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Kokoshnik Tutorial - Traditional Russian Headpiece Great for a Winter Wedding or Party

Picture of Kokoshnik Tutorial - Traditional Russian Headpiece Great for A Winter Wedding or Party

My take on a Russian Kokoshnik and made from refashioned materials. This Kokoshnik was hand embroidered and beaded in detail and is meant to stand the rigours of use. I also think if you are going to create this for your own or perhaps a friend's wedding day it would be important to sew something that can be kept as a work of art! I liked the traditional Northern Russian use of freshwater pearls in Kokoshnik design and I had just the materials suitable to create this look in a Primark beaded cardigan, which my sister had given me some years back and which I had worn every Winter since to destruction! I also had several other bought or recuperated sewing notions and items, which gave me a basis for the design and I will detail how I used them as I go through the tutorial. The whole costume was based on a refashioning of an embroidered silk dress I had designed and made as an alternative colourway to my own Wedding dress. Luckily, although perhaps not as I am an inveterate hoarder, I had kept all the remnants from that particular project and thus had material with which to match the dress to the headpiece.

The great thing about these headpieces from a construction point of view is that they are made in the flat, so really easy to work on!

The Kokoshnik was made for the actress Kerry Browne, as requested in yellow gold, which is not an easy colour to carry off but I think you'll agree that she did this with beauty and éclat.


Virtually all mine were repurposed/refashioned and comprised

Ribbons - These I used in appliqué to create flowers, as bead fringing and to make the traditional fastening for the headpiece.

Beads - These I recuperated from beaded cardigans, broken or discarded fashion jewellery, of which I was given a whole bag by kind relatives. Many of these pieces although artificial in themselves actually take on a whole new look, when applied to a different setting. I particularly liked the metal bead holders, which I modified and used as the centre of my fabric flowers. You can buy these bead holders in various designs and of course many other types of bead in bulk on-line. Again, as with the faux jet fringing pictured above some of these beads came from a gift ribboning and garland haul. They were originally threaded onto plastic thread but with the addition of thin ribbon from the golden garland above left and some 'seed pearls' from my old beaded cardigan.

Haberdashery Notions - One thing that turned up in a 'lucky bag' I purchased a couple of years back from my local fabric shop, was a golden net neckline appliqué for a full petticoat or slip (see images above). I decided to use this as the basis of a beaded embellishment to form the 'vase' for my planned appliqué flowers.

Fabrics - As mentioned the background material for the Kokoshnick was an embroidered gold silk remnant from the dress, this was lined with a dull golden lining fabric, again this is easy to purchase on-line. The fabric to make the flowers needs to be artificial otherwise the process I use for curling the petals and giving the flowers shape, will not work. I purchased a half metre of organza and the rest I made up from remnants of lining fabric. Traditional Kokoshniks were stiffened with cardboard and you can use this but I had some heavy duty interfacing left over from another project so I used that.

Step 1: Start With The Central Motif

Picture of Start With The Central Motif

Although you will want to create your own central design for your Kokoshnik, in the following I'll share how I made mine because the techniques could be useful. I started by pinning down my golden neckline appliqué onto a piece of linen. This made it easier to see and thus to work on! I then went on to create a ribbon rose on the base and used small glass beads from my beaded cardigan to highlight the edges of the petals and give them more form. I didn't buy any special needles for this, I just found the thinnest gauge one that would thread through the beads I had. I then highlighted sections of the neckline appliqué with my 'freshwater pearls' and a sprinkling of crystal beads with mounts that could be sewn into the net and sit flat.

Making Ribbon Roses I made three in all on the neckline appliqué. I started by creating a five pointed star in plain gold cotton, which would be invisible beneath the folds of the 'petals'. Then secured the end of my golden ribbon with a glass bead and sewed it to the middle of the star to make a neat start to the centre of the rose. Then threading the other end of the ribbon onto a large eyed needle, I wove it in and out of the points of the star, loosely forming the petals. Before you start it is a good idea to plan out how much ribbon you will need, by just approximating the form of the rose. I finished off the rose by tucking the end underneath the last petal and sewing it down. I then highlighted several petals of the rose with glass beads.

There's more to Instructables than just projects, today I learned a new, descriptive word:


Thanks for sharing!

Pavlovafowl (author)  BeachsideHank2 years ago

Hi there BeachsideHank, it is an elegant word and I hope you will find many occasions on which to use it! All the very best and thanks for your kind comments, Sue