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Sewing Tutorial:
14th Century Frilled Fillet for use with a Barbette

The frilled or ruffled fillet can be seen in medieval art in the early 14th century, usually pre-1350s. There are a number of variations, ranging from plain and unfrilled, frilly and pleated-looking. Their exact manufacture is unclear as there are no existing ones, so all we can do is make them with techniques which are known from materials which were used. It is always worn with a barbette.

This tutorial is only one potential method of making these to look like the images we see, and it's the way I've done it with the best results. I've made it without the canvas stiffening and also just be sewing the ruffle to the linen band, but this is the way I have made my very sturdy version. It's definitely more work, but the result was very pleasing to me.

What you need:
All you need is thread, a needle, pins, scissors,ruler, pen or pencils, a long strip of linen the circumfrence of your head plus about 1.5cm overlap, a strip of canvas or aida cloth the circumfrence of your head plus 1cm.

Step 1
You will need to decide how high you want your fillet to be. Images in manuscripts vary, so gather your supplies.

If you're not sure, wide ruler can be a good guide.

Step 2
Cut your canvas.

I made mine a ruler width and 62 cm long so it goes around my head. I've allowed a little extra to fit a hairnet and hairpiece as well. 62cm was my TOTAL of all of those combined. I have a small head.

Mark it out with a pencil and then cut to size.

This is what you will be using as a base for the linen, and will provide a little bit of stiffness.

Step 3
Mark your linen to cover the band. You'll need to make it twice the width of your canvas PLUS enough to make a little hem on each end for you to tuck under.

Make it as long as your canvas PLUS 2cm. This will allow for some folding over.

I drew a dashed line to remind myself to FOLD and not cut the middle. I also drew 2 solid lined where the hems will go.

Cut it out. It should look like this now.

Step 4
Cut an enormously long thin strip of linen and pin one side like the picture.

This one was about a ruler width to start with as it gets less wide with the hem on one side and the gathering on the other.

I could have used a salvedge and not hemmed, but I've found that the extra thickness of the hem makes the ruffle a bit more ruffley.

It's definitely more work and time consuming, but worth it.

Step 5
Here's the ruffle with the hem sewn down.

You can use a hemming stitch or a running stitch. It really doesn't matter, but I've found that smaller stitches hold the hem together and are less likely to unravel when it's drawn together for the frill.

Step 6
On the opposite side of the hem, do a line of running stitch (that's the one that's just in and out) in reasonably large stitches.

If the stitches are too close, you won't get a nice ruffle, and if they're too far apart, it won't ruffle enough.

Step 7
Pull the thread tighter and space out the ruffles.

When you're happy with the pleating, pin the linen to one side of the canvas.

I find it easier to pin along the pleats rather than across the pleats as it holds them in place a bit better.

It should look a bit like this.

Step 8
Here's another picture showing the ruffle pinned to the canvas.

I'm pinning it to the canvas base, NOT the other linen strip.

Step 9
Now you've pinned the ruffle, sew another running stitch or backstitch for extra sturdiness if you wish.

Sew the entire length down and you can remove the pins.

It will look like this.

Step 10
What I did to make life easier later, is to fold the ruffle upwards and then sew it in place.

This step may be completely unnecessary, but I personally found that if the ruffle is really secure and upright, it's easier than trying to hold it upright and sew the linen to the canvas at the same time.

Step 11
You now have a ruffle made of linen free-standing and attached to a band of canvas.

It should look a bit like this.

Step 12
This is the back view.

It's a bit messy and very uninspiring, but don't worry. We are about to cover the canvas with our folded linen strip which we cut out at the start.

At this point, I sew the two ends together to make a circle. I didn't photograph that, but you know how. Any kind of stitch is fine. Whatever works for you.

Just make sure you test the size on your head again and remember, you will probably have a hairnet and possibly a hairpiece underneath, so allow for those things.

Let's do it!

Step 13
Sewn into a circle, it should look something like this.

Already you can see what it's going to look like.

Step 14
What I've done here is folded the linen in the middle, and then folded and ironed one of the hems.

What I didn't photograph is sewing the two ends of the linen together. I did that BEFORE I sewed the linen strip to the fillet.

The hemmed part goes to the top, where the ruffle is. I recommend doing the BACK side of the ruffle first.

Pinning the linen is extremely important or it will wriggle around a little bit.

You can sew right through the canvas and linen together as the front isn't pinned onto the canvas.

Step 15
Here's another view.

I'm sewing the INSIDE of the fillet part, but it looks like the outside because I've turned it inside out to sew. You can see on the frill that I'm sewing the BACK of the frill first.

Once you've sewn the back, turn your fillet inside out. Now you're ready to do the outside.

Step 16
I didn't take many photos at this point because I was sewing, but essentially, you're going to repeat the same thing on the other side which is the FRONT or outside of the fillet circle part.

You won't need to pin the bottom, as it will be held fast from the other side, but it really is important to fold the entire length of the linen and pin before you start to sew. Tuck the hem part over as you fold and pin, pin, pin!

The end result!
I'm pretty pleased with this. The ruffle stands up quite well as it's attached to the canvas, and the top of the ruffle is reasonably ruffled as it's hemmed.

Hopefully you'll be able to tailor this tutorial to your own needs and pick out the bits which work for you. You might like to sew the ruffle directly onto the linen band and leave the canvas out altogether which will work quite will too.

I found it didn't keep it's stiffness as well when I pinned other things to it, but it would depend on the thickness of your linen too!

Happy sewing!

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