by Lady Ydeneya de Baillencourt


Men's coifs

Men’s “coifs” from the Fecamp Psalter, dated 1180. Found by the 12thC Garb email list

A coif is a close-fitting cap that covers the top, back and sides of the head worn by all classes in various parts of Europe from the Middle Ages to the early seventeenth century (and later as an old-fashioned cap for countrywomen and young children).

Tudor and earlier coifs are usually made of unadorned white muslin or linen and tie under the chin. In the Elizabethan and early Jacobean eras, coifs were frequently decorated with embroidery and sometimes a lace edging.

Tradition states that coifs should be worn by everyone over the age of 12. They are considered to be underwear and they should be worn underneath a formal hat by everyone unless they are engaged in manual labour.

There are two main styles of coif; the pre-1500 style that is made up of one or two pieces, after 1500 the 3-piece coif became more popular. I prefer the 3 piece design as it eliminates the wrinkles at the top of the head.

A sampler is any piece on which a sewer that shows the viewer a “sample” of stitch styles.

For this coif I used a basic three piece pattern

Coif pattern

Materials Used Were:

Off white muslin, white thread, and various embroidery threads.

I chose to use embroidery thread instead of wool as the fabric was so fine and wool too course for it.

I am a novice at embroidery, never having attempted it before and so the stitches that I have chosen to practise on my sampler coif are: Herringbone stitch, threaded back stitch, blanket stitch and basque loop stitch.




Ydeneya's coif