Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dress Diary: Steampunk Cleopatra: Headdress

With the exception of the corset, the headdress was the piece of this outfit that gave me the most trouble.

The only real instructions I could find anywhere for how to make one was this instructable.  I started trying to use their pattern shape as a guide, but got horrible results with my mock-ups.  I tried several different things before I finally decided to simply draw the shape I wanted it to have and make it a two part headdress with a seam across the top.  This still wasn't an ideal solution, however.  The shape looked alright if I held the sides out from my head and if I placed something around the top of my head to make it fit better.  If I made the top more fitted, I lost the Egyptian headdress look.
Headdress before adding the
top jewelry piece.

So I decided it would have to be good enough as is, and hoped that using stiffer fabric with interfacing would give it the shape and stiffness it needed.  As for the strips of black and gold fabric, I decided to use the technique from the instructable linked above and cut and pressed strips of fabric onto fusible interfacing.  This eliminated a lot of sewing and I thought would give a neater finished product.  I'm not really convinced it did, and if I were going to do it over I would probably sew all the strips together, because you do occasionally get glimpses of the interfacing between the stripes or when the fabric bends.  I was initially worried about the interfacing coming un-fused, but it's been remarkably hardy so far, through all my handling to sew the metal pieces on.

The original headdress has a lot of jewelry ornamentation, but it's difficult to see exactly what it all is.  I  chose to simple use what I could find.  The largest piece in the center is a vintage piece of Egyptian inspired jewelry I bought off etsy.   The filigree chains I bought at a craft store.  The gears along the forehead were inspired by the coins on the original headdress.  On the top of the head, I added a piece made from a "tribal" style necklace from the craft store turned upside down and glued behind an Egyptian winged serpent stamping.  All of the embellishments were stitched on with transparent thread, except for the piece on top which was also glued for security due to it's weight.

Of course, you can't even really see that piece when the headdress is on.  The weight of it pull it flat on top of my head and it pulls the headdress back.    So I took this picture to show you.   I may try wearing this another time with my hair put up on top of my head to see if that helps.

The last thing I did the the headdress was to put a spiral steel bone horizontally into the back of the headdress at the bottom.  This serves to hold the sides out at my shoulder, helping the shape read as an Egyptian headdress.

This is the piece of the entire costume I am the least happy with.  There are things I would do differently if I made it again, but I don't actually know how to improve the shape.  I didn't want an overly stiff headpiece, I wanted it to be fabric and move like fabric.  But that created a lot of problems for me.  One final note: actual Egyptian headdresses like this have the stripes going vertically from the brow down the back.  But I followed the original Victorian costume and made them all horizontal.


  1. Just looking at all the details of your outfits on the different posts! They are all amazing! I love how much detail and love you put into it! This is very inspiring! I am just getting started on sewing, but this shows me the kind of thing I will be able to achieve in the future and really inspires me! Thanks!

  2. May I suggest you use plastic canvas to make the "box " part that fits over the head. You can start with shaping the pieces like the fabric, just a smitgen smaller so it fits inside and adjust from there as needed. Use yarn to whipstitch the pieces together and you'll get a pretty sturdy form that can be taken apart and adjusted as needed.
    I might also consider some kind of boning to the outer side bits and or weights at the bottom. I think you have the right shape but the fabric doesn't have the right body.