Dawn's Costume Guide

How to make a Hood

The hood is a handy little item for chilly outdoor events. It will keep your head and shoulders warm, while leaving your arms free for activity. Itís not as easy to make as it looks, however, since it needs to be relatively fitted. When in doubt, larger is better. (Options for a quick version are listed at the bottom of the page.)

Iíve only ever made wool hoods with cotton flannel linings. A single heavy layer of flannel might work for the Robin Hood costume, if it just needs to look nice and not be really warm or sturdy. Velvet could be considered an alternative to the wool. If you want a modern look, you could use a polar fleece.

Begin by copying the diagram below onto a piece of paper you can take notes on. If you want, use a sheet of newsprint and it will become your pattern.

Remember, if you are making a lining you will cut one of your outer fabric and one of the lining, and assemble them the same way until you join them into one garment.

Options: The bottom edge of the hood can be shaped or dagged. This doubles the sewing involved, so if youíre in a hurry, or in doubt about your skills, skip it. The liripipe tail always looks better in the movies than it does in real life. It also requires more work and more fabric, and is not a good choice if youíre going to be around people who are going to want to yank on it all afternoon. If you choose to make the liripipe, it needs to be long or it will not hang properly. The inside of the liripipe does not need to be lined, you can cut the inside of the hood in a simple curve.

To do a shaped bottom edge begin by sketching out a shape that you like. Good choices are simple scalloped curves or square dags. Fleurs-de-lis, oak leaves, and feathers are wicked cool looking, but an absolute pain to sew. Choose something that has gentle curves and large, simple shapes. Remember that you have to sew along the outside of this shape, and then turn it inside out, and youíre going to have to do that 20 or 30 times. Youíre going to have to do it perfectly each time, or youíll have a row of lumpy uneven dagging. If you arenít sure how it will turn out, make a practice one on some scrap fabric. Trace the shape out, sew around it leaving ľ to Ĺ inch seam allowance, and turn it right side out. Poke out all the corners and iron it flat.

Line AB is the face opening. Wrap a tape measure around your face, under your chin and over the top of your head, and add 4-6 inches. Divide that number in half and write your measurement on your drawing.

Line AC is where the hood will lay around your neck, on your shoulders. It has to be wide enough to get over your head comfortably. Measure your head around the forehead, and add 4-6 inches. Halve that for line AC.

Lines AD and CE determine how long the cape part of the hood will be. Measure from the side of your neck down to the middle of your upper arm, or elbow. Mark the lines and complete the curve DE.

The back of the hood needs to be full enough to fit your head, but not so full it swallows you. Measure from the bridge of your nose over the top of your head to the back of your neck. This is a rough measurement for curve BC. You can enlarge the curve, or shape it as shown for variations in fit and styling.

Mark out your pattern on your fabric, leaving seam allowances all around.

You can now measure curve DE and see how wide your dagging pattern needs to be. A design that is 3-5 inches across looks best. Make a cardboard template of your shape and trace it onto the fabric. Remember that you need to leave ľ to Ĺ inch of seam allowance around your shape.

You are now ready to cut everything out. Sew the seam BCE first. Try the hood on to make sure you didnít completely muff the measurements. If points A do not meet under your chin comfortably, you may be able to get away with not sewing that front seam and using a frog closure or a hook to keep it closed. If everything seems okay, go ahead and sew up line AD. Repeat for your lining.

With the hood inside out, and the lining right side out, place the two shells together. Put the lining on the inside, and the hood on the outside, with the fabric right sides together. Match up seams at points B, D and E and pin.

If you are NOT doing a dagged bottom edge:

Sew around the face opening from B to A and back to B. Take the pins out and turn your lining through the face opening and arrange it in place inside the hood. Pin seams at D and C and turn under the hem curves of both lining and hood along DE. Sew by hand or topstitch with the machine.

If you want a dagged edge:

Sew along your marked pattern lines from D to E. Trim fabric so you can turn the dags inside out later. Remove your pins and turn the lining inside the hood. Carefully flatten out all your dagged shapes and iron them flat.

Match seams at points A and B. Turn under the hood fabric and lining Ĺ inch and handstitch closed.

Some slightly simpler instructions:

If you're really in a hurry or just need a one-use costume piece you can try this. Cut out your shapes after measuring, as above, but skip the lining pieces. Sew the two halves of your hood together up the back only. Either turn under the front and bottom edges and hem, or apply bias tape in a contrasting color to finish the edges and add a decorative element. Use machine buttonholes up the front edges (with buttons) for a more "upper class" look, or sew on some string ties under the chin for a "lower class" look.

All text and artwork copyright 1990 - 2001 D. Duperault. NOTHING on this site may be reproduced or distributed by any means without my written permission. This information offered in good faith, and worth only what you paid for it.
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