Medieval Open Hood Pattern

Red Open Hood, by Sidney Eileen - Linen hand stitched and embroidered with linen thread.

Red linen open hood with a linen embroidered scrolling vine pattern, mostly in chain stitch. Entirely hand stitched with linen thread.

This tutorial provides a basic medieval open hood pattern that should result in a hood that fits very much like the one I made for myself.  I give instructions on how to customize the pattern to fit you, and some ideas for simple variations on that pattern.  Historically, it is very likely that open hoods had a very short skirt on them, as those are the only examples I have found in illuminated images, but I made mine with a long skirt so it would better shield me from the Las Vegas sun while remaining cooler to wear and easier to put on than a full veil setup.

There are only two measurements you need for an open hood.  The first is the length, shoulder to shoulder, over the top of the head.  The second is the circumference of the head.

Measurements for a Hood, shoulder to shoulder over the head, and circumference of the head.

Measurements for a Hood, shoulder to shoulder over the head, and circumference of the head.

To get Measurement A:
Take the distance from shoulder to shoulder over the head.
Divide that distance in half.
Add seam allowance once (I recommend 1/2″)

For example, my measurement over the head is 26″.
Divide it in half, which is 13″
Add seam allowance once, for a result of A=13.5″

To get Measurement B:
Take the circumference of the head.
Divide that distance in half.
Add seam allowance twice.
Add one more inch.

For example, the circumference of my head is 22″.
Divide it in half, which is 11″
Add Seam allowance twice, 11+.5+.5=12″
Add one more inch, for B=13″.

Open Medieval Hood Pattern, by Sidney Eileen

Medieval Open Hood Pattern

Creating Your Open Hood Pattern

This pattern will produce an open hood like the one I made for myself.  I made mine with a long skirt specifically so it would be better able to help shield me from sun at hot events, but all the illustrations I’ve seen from the period show open hoods with much shorter skirts, maybe 3″ in length.  If you make it with a short skirt, you don’t need to add a gore.

Draw a horizontal line the length of (B).

To create the folded front area:
On the left side of the (B) line, draw a vertical line the length of (A).
Measure 1″ up from the bottom of that line and make a mark.
Draw a horizontal line 3″ long, from that mark.
From the open end of the 3″ horizontal line, draw a vertical line 1″ long.
Erase the vertical (A) line below the 3″ horizontal line.

To create the back seam area so it follows the curve of the head and neck:
On the right side of the (B) line, draw a vertical line the length of (A).
About half-way down that line, start a gentle curve inward.  The deepest point of that curve should be about even with the 3″ horizontal line, and about 1/2″ away from the vertical line.
Erase the vertical line alongside the curved line.

To create the skirt area:
Draw straight flared lines out from the neck of the pattern.  I made the skirt 8″ long on mine, but you can make yours any length you want.
Draw a curved line to define the skirt.  The base of the curve should be the same distance from the neck area as the length of the outer lines.

To create the gore:
If your skirt is longer than about 4″, you will probably want to add a gore.
Create a slash vertically up the skirt all the way to the neck area.  This slash should be the same length as your skirt.
Create two gores that are the length of the slash, plus seam allowance, on their straight sides.  For my 8″ skirt example, that is 8.5″ per side.
The angle between the two sides should be 90 degrees or slightly more to provide enough room for the skirt to sit loosely over the shoulders.

Optional Liripipe (not shown):
If you want, you can add a liripipe to the hood.  Just sew a long tube, tapering or not, to the top of the back of the hood before stitching together the two halves of the hood.

Note About Seam Allowance
Seam allowance has already been added when calculating (A) and (B), so you do not need to add seam allowance now.


Sewing The Open Hood

Sewing your hood is in concept very simple.  You just stitch together the two halves, sew in the gores (if needed), and then hem the whole thing.  It can be more complicated that that, especially if you are hand sewing, lining it, or wanting to do decorative work, but the exact complications will vary depending upon your particular situation.

If you are sewing it on a machine, I have a specific tutorial on How to Insert a Gore into a Slash.  If you are sewing by hand, you will want to use a similar procedure, but using hand stitches.

If you want to sew it by hand, please read through my Hand Sewing Tutorials.  Exactly which stitches you use depend upon what you are comfortable with, and how you want the finished garment to look.  For my own hood I used a running stitch to join the two halves, with a whip stitched seam finish.  The gores were sewn in with running stitch, and finished with a flat felled seam finish folded away from the gores.  The outer edges were finished with a basic whip stitched hem.

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