I am very pleased with how my hairstyle turned out for the first wearing of Genevieve, the 1863 dress I’ve been blogging about for the last few months. I took the idea directly from my inspiration drawing, though I changed the hair decoration that accompanied the style.
I’ve used false hair to have braided crown styles before (here’s an example of the same braid used for a Regency hairstyle), but that old braid is only about 1 ½” wide, which is a bit subtle for the look I wanted for this dress. It’s also long enough to wrap around my head about 1.5 times, which is longer than what I wanted for the new hairstyle.
So I decided to buy some new false hair and make a new, fatter braid. I used this hair in dark brown. It’s intended for African style braid extensions, so it has a texture that’s great for matching my curly hair–I don’t think it would work well for someone with straight hair. I also bought these black hair nets.
I used one bundle of the false hair for this braid. The hair comes braided already, but I took it out and re-braided it a little tighter than how it was originally. Then I cut the elastic on one of the hair nets so that it would stretch out to be as long as my braid.
I laid the braid on top of the hair net and wrapped the hair net around to the back side of the braid. Then I used large whip stitches to secure the net to the braid. You can see one of those stitches mostly centered in the next photo. Covering the braid with a hair net helps keep all the frizzies from making the braid look messy. (My old braid isn’t covered in a hair net, so it looks very organic, like my real hair… nice and frizzy!)
The final step was to go back and stitch the hair net down in the dips between each section of the braid. In the photo above you can see the hair net traveling between braid bumps, but in the finished photo below those are mostly sewn down and much less visible.
For the actual hairstyle, I secured the braid to my head behind the sections near my face that get swept back over my ears. (I also pinned the braid to the top of my head to keep it in place while dancing. Those pins were put into the back side of the braid (to keep them hidden) and secured into the roots of my hair.) After securing the braid I was able to arrange the front sweep sections on either side of my face. I made sure to cover the ends of the braid with these sections.
Then I arranged the back of my hair. I wanted to keep it simple to showcase the braid and the velvet bow, so I arranged the back of my hair into a low puff. It continues the ring of the braid around my head while being more unobtrusive than the braid itself.
The final step was the bit of lace and the velvet bow. I opted for those instead of the lace framing the braid in the inspiration image. I wasn’t sure how I would accomplish that without essentially creating a cap… and that’s not the look I wanted. So I made up something else!
The bow is one I was able to make after my bow disaster. I think it adds a nice touch of color on my dark hair. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it and the lace until the ball, so I bobby pinned each piece in place for that first wearing. Then one of my after-the-ball tasks before I could put this away was to sew these two pieces together and add a comb so that it is now an official accessory that will be easier to put in my hair the next time I wear this dress.
Here’s a side view of what all of that amounts to. I intentionally placed the bow and lace off-center on my head in order to pick up on the asymmetrical bow on the skirt of the dress.
When I did a quick trial with the braid in modern clothes it felt very large and I was worried it would be too big, but once dressed in Genevieve I think the scale of this new braid is great–an excellent hair crown size and length, and the hair net keeps it looking super tidy and frizz free!
8 thoughts on “Project Journal: 1863 Apricot Evening Gown Part IX: Braided Crown Hairstyle Details”
Thanks for sharing this!! I may finally have to get a braid to accomplish more intricate Regency hairstyles.
You’re welcome! That would be excellent! Well-matched fake hair is such a great (and historical) way to create fabulous historical styles and can really be accomplished without too much of an investment.
What a good thought with the scale of the braid! It’s subtle, but proportions are important and you nailed it.
Thank you for sharing how you sewed down the hair net to make it essentially invisible. I’ve netted my false hair before, but it shows too much — aha moment!
The gown turned out so well. I know you have lots of gowns for dancing, but wonder how this one felt to dance in? How did it tend to move?
Thank you again for taking us on such a detailed journey. It has been so cool.
Natalie in KY
Hi Natalie! Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! I appreciate your discerning eye for details. 🙂 And I’m excited that my hair net thoughts created an ah-ha moment! Yay!
Even with all the trim this gown is rather lightweight, which is different than some of my other gowns. The trim stays neatly in place due to being well tacked, though the lace will flutter in the breeze from movement. The skirt swings nicely when turning without feeling heavy. The lightness makes it very easy to wear and move around in. 🙂
I would never have known you added extra hair to this beautiful style! It topped off the dress perfectly. Just beautiful. In one of my guest rooms I have an old fashioned hair receiver on display.
Neat! I wonder if your guests know what it is?
Thank you! I had a number of people ask me about the braid–either whether it was my real hair or how I had managed to make it such a smooth braid. 😉 Now you know all the secrets!
sewing on the net is SO TRICKY! I recently cleaned out my fake hair drawer and my huge 1870s braid is a frizzy mess. When I fix it I will have to steal this tip 😉
Yes, please do! Also, amusement at how reasonable it sounds to have, and clean, the fake hair drawer. 😉