I have recently put together a class concerning the evolution of my French hood design. I will incorporate it all here as time permits.
The full class handout is available here:  French Hood Introduction

In the meantime, below is the Assembly Instructions for my version of the French hood.  There is also a printable document version of this class.  
You can find it here:  French Hood Assembly Instructions.

Note that both files are very large for downloading.


These directions will take you through the assembly of my version of a French hood, step by step. In this document, I do not include my historical documentation for my shape and style choices, but those can be found in my A&S documentation, available online. French Hood Project

My version of the French hood takes inspiration from a number of other researchers’ recreations, but is significantly different in several respects. By all means, take what I have done here, compare it to portraits, experiment and make it your own!




Heavyweight buckram (1/2 yard)

Millinery wire (2 yards)

Flannel (1/4 yard each white and your choice of color)

Silk or other fashion fabric (1/4 yard each white and your choice of color)

Linen (1/4 yard each white, black and your choice of color)

Velvet (1/2 yard black)

Satin (1/2 yard black)

Canvas (1/4 yard, any color)

Thread (white, black, and your choice of color)

Gold ribbon (1/2 yard)

There are five pattern pieces for my French hood.  Three of them (pieces A, B and C) will be made of buckram, edged with wire and covered in fabric. Two of them (D and E) will make up the velvet hood.

Begin by printing out all of the pieces. Each piece is made of one or more files that should be printed out so that the squares are 1" in size. Trim the pieces and tape them together on the dashed/dotted lines.

Piece A

Piece B

Piece C1  Piece C2

Piece D1  Piece D2  Piece D3  Piece D4

Piece E1  Piece E2

I would recommend that you then test out the pieces to make sure you like the shape. You may wish to adjust the size depending on the size of your head and whether you have thick hair or long braids. You can make them up of card stock and see how the pieces fit together on your head. If you adjust the patterns, be aware that with the wire, flannel and fabric, each piece will be about 1/8” thick, so they will layer slightly differently than the cardstock.

Once you are happy with the shape and size of your pieces, trace pieces A, B and C onto heavyweight buckram, without adding any seam allowance. Cut out all three pieces.

For each piece, you will need one or two pieces of millinery wire, which you can rough-cut now and trim once it is applied.



For piece A, the wire does not need to cover the upper edge (the flattest side). The wire should stretch from one short side, along the curved front edge, ending at the end of the second short side (shown in red).  Pattern1-color
For piece B, the rear edge needs to be wired, along with the short edges.  Pattern2-color
For piece C, you should first overlap the short extensions, so that the two dashed lines overlap. Sew the buckram together in the overlapped section. On this piece, there will be two separate wired edges (shown in red and blue). Pattern3-color 


To apply the wire to the buckram, hold it slightly on the underside of the piece. Use a heavy thread and use either whip stitch or button-hole stitch to secure the wire to the buckram. Bend the wire around the curves as you go, and trim the wire to length at the end.

BuckramTrace BuckramWire


The next step is to apply a piece of flannel, which will serve to soften the appearance of the covered buckram. Flannel is not needed on piece C, which will be covered in velvet, since the velvet is itself thick enough to cover the wired buckram. For pieces A and B, cut a piece of flannel using the pattern pieces, adding a ½” seam allowance all the way around. I suggest using a color of flannel that is matched to the fashion fabric so that it doesn’t affect the color. Clip the seam allowances at the curves so that the fabric will fit smoothly. Stitch the flannel to the wired buckram using a whip stitch.

FlannelStitch FlannelSew


Now you will apply the outer fashion fabrics to pieces A, B and C. Cut out both the fashion fabric (velvet for piece C, silk or other fabric for piece A and B) and the linen lining for each piece, using ½” seam allowance. Clip the curves as for the flannel. Hold the fashion fabric to the right side of the wired buckram piece, wrapping the seam allowances to the wrong side. Use a running stitch to temporarily tack the fabric in place. Then take the matching linen piece and turn in the seam allowances. You will likely want to adjust this folded edge as you sew it on, so that it sits invisibly in the inside of the piece.

 SilkBaste  SilkSlipstitch


If you haven’t shaped the pieces yet, now is the time. Gently bend the wired pieces to shape to your head – the wire will help them maintain their shape. You will want to curve in multiple directions – over the top of your head as well as curving towards your face. You can make additional shaping adjustments once the French hood is complete, but you want the basic shape to be close at this point so that you can attach the pieces together.

Next you will sew pieces A, B and C together. Begin by layering piece B over piece A, centering them and leaving the desired amount of reveal showing on the lower piece. I find it it easiest to start sewing from the center towards one end, and then come back and do the other side. Starting from the center, bring your needle up from below piece A so that it comes up just in front of the edge of piece B. Then go back down through piece B and A, back just slightly from the edge. Then move along about ½” and continue until you reach the end of piece B. Then repeat with the other side. Use a similar technique to attach piece C to the previous two. These stitches will be visible on the final French hood, so you want them to be small and not overly taut.

 PiecesStitchedDetail  MyFrenchHoodWithFabric


The next step is to make the caul and flap for the back of the hood. These pieces are made of velvet, lined in satin. Cut piece D from black velvet and black satin, adding ½” seam allowance. Clip the seam allowances and press them towards the wrong side of the fabric on both the velvet and satin. Place the piece WRONG side together and pin all the way around. Thread a needle with heavy thread, and baste the pieces together using a running/gathering stitch. Leave the ends long so that you can pull them to gather the edges, adjusting it to roughly fit the inside edge on the back of the French hood. 

 GatheredCaul2  GatheredCaul


Now you will make the flap that falls from the top of the back of the hood. Cut piece E from satin and canvas, adding seam allowance. Do not cut this piece from velvet – the velvet will be draped onto the canvas shape. Mark the dashed lines onto the canvas. Take your velvet and lay it onto the canvas, folding it into knife pleats. There should be a large flat section in the center, and then two knife pleats on each side. The dotted lines show where the upper, folded edge of each pleat should fall. Refer to the diagram below. Pin and adjust as needed. Sew along each fold of the pleats in a manner similar to how you attached the French hood sections together – using your needle to come up just in front of the fold and back down slightly back from the edge of the fold. Move along each pleat, and continue for all four pleated edges. 

 PleatedFlapDiagram  PinnedPleats


Once the pleats are tacked to the canvas, you can trim the velvet to match the size of the canvas. Press the seam allowances of this velvet/canvas piece to the wrong side, and repeat with the satin lining. Pin the satin lining to the velvet/canvas piece, and use a slip stitch to attach the lining all the way around. Alternatively, you could sew these together in the modern way – right sides together, stitch on three sides, then trim your corners and turn it right side out. You would still want to turn the upper edges in and slip stitch them so that you don’t have an unfinished edge on the inside of your hood.

 StitchedPleats  PleatedFlap


Once the two velvet pieces are ready, they can be attached to the back of the French hood. Pin the flap to the inside of the top edge of the hood. The corners can be pulled slightly further inwards to adjust how it falls. Stitch this to the edge of the hood using small stitches through all layers. Now, adjust the gathers of the caul so that it fits inside the back circular opening of the hood. Stitch through all layers using small stitches.



You are now ready to decorate the French hood in whatever manner you would like. Many portraits of French hoods show a pleated or crimped gold ribbon along the front edge. You can either use small pleats or gathers, or use a miniature crimping iron to give the effect you desire. Use a slip stitch to attach the ribbon to the inside of the front of the hood.

 CrimpedRibbon CrimpedRibbonSewn 


The pearls, gold fittings and jewels were generally referred to as “billiments”. You can string pearls on a heavy thread and couch them to the hood, or sew them on individually in a pattern. Look at portraits for ideas, and be creative when looking at jeweled settings, buttons, beads, etc. If you decide that you just can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, you can create your own. I made mine using pewter casting, and then used gold leaf to gild them. 

 PearlSew1  PearlSew2


I hope you have found this tutorial useful, and I’d love to see your completed designs!