Here (DAR 2000.10.2) is a good example of common 18th C lappet cap construction . . . or at least it seems so until you take a closer look.
Here are 2 photos I made of the cap at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Washington, D.C.
I had already seen many caps and if you had asked, I would have said, “The caul is never doubled.” And then, bang! here’s a double caul. It’s still the only one I’ve seen, but it just shows to go you can never say never.
This cap is made of a very light weight, sheer cloth, probably linen. The overlap of the two layers on the caul vs. the single layer of the ruffle makes the ruffles look very delicate. There are only 2 pieces here: the caul, which includes the extended lappets, and the ruffle, which encircles the entire edge. The ruffle is gathered only at the turns of the points. A skinny tape gathers the nape, tied at the inside center back, and two 5-inch pieces are sewn on the lappet ends to tie under the chin.
The ruffles are whipped all around 1/32″ with a stitches so tiny I really couldn’t even find them. Then the ruffle is whipped to the edges of the caul, completely encircling the cap. The ruffle is 1 1/4″ at the center front point, but skinnys down to 3/4″ by the time it rounds the tip and meets at the nape of the neck. I’ve seen that in a lot of caps, that the ruffle narrows after the tip. I don’t know why.
Here’s my reproduction
It was a real puzzle to figure out how to cut out a double caul with only one felled seam up the back. I tried many twisty variations before I understood that you cut the shape with the folds across the top of the head AND down the whole front from the center top to the end of lappet. Now, sew all 4 layers of cloth together up the back, and finally, unfold one layer to enclose the stitches. Now you can fold the other unfinished edges under 1/8″and hem them.
I rounded the shape at the nape, and I think that isn’t right. It creates that funnel effect that isn’t on the original. Also, I always have trouble getting that gather around the tip just right so it neither stretches the cloth nor comes out too bunchy. I can also see my stitches on the outside edge of the ruffle are not nearly fine enough.
Notes and Pattern
Here are my notes and the pattern I created. My notes are very note-like: messy and a little confusing, but I keep coming back to these with more questions, and I figure you might, too.
Click here for notes and pattern: DAR 2000.10.2 notes
The doubled caul makes me wonder in awe at the ingenuity of this maker. She had a lot of this fine linen and must have thought it was too thin for her purposes. How did she invent that sew and flip thing? Here I’m going on my own idea that women weren’t passing around patterns, but based on a general understanding of how caps are made, invented their own ways to create the effect they desired.
Thanks to Alden O’Brien, Curator of Costumes and Textiles, of the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum in Washington, DC, who gave me permission to blog about the DAR caps I saw.
This cap is not in their online catalog. It has no provenance or date. Ms. O’Brien suggested I look at this one as it shares characteristics of other 18th C caps, in her experience.
Women with a lappet cap aren’t hard to find. A little less common is this ruffle that goes all the way around the cap, making a complete circle once it is gathered at the nape of the neck. That means your neck is encircled by the ruffle, giving it almost the effect of a linen choker necklace.