tutorial for a really simple skirt.

six by six -  furrosa - finishedgreen dress - onstriped corsetleatherworking - iron on transfer and d-ringsleather colour sampleswool balloon dress - mirror picturemoose apron - frontruffle skirtanother woll dress in the makingbook binding
My new school started in the end of august but I ha no time blogging about stuff until October, crazy crazy but fun fun! I tried out hands on new machines, made a leather rose, I made a green dress, I started on and almost finished a striped corset, I learned leather working techniques and how to colour leather, I made a wool balloon dress that became my definite favourite this year, I made a apron out of moose leather, I started some projects I never finished as this ruffle petticoat and this wool dress and I tried my hands on book binding.

scrapswool balloon dress - close up
Busy in school making stuff I had no time for blogging but I managed to post about how to turn leather scraps into useful things, I also translated my corset sewing tutorial to Swedish and made a peter pan collar drafting tutorial.

Xena outfit - on dollChristmas chocolateChristmas wrappingknäckcray dupion corset - lacingpaper model - straight onChristmas dress - closeupstriped corset - onmanipulation fabric - honeycomb smocksmocking leather - in progress on dollCordula B.-Morich
In December I made a lot of stuff but I have not posted about all I made yet. I did make a Xena outfit for a costume party at school, I did a lot of Christmas related stuff, chocolate, gift wrapping and “knäck”. I also made a gray dupion corset. built stuff out of cardboard, a Christmas dress, I finished the striped corset, I smocked a lot of fabric, and some leather to and then I also bought a kick ass pitcher that costed so much more then I could actually afford as a poor student.


Working with leather is quite expensive, the materials cost much and you get a lot of small pieces that are hard to make useful. This week I have spent trying to make things out of these scrap pieces.

scraps - earrig3
Small pieces put on silver coloured head pin and then dipped in plastic craft paint.

scraps - bracelet
scraps - bracelet2
Triangular pieces from cutting circular pieces out of a square.

scraps - bracelet4
Punching holes, painting with craft paint and putting on a string.

scraps - bracelet3
Makes a pretty bracelet

scraps - claws3
scraps - claws2
scraps - claws

scraps - hairpin
scraps - hairpin2
scraps - hairpin3
A hairpin using the scraps from a kind of necklaces I make. Dyed and filled with glass pearls.

scraps - earrings2
scraps - earrings
More earrings made ot of small pieces dipped in craft paint.

steampunk hearts

Oh man, have I been busy? Sad enough it have been busy with working and not busy with nice craft things.
steampunk heart

But now I have had two free days and thought that I would do something with a idea I have had quite some time. I designed some prints for school back in February, mostly I made repeating prints, but I also made some prints that were not supposed to be repeated. One of them was a steampunk heart, the placement of the parts are base on real pocket watches. If you were to make a real pocket watch which was heart shaped, this is a possible placement of those parts.

steampunk heart - t-shirt
It is great as a print, but I saw the possibilities of making it into a jewelry to.

So last night I decided to try it out, making them as brooches this time. They are made out of paper clay that is painted and and then I have put real cogs and screws into them.
They were tricky to make since the paper clay is quite brittle when it is thin, but after a lot of filing, carving and sand papering I could paint it and assemble the pieces.

steampunk heart - big
steampunk heart - small
I like the smaller one best, since it is more of the size I was after. The size of a ordinary pocket watch movement, but since it is smaller it is harder to make, so I started with making the larger one.

steampunk heart - beside a pocket watch movement
Both of them are for sale for 77$ if you are interested in one please email me on coolacatta(at) since my etsy shop is on vacation mode, all my other jewelry is out on a little trip without me at the moment.