Flinderhaube – project documentation

Hans Part. Identity Unknown - 17 (Babenberger Stammbaum Detail).  c. 1489-1492.

Image taken from the Babenberg Family Tree, Hans Part, 1489-93.

The flinderhaube (from the German flinderlien – spangles/metal flakes and haube – cap/caul) is a piece of headwear that was popular amongst noble women from Swabia in particular, although there are variations on the style that have been seen in other parts of Germany, including Saxony and Cologne/Cleves (or, in the very least, there are examples of spangled headwear from all these regions). It first appears in portraits and illustrations of the late 15th century (notably the Babenberg family tree, see the above image for one example) and seems to have been in vogue up until well into the 17th century – there’s an extant one in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum that dates from roughly 1600-1650. The style appears to get wider at the sides of the head as the century wears on, at least in Bavaria and Swabia.

Flinderhauben (which I am using as a general term for spangled cauls/caps) from Saxony and Cleves/Cologne seem to have slightly different shapes, and smaller, more sparsely positioned spangles. They also tend to follow regional style lines of other non-spangled hauben found in the respective regions. Interestingly, the southern German styles (Bavarian/Swabian) appear to be more prolifically spangled.

This was my first attempt at making a flinderhaube, in a late 15th century Swabian style. I also chose to make the spangles myself, punched from embossing foil, as I was unable to find any of the right shape and size.

Visual representations of flinderhauben:

To initially formulate a pattern, I looked at a number of different sources. Initially, the flinderhauben as seen in the Babenberg family tree inspired me, and I noticed a few different styles, as seen below:


Hans Part. Markgräfin Sophie (Babenberger Stammbaum Detail).  c. 1489-1492.   Hans Part. Markgräfin Adelheid (Babenberger Stammbaum Detail).  c. 1489-1492   Hans Part. Identity Unknown - 5 (Babenberger Stammbaum Detail).  c. 1489-1492. Hans Part. Herzogin Helene, Wife of Leopolds V (Babenberger Stammbaum Detail).  c. 1489-1492.   Hans Part. Agnes von Meran, 2nd Wife of Herzog Friedrichs II and Sophia von Byzanz (Babenberger Stammbaum Detail).  c. 1489-1492.

 Images above taken from the Babenberg Family tree, Hans part, c1489-93.

What I noticed from these ones above is that they tend to be slightly bulbous… not so much like the wide 1640’s ones, but not as tightly fitting as the other slightly later, non-spangled hauben of the region (see pic below). They can also we worn on their own, or with other articles, such as veils. It’s hard to tell whether the spangles are stitched onto a fabric base, or incorporated into a netting base in these pics above. Some of them appear to have a smooth finish on the spangles, whereas others appear to have more texture to them (possibly a stamped/relief design).

This appears to have been an item of dress that continued to be worn in various ways well into the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth.

Jakob Seisenegger - Portrait of a Girl - another spangled caulAbove: Jakob Seisenegger – Portrait of a Girl, 1545-50

Further to the above images, there is a fabulous statue of Maria Blanka in Innsbruck Cathedral in Austria, which gives us an almost 360 degree view of one way that a how a 16th century style of flinderhaube can be worn:

Maria Blanka, Kopf1 Maria Blanka, Kopf4 Maria Blanka, Kopf3

Above: Images of a statue of Maria Blanka (c1520), taken from the book Die Bronze-Statuen am Grabmal Maximilians, by Vinzenz Oberhammer (1943).

The other fabulous thing about this statue is that it shows a definite contrast in texture between her hair and the haube, which makes a lot of sense if the spangles and netted pattern/couching are sewn to a fabric base or lining, rather than just incorporated into the netting.

There’s also this great painting of Bianca Maria Sforza, who was Maximilian I’s second wife, wearing what looks like a netted flinderhaube, and some sort of padding (either hair or a padded roll perhaps) underneath, reminiscent of the shape of the padded wulsthaube women were wearing at the time:

Bianca Maria SforzaAbove: Bernard Strigel, c1510, portrait of Bianca Maria Sforza.

The hauben from the western parts of Germany (Cleves/Cologne/Westphalia etc) that I’ve seen so far tend to be from a few decades later, of the more structured style, smooth around the hairline and top of the head, and flaring out a bit towards the sides at the top, and tend to be the netted variety over a fabric base or lining. The spangles are smaller, and more spread out.

 Bartel Bruyen, portrait of a woman, 1533 - spangled headwear    Bartel Bruyen portrit of a woman, detail of spangled headwear

 Above: Bartel Bruyen, portrait of a woman, 1533 (Cologne), and detail of the haube – note the gold netting with over the red fabric base, and the round spangles incorporated into the netting.
   1593 Unknown artist in the manner of Ludger tom Ring the Younger (1522-1584) Portrait of a Noblewoman Above: Quite a late example. 1593 Unknown artist in the manner of Ludger Tom Ring the Younger, Portrait of a Noblewoman.

The Saxon hauben are different again. They’re cut much more like the pearled and embroidered goldhauben also worn  in Saxony at the time, but have spangles incorporated into the couching/embroidery. Some of the examples I have come across so far have that fabric base, even if a network of gold threads has been couched or netted on over the top. Compare the top two images (with spangles) to the shape of the bottom two images (no spangles):

George Pencz, 1500-1550 portrait of a lady, Nuremberg, muskegon museum of art         Cranach, spangled caul cranach-lucas-der-altere--judith-and-holofernes-2556103         Cranach - Anna Von Minckwitz, 1543

 Top row: left – Georg Pencz, portrait of a lady, c1540; Right – detail from Lucas Cranach, Sampson and delilah, c1529 (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Bottom row: Left – Lucas Cranach, Judith with the head of Holofernes, 1530s; Right – Lucas Cranach,  Anna Von Minckwitz, 1543.

Added to those, there is also this image, which shows a women who appears to be wearing a netted flinderhaube underneath other veils/headwear (which echoes some of the Swabian examples above, in terms of incorporating the flinderhaube with other elements of headwear, such as veils :

CRANACH DIGITAL ARCHIVE - headdressAbove: Lucas Cranach, detail from Hercules and Omphale, 1537.

Written references to flinderhauben:

Zander-Seidel (1990) has documented references to spangled headwear in her book Textiler Hausrat: kleidung und haustextilien in Nürnberg vin 1500-1650. Unfortunately, these are all early to mid seventeenth century, but it does show that they were still around and being worn, and combined with the earlier pictorial evidence, shows that they were considered an object different enough to rate a separate mention from the other caps and headwear.

Her entries are from various wills and inventories and include the following entries (please note, page numbers refer to the corresponding pages in her book).  With a combination of the limited German I’ve picked up, Google Translate, the Early Modern High German online dictionary and my trusty Collins German dictionary, I’ve come up with the following translation. Please note, I’m happy for this to be corrected by anyone who might have a better idea of the language than I do (which is probably anyone who speaks German in the first place):

1640… Sabina Harsdörffer… 1 guldene Haarhauben mit flinderlein… 1 solche Hauben mit klein flinderlein… 1 schlechte solche Haarhauben mit Stefften und Flinderlein (p122).

1640… Sabina Harsdörffer 1 golden hair hood with spangles 1 such hood with small spangles 1 such bad/poor hair hood with Stefften [not sure what this is meant to be!]  and spangles.

She has several other references relating to goldhauben and other hair caps/nets, however I’ve been unable to translate them to-date, due to my lack of knowledge of the language. I’ll be looking into getting those translated, and will update this post accordingly.

Extant flinderhauben and other similar headwear:

To my knowledge there is one extant flinderhaube, as part of the Germanischen National-museum’s collection. It dates from just out of period however its exact date appears to be  somewhat uncertain. According to the museum, it dates from 1650-1700, but according to Zander-Seidel (1990) it dates to c1640. Although the haube is slightly out of period, it still provides a useful insight into the construction of both the spangles, and the haube itself:

 fe51985596       ff1b24347da04b37bb48a086913a9954 T35_1248111345525_k3      T35_1248111369947_k3

Above: PIctures of an extant 17th century flinderhaube (inventory number T35) in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum,

For those of you who are interested, the direct link to the entry in their catalogue is here. It is well worth having a look, as the museum does list further references, for those who can read German. The above-mentioned catalogue entry also contains the following translation from the German into English:

“Patrician Headgear with Dangling Metal Platelets. Copper, gilded, silk, metal threads, macramé knotting, wire, linen lining. “Golden sunshine is sparkling around my forehead: Should I, beautiful one, not be a sun on earth“. The 17th century verses express the prestigious nature of the “gold-sequined” headgear reserved for Nuremberg patricians. Numerous metal platelets on wire pins dangle over a padded silk base. Light and sound reflections enhanced the decorative effect. The headgear is also seen in portraits as an element of upper-class clothing.”

The haube itself is on a netted/knotted base, with the spangles incorporated into the process. According to the museum’s website, the spangles are added to the silk netting via little loops of wire, which they hang off. The flinderhaube is quite wide, and has the linen supports, which according to the museum description, are part of the haube (for a while I was unsure if this was the case or whether they were part of the display stand). It also adds weight to the idea that perhaps the earlier 15th century styles also had something to hold the bulbous shape out slightly (whether that be false braids, or a padded roll of sorts). After having worn my flinderhaube for the first time to an event  and noticing that it seemed to droop at the back rather a lot, I’ll be giving this idea a go next time I wear it.

The spangles are tear-drop shaped, with a smooth surface, and made of gilded copper, according to the museum’s description.

Other similar headwear:

In order to get an idea of the shape I needed to work with, I considered numerous different representations and extant headwear from Germany and other places close by. These examples included fabric coifs and cauls, netted cauls and other hoods and the like. I felt this was a good approach as there’s also a number of examples of women wearing unspangled netted cauls during the same time period, which seem to sit on the head in a similar way and shape. A few examples of these unspangled netted cauls can be seen below:

    Magdalena of Valois,Princessse de Viana (1443-1495) with her fiance Ladislaus 1457 by unknown Austrian artist  1530s Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553) Judith Victorious  1537 hercules and omphaleCRANACH, Lucas the Elder Portrait of a Young Woman 1525-35   CRANACH, Lucas the Elder Portrait of a Young Woman c. 1530 Margarethe von Ponickau 1526     Katharina-v-Bora-1526 Cranach

Images above (all detail pics): Row 1 – Unknown Austrian artist, Magdalena of Valois, (1443-1495); Lucas Cranach, 1530s, Judith Victorious; Lucas Cranach, 1537, Hercules and Omphale. Row 2 – Lucas Cranach, 1525-35, Portrait of a young woman; Lucas Cranach, c1530, portrait of a young woman; Row 3 – Lucas Cranach, 1526, Margarethe von Ponickau; Lucas Cranach, c1526, Katharina von Bora.

Further to these depictions of , there’s a number of extant netted coifs and cauls from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in museums to give a reasonable idea of their initial shape and how they could potentially be constructed, and a few earlier ones from Germany that show that hairnets were definitely worn in the region (even if they are dated somewhat earlier).

 hairnet, beginning of 16thc, Linz museum

Above: extant hairnet, beginning of the sixteenth century, Linz Museum.

The above hairnet appears to have a similar shape to many of the later 16th century linen fabric cauls found throughout England and the continent at the time. It has a drawstring along the back of the neck, which gathers the caul when they are pulled in. It also appears to have a section of the netting pulled in at the crown of the head, which leads me to think that there is in all likelihood, a small seamline/join the runs from this gathered section at the crown to the centre of the edge around the face. I suspect if this were unpicked, it would resemble a rectangular shape, going by the direction of the netting and the assumption that it shares many construction features with linen coifs.

A hairnet made of red silk from sometime in the 16th century, KIK-IRPA Belgium

Above: Hairnet, 1501-1600, (originally red) silk, object umber 93124, Bisschoppelijk Paleis, Ghent. Link to catalogue entry can be found here.

The above hairnet appears to be constructed in a similar way; in the very least, the direction of the netting/knotwork appears to be consistent with the previous example. It is missing any kind of drawstring (the bottom edge appears to be frayed) and the crown of the head has similar gathering, although the gathered section sits closer to the front of the caul.

Belgian hairnet, 15th or 16th centuryAbove: Belgian hairnet of gold and silver knotted thread, object number 93121, Bisschoppelijk Paleis, Ghent. Link to catalogue entry can be found here.

Again, this hairnet appears to mirror the previous two in terms of broad shape, however the type of knotwork used is somewhat more complex. Like the previous example it is missing a drawstring, but going by the shape, it would be possible for it to have had one previously. However, the hairnet still appears to have a section of gathering at the crown of the head, with the netting done in one consistent direction,

A 16th century child’s hairnet. Found in the tomb of Count von Stubenberg and now at the Johanneum Regional MuseumAbove: a a sixteenth century child’s hairnet found in the tomb of Count von Stubenberg and now in the Johanneum Styrian Regional Museum.

The above hairnet, although lacking a drawstring at the neckline, still appears to have the small gathered section at the crown, and shows an excellent view if the central seam, running from the gathered section out to the front edge of the caul. This caul also has a decorated band around the edge, like several of the paintings above. A number of other examples also exist from earlier on, which appear to use netting in a circular (rather than rectangular) shape, however these will be addressed in a later article, as they sit is a rather different way when worn, that does not really resemble the way flinderhauben sit in the images.

A few pieces of headwear also exist that have a fabric, rather than a netted base. Although not flinderhauben, they do give a few more ideas as to plausible options for haube construction and demonstrate that not all hauben were constructed with a netted or knotted base:

Headdress, 1500's, german, met museum - silk linen metal glassAbove: Headdress, 1500’s, German. Made of silk, linen, metallic thread, spangles, and glass beads. Metropolitan museum of Art.

The above headdress appears to have been cut slightly differently, with a curved seam (no gathering) possibly running along the top and part of the back of the head, which still results in the grain of the fabric being straight around the front edge (it can be seen when the pic is zoomed in on). As a slight tangent, the metallic thread embroidery also uses small, round spangles to highlight the design (although this is used in a very different way to on flinderhauben).


Construction of my first flinderhaube

So with all this in mind, taking into account how I wanted the spangles to sit, the grain of the fabric and construction of both spangled and non-spangled headwear,  I decided to use a more rectangular pattern with a top seam and slight gathering at the crown, for my main pattern.
I decided upon a lightweight silk taffeta for the outer, and also for the lining – I figured lining it was a wise idea to, to give it more support. I also decided to include a drawstring case for a cord at the nape of the neck. Something like this diagram below:

flinderhaube diagram

The measurements for the outer were developed basically just by having a play with a calico toile, putting it in my head, tweaking it, trying it again etc. I was mindful that it needed to be of a size where the front edges could meet at the nape of my neck, and that the gathered section would encase my hair properly. The rectangle ended up being around 60cm by 24cm (excluding seam allowance), although in hindsight, I could have probably made it not as wide and just put in less gathers at the crown.

From here, I needed to figure out how many spangles I’d have to make, and thus their spacing on the flinderhaube. I punched out a few in a couple of different sizes, and laid them over each other in slightly offset rows, to get an idea of how they’d look. In the end, I used 2,826 of the larger spangles (and a few more smaller ones on the under-cap). If you’d like to know how I made the spangles, please see here. Since I wrote these instructions, I’ve been experimenting with a more period style punch, with similar results.

From here, I decided that the larger spangles were a better option (also based on the images above for the style I wanted), with spacing in the rows of 5mm, and spacing between the rows vertically of 1cm, like so below:

spanglesAbove: figuring out the correct spacing, with a 1cm square grid as a guide.

I chose a lightweight silk taffeta, almost bordering on a silk de chine weight-wise, as both the base and the lining, in a luscious rich red tone. Next, I had to figure out how to transfer the spacing guide onto the outer fabric of the haube. Because it’d require something like sixty-odd rows, and forty-something columns, and accurate spacing would make or break the look of the flinderhaube, I decided to mark the guide by pulling threads from the warp and weft of the fabric outer. They wouldn’t show once covered in spangles (as in the more densely spangled 15th century styles), and it’d be an accurate guide for where to stitch the spangles down. I used a pin to pull the threads out after measuring one at a time, then pulled it all the way out.


Above: A pic of the back of the fabric, showing the stitching (the bottom section), but more importantly, the threads I pulled out for measuring the distance between the spangles (top section).

Once that was done, I stitched the fabric to the rectangular embroidery frame, leaving space around the edges as seam allowances for the lining to be attached, and a 1cm row for a drawstring casing, and rolled it up so it was relatively firm.

I had a little bit of a play with what sort of stitch to use to attach the spangles, and decided that the way that seemed most secure, and allowed them to sit how I wanted them to was to place the spangle down, stitch through it twice, then backstitch at the next mark along (without a spangle), then on to the next spangle placement and repeat, a row at a time. So this is what I did. For all 2,826 spangles

P1040538Above: a pic of what the flinderhaube looked like stitched to the embroidery frame,  taken after the gazillion spangles were attached.

As you can imagine, this is a mind numbing task, so it is one that I worked on in company, and with other projects in between, to keep me interested. I also didn’t punch out all the spangles in one go, I did them in batches of a few hundred each time, just to mix things up a bit and stop me going mad with boredom.

Once this stage was complete, I unpicked the haube from the embroidery frame, and cut out the lining. I measured and ironed down the seam allowances, and hand-stitched the lining to the outer, resulting in a big, lined, spangly rectangle:

P1040562    P1040564

Above: the spangled outer hand stitched to the lining.

I left it open at each short side for about a centimetre at the bottom corners, along where the drawstring casing would be, then did a tiny backstitch along the bottom edge, through both layers of fabric, to form a casing for the drawstring.

It was at this point I used the measurements I had previously to figure out how much I needed to stitch the top together. I worked with the inside out, and whipstitched the crown together, leaving the gap for the section to be gathered in at the centre of the crown. I secured this section, then ran a small, even running stitch of doubled-over thread to gather the central section of the crown, pulled it in to gather it, then stitched it to the end of the whipstitched section, resulting in the following:

P1040567 P1040569   P1040570

Above: Top row – flinderhaube turned inside-out, with central seam and pleating completed, laid flat. Bottom row – overview and detail shot of pleated section and whip stitching along the top seam.

From here, I stitched a few more spangles on the outside over he central seam to hide it.

I then took some silk cord I’d had for some time, and plaited it into a drawstring, knotted and fringed with ends, and pulled it through the drawstring casing.

Upon trying it on, I decided it needed a bit more bling, so couched down a couple of rows on freshwater pearls right at the face edge, partly for decoration, and partly to stiffen it slightly, which served both purposes well.

P1040812Above: A close-up view of the top of the flinderhaube. You can see the extra row of spangles I stitched down to hide the centre seam, and also the two rows of pearls right on the edge of the haube. The burgundy fabric underneath with the embroidery and smaller spangles is a cap that is separate to the flinderhaube (the finderhaube is pinned to it in a couple of spots).

At this point, I was quite chuffed at it, but realized that I’d need some kind of hairband or filet to attach it to at the front. Many of the pics seemed to have a little something there, and I’d found in the past this sort of thing would help it stay on my head securely. Some time ago, I’d made an embroidered silk cap to wear with some Flemish garb that I’d never entirely finished, but I’d had it just sitting around so I thought I’d just use that for now (with the addition of another row of couched pearls and some spangles along the hairline), even if it wasn’t quite right (as it’d show only at the front). I do intend to make a rectangular filet to wear with the flinderhaube soon, but until then, this will do.

Going from the 15th century images of flinderhauben, they can be worn a number of slightly different ways, including just on their own with all the hair tucked underneath them, plaits or unbraided hair showing slightly at the sides, and the haube itself padded out slightly.

I’m generally pretty happy with this first effort, although I plan to attempt a netted version next, with smaller spangles. I found that this version tended to droop a little at the back, which could potentially be fixed by padding it out slightly, or (on the next one) by making it not as wide, and therefore reducing the amounts of gathers (and excess fabric in the back).

Pictures of the finished flinderhaube

P1040609 P1040811 P1040617

 Side and front views with and without plaits showing.


P1040625    P1040612

 Closeup of the edges (prior to the second row of pearls being added) showing the angle that the flinderhaube was pinned to on to the cap underneath.


P1040801     P1040800

Side and back view of the flinderhaube with a small padded roll underneath. I quite like this look and I think I’ll wear it like this next time.


So there you go! No a particularly difficult project, just a rather time-consuming one.

2 thoughts on “Flinderhaube – project documentation

  1. Oh my goodness, thank you for putting this up. The image of the statue of Maria Blanka just answered the “what the hell were they doing with their hair?” question for the Burgundian Hapsburg ladies and the Spanish infantas. It’s been bugging me for a couple of years now. Of course the question now is how to replicate it.


    • My pleasure Karinne, I’m glad the images of the statue helped! When I get a moment, I’ll have another flip through the book and see if there are any other images of similar headwear that might help with the replication side of things.


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