Spain…ish

Elena de la Palma explores all things Spanish clothing, 1480 – 1600

WIP – Cofia y Tranzado – Part 1


What: A cofia y tranzado, the very distinctive cap and braid case common in Spain from the 1400s on. Check out my class Cofia Y Tranzado The Omnipresent Spanish Headwear for more info

Why: Because I’m tragically short on headwear. Turns out, a whole lot of my cofia y tranzado went on walkabout over the pandemic, and we all know a good Spanish lady would never go about with her hair uncovered! THE SCANDAL.

Materials:

Method:

  • Cut the linen to shape
  • Bind top of head edges with bias tape
  • Couch the trim in between the two head edges
  • Bind around the finished edge with bias tape

Why bias tape? Proof of concept. I’ve never done a cofia y tranzado with tapes in this way before. Obviously, my cotton/poly off the shelf bias tape is not period, but I’ve worked with enough linen to know that the mechanics of working with a linen tape would be similar. In other words, I’m trying it with what I have on hand – and if I like the look and how it wears, then I’ll be able to move ahead with the more time consuming and costly period material (linen) with confidence.

What’s the evidence for bias tape? When it comes to cofia y tranzado, absolutely none – but we have no extants anyway, so there’s just no evidence for anything. However, bound edges were incredibly common on other garments, so it’s at least plausible. I am currently researching edging on surviving camisas, camicia, and chemises from around Europe and hope to have more to share soon.

Why couched trim? Because I haven’t yet learned how to work randa. Randa was a common form of bridgework, or insertionwork, that was so omnipresent on Spanish linen that some inventories mentioned when it wasn’t present, rather than when it was (for more on randa, see Pasamanos: A Survey of Spanish Needlework). While randa would be worked as joinwork integral to the piece rather than couched in later, couching does a reasonably good job of reproducing the look. I’ve got some good leads on randa – reproducing that will be my next big project, but for now I need something I can wear.

Period portrait featuring a cofia y tranzado with randa compared to randa on a period extant and modern randa.

I initially tried just basting the trim to the hemmed edge of the cofia y tranzado, but I didn’t like that. So instead I’m applying the bias tape first, and will apply the trim after.

This really is a nice little hand project. It travels very easily and is a nice opportunity to practice my hand stitching.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – applying the trim!