June 27, 2013

How To: Make a DIY Birdcage Veil for Your Wedding

Image by Tori Watson of Marvelous Things Photography 

Back in the spring, Tim hinted at my making the veil I wore for our wedding. I really wanted to wait to publish the tutorial for making it here on the blog until I had a good final shot from wearing it. Well that day has come and passed — so today we're talking all about how to make your own birdcage veil!

Image by Tori Watson of Marvelous Things Photography

First, a little background. At first I just knew I wanted to make a metallic gold veil — my dress was going to be gold, so I thought it would make a nice compliment, and would be something a little different.

Long story short, I made the gold veil, which this tutorial is based off of, but when it came down to it, it was too much gold all together with the dress, so I made an identical one using ivory netting for the actual day. This will hopefully explain why this entire tutorial uses gold netting but the pics from the wedding show me in the ivory version — it was fun to make both though and now I have some really fun hair accessories for my nieces to play dress-up in when they come to visit.

Image by Tori Watson of Marvelous Things Photography

So! Let's get to it and make a veil!

What you'll need:
  • 1 yard veil netting (lots of options available like these, on Etsy or your local fabric store; I got mine from Moxie Milliner)
  • Hair comb (tons of options on Etsy, like these, or your local craft store)
  • Tulle or thin trim lace/ribbon
  • Invisible thread
  • Sewing Needle
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Matches or lighter (optional)

Veil netting (or millinery netting) usually comes in standard widths of  9, 12 & 18 inches. Choose the width you want based on how far you want your veil to hang from where you pin it in your hair. The longer the width, the longer your veil will end up laying across your face.

I really wanted more of a feeling of a veil rather than an actual veil covering any portion of my face or eyes during the ceremony, so I went with the shorter 9" width to make mine with. It's completely a matter of preference, so just keep in mind, the longer your width, the more coverage options you'll have to work and play with.

Another note on veil netting — the material is completely up to your and your tastes. I went with a Russian veil netting since it's got a little more structure to it (while I didn't want it to cover my face, I did want it to stand out as a bold accessory). French netting is usually more delicate and subtle, and I'd also love a chance to play around with an almost transparent tulle, or even layer a couple different nettings together. There are so many different types of millinery fabrics and tulles out there to play with — the options are limitless.

I measured how long to make the netting by gently wrapping it all the way around my face to the back of my head, then cut where the two edges would begin to overlap. This was roughly 27 inches and I have a head on the larger side (I'm one of those people that likes to make sure my big head is slightly further back than other people in photos to make it look more proportional, tell me I'm not alone on this).

Cut your netting at the length you need from the yard. You can use the leftover netting to embellish the veil comb with later on or use in other projects. I snipped my netting at each of the fabric tips to create a clean finished looking edge:

Next, we will make two diagonal cuts along the top sides of the veil. This is the shape we are going for, outlined in blue:

Measure up about 5 inches on each end (more if using a bigger width than 9"), and cut the corners at an angle towards the top of the netting:

I ended up doubling over the fabric once I cut one side to just trace and cut the other side instead of needing to re-measure:

Again, here's the final shape you should be left with:

Note: the longest side you are left with will be the bottom of the veil — the portion that lies across your face, so make sure before cutting that your prettiest finished edge is on the bottom.

Once your cuts are complete and you have the above netting shape, it's time to start sewing. I pulled out one of the vintage needle packs from my grandmother's collection — I just think these old needle packs look so neat:

Start at one corner, closest to the longest finished edge and secure the thread to the netting by tying a small a knot. Then weave your needle and thread over and under through the diamond shapes, working your way all the the way around the 3 outside edges (outlined in blue above) to the other corner where your finished edge meets.

You can thread the needle through each individual fabric diamond like so:

Or you can just weaved in and out of the diamond holes. I quickly learned this second option was much quicker and went this route, though it's completely up to you:

After you've threaded all the way around the 3 edges other than the finished long edge, gently pull the netting on the thread to bunch it together:

At this stage, you'll see the basic shape of your veil coming together. You can go ahead and play around with how the veil might fit and fall, laying it across different areas of your head and face — this is the perfect point in time to make any necessary adjustments to length, width, or cut of netting before moving on to the next steps.

Secure the bunched ends by tying a knot of thread to the final corner of the netting, making sure not to bunch all the way — you want enough length about the width of the comb for sewing. Since I used a nylon invisible thread, I used a lighter to very gently burnish the ends of the knots in place.

Now it's time to to sew the netting to the comb, but first we need to prep the comb:

You can do so by wrapping lace ribbon or strips of tulle around the top edge of the comb to make sewing the bunched netting easier — the fabric wrapping gives the thread a little something to grab onto. This would be the perfect area to use a swatch of sentimental fabric, for instance, if you have a piece of meaningful fabric or a piece of tulle from a family member's wedding gown or veil. It would make a great way to incorporate a little something special into your own veil.

Just wrap the lace evenly around the top edge of the comb, between the teeth, securing with a simple knot on each end:

Snip any extra fabric for a clean edge and now your comb is prepped and ready to go!

Now we can sew the bunched end of the netting onto the ribbon edge of the comb. I just used a simple stitch, making sure not to leave any major gaps in the netting, going back and forth about 3 times before tying off the thread and gently burnishing again to finish:

You'll end up with something like this:

At this point, you can call your veil complete or you can add embellishments like silk flowers, feathers, or even meaningful jewelry to hide the area of the veil where the netting meets the comb. You could even use the leftover netting we cut in the beginning to create a little drama around the base of the comb.

I really just wanted to keep things simple, so I called it a done deal once I got to this point:

On to styling! I'm so glad I waited to get final shots before posting, since my wedding day hair stylist came up with the best way for me to wear the veil — as almost more of a fascinator along the part of my hair:

Image by Kim Andrews

For those trying to figure out the perfect styling for your veil, I found the following youtube video super helpful and never realized there were so many different ways to pull one of these veils off. She shows lots of different styles of birdcage veils and how to wear them, which I thought was really interesting and helpful, but you can tune in at right about the 5:02 minute mark if you want to skip ahead to only see the type of veil in this tutorial:

I hope I've helped you learn how to make a birdcage veil of your very own and maybe saved you a little money in the process. It definitely turned out to be one of my favorite pieces from the day since I was able to make it myself!

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  1. What measurement did you youth for width, this is about the size I want to make. I made one already, but found it too large. I believe I used 9 inches.

    1. Hey Nicole,

      I used the smallest width of 9 inches too. If you find it's too big for what you like, you could always cut some material off the very top edge, since this will all be sewn to the comb and not visible.

      I also found that the hair stylist was able to have a little more room to play with at the 9 inch length — she poofed the material up a bit, if this makes sense!

      Good luck!

  2. Thank you for posting this, I am having a Halloween wedding and really wanted the bird cage veil with a mini top hat but was having a hard time finding one I liked, I am making my own using your tutorial. =)

    1. Dyno, congrats on your upcoming nuptials and we are so happy you are making your own! Please send us a photo of the finished vail we would love to see it!

  3. I do the same when I get pictures taken... :P

  4. Thank you so much for the post! I had been wanting to make my own veil for my upcoming wedding because A) it's a bit cheaper and B) I get exactly what I want. Mine turned out gorgeous!!

  5. Just made my veil! And it looks amazing, thank you so much for this tutorial!

    1. You are quite welcome and congratulations on your up and coming nuptials!


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