Monday, August 29, 2011

Making a povoinik

I thought I'd share how I assembled my little coif/povoinik since I haven't been really able to find much information.  Lisa Kies/ Mistress Sofya la Rus (as always) is the go to source for Russian re-enactors in English.  Her website is FABULOUS.  She has 3 "patterns" for povoinik, but I thought it might be helpful to go step by step.  This is the 3rd pattern.  I'm using it because it seems a bit more accurate to me.  Not that that is necessarily true, because we have no extant pieces to compare it to, but it is much more like the povoinik that is worn with traditional costume.  It also has a lot in common with Elizabethan coifs.  In addition to Sofya's site, I'm using the instructions from a site on traditional dress.  It's in Russian and I'm working with directions via Google translate, so its a bit interesting, but I did like the cuts used.  I also like the lining and additional decorative back piece, even if I didn't do mine that way.

So, here we go.  I'm doing my povoinik in a soft peach silk.  In part that is so that it will match the appliques (since this is the dupatta for the outfit I scavenged them from) but mostly its because I have a shortage of white linen in the right weight right now.  Linens and brocades would all be nice for this project.  I probably actually want more body to the fabric than I will end up with, but I do plan to add a removable lining later so that I can wash the lining without having to wash the whole hat and that should take care of some of the issue.

Step 1: Cut a rectangle.  The Russian instructions suggest about 10x13" and Sofya says to do the height the length from ear to ear over your head (plus seam allowances) and the width the length from your forehead to your nape.  I cut mine pretty large since I have a melon for a head. (mine's about 14x20)  Cut two slits on the front edge about 3 inches in about 4 inches deep.  As a side note, don't iron your fabric and then sit on it crumbling it up into a pile of wrinkles.

Step 2: Gather the center section.  You actually want to gather the whole thing, turning the corners and gathering all 3 sides.

 Step 3:  Sew the two short ends of your outside pieces together.  This seam is now the center of the front of the povoinik. 

Step 4: sew your gathered edge to the front band of the coif distributing the gathers evenly.   Now would also be a good time to do a rolled hem on the short sides of the rectangle.

Step 5:  Take the other long end of your rectangle, turn it under and sew a casing/hem.

Step 6:  thread a drawstring through your casing.

Now the fun part comes.  Decoration!  You'll notice in the Russian article that there is a wide piece of trim put over the forehead piece which covers the seam.  That makes it really convenient to make your povoinik and then add a slip of embroidery so that you're not trying to do the decoration on two separate pieces that are then seamed together.   I'm planning to embroider the forehead, and then attach a facing to finish the front edge and cover the gathering on the inside.  How you finish the front edge is going to depend on how you chose to decorate the forehead.  I made one where I wanted a narrow front band and just folded it in half and stitched it down inside making it into a facing.

I'll get going on the embroidery/applique and babble about more finishing options as I show you my progress. 

BTW, this isn't nearly as puffy on my head as on the mannequin.  As I said, I have a large noggin, and the poor dear has no hair to need the extra volume created by the gathers, where I do when I get my double braids wrapped around my head.


  1. This is so clear! Thanks for photographing step by step.

  2. Hello! Would it be possible to see a picture of the completed povoinik on someone's head? I am wondering how voluminous it actually is. Thanks!