Birdcage veils - sometimes called net or face veils - have recently become more popular, partially due to movie and celebrity brides wearing them. Most recently, in 2007, Katherine Heigl wore one in her real-life wedding and Jessica Alba's character wore a birdcage veil in the movie Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer. While it's possible to buy birdcage veils, brides on a budget may prefer to make their own.
This veil is very short - usually just long enough to frame the face but can also be eye-length - and typically worn alone, without additional tiers or a separate blusher. You may choose to attach a traditional veil in the back, to a bun or mass of curls. The birdcage is made of coarse-weave French or Russian-style netting rather than typical fine-mesh veil fabrics. Historically, the veil was attached to a hat. The modern bride, however, often prefers to wear her birdcage veil without a hat. Today, most brides attach this short, circular veil directly to their hair with a pin or comb, so that it hangs down around the head. The front serves as a blusher over her face.
Making a Birdcage Veil
Because of the short length and because netting is stiffer than tulle, creating the effect you want when making a birdcage veil can be trickier than when making a regular veil. For this reason, purchase extra netting and plan to make one or two trial runs before the veil is perfect. Also note that the width of the netting will be the length of your veil (from the point where you attach it to your head to the where the veil falls in front of your face).
Materials You Will Need:
- Up to three yards of Russian or French netting.
- Two or more hair clips (the kind used to secure hair extensions to short hair are most stable).
- Sturdy thread the color of the netting (button thread works well).
Step 1: Cut 36" of 9" French / Russian netting
You can make a relatively full birdcage veil, with many gathers, from a yard of netting. These instructions are for making a relatively full, gathered veil similar to Jessica Alba's in Rise of the Silver Surfer. Cut the netting shorter for a veil that lays closer to your head, with fewer gathers. If in doubt, cut the piece long at first. Then shorten it if you find that the veil is too full.
The short, cut ends will be the sides of your veil and the long, finished edges will be the front and back. These instructions explain how to gather the sides and attach them to clips as well as gather the back more loosely than the sides.
Step 2. Sew on two clips, one at each end of the long (finished) edge of veiling.
The clips will go at the front corners of the veil, with the teeth facing the finished edge. The outside, short side of each clip should be parallel to a raw, cut edge. Position them so that, when worn, the clips’ metal bars will face outward, but remain under the veiling. The clips should curve against your head when closed.
Step 3. Gather the cut sides of the veil and sew them to the clips.
Using a slipknot, attach thread at the corner of a cut edge opposite a clip. Weave the thread in and out of the diamond patterns along the cut edge between the attached end and the clip then thread it through the hole in the clip.
Pull the thread tight so the entire cut edge is gathered against the clip. Secure to the underside of the clip (the non-bar side, which will be against your head) so the thread will be hidden when you are wearing the veil. You may want to tidy up by clipping off the frayed pieces of netting. One entire side should now be gathered and sewn to a clip.
Repeat on the second side, gathering and sewing the raw edge against the clip.
Step 4. Make the back gathers.
Attach doubled or heavy button thread to the inside edge of a clip. Weave the thread in and out between the diamonds or holes in the netting. Do not secure the thread to the second clip yet. The length of the thread determines how full the gathers and how closely the veil hugs your head. You will want to adjust the length of the thread so the veil looks perfect on you.
Step 5. Experiment with different veil widths.
Looking in a mirror, adjust the thread length between clips. When you are happy with your veil's width and fullness of the gathers, secure the thread by looping it through the inside holes of the second clip and tying it off. With 8" - 9" netting, you will need to attach the veil near the top of your head for it to hit just below the nose. Attach it farther back for a shorter look.
Leave time to practice attaching the veil exactly as you want it, and you will look like a star on your wedding day!
Bobette Kyle-Wagner is publisher at http://www.MyOnlineWeddingHelp.com , a Website helping engaged couples get the most use from Internet wedding resources. The site includes online wedding tips, original articles, tutorials, and shopping sections. Go here for instructions, with pictures, on how to make a birdcage veil.