The bycocket (or chapel à bec) needs no introduction—a fashionable hat from the 14th to 16th century worn by men, women, and sometimes animals in period art. Bycockets come in many shapes, sizes, and colors with adornments such as feathers, brocade, colored liners, and beads. Finé ingen Fáeláin made her own bycocket using a wool felt hat blank using this tutorial on YouTube and a cloche hat blank from Amazon.
The basic construction steps (as elaborated on in the video) involve:
- Wetting and heating the wool with an iron
- Stretching the hat blank to fit your skull
- Creasing the folded brim of the hat with an iron
- Trimming the brim of the hat to your desired shape and height with chalk and some sharp scissors
One aspect of construction that is not explained in detail in the video is the forming of the skull-hugging portion of the hat. When pulling the hat blank over your skull, it’s important to pull from the sides of your head as well as the front and back. This ensures even stretching of the wool, and a head-shaped hat with a brim that doesn’t stick out awkwardly or sag away from the rest of the hat. Thankfully, if a hat is overstretched in one direction, more stretch can be added in the opposite direction to correct the shape.
Finé chose to leave herhat unlined and add a couple plague-edition pilgrim pins. Eventually, she would like to add at least a linen liner in case the felt dye decides to wander onto her veil or wimple, and perhaps also a contrasting brocade on the turned brim of the hat.
As fall approaches our Debatable Lands, fresh layers of warm garb are a welcome sight. This is Finé’s first felt project as well as her first non-sewn hat. It was a straightforward project that any beginner can make with household tools. Happy crafting!