Throwback Thursday: Crespinettes

Front view of the cylindrical cauls

Front view of the cylindrical cauls

I’ve seen a few other bloggers do Throwback Thursday posts, and I’m joining the trend – posting a costume piece that I made quite a while ago, but never documented.

Headpiece based on the 14th Century Crespinettes as seen on portraits of Queen Philippa of Hainault

(1314-1369) who was the Queen of England as wife to King Edward the third.


Who: Upper class women (royalty and non-royals alike)

What: headpiece based on 14th century crespinettes

Where: documentation for England – headpiece would have been worn for formal or special occasions.

When: 14th century, crossing at minimum 1369-1381 if not beyond.

How: See below!

The long version

Rosalie’s Medieval Woman website describes cylindrical cauls as fashionable for upper-class (royal and non-royal) women in the 14th Century, particularly for formal wear and special occasions. She describes the headwear having “two cylinders were made of fine metalwork or fretwork attached to a fillet or coronet, which could also be heavily jeweled. If it was worn with a veil, it was worn with the finest gauzy, silk veils which might be decorated with fine gold embroidery and narrow edging.”

This headwear style is also seen on a monumental brass rubbing from the tomb of Sir Thomas Burton and his wife Margaret from their effigies in Rutland, East Midlands, England. They died in 1381, and the brass was crafted circa 1410. (Reference: Gentleman’s Magazine vol.12)  Cynthia Virtue also notes similar (although not exact styles) depicted on a bust of Marie de France from the 1340s and a line drawing after a brass memorial plate from 1360 from the Museum of London’s book on dress accessories.

In 1327-1485 – Women’s Hair & Headdresses, the function of the cylinders is described as: “The Queen herself wore an elaborate mode of coiffure for that time; she wore a metal fillet round her head, to which was attached two cases, circular in shape, of gold fretwork, ornamented with precious stones.
She wore her hair unplaited, and brought in two parts from the back of her head, and as far as one can see, pushed into the jewelled cases.” Queen Philippa was born in Valenciennes, France and died in Windsor Castle and was buried in Westminster Abbey, England.

Additional illustrations and examples of original cylindrical cauls and other costumers versions are on my Pinterest board.


The original materials used for Crespinettes would have been metal – the fillet or coronet would have been fine metal, embellished elaborately with jewels (from the brass monumental illustrated above) or plain with only a bit of tooling and only a few small gems (from the effigy below).

The cylinders were made of fine metalwork or metal fretwork, and also could be embellished with jewels.

Close up on the front adornment

Close up on the front adornment

Unfortunately, I  lack the skill to work with metal in this fashion, so I opted for a largely textile-based option. I also didn’t want my finished version to in any way be mistaken for the crowns worn by the royals in the SCA. My materials included:

  • Gold “liquid metal” – a black knit fabric with very small gold foil fused circles creating the illusion of a foiled fabric, and thus an approximation of metal
  • Cardboard tube – I used a wrapping paper tube and cut it to size for the base of the cylinders
  • Black crushed stretch velvet – when I made the cylindrical cauls my hair was black – I used black velvet to mimic the hair that would be stuffed in the cylindrical cauls, while still providing a surface I could work on – as the cauls wouldn’t be metal – they lacked the integrity to be “stuffed” with fake hair.
  • Belting – I used belt material (from the fabric store) and cut it to size by length and width. This is a fabric-covered plastic, and made the basis for my fillet.
  • Gold soutache braid  – for the metal fretwork I substituted gold braid
  • Cabochon gems – I used yellow, red, and blue acrylic cabochons to substitute for gemstones or jewels.
  • Filigree piece – I found a filigree piece, put a pink faceted gem in it, and glued it to the front of the fillet.
  • Needle, thread, glue, scissors – to put everything together.

Additionally I made a veil from sheer white fabric. I’m pretty sure it’s a crepe-weave sheer silk.

Side view of the cylindrical cauls - my head is considerably larger than my headform's, so the cauls sit further forward on me

Side view of the cylindrical cauls – my head is considerably larger than my headform’s, so the cauls sit further forward on me

How I made it

I don’t have any work-in-progress photos, but here are the steps I took:

  1. Cut the cardboard tube to size (using the Norris illustration for size reference)
  2. Cut four circles of black material and cover the open ends. Glue down.
  3. Cut two rectangles of black material and cover the tubes. Glue down, stitch seam
  4. Cut length of belting for fillet, trim to desired width.
  5. Cut 4 lengths of belting for cylinder ends, trim to desired width.
  6. Cover fillet belting with gold material. Curl into a circle, glue and stitch in place.
  7. Wrap cylinders with braid to create diagonal diamond like mesh or netting over the black material. Stitch discreetly at intersections to secure. (I also put a drop of glue on the crosses, hoping I’d be able to cover all of them with gemstones – I didn’t, so this is something I’m less happy with.
  8. Cover cylinder end belting with gold material, wrap around cylinders, over braided mesh. Stitch to hold in place.
  9. Glue cylinders to fillet.
  10. Glue cabochons over intersections of braid mesh. Glue filigree piece to centre front of fillet band.
  11. Machine sew veil material to a double-fold bias tape, hand sew bias tape to interior of fillet band.



Gilbert, Rosalie. Rosalie’s Medieval Woman ( Date unknown.
Thomas, Pauline Weston. ed. 1327-1485 – Women’s Hair & Headdresses ( 2001-2014.
Virtue, Cynthia. Crespinettes: How much soup from one oyster? ( 2000.
Wikipedia. Philippa of Hainault (
Urban, Sylvanus. Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Review, Volume 12 ( January-June 1862
Also see:
de Courtais, Georgine. Women’s Hats, Headdresses and Hairstyles: With 453 Illustrations, Medieval to Modern. ( Pages 28-29. 1973, 1986
Lester, Katherine. Accessories of Dress: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. ( Pages 123-125. 2004.
Tierney, Tom. Medieval Fashions Colouring Book. ( Page 39. 1998