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Projects: Veils

A veil-like hair clip is also described on the Projects: Hair Accessories page.

General Guidelines

If you are not confident about your abilities and/or don't have much time to devote to measuring (or mistakes), a commercial pattern is very easy to use. Vogue, Burda, Butterick, McCalls, and Simplicity all produce good basic bridal veil patterns, many of which also include directions for some sort of headpiece. They generally cost $8-$15 (most large fabric chains sell patterns at half price or less), contain all the instructions, list exactly what's needed and how much of it, and the tissue provides a fail-safe cutting guide.

However, if you feel adventurous, or have some sewing experience and just need a few specific pointers, here are some basic instructions for making several types of veils. Recommended tools and supplies are:

  • Scissors (sharp dressmaking shears are best) or a rotary cutter and cutting mat
  • Small weights for laying out the tulle (cans of food or smooth clean rocks work)
  • Tape measure and/or yardstick
  • Pins
  • Embroidery needle
  • Heavy-duty thread (such as upholstery thread) to match the fabric
  • Iron (useful, but not absolutely necessary)

Depending upon the style of veil you want, you may also need:

  • Something to attach the veil to your hair (comb, velcro, bridal loops, headband, etc.). Bridal loops are sold by the yard at fabric stores. Headbands are also sold there, but they're almost always white satin, so you'll need to cover them with fabric to match your veil color.
  • Satin cord, soutache, or other edging
  • Small silk roses, ribbons, sequins, crystals, or other decorations
  • Clear fabric glue, tweezers, and toothpicks for attaching decorations
  • Jewelry wire
  • String
  • Soap or tailor's chalk to mark a line on fabric
  • Pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Duct tape (holds the world together!)

Tulle is the traditional choice for veils, but chiffon and organza also make pretty veils. However, unlike tulle, most other fabrics must be edged to keep them from unraveling. If you don't have a serger or don't want to spend a lot of time hand-rolling veil edges, you might want to stick with tulle.

The amount of fabric you need will vary, depending on your height and the style you want. Traditional lengths are:

  • Shoulder or blusher, 18"-24"
  • Waist, 30"
  • Fingertip, 40"
  • Chapel or floor, 60"-72"
  • Cathedral, 108" or longer

For fingertip and longer veils, 108" width tulle works best. Unless you want a very full look, 72" width works fine for shorter lengths.

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Band Veil

This is an easy way to make a veil with lots of possibilities for personalization.

Materials:

  • Horseshoe-shaped headband (if you can find them, wire ones are particularly good because it's easy to sew everything onto them, and you don't have to worry about covering the wrong color of fabric).
  • Tulle or netting in the desired length (this style works better with shorter-length veils).
  • Decorations. For bridal wear, silk roses or ribbon is a good choice. For clubbing, the sky's the limit--kitty ears, devil horns, or whatever else strikes you.

Directions:

  1. Fold the tulle over. You can fold it in half lengthwise for a full, short veil or fold it widthwise for a longer and less "poofy" veil. You can also stagger the fold (i.e., don't fold it right in half) for a more layered look.

  2. Use the heavy thread to run a basting stitch (long and loose) in and out of the tulle along the fold. Bunch the fabric along the stitch, keeping the thread straight to pleat the tulle. The width of the bunched part should be approximately the same length as the headband.

  3. Stitch the tulle to the hair band securely. If you wish, you can add additional layers on top of the first one, using the same method. Stitch flowers or ribbon over the headband to hide where the tulle is attached. Add other decorations as desired.

Notes:

  • For a different effect, try folding two colors of net together. Place one on top of the other, fold both over, and stitch as described above, making sure that you catch both layers in the stitching.

  • For a tiara veil, sew an old rhinestone bracelet over the net instead of ribbon.

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Delia Veil

This is a "puffy" veil which also covers your face.

Materials:

  • Tulle or netting in the desired length
  • Decorations: Silk roses, ribbons, and so forth
  • Small hair combs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Fold the tulle in half lengthwise. Place it on a flat surface and weight the corners, then find the center point on the fabric and weight that down as well.

  2. Cut a piece of string a few inches longer than you want the veil to be. Tie one end of the string to the center weight and the other end to a piece of chalk. Mark out a half circle with the chalk, then carefully cut along the line you drew.

    If you want more than one layer, repeat the above steps as many times as necessary. Make the circles progressively smaller for a tiered effect.

  3. Once all of the cicles are cut out, lay them out flat and center them with the smaller circles on top.

  4. Carefully fold the circles in half together, then in half again, then in half once more (so the circles are folded in eighths).

  5. Grab the point of the fold firmly and arrange the fabric so it falls out evenly over your hand like a fountain. Wrap some thread around the bottom of the point to keep it together.

  6. Sew the point together above the wrapped thread to secure the tulle in the correct shape.

  7. Snip off any excess beneath the secured point. Attach a decoration (flowers, a big spider, etc.) to the top to hide the stitching.

  8. If desired, sew small combs underneath the topknot to secure the veil to your head. Otherwise, secure with bobby pins.

Notes:

  • If you attach a bouquet of flowers, you may want to stick the stems down in the fabric point before you tie it with the thread so the blooms lay flush on top.

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Long Veil

This is a longer veil, which looks good layered.

Materials:

  • Tulle or netting in the desired length (this style is for longer lengths)
  • Coat hanger or round veil form (available at craft stores)
  • Satin ribbon
  • Silk flowers
  • Rocaille beads and/or glitter (optional)

Directions:

  1. Snip the hook off the coat hanger and bend the rest of the wire around your head until it fits--not too snugly--in the back. Trim the wire so that the ends overlap about 2 inches. Secure the overlapping part with duct tape (use as little as possible).

  2. Tie one end of the ribbon to the tape, leaving a short "tail" free. Carefully wrap the ribbon tightly and neatly around the wire, covering the wire completely. If desired, coat the wire very lightly with glue, one section at a time, taking care not to get glue on the outside of the ribbon. Once the wire is covered, put it aside to dry.

  3. The amount of tulle you use depends on how long you want the veil to be, and how many layers you want it to have. For the longest desired length, hold one end of the tulle to the back of your head and let it fall to the length that you want it. Grab it at the "cut off" point and mark it, then hold the mark to the back of your head and mark the place where you want the second layer to fall. Cut at that mark. (When cutting the tulle you might want to allow enough extra to round the ends a bit. If you plan to tatter it afterwards it really isn't necessary.)

  4. The tulle should now be folded at the first mark. Fold it lengthwise like a paper fan and run a loose stitch through the flat part of the mark (which should be less than an inch wide) a few times. When you let go, the pleats should fan out to cover 2-4 inches.

  5. Take the remaining tulle, fold it in half, and cut off any excess length. This will be the part that can fall over your face if desired. Fold and sew as for the previous piece.

  6. Take the longer veil and fold it over the headband so that the shorter piece goes over the top. Stitch it on so that the pleats fall evenly off the back.

  7. Take the second veil and lay the sewn pleated middle over the spot where the other veil is attached. Sew it down so that the pleats fall evenly in both directions. You should now have three layers in the back and one that will fall over your face. Try it on to make sure it fits and that you're happy with the lengths.

  8. Take the flowers and twist the stems together to make a chain of flowers with no gaps (no stems visible from top or sides). The chain should be about 4 inches long. Attach this to the part where the veils are attached, covering the previous sewing. No stems should show from any angle.

Notes:

  • Before attaching flowers you can put a very light coating of glue on the very edges of the petals and dust them with glitter.

  • Sew beads to the outside of the head band (if you put them inside they hurt).

  • Attach ribbons that can flow prettily behind you where the veil and flowers are attached.

  • Bend one end of a long piece of jewelry wire, string rocaille beads on it, and attach like ribbons.

  • Attach a dangly bead or other ornament to the middle front of the headband, so it rests in the middle of your forehead.

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Suggested Ornaments:

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