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Victorian Craft: Evening or Bridal Headdress

on May 28, 2010 – 3:05 am

Elaborate hairstyles ornamented with lavish headdresses, including hair jewelry, were fashionable during the Victorian era. Featured is a black velvet and pearl diadem for evening wear from the 1860s. By substituting white velvet for the black velvet, a beautiful headpiece can also be created for bridal wear.

The diadem is pointed in front of the fore­head in the “Marie-Stuart” style. During the 19th century, this headpiece formed an elegant and becoming coiffure for evening entertainment such as the theater or concert room.  With the addition of flowers, the diadem was also rendered appropriate as a ball headdress. Today, by substituting white velvet for the black fabric, adding flowers, the diadem is ideal for showcasing a bridal veil.


Materials for a Pearl Diadem:
Pearl beads of three different sizes, black velvet, and ribbon wire.

The diadem is very easily made with the help of the fol­lowing directions:

  • To obtain the form of the diadem, cover a piece of ribbon wire with a strip of black velvet cut on the bias.
  • Bend the wire downward in a sharp point, precisely in the middle.
  • Next, fit it to the head, and fasten the ends neatly together at the back.
  • A row of pearl beads of medium size are then sewed at the top of the band in the manner shown in the illustration.
  • To make the drops or pendants, begin at the point in the center of the diadem. Pass a needle with very fine sewing silk through the velvet, then thread four small pearls, then one of medium size, then one very large, and lastly, one small pearl. This being done, the needle must then be passed backward through all the beads, and through the velvet, and then leaving a space of about three-quarters of an inch, make the second pendent in the same manner.
  • Three or four drops must be made of equal length on each side of the centre one. The drops then gradually increase in length at each side, until those at the ends contain eleven or twelve of the medium-sized beads.
  • The drops may be carried entirely round the diadem, or there may be a space of a few inches left at the back. This space may be filled up by a cache-peigne (comb) of flowers, or bows of ribbon; likewise, plaits of back hair may be disposed so as to cover the velvet band at the back of the head.