January 21, 2010

Making a 1920’s turban from the book “Manuel de Modes Sunlight”

Filed under: Brimmed turban Sunlight,Millinery projects — Cristina de Prada @ 10:23 pm

I recently bought on Ebay the wonderful book “Manuel de Modes Sunlight”. It’ was published by Sunlight (the soap brand) , and it contains individually bound chapters and a hard cover held together by a ribbon. I suspect that coupons came with the soap allowing interested ladies to put the book together.

I was not really sure what I was buying, but the auction images showed illustrations of hats, so I went for it. When I received it I was delighted because it turned out to be 80% about millinery and it’s packed with wonderful illustrations and instructions. What is funny is that it was advertised as being from the 40’s, when it’s so clearly from the 20’s… I guess some people are “period blind”. I find it very interesting that the author puts a lot on emphasis on technique, pointing out that fashions come and go and what is fashionable today might be completely out of fashion tomorrow.

On the first chapter there is a very simple project, a brimmed turban, intended to compensate the reader for enduring the hardships of the preceding pages (mostly a description of millinery stitches). The turban, according to its description, can be used as a driving cap, sports hat and rain hat, and can be worn by women of all ages, depending on the fabric and colours chosen.

This is a small format book, and has no full size patterns. In this case one is supposed to make the pattern oneself by following the detailed instructions (click on any of the images to see the scanned instructions -in french- and pictures of the process). I made the pattern almost to the letter, only adding a little curve to the inside of the brim so that it wouldn’t sit so close to the face. The author herself (I’m thinking it’s a woman, but who knows!) tells us that the brim could be made narrower, and I think it would look better narrower, and the version on the illustrations is indeed much narrower than the one from the pattern proposed.

For this project I have upcycled (a term I learnt from Jane) a viscose velvet jacket I was not using anymore. The velvet is quite thick and heavy (although it drapes nicely), and I suspect that with a lighter, stiffer fabric  the turban would look fluffier and better. To make things worse, at the time of cutting the fabric I realized I was a little short, so I have an extra seam at the back where I’ve had to add a little strip to get the right size. The ends are supposed to have a big tassel, but I didn’t get to that, although I believe it look  decadent and beautiful with them.

The author of the book recommends the following fabrics (I write the names of the fabrics in French as they are written on the book, because I don’t know most of these fabrics): “Crêpe de Chine” flexible and yet solid would be perfect, on an elegant note we can also make it in “soie paillette”, “charmeuse” or “pongée”. It would also look pretty in (…) “crêpe suisse”, “crêpe coton” or in “duvetine légère”. I believe the first four terms are silks of some kind, still available (except for the soie paillette, which I believe is silk with sparkly bits), and also the crêpe suisse seems to be unavailable these days by that name.

If you decide to give it a try, will you let me know and send me a picture?


  1. Oh La La! This is a super Turban. I love the color it fits perfect with the 20’s time period in my mind. Lush… I like it with the brim/visor it’s great. You’ve inspired me to try one.. Fanx Girl.


    Comment by Montez — January 22, 2010 @ 1:26 am

  2. Oh, what a fun hat design! I’m dying to try it. Maybe this weekend…

    Comment by Rachel — January 22, 2010 @ 2:34 am

  3. I promise I’ll try! and of course, I will send you a picture 😉
    I’m sure you are getting a lot out of this book!!

    Comment by Nila Taranco — January 22, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  4. Soooo cool!

    Comment by Mary Beth — January 23, 2010 @ 2:17 am

  5. Look out for Mary Beth’s turban making project (from a Edith Head pattern): http://thestitchery.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/gusseted-magyar-turban-60s-edith-head-pattern/
    I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — January 23, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

  6. Love it; when I make it I’ll send you an image.

    Lee, Hatstruck

    Comment by Lee — January 24, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

  7. Jeepers that hat is the bee’s knees!
    I’d love to make one too!

    Comment by jill — January 25, 2010 @ 4:13 am

  8. Great hat as always x

    Comment by Cath — January 25, 2010 @ 2:10 pm

  9. totally brilliant!! Thanks for the inspiration. MORE PLEASE!

    Comment by lanvy — January 27, 2010 @ 6:38 am

  10. ¡Es genial¡ Me encanta. Estoy deseando de hacer algo así. Gracias cristina.

    Comment by carmen — January 27, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  11. Hi!
    Just found your site and love it! Thank you for being so generouse with inspiring ideas and skills! Eva

    Comment by Eva — February 11, 2010 @ 10:05 am

  12. hola! creo que encontrarás este video interesante http://www.vimeo.com/3135833
    por su contenido, y porque la entrevistada luce un modelo que tiene algunas similitudes con el que tú propones en este post

    Comment by ana — March 4, 2010 @ 10:11 am

  13. Gracias por toda la información tan valiosa quye nos ofrece.
    Saludos Cordiales Pepa RAmírez

    Comment by pepa — March 16, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

  14. Gracias Ana, por la información acerca del video! Y gracias Pepa por su amable comentario acerca del blog!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — March 18, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

  15. Thanks for putting this online, I copied the diagrams (my french is not very good) and was still able to come out with the basic pattern! I also modified it to put a little strip of gold in there too. Pic: http://twitpic.com/1bby0g

    Comment by Astret — March 27, 2010 @ 8:04 pm

  16. Thank you Astret, you look wonderful.

    What a change with the tassels, and the strip of gold is a clever and beautiful touch. Do you wear the turban above your ears? It’s not clear in the picture… I think you will wear it more comfortably by partially covering the ears.

    I would love to see more pictures!

    I’m so happy you have given it a go!!! 🙂

    Comment by cristinadeprada — March 27, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

  17. Muy instructivo su blog, gracias por todo lo que nos enseña

    Comment by pepa Ramirez Jimenez — June 9, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

  18. Your blog is the bees knees!
    Thanks for posting this turban. My girlfriend had been interested in a turban lately, and she speaks & reads French. I love to make, and she loves to wear- so this will be a fun collaboration project for us. The velvet is very luxurious but I also like the crepe de chine idea. Which ever she chooses, I think I’ll try using a stiff organza lining fabric inside to give it some poof. 🙂

    Comment by Jean — July 8, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

  19. Thank you Jean, I hope you will let us see some pictures when it’s finished!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — July 8, 2010 @ 9:51 pm

  20. Hi Cristina, here is the turban made up in taffeta, no tassels. Thanks so much for the fun project! 🙂

    notes: I cut the visor 5 cm deep, using 1.25 cm seam- finished visor depth approx. 3.5 cm deep. I interfaced it with a heavy pellon. Since the taffeta is crisp I did not add interfacing.


    Comment by Jean — July 30, 2010 @ 2:15 am

  21. Mi maravillosa y creativa Cris:
    El turbante que me has disenado y regalado es una delicia. Me siento comoda y feliz como un cuadro de Van Eyck.
    Te quiero


    Comment by merce — October 26, 2013 @ 1:33 pm

  22. You’re still the best! I’m going to try this one in velvet too. I love the look, total coverage… I have a pattern that looks like a do-rag I’ll send it to you.. XXOO

    Comment by Montez — October 21, 2017 @ 5:33 pm

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