Apprentisheship: Illumination by Liudmila


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These directions are for a crescent-shape "kokoshnik", maiden version. I wear these sort of behind my ears, tied with the ribbon at the back. Proper name for this headdress is not actually "kokoshnik." That was a name for woman's headwear that hid the hair completely (but might have looked the same in front). This particular style could be called "chelo kichnoye."


1/2 yard of your chosen facing fabric (velvet, silk, or brocade)



cloth covered wire (bridal or millinery)

manila folders or poster paper

ribbon (grosgrain is preferred)

pearls, gold thread, trim -- whatever you need for decoration

First, decide on the shape of your future headdress. I usually use a simple crescent (like the one in the pictures but without the wave edge). Make a paper cutout for your shape (I use manila file folders, as shown here). The inner crescent I determined by using one of my headbands, but experimentation works too -- those folders are cheap.

Try your paper headdress on and make necessary adjustments -- it may be too high, too low, too wide...or just perfect. Place it on the inside of your chosen fabric.


Trace your paper cutout twice, leaving enough fabric for seam allowances.


This step is entirely optional -- I prefer to baste along chalked lines and then erase them. This was I can see what are my limits from the face of the fabric.


Before cutting anything out, you may mark your pattern and decide where the gems, ornaments, and such will go.

Alternatively, you could plan for pearl  embroidery as outiled in the Valdimir Kokoshnik instructions, using interfacing to prepare the pattern.

Again, I baste my pattern from the back of the fabric. Then I work on the face of the fabric.

Lay out your buckram flat and trace the pattern again (only once). Cut it out, preferably with something other than your best scissors.

 Repeat on the flannel, twice. When cutting, remember to leave ample seam allowances.

 Sew the millinery wire around the edge of buckram cutout. My wire comes from bridal sections of fabric stores.

Sew the flannel onto both sides of the buckram. You will have to clip it on the curves. I like to bend the edges towards the inside of the headdress and just baste through everything several times, but this may not the best way -- so I am not offering a picture. Well, frankly I just forgot to take it. Then, sew the facing over the flannel, beginning with the front piece. Attach the ribbons, sewing through them many times.


Using the matching thread, cover the back of the headdress. Glue works too (and I believe is period to use), but sewing looks neater, in particular on velvets.


And here it is, all done! Of course, I am not particularly satisfied with the pearling of this item. My excuse is that it was done in a hurry the night before a coronation, and before I learned the proper period technique described elsewhere on this side.