War & Peace: Summing up the Toque

At last, after another day’s delay, here comes the final challenge post to sum up Josephine’s toque. Looking back at this year’s HSM entries so far, I must say that it has been my favorite project so far. It made me realize just how much I enjoy delving into period embroidery and how I should really be doing more of it again in the future. :)

Yesterday, the time had finally come to put the toque on the hat stand to take a few pictures. I noticed then that it looks a bit big on my ladies’ XL-sized form. This is most likely owed to the fact of me having grown quite the mob of hair over the past year. Although I now have enough hair to work with in a proper Regeny way, the toque might get an “extension”, in the shape of a curly hairpiece, over one of the upcoming challenges. Here is an image of the matched piece Joséphine used to wear with her stunning cap, to give you an idea of what it would look like:

Curly hairpiece worn by Empress Joséphine (French National Museum, Grand Palais).

But now, here are some more facts and photos detailing my toque:

The Challenge: HSM #4 – “War & Peace”.

How does the item fit into the challenge? I recreated this toque (in a slightly more modest fashion) to iliustrate how Napoleon’s success on Europe’s battlefields enabled his family to dress lavishly and become fashion icons of the period.

Fabric: Approximately 1/2 yd. of cotton net and some plain white cotton shirting to line the band.

Pattern: My own, modeled after Empress Joséphine’s extant example.

Years: Before 1815.

Notions: Textured gold embroidery thread, seed beads, cotton thread.

How historically accurate is it? The toque is embroidered and sewn entirely by hand, but some of the materials used might not conform with period equivalents.

Total cost: The cotton net came from a thrifted old curtain (which is now a rather lavish, somewhat wearable curtain ;) ). The beads and gold thread cost about € 7. So it should be € 8 altogether.

Hours to complete: Many evenings and two whole weekends. ;)

First worn: This Wednesday night, to try it out and make it dry more quickly, after rinsing out the last of the pattern markings,
And, here are the pictures of the completed goodness. I still do a little happy dance, every time I look at them. Perhaps, once I have completed a matching ball gown of sheer white muslin, I will post a picture of how it looks on my actual head. :) For now, I got Jane, the hat model, to show it off:

The toque’s front.

The toque’s side.

The toque’s back.

This brings a very productive April to its end. In May, I will finish a very practical Edwardian item for everyday use around the house. After that, it is due time for me to finally get cracking on my first “real” Regency corset. Of course. I will keep you up to date about these sewing adventures as well as I can. But, for now, I will enjoy the remainder of the holiday weekend. :)

Have a wonderful weekend, Nessa



6 thoughts on “War & Peace: Summing up the Toque

  1. Michelle H. says:

    Quite charming to follow your progress to the finished piece. Lovely. Looking forward to that matching ball gown, and the corset…..corset building always seems impossibly challenging to me.

    • Nessa says:

      Thank you Michelle! The ball gown might take another while to come to life, since I need the corset to go underneath it first. ;) And yes, corset making makes me somewhat uneasy, too. The challenge I am trying to make it for is called “Out Of The Comfort Zone” and it describes the project pretty well. ;)


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