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The Ramblings of a Seamstress, Gardener, Chicken Keeper, and Housewife

Proof of My Adventures (and Misadventures!)

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Regency Tiara-Making is a Go!

After spending way too much time scouring eBay and Etsy for the perfect Regency tiara, I've decided to take the plunge and make my own.  I picked out my brass banding and ordered two feet this morning.  That's way more than one tiara will need, but I want to make sure I've got extra in case of a catastrophic failure on the first try.  Here it is:
Brass Banding for Tiara
 It's 7/8" wide/tall, just to give you some perspective.  My plan is to mount large point-back rhinestones into brass settings and attach them to this banding.  I haven't worked out the exact logistics of that yet, nor have I ordered the rhinestones and settings (though I have chosen a very reasonably priced supplier!)

I chatted a bit with quincy134 about how to shape this banding on both the X and Y axis, since so many portraits and surviving pieces shape not only around the head's circumference, but also around the hairline (forehead to temples.)  That means it would need to have movement similar to spiral steel (great visual, Gloria!)  Since all this banding is really only meant to bend in one direction, that will be very tricky and require strategic cutting and rewiring.  The banding I chose is probably a poor choice for that, but I really, really like it.  Once I get it in my hands I can make a better decision about how to proceed.

I've worked with the stuff before and it is sturdy. I've got teensy rivets with a punch and setter to match, plus all the polishes and dremel tool buffing stuff I'll need to keep it looking shiny.  I'm not sure if I'll attach a comb or just a couple 'legs' on the ends that I can pin down to my hair.  A lot depends on how much I can get it to shape.  It looks great in my head...hopefully the end product will look great too!

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I can't wait to see how these turn out!!

I'll make sure to post tons of pics. :)

I am so excited to watch this project!

I'm so excited to see what you make! You've totally got me going on this now too. I couldn't sleep last night because I was too busy thinking about how to rig a tiara from this stuff! Look what you started!

Oh no! I've induced creativity-driven insomnia! SO not my intention. ;) I've totally been there, and experienced the wonderful-awfulness of it. I hope it doesn't plague you again tonight.

Awesome! That is a very pretty banding that you picked out.

Great plans, let us know how they go!

I definitely will! This will be one of those projects that gets tons of documentation.

I can't wait to see how yours turns out! I ordered some brass banding, too, to do some experiments with. XD It's going to be so fun to see what we can come up with!

Awesome! We'll have the best tiaras since the real thing, I'm betting.


I don't need a tiara for anything I do, historically or costume-y or anything (yet!), but you've got me thinking on how I'd create one, what with the X and Y axes and all.

I'd fiddle and diddle around for a couple of years with totally frustrating stuff, before throwing up my hands, most likely.
But interestingly, and hopefully serendipitously, I was looking up one thing (totally unrelated to tiaras) in the tailoring section for men's clothing in a [theoretically comprehensive] book of sewing, and happened across the means of handling hems which have pronounced curves with too much material in them or shallow curves having too little material for the hem.
The solution to each is wedge-shaped pieces, either removed in the case of the hem with too much material to be eased in successfully, or to be inserted in the case of the hem which is too small to cover the necessary distance where it must be sewn---invisibly---to the body of the garment, e.g., an irregularly flared trumpet or bell-bottomed pant/trouser leg. Of course the pieces inserted have to be sewn on both sides to the slit made in the hem fabric (the part turned up to the inside of the garment or garment part) or the two sides where the wedge was removed (the point of the wedge must not be closer to the hemline than one inch) must be sewn together. Hemming stitches for the joinings, if I'm recalling correctly. (I'm sorry---I've been in a rush almost all day so far, and hems weren't what I needed to learn about at 4:00 this morning, so I just wasn't paying close attention.)
Anyway, what's in my mind is, is there any way you could use that insertion idea to help create the X/Y arc/s? Putting jewels into where the wedges of fabric would go if you had to have more fabric in a hem to make it fit?

That is, if it wouldn't mess up the design of your tiara?

Usually entries such as this one of yours have me wishing I could try my arm at tiara-making, too, and also would have me wanting to test my theory/suggestion, but right now I'm going flat out with, well, bunches of very ordinary sewing stuff that simply has to be done....

That's a fantastic suggestion! I think it would look really nice too. Purposeful, and not like an afterthought (something I've been worried about with cutting it into 'chunks' and rewiring it.)

My sticking point at the moment is how I would maintain the integrity of the bottom band. It's highly decorated with a very regular design, so any cuts and rhinestone insertions would need to be regular too. Or maybe I could cut the band off entirely and reshape it on its own, then cut/add rhinestones to just the openwork portion and then reattach the two? I wonder how hot brass needs to get before it's easily shaped, and if that's hot enough to distort the stamped design. As luck would have it, my husband has a forge in the backyard. Hmmm...you've given me a lot to think about!

The brass banding is 7/8" wide/tall?

I imagine you can leave the bottom bit intact, curving it where it has to meet your head's surface, and then make the insertions where they need to be. Presumably (of course I could be dead wrong about this) there'll be one large/larger jewel plunk dead-center, and then placing the other gems/jewels/stones symmetrically to either side wherever you need a certain amount of "stretch" in the top edge. The one drawback, if you see it as a drawback, is that the placement of the stones or gems relative to the amount of increased arc needed will be a determining factor in the design---but every medium and even every design has its limitations or boundaries.
Rather than risking heating the banding, which is almost certain to have some curve to it anyway as it has almost certainly been stored on a huge spool, roll or tube, I'd try to carefully---and I really, truly do mean CAREFULLY (yes, that's meant to be loud)---make a series of tiny, shallow bends in the metal, again bending it to the shape of the head along the X and Y axes. I'm thinking you want a pair of pliers, probably needle-nosed, and some scrap leather to protect the metal even if the pliers are smooth instead of toothed.

Do tiaras have combs? (I hope so!) Would it be kosher, so to speak, to attach combs invisibly, maybe those clear plastic combs sewn inside bridal headdresses? ---Oops, never mind: I see you're already considering the use of a comb! Ought to have noted that, yesterday....

I'd try to talk to someone who knows something about metallurgy, specifically about brass, but my first and last vote would be to avoid heating the brass because metals can become very brittle when subjected to thermal stress, and metals can discolor (through and through) when subjected to thermal stress.

Is there any way you can either conceal the join when you complete the add-ins so it won't be tragic if they're not perfect, or else make a "binding" of brass wire (or brass-colored wire) look like part of the design? Could you mount the jewels/gems in findings so designed that they'll grab or clip the sides of the openings you'll be creating?

Eeh! Time for me to stop prattling on and on!
I just think you won't need to cut the bottom portion of the banding at all; I believe it's unnecessary to detach the bottom completely; and I think if this were my project I'd rely on snipping and spreading, inserting the decorative elements into those snipped slits, and then either crimping them, tying/binding them, or riveting them in place, but I'm probably also thinking within my own limitations.

I'm really keen, now, to see both the finished tiara and if you have enough time to take them, in-progress photos, too?

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