Projects · Small Projects

A One Day Headdress for Virtual Court

Its no surprise that I miss the heck out of going to SCA events. But there are some things that I really enjoy about virtual gatherings, like the limited travel time, and the ability to wear crazy garb without regard to the unknown conditions in where the event is.

The other thing, is that you don’t have to look perfect because on Zoom, no one can see the back of your head.

illustration by Percy Anderson for Costume Fanciful, Historical and Theatrical, 1906, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I have wanted a giant 14th century headdress for a while, but the idea of the project seemed so daunting. Where do you find millinery supplies? What do I make it out of? Well, if its not historically accurate why am I trying?


So, in preparation for virtual court I decided, I would make a little hat out of poster board, and some not period at all sari fabric.

A Quick Trip into History

This hat is known as an Escoffion and evolved about the same time as the pointy princess hat we often associate with medieval times known as the Hennin. Some writers point to the Hennin as the origin, but I rather think Cauls (netted hair covers) or Crespines (tubular cages) that held braded hair over the ears, were likely the inspiration for these pieces.

Engraving showing a variety of Escoffion shapes and styles
Unknown engraver, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The most famous example of this headdress I can find is the funeral effigy of Countess Beatrice of Portugal (1380-1439). The cauls on the sides of the ears appear to be made of a basket covered in jewels, gold work, and embroidery. The basket is covered with a frilled veil that is elevated with some kind of internal armature.

A modern(19th c.) representation of Beatrix illustrating her Escoffion

A Poster Board Hat

I wasted no time in getting started, I sat in front of a mirror and guessed how wide out from my head I wanted the headdress to go. I decided 3.5″ was plenty wide. I cut a strip of poster board 3.5 inches wide and the width of the poster board, and then cut that in half so I had two separate pieces. Then I bent the poster board into a “U” shape and traced the shape on the poster board. It was not symmetrical, but symmetrical is not the goal! Then I taped the “U” to the 3.5″ wide pieces with packing tape.

I cut out a strip of poster board 1.5″ wide. I taped it to the top of one of my “U”s and put it on my head to check out it looked before taping the other U on. AND WOW, look! A HAT!

Then I adjusted the fit ever so slightly so that it didn’t fall down and fortified it with more packing tape and some additional bits of cardboard.

Then, I traced out some shapes of fabric the same dimensions as my poster board, leaving 1/2 inch seem allowances. I sewed the U shapes to their respective rectangles and then sewed the fabric directly to the poster board.

And it was done just in time for court!

I braided my hair and pinned it up on my head underneath the headdress and then covered it with a half circle veil!

And thats how I made a poster board escoffion!

If you would like to make one too, I have just the thing for you! A Pattern!

This pattern is for the cardboard outline. To print out at the correct size, print at 200% or grab a ruler and draft your own pattern based on the measurements provided.

Tape pieces together with packing tape using the methods described above. And if you want to cover with fabric, add your preferred seam allowances to the Cauls, Caul Sides, and forehead band and sew on as seen above!


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