Tutorial 1 – this is the most basic, fastest to make style I have. I think this took me about 60-90 minutes while watching TV. Another, more complex one for crispinettes will be forthcoming.
I have some cheater hair in my accessories box, and I love it. Braids on a headband isn’t fancy or complicated, but it’s a comfortable, versatile thing to have as a base for wearing veils and hats. It’s ideal for people whose hair isn’t long or thick enough to do medieval styles with their own hair. Or because it’s war and the water got messed up due to misplaced tent stakes and your hair is dirty. Or because you’re lazy like me.
Fake hair is totally medieval. It’s an add-on, not a wig, so it’s meant to be partially covered. You can use fabric tubes stuffed with fluff or you can go to the beauty supply store and get braiding hair. You’ll want to go to an African-American or ethnic hair supply store for these since Sally tends to be overpriced for this project.
- 3 packs of braiding hair. I’ve used inexpensive Yaki Pony hair for mine. It’s synthetic and runs $1-2 a pack. This used three packs of less expensive hair – one for each braid. Make sure it’s long enough! Braiding hair comes in several lengths, and you want something in the 18-20″ range.
- Thin rubber band pony tail holders in a color close to the color of your hairpiece/hair. If you don’t have them already, get the rubber band kind, not the covered “ouchless” elastic kind. A lifetime supply is $1.
- A headband about as wide as a finger that you find comfortable. Goody makes ones with bendy tips that are particularly comfortable and secure.
- Thread in a color that will disappear into your hair/hairpiece and a needle.
The finished product is one braid secured over a headband with a coiled braid at each side. These hang in front of the ears, at the temples.
I braided most of one pony to go across the headband. You want it to be enough to cover everything and be a sturdy base without being too fat and tall to lie nicely under a veil. Because the ends are going to be hidden by your braid coils, I just secured them with lots of rubber hair bands. This also kept the stray pokey bits under control near the ends.
Sew the braid onto the headband. Smooth headbands will work fine, but the ones with the braided look in the plastic offer nice open holes that make it easy to anchor stitches. When you’re done, you may need to trim your braid. Put on more rubber bands at the base to secure it well to your headband, then trim below these. (There’s a nice picture of this below.) The extra rubber bands at the bottoms of the headband help it stay securely on your head.
To make each of the side braids, take a fresh pack of hair. If you have leftover hair from your center braid, add half of it to each of the side braids, securing with a rubber band. On a table, gently lay it out flat. It’s secured by an center rubber band. Keep that on. Snag another of your rubber bands to loop through this one, and use it to secure your hank of hair to a clipboard, table leg, or some other anchor point. Braid down to the end. Secure well with rubber bands.
You’re going to fold your braid in thirds, with the end of the braid hidden inside. Thread your needle with a double thickness of thread, and start stitching. I tied a sturdy knot and used generous stitches. The front ones are hidden well, but I left the back more exposed. It was easiest to start securing the side with the end of the braid to the middle section, then fold the top section over and secure that. Putting a rubber band around each section while you’re stitching can hold it together and make your work easier.
Repeat to make the second braid. Before you begin stitching to the headband braid, check the position of each in the mirror to get the height right. If you’re going to wear a circlet or coronet with these, have it handy. For example, I can’t wear these with my grant of arms circlet and had to make a different set.
Here they are in morning light. They look like Frankenstein’s project on the back, but the fronts are tidy. That’s all that matters.
Now, for how I usually wear them with a veil. My veil pins are stick pins from Fire Mountain Gems with beads put on and secured with a dot of Gorilla Glue that I dab at the spot where the last one will cover right before I slide it down. They’re thicker and sturdier than fabric pins, and stay put.
I’m using a big square silk veil from Dharma Trading, roughly 30″ per side. (Excuse the wrinkles, we were at Coronation this weekend, and I shoved it into my veil box in a wad.) I turn it on the diagonal and fold one side in to make a straight edge that will go along my headband.
I put it on my head and carefully center it by holding the points on each side, then pin the center of the veil through my braid and back out the other side. This is easier than putting the pin through side to side and keeps you from stabbing tall people in the neck when you hug them.
Then I pin each side to a side braid. I like to make a small tuck to help the veil fall nicely around my face and shoulders, and that’s the part I stick the pin through. If you can, watch where the ends of these pins come out, too. Mine are usually buried in braid, further protecting innocent people who just want a hug.