In the last weeks I’ve been working on making a kokoshnik. A kokoshnik is a tiara-like Russian headdress as worn with the traditional costume. There’s many shapes and styles of kokoshniks, in various sizes and detail of decoration. Here’s some of the prettiest ones I could find online:

19th century, from the Met

Metmuseum, 19th century

Metmuseum, 18th century


Those were the really fancy ones, of course. Some smaller examples:

Metmuseum, around 1800


Metmuseum, late 19th century


There’s also a lot of examples of Kokoshniks being worn in russian paintings, such as these:

Before I started, I made a couple of sketches of different shapes to see which I’l like best. I didn’t want to make it too big, and all the embroidery would be ribbon or beads stitched on, to make it a bit easier for myself. I picked the top one.


Next came cutting out the pattern, and then the reverse so I could lay it on the fabric and see what pattern looked best.



And this was the front I choose (the blue line is the pattern, the rest was for seam allowance)


All tutorials I’ve seen on making kokoshniks have used buckram to stiffen the piece, but as I don’t have a clue what the Dutch word would be or where to get it, I opted to just use the stiffest interfacing I could find. Instead of millnery wire, I used a simple metal wire to go around the edges and hold it up. I ironed the interfacing onto the back & front piece and stitched the wire onto the edges. I tried this by machine first; it didn’t work and my needle broke after 1,5 cm. A sign to not be lazy.




Next up was laying out the trimmings. I used two trims, one for the circle pattern and one around the edges. The second one was put on later after I’d joined the front and back, but I wanted to check how it looked first.


After the main trim was attached I joined the front and back layers and attached the thing onto a rectangular strap (with interfacing) to serve as a headband.



After this I trimmed the outer border, but I felt it was still missing something. I eventually ended up making small loops at the front out of a black-beaded string type of trimming. I finally added more of this trim to fall down to under the chin. A simple lacing cord was used to tie the whole thing behind my head.