How to make a nun's wimple

Written by sandra johnson
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How to make a nun's wimple
Wimples, such as those worn by 19th-century nuns, vary depending on era, geography and religious order. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

A nun's wimple is the white linen head covering worn under the robes of a habit. Through history, habits and the associated wimples worn by nuns have varied based on cultural preferences and religious requirements. Geography and the specific religious order play an important role in the design of a nun's wimple. Crafting a simple wimple, either for occupational needs or costumes, requires only basic sewing skills.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • 90 cm to 1.8 m (1 to 2 yards) white fabric (cotton, linen, wool or synthetic)
  • Fabric pen
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine

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  1. 1

    Measure the circumference of the face. Starting at the chin, wrap the measuring tape up and around the face along the hairline and back to the chin. Note the measurement as "face."

  2. 2

    Measure from the chin down to the chest. The exact measurement depends on how long the cape portion of the wimple is expected to fall. Note the measurement as "bib."

  3. 3

    Measure from the top of the forehead at the hairline, down the back of the head to the shoulders. The stopping point on the shoulders should equate to where the cape portion is expected to fall. Note the measurement as "head."

  4. 4

    Fully open fabric. If needed, iron out the factory crease to help the fabric lay flat. Orient one edge as the front for pattern placement purposes.

  5. 5

    Use a fabric pen to draw a line at the front edge of the fabric equal to the face measurement plus 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) seam allowance at each end. With seam allowance, total length of face line should equal face measurement, plus 2.5 cm (1 inch).

  6. 6

    Start at one end of the fabric pen line and measure down the fabric a length equal to the bib measurement, plus 2.5 cm (1 inch) for seam allowances. Mark measurement with a fabric pen. Repeat for the other end of the fabric pen line.

  7. 7

    Measure from the centre of the fabric pen line, down the fabric, a distance equal to the head measurement, plus 2.5 (1 inch) for seam allowances. Mark the measurement with a fabric pen. This mark should be further down the fabric than the marks measured at either end of the fabric pen line.

  8. 8

    Cut along the fabric pen line. Turn and cut from each corner of the fabric pen line to the bib marks.

  9. 9

    Start at one bib mark and cut a semicircular line from one bib mark to the other. Be sure to arc the semicircle so that the scissors pass over the head mark. This allows for additional material to drape around the shoulders once the wimple is completed.

  10. 10

    Using a 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) seam allowance, fold over all raw fabric edges and pin in place. Sew a hemline around the entire fabric's circumference.

  11. 11

    Wrap hemmed fabric around the face, as it will sit when worn. Pin sides together under chin so that face opening is neither too tight nor too loose.

  12. 12

    Remove wimple and finish pinning front seam from initial chin pin to fabric edge. Sew along seam line using a 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) seam allowance. Test the finished wimple to ensure proper drape and fit along faceline.

Tips and warnings

  • This wimple pattern is a simple draped hood style, suitable for medieval nun costumes or habits that do not require framed wimples.
  • Simple wimples may or may not conform to habit requirements of the Latin Rite religious orders.

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