Woven Frills

We’ve all seen the gorgeous paintings, carvings, and a lot of our friend’s in the SCA wearing frilled veils. Mostly these frills are sewn onto the edge of the veils. Christiana de Huntington has posted many blog’s about the process and research she has done Family de Huntington. However….some of the more unique ones had woven in frills instead of sewn on. These are all thought to have been created by one single weaver in Spain, because there are so few of them found.

These textiles, with woven in frills, were excavated from the  Burgos Cathedral in Madrid, Spain 12th-14th Century from mostly royal graves. They are listed as head dressings, and 11 were examined by Marianne Vedeler and Camilla Luise Dahl. Report of the Textiles from Burgos Cathedral All of the pictures, not of my project, are from this report.

In particular I have chosen 3 right off the bat to work with. One of them is woven with frills on both sides, where the frilled selvedge is doubles (2) of the same thread the rest of the warp is made up of (651985). Another is one frill of double threads and the other is double weighted red threads (651981).   In the third one I chose,frilled on both selvedges with the thread in the frills being double the weight, instead of double threads (653742). Additionally this one had another sewn on frill added to the woven in frills on one side (I did not do this).


Band #85 has matching frills on both edges. The frills are approx 5-7mm wide, 11cm in the center, and with an overall width of 12-14cm. It was tabby woven, and all white silk. The frills were made up of the same thread size as the center, but doubled in each heddle. The silk was Z spun, but no mention of ply in the research. Additionally the band was showed a fold longways (clearly seen in the pictures) indicating that it was quite narrow in its use, leading me to believe that it was a barbette, used under the chin and over the head to pin the rest of the headdress. The question not answered by the report of Camilla Luise Dahl is regarding EPC (ends per centimeter) this I had to make educated guesses on based on a mean of the other bands.




The following pictures show my process. I used 50/2 silk at 30 epc in the center and 22 epc on the frilled edges, S spun, and .12mm in size. Mine is 11cm wide (because I used one warp for two different bands).


50/2 silk came out at .12mm thickness (a little larger than what was reported for most of the bands)


The warping process is always a bit of a tangled mess.


Keeping everything as orderly as possible to have less tangles later.


I believe this is the 300 center threads.


Reed is threaded and everything is neat and orderly.


I started out with a full pound on the edges…not sure what I was thinking there…way too much!


I ended up going down and down and down in weight until I was at just 2 washers, which was 2.7 oz


This picture shows at 4 oz weight how the frills just start to develop. The method is to weave approx 20 picks, and then use a pin to hold the frill straight while you weave another 20 picks. (better pictures of this later)


At 2oz weight and with a straight edge its really easy to see the frills, prior to pinning them between sets.


This clearly shows the differing levels of frills, the lowest is 1lb, the middle is 4oz, and the upper section is the 2oz.


To my abject horror my steel heddles were leaving awful black marks on the silk, I didn’t know if this was ever going to come out, but I kept weaving and had faith that I could clean is somehow. Which I ended up doing with the help of my son’s soccer team! I used the same falsnaph soap that I used on his white soccer socks and it worked like a charm.


Here is the entire band wet finished and clean! Ready to dry.



Now for color!! This piece has one white frill and the other side’s frill is red! Some similarities to the band #85 are that the white frill was doubled threads, but the red frill was single heavier thread instead of doubled threads. This was perfect as I currently had red in 20/2, a little more than double the width. You can see from the extant pictures that it also was folded lengthwise. It was 11cm wide and 140cm long, I didn’t have quite that much warp left, so mine is only 90cm long. Also because I did not leave my edges with the longer warp I needed to for the frills. I think you can faintly see parts where the white weft is showing through the red warp, and also some bleeding across the center of the upper picture where it was apparently folded across. These two facts make me believe that the naturally dyed red would have bled to cover most of their white weft. Where on mine you can still see a lot of the white through my red. My red silk is chemical dyed and will likely not bleed as much.


This will make a very pretty barbette for someone.


The last of the narrow bands I wove was a bit different but had some more information than the first two. It was z spun silk, at .1-.2mm in both warp and weft. It was 36-38 epc warp and 24-26 epc weft. Total width of 13cm with frilled edges 1.5-1.6cm wide, with a epc of 35 epc but the thread here was double the thickness of the center of the band at about .3mm. The colored stripes are composed of red threads at .9-1mm, brown at .6-.7, and white at .2-.3. All larger than the center of the band. And additionally it had another frilled ribbon sewn onto the woven in frill on one side.


Weaving this one took a lot of experimenting, and a load of patience. It was the longest I wove, the finest warp and weft at 120/2 and double that for the frills at 60/2. Plus the added complexity of the decorative stripes.

Because the frills on this one were so much wider it was even more difficult to get an even edge. The following video demonstrates this, wherein I carefully “lay” the weft into each shed, careful to not pull at the edge at all, and the results when you do. As well as showing how the pins work on the edges.

Weaving Frills

The stripes went in with nary a hitch, though all of my “stripe” threads are the same size as the edge warp threads at 60/2 size. The embroidery of the red was done while it was still stretched tight on the loom allowing me to keep things very even and neat.

One special problem is caused by the frilled section not being weighted and the ensuing tangles this can cause in your warp, as shown in the following video.

Dealing with tangle warp on back side

The faint striping in the veil is caused by the reed being much wider than the warp threads.


I’m pretty happy with the gauziness I managed to get even though its mostly grouped in fours because of the reed.


I have no idea how to wear it, but I’m sure its not like this!

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