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.




8 thoughts on “Kokoshnik

  1. Pingback: #ThrowbackFashion Ensemble, 1968 by Giorgio di Sant’Angelo (American, born Italy, 1933–1989) | DUC C. NGUYÊN BLOG

  2. Hi, I just love how you did the kokoshnik, it was charming!
    There’s something I’m still confusing is the top of the kokoshnik (not the headband), what material you used to make it stand on like that?

    • Thanks! :). I used the thickest iron-on interfacing I could find to stiffen the fabric. I used 2 layers, one ironed on the back and one ironed on the front piece. I believe you could also use buckram for this (hat-making stuff), but I couldn’t find any. This step will stiffen the panel, but won’t make it stand up on it’s own, so I used metal thread (2mm thick I believe), which I sewed onto the inside. You can see this in the pictures. That metal will make it stand up. Hope this helps!

  3. Pingback: Как сделать кокошник своими руками - мастер-класс

  4. First, Your headpiece is awesome, I love it!!! I want to do a traditional Russian dress, about WWII era, but I don’t have idea where I can find information about this period. Do you know where? Thanks so much

    • Thank you! I know a little about Russian folk dress, but not that much. It very much depends on region as well (Russia is huge), and if you want the traditional as in: what people actually wore, or as in: what the state proposed as ‘national’ dress, as there might be some differences there as well ;). Do you have images of what you’re looking for?

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