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Georgian & Regency

Turban Headdresses

Wrapped TurbansMany of the European turbans pictured in last month's article could be recreated, the same way turbans have been for centuries, by wrapping fabric around one's head with no sewing involved. In this month's article I will show you how to wrap three turbans: one in the 1795-1800's style and two in the 1800-1815 style.

As discussed last month, the turbans from these time periods lend themselves to recreation via simple wrapped turbans, unlike many of the turbans from the earlier and later time periods.

The first turban is made from a simple sheer white silk scarf, 14” by 60” (35 x 150cm), a bandeau and two long ostrich plumes [see below for US and UK suppliers of everything you'll need - Ed.] In the late 18th Century this style of turban could have been wrapped silk, but sheer cottons and nets were also popular choices.

The early 19th Century ones are wrapped from long pieces of fabric and both create a two color turban but in very different manners. I used a combination of both fabric and a sari. The sari I used on the third turban is only a partial sari - it was what was left after the fancier trim edge was cut away for use as trim on another costume. As with the earlier period many of the turbans in the early 19th Century were wrapped with fine cottons from the Orient.

I photographed the turbans below from the back with a mirror in the photograph so that you can see what goes on in each step.


Late 18th Century Crownless Turban with a Bandeau and Ostrich plumes

Pinning the curls Before putting your long curly wig on, pin the upper curls out of the way. That is of course if you were not born with a full set of long curls.
Adjusting the wig Adjust your wig. Notice on the table to the right is the bandeau. The bandeau is just a band of buckram that is wired on both sides that is covered with a long fabric tube that opens in the center front. Coming from the back of the center of the bandeau is a twisted wire “W” that is attached to the back of the band on one arm of the “W” and the other two will support the plumes.
Placing the Bandeau Place the bandeau making sure that your pinned curls are above the bandeau in the back and the support for the plumes is in the center front.
Pinning the center of the scarf with a pin Pin the center of the silk scarf to the bandeau with a corsage pin. Unpin the bottom row of curls.
Wrapping the Bandeau Wrap first one then the other end of the scarf around the bandeau. In the center front let the bandeau show. Tuck the free ends of the scarf into the other layers of the turban. Make sure you bring the scarf in front of the wire “W”. Unpin the rest of your curls.
Setting in the ostrich plumes Place your ostrich plumes on the millinery wire supports. Note: The plumes are each made from two large straight ostrich feathers. They have been sewn together in twos with a modified blanket stitch. Before being sewn together extra material is cut away from the base of the stems. A groove is cut in the front of the back feather and a groove is cut in the back of the front feather so that when they are sewn together there is a hole up the middle. This can be fitted onto the wire. For more on how to join and shape ostrich plumes see Joining, Shaping and Curling Feathers on my own website.
Adding the finishing touch, a decorative pin Add a decorative pin in the center front of the bandeau and you are done.

A Two Color Early 19th Century Turban

Gold & Blue Turban pattern

Full widths of modern fabric do not make the best turbans, but narrower widths of around 20" (50cm) work well. Because this turban was made from fabric that comes 54” (135cm) wide I cut it into bias strips about 16” (40cm) wide and sewed these together with French seams.

I also added a short strip that was on the straight of grain so that I could unravel the edge to create a fringe for the start end.

For the other end I sewed a bias strip of the same width of another color fabric.

 

 

Folding the turban Fold the length of the fabric long ends to the center from both sides and then fold that in half along the full length of the fabric, much like double fold bias tape. This is not really necessary if you have someone to help you wrap the turban, since they can tuck any raw edges of the fabric under as you wrap the turban. If you are wrapping it by yourself this works best. From the second color end fold the folded fabric to form a bundle about 12 to 14” long leaving about 1 yard un-folded on the fringed edge.
Draping the turban over the head Just past the straight seam of the fringe edge drape the fabric over your head. Let the fringe end hang down. You might want to pin (as shown in foreground) or tie a knot here to keep it from slipping as you begin to wrap the rest of the fabric (in Laurie’s left hand) around your head. See the bundled fabric lying on the table in front of Laurie.
Continue to wrap the turban You should continue to wrap the fabric around your head in a level manor. In this picture Laurie has wrapped the fabric around twice and you can see the bundle in her right hand.
Continue to wrap it, but at an angle In the next few rounds wrap it at an angle. In other words go low on the side then bring it high in the front continue high on the side until you are in the front again and then bring it low down the other side. If you do this for at least two passes it will create that inverted “V” that you see in the front of the turban. When you reach the alternate colored end of the fabric open up the folds a little to help cover the major part of one side of the turban. When you reach the end tuck it in and bury the end of the fabric. Adjust the fringe end, it can be pulled thru folds so that it comes out of the turban higher and does not rest on your neck.
Adding a turban jewel Add a turban jewel.
Finished turban

This the finished turban, this time. Every time I have wrapped this turban it has come out very differently. It has turned out where one side is all blue and there is very little blue on the other. If you start twisting the fabric after one side of the head is covered with the blue then you only get a small twist of blue on the other.

No matter how it is wrapped, it looks good. There is no wrong way!


A Very Different Two Color Early 19th Century Turban

Twisting the two fabrics together before wrapping

I used a length of sari fabric that was about 2 yards (about 1.8m) long and a length of gold tissue metallic fabric about 1.5 yards (1.4m).

I broomsticked the gold fabric, in other words I twisted it from one corner tightly to the other bias corner and left it twisted for a day. This creates wrinkles in the fabric that do not come out. The gold fabric from corner to corner was about the same length as the sari fabric.

Before twisting the two fabrics together I tied the corner of the gold fabric around the sari fabric about 12” from its edge. This will be the last part of the turban to be wrapped. Unlike the turban above, the fringe of this turban comes at the end and not the beginning.

As shown in the picture, twist the two different fabrics together, then secure the end of the sari fabric. This will come before the end of the gold fabric. You could do this in a couple of ways, but I just used the gold fabric to tie a knot around the sari fabric. With a different type of fabric this might take a couple of stitches.

Drape the fabric around your head and pin

Drape the end of the gold fabric so that it covers most of the top of your head and pin or tie the corner of the gold fabric near the start of your twisted fabric.You can see the twist hanging in the mirror.

After you anchor the end you can adjust the fabric to cover more of the top of your head.

Wrap the twisted part around your head twice

Wrap the twist around your head, it should go around twice.

Tuck it in when you come to the end of the gold fabric.

Pull it through some of the twist so that the sari end hangs down. Adjust the wraps.

Spiral wrap a length of pearls through the fabric wraps

Spiral a length of beads or pearls thru the twist and wraps of the turban and secure it in a hidden spot with a safety pin.

The length of beads used here was about a yard and a half long with a gold safety pin at both ends. Add an aigrette or other turban jewel.

The finished turban

This is the finished turban. Even though it is done with two fabrics like the other one, it has a very different look because the fabrics are twisted first. But this one too can look different every time you wrap it.

I want to encourage you to practice - this is the best way to learn so round up some scarves or maybe some Pashmina shawls (they work well) and give it a try.

The really great thing is that you have choices. If you get a turban just the way you like it you can pin it in several places then take it off and slip it on a Styrofoam head and tack it in several out of the way places and you have a fixed turban.

Both of the early 19th Century turbans above take two yards and more. If you have limited fabric, next month I will show you some ways to make fixed turbans that use much less fabric, are attached to a bandeau and can be worn much more like a hat.


 

YouTube videos demonstrating different ways to wrap a turban

I found it very helpful to view some of the many videos the YouTube site has on subject of wrapping turbans. (Ed: See below for some videos of Sikh turban wrapping to compare and contrast with these historical turbans.) There are many ways. Seeing the different ways is a real help and you can pick and choose what will work best for you.

 




 

US Suppliers

Silk Scarves, Saris, Pashimas

Silk Scarves for under $5: Dharma Trading

eBay has some good deals on sarees, but I think you'll probably get better quality if you buy direct from India: Utav Sarees

Both of these sites carry pashima/silk mix scarves for around $30.

Pashima Boutique

Pashima Store

Online silk fabric source

Thia Silks in Los Altos, CA

Renaissance Fabrics

Buckram and Millinery Supplies

Judith M has Buckram and Millinery Wire

Richard the Thread,Los Angeles, Ca, Fax (323) 852-1604, Phone (800) 473-4997
Lacis, Berkely, Ca, Fax (510) 843-5018, Phone (510) 843-7178
California Millnery Supply Co., Los Angeles, Ca, Phone (213) 662-8746
Hats By Leko, 1 800 817 HATS(4287)

 

Ostrich Plumes

Lamplight Feather P.O. Box 867 Fort Jones CA 96032 Call us toll free (within USA) (800) 806-5149
Hollywood Fancy Feathers Co., No. Hollywood, Ca, Fax (818) 982-2919, Phone (800) 828-6689
Eskay Novelty, New York, NY, Fax (212) 921-7926, Phone (800) 237-2202

For corsage pins, beads and trim, try your local craft store (JoAnn's, Hancocks, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, etc.)


UK suppliers

Here are a few UK-specific sites and locations - but don't forget the power of Ebay.co.uk for that unique bargain!

Saris
Chiffon and georgette saris from under £30: Indian Sky

Some people swear that it's way better to buy direct from India: Utav Sarees

Also, don't forget that Britain has an enormous Indian population and you'll probably find Indian clothing stores in every major town. For example:
Bradford - Bombay Stores, Gt Horton Rd
Leicester - Belgrave Gate
Manchester - Wilmslow Rd in Rusholme
London - East End, try Whitechapel High St and Brick Lane; also Goldhawk Rd, Shepherd's Bush; Balham High Road, Tooting
Glasgow - the city end of Great Western Road in the West End; in the South Side, Cathcart Road and Victoria Road.

Pashmina shawls and silk scarves
Available from around £20 at both these sites:
My Pashmina
Firefly Trading

Buckram
Whaleys - Bradford Ltd; Also try John Lewis

Millinery wire
MacCulloch & Wallis - the transparent stuff is available per metre
CJ Millinery - download the price list and you'll find millinery wire at the bottom

Ostrich plumes
Ostriches Online - Ostrich, pheasant, peacock, marabou and many more available for surprisingly low prices.

Wigs and hairpieces
"Party" costume stores such as Great Wigs should be able to help you out at a budget price, but the best is Angels the Costumiers
I (Cathy) found a beautiful hairpiece at my local Debenhams in Nottingham - this was much better quality than the cheap "party" type wig.

Corsage pins
The Essentials Company or try your local florist

Length of beads or pearls
MacCulloch & Wallis - Beads, also try John Lewis and Ebay

Decorative pins/turban jewels/aigrettes
Some very suitable vintage style brooches can be found for a price at Butler and Wilson - brooches
Also try Treasure Box - brooches and Bejewelled Vintage, and the feather brooches at The Feather Factory

Try asking for a 'kalgi' or turban pin in an Indian or Sikh jewellery store. They're traditionally worn by bridegrooms but will be just the thing for your turban.

Finally, don't forget to try Ebay, car boot sales and antique shops!

Website recommendations are intended as a guide only; YWU cannot be held responsible for your experience with any of these suppliers!

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