A Tutorial For 1872 Waitress Lacy Head Things. Yay!

My play is four more rehearsals away. My brain is dealing with this fact by giving my subconscious free  rein when it comes to really weird dreams.

Like last night, where Passepartout, Fogg, Fix, and Aouda (my view of things flashing back and forth between first person and third.) all went off on a Indiana Jones-esque  adventure.My Mother was the double crossing villain who had a change of heart all of a sudden when she was pushed down the random stone vault/well/fancy-hole-in-the-ground, and had (lit on fire) potatoes thrown down on her.

My mother was allergic to potatoes in my dream- I don’t know if the flames had anything to do with it.

So…yeah. Feeling slightly nervous.

Anyways, I volunteered to make a hat thing for the waitresses (The ever lovely Hannah and Sadie.) and thought that, even though the process  was extremely simple, and could be explained in a few words, I should make a indepth tutorial on it. This means that we can all wear head doilies every day!

Before I get going, here’s the picture I found for inspiration by googling ‘1872 waitresses’.

Very fancy, neh? I'm not going to make anything that adorable, as from stage all I need to get across is that it's something lacy on their heads.

Okay. So. You will need….

  • A 7×4″ square of some sort of white material. Well…. it doesn’t have to be white. But for the purpose I chose, I thought that worked best.
  • Two 15×2″ strips of the same material. (actually, you might want to make it a wee bit wider. depends on your fabric.)
  • Matching thread.
  • A sewing needle. (If you want you can use a sewing machine. I didn’t, since I found this easier. IE, my sewing machine was covered in a pile of junk.)
  • Approximately 2 ft or so of lace to sew on…
  • OR
  • A pair of lace weight knitting needles,
  • A thick tapestry type sewing needle (basically, something with a big eye and a sharp point),
  • And some sort of matching thick thread. A cotton sock yarn/lace weight would work well, as would embroidery floss. It doesn’t have to be fancy, I have no idea what I used- it was just lying around my kitchen.

Okay. So, using your sewing thread and sewing needle (the small eyed one) start hemming your big rectangle of fabric.

Start hemming....

...keep hemming...

...hem like you mean it!

And when you’re done it should look pretty much like it did before. Except a bit smaller.  And with nicer edges.

Please ignore the fact that it kinda' looks like a pad. It gets better, I promise.

Now. If you’ve got sew-on lace, please feel free to, well, sew it on, and then skip to the strap section. If you don’t, and you kinda know what you’re doing with knitting needles, than read on. (and don’t worry if you drop stitches. It adds to the lace effect.)

Now, if you’re doing the lace the way I did it, then take your needle with the big eye, and your random thread stuff. Knot it, and start whipstitching along the side of the dandy hem you just made.

This is what the whipstiching should look like. Don't sew too tight! Not too loose either.

Whip stitch all around your hem. And when you’re done…

...this is what the front side should look like...

And the back side....I think this really is way too pic heavy. Ah well. At least I'll have covered the subject of lacy head doily things very...thoroughly.

Okay, now take one knitting needle, and slide it underneath the stitches on one side of the rectangle, so you’ve got something to knit off of.

Like so.

Once you’ve got all of the stitches on one side picked up…start knitting. Any ol lace pattern that expands nicely will do. I just made mine up on the spot…something like

Row 1: purl all stitches.

Row 2: knit two, yarnover, repeat till end of row. (to make your stitches come out even you can A) plan ahead of time to have the right count, or B) fudge the heck out of it.)

Repeat Row one and two.

Row Five. Bind off loosely in purl. (loosely!) All stitches but one…

This brings us to the corners. I suppose you could do a fancy mitered lace corner, but I just knit that one last stitch over and over again, about four or five times, so that it would ‘fit’ over the corner, without making it all skewed looking. Or, more so than before. Knit the same stitch a couple of times…

Et voila, it fits over the corner!

Anyways, rinse and repeat for the other three sides.

The knit lace is probably gonna be kinda sad looking, so I suggest you block it.

Before blocking. Very wrinkled. Sort of like a albino elephant....except it's a head doily.

During blocking. I used my Mother's fancy pants T-pins to stretch the knitting out, but dress maker's pins work too.

In case you don’t know, the whole point of blocking is to stretch the knitting out (or, at least in this case it is), so you can see the pattern more clearly, and it doesn’t look all crumpled.

Most people would lovingly wet their head-doily and carefully tack it into place. I stuck mine under the tap to get it soggy, viciously wrung (yes, wrung!) it out, and ploinked it down with pins. Rather like a specimen inside a shadow box.

Anywho, well it’s drying out, let’s work on the straps/ ties. You know. The things that keep it on your head.

Take one of your snake-y strips. Fold it in half.

Now, start sewing.

Take that, you snake, you!

Now, if you’re using a lighter weight fabric (The only white fabric I could find was some old flannel.) You’ll probably be able to turn it inside out, and thus hide the seam. I couldn’t. Ah well. Seen from stage, this won’t matter.

Once you’ve finished both of your ties,

and the lacy rectangle is all dried out, you can flip the rectangle upside down (it helps if you unpin it first, dontcha know.) and place the ties where you want ’em.

Right about here would be good.

Sew them on! Don’t be shy about it- you don’t want them breaking off, as they are what’s keeping the doily attached to your head. (in a emergency you could use duct tape, I suppose. Just don’t hold me responsible for what happens when you  try to take your costume off.)

See how far we've come from our original pad-look-alike?

And now you should be pretty much done. Get rid of any offending ends of thread that are cheekily sticking their heads out at you. Dust any dirt off. Plunk it on your head.

Tie it on like a oddly shaped headscarf: ties behind your ears, lacey patch on the top of your head. I explain becasue both of the actresses, had trouble figuring out how it was supposed to go!

Well? Will he??

Anywho, I leave you with that very long, very wordy, very picture filled tutorial. (It could have summed up in “Sew ties on rectangle. Add lace.” However, that would have been boring.)

May your dreams grow ever more and more odd!



4 thoughts on “A Tutorial For 1872 Waitress Lacy Head Things. Yay!

  1. Is your play Thur 9th? Just remember to breathe and you will do really well. I will be thinking of you.

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