Catalogue of Sorts

What I wear, when I wear it, and how it works on my bike

Cocktail Event

We’re going to a 20’s themed fancy cocktail reception this weekend. It would be the perfect occasion for the Folkwear Paris Promenade dress.


I may still wear the Paris Promenade dress, but I don’t know what I’d wear on my head. I don’t have a cocktail hat of the right era in the right colors. So I’m considering wearing a plisse tank dress from H&M with a turban. The H&M dress is not historically accurate, but fits what most people think of when someone says “flappper!”. If I tie a scarf low at the hip, it will bring the silhouette even more in line with the basic shorthand for 1920’s dress. Plus, I really like the idea of a turban. I picked up some fake silk and some sequin pendants for turban-making.

I know how to tie a fashion turban, using a square, folded in half (e.g. Vintage Hair Styles) and I’m familiar with how to wrap scarves in other fashions (e.g. the Pathe film of 1940’s turbans, or the velvet how to). But I’m most interested in the How To for a Glamorous Movie Star Turban images of Dorothy Sebastian and a similar set of Doris Kenyon. The instructions are not the best (partly because it’s hard to read the Kenyon spread–you can see both here).

Here is my interpretation of the instruction:

1) Find a 36 inch wide fabric with a nice drapey texture and cut a yard and 1/8th length. You now have a rectangle roughly 40.5 inches long and 36 inches wide. Modern fabric is usually sold in 45″ width or 60″ width although you can sometimes find linings in 36″ width.  Cut your width down to 36″, it will reduce bulk in later stages.

2) Measure from the center of the crown of your head (or the point on your forehead where you’d like the turban to rest) to the nape of your neck, pulling the measuring tape over the top of your head. The original instructions say “On the length of the silk, measure the depth of your head from forehead to neck.”

2a) Alternately, drape the fabric over your head, with the length going from side to side and the width going front to back. Hold the fabric to your head where you want the turban to sit and mark the nape of your neck on the fabric.

My illustration of what Dorothy Sebastian is demonstrating by holding her hands near her chin–she’s marking the spot on the back of the fabric where it should be split to form tails for wrapping around your head to make a fashion turban.

3) Cut the fabric in half at the nape marking, leaving the bit that covers your head uncut. (The instructions say “Leaving this length untouched, cut the remaining entire length in half.” You now have a rectangle of fabric which is partly split into tails. I stitched along the top of the cut to prevent ripping. The fabric frayed like crazy while I was experimenting with the draping, so I ended up running a small hem around all the edges. There’s so much tucking involved with wrapping the turban, you don’t need any fancy rolled or invisible hem.

4) At the center of the uncut fabric (the part that makes the front of your turban), run some gathering stitches from front to back. The instructions on the photos say “Shirr the edge of the uncut piece to hold the turban across the top of your forehead.” Modern shirring is done with elastic bobbin thread–I don’t have elastic bobbin thread and I hate machine shirring as a process. But the shirring is intended to help hold the turban in place, so running a bit of elastic along the front edge where the turban sits on your head is not a bad idea.  Stretch the elastic a bit as you sew, run a zigzag stitch, then when you let go, the elastic will pull back and make some gathers at the center.

4a) Alternately, you can hold it in place with fashion tape and bobby pins. Which is what I plan to do.

5) You place the scarf on your head, with the shirring centered at the front and then wrap the tails. You start by crossing the tails at the nape of your neck, pulling tight to get a good fit. Using bobby pins also helps. You then wrap the pieces across the front and tuck them. Now’s the time to pin a decoration to the top, if you like.

I went with a flower because it was lighter and I was having trouble getting the rhinestone pieces to stay in place.




This entry was posted on July 12, 2017 by in Going Out Fancy, Sewing.




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