The Sheriff

Don’t let the title of this post fool you into thinking that the hat in question is dead. It is very much alive and well (unless you count Faire-sweat). The point is how it came to be.

I’ve long enjoyed being a peasant at the Renaissance Faire. Who doesn’t love the irreverent attitude, the ability to wipe your dirty fingers on your clothes (you quickly get over the fact that you are ruining the costume you labored over – those are marks of good times had, not stains!) and the occasional peasant pile? Those noble looking tall hats have long intimidated and intrigued me. As my guild slowly moves up in standing from lowly peasant to something like lower middle class, we’ve all started looking at things that actual Renaissance Sumptuary Laws and social standing would have prevented real peasants from having.

Sheriff in an Elizabethan Tall Hat

A tall hat meant status. It’s no Pope’s hat, mind you, but the only tall hat a peasant would have gotten their hands on would have been tattered and almost unrecognizable as headwear. Our new Lord Mayor and Sheriff both needed a tall hat.

As with any other costume piece, there is a lot of variation on the theme when it comes to the exact size and shape. Look here, here, and particularly at period portraiture. Our two men wanted hats that weren’t too tall and brims that were big enough to shade their eyes. Unlike Elizabethan England climate, the CA Ren Faire is full sun and 95+ degrees 95% of the time. There were particularly fond of a leather version we had seen, but I was hoping to give them something cooler and opted for the linen of their doublets.

5 paper mock-ups later I had a good shape that worked on both men. (more…)


A. came up with the original concept drawing. In it she decided that a pleated yoke should be added to define the chest area. It looked great. The implementation was a bit of a challenge. It required a lot of time, a ruler, chalk, an iron and many,many pins. Due to some related issues I decided to hand stitch the pleats down with a simple whip stitch. After som discussion we decided that would be the side we would use on the outside. After the stitching was completes I cut out the yoke pieces to attach to the torso pieces.

 I decided to define the yoke further with a vine and leaf stitch from my sewing machine. I then used the vine and leaf on alternating pleats. For the top stitch I chose a brown thread that matched the linen of the pants. A found a wonderful source for the buttons and I fell in love with these made with brass.

In the past we’ve used the word peacocks to describe the men in our creations and this time is no exception. The Lord Mayor and Sheriff of the Central Coast Renaissance Faire, or SLO Faire (July 16 and 17, 2011), were preening, strutting and looking damn good, if I do say so myself, in their fyne new costumes.

The Lord Mayor of the Central Coast Renaissance Faire 2011

The Lord Mayor’s costume is a dark blue mid-weight linen doublet with yoke, sleeves and pants with a fine cotton flat-ruffed shirt.  The sleeves and doublet front are slashed with green dupioni silk and trimmed with blue-gray hand embroidery and antique brass buttons. His tall hat is made from the same linen and the hat band is hand made blue cotton trim.

The Sheriff the Central Coast Renaissance Faire 2011

Our Sheriff’s costume is a green doublet of mid-weight linen, heavy weight brown linen pants and a cotton flat-ruffed shirt. The doublet is yoked, as the Lord Mayor’s, but that portion is pleated and embroidered subtly with a vine pattern in brown thread. The buttons are antique brass. His tall hat is made of the brown linen with a green linen hat band with the same embroidery as the doublet.

The hat and doublet patterns are Rogues of Thread originals.

A special thank you to M for finding the time I had lost to make the Lord Mayor’s shirt. You saved me!

Related posts: The Lord Mayor – A Costume Autopsy

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