A uniquely pieced caul , and a unique method of felling seams, make this cap interesting. It’s a lace-edged lappet, made of soft linen. The museum dates it 1750.
Genesee Country Village and Museum owns this cap. Genesee is a living history setting; its John L Wehle Gallery museum houses the Susan Greene Costume Collection. If you are interested in learning about caps, the Greene catalog is the place to start. Sadly, I got to Genesee at the end of my travels, having spent several years re-discovering much of the info she had already cataloged. The marvelous catalog describes each item, and the caps are dated! If I had an endowment to offer, I would make sure this catalog was open to the public web. I went there in search of the caps Kathleen Kannik references in her pattern KK-602. Those caps were dated 1815, but gallery curator Patricia Tice suggested I look at this cap and Genesee 86.213. Bingo!
Several construction details make this cap interesting and unique. First is the pieced caul. It’s made of a rectangle in the middle, a pointed rectangle on the bottom, and curved and gathered piece on top. The bottom has a 1/4″ channel for the gather strings, which come out of 2 buttonholed circles on the outside CB.
Each piece is sewn together, and then felled with a criss-cross stitch inside, about 12 Xs to the inch. I’d never seen that done, but it makes a neat finish, and lays down both sides of the folded seam at the same time. Clever.
Those criss-cross felled seams are used on the join at the top of the headpiece, too. The headpiece is stroke gathered to the caul, but after the gather, the caul is joined to the headpiece with the same kind of XX stitch.
The lappet is also pieced…. I’m beginning to see a pattern here…. the bottom 2″ ends are sewn with a straight stitch and left unfinished.
The lappets are edged in 1″ lace (also pieced!), which the catalog says is CA 1700 Valenciennes Lace. As I am not a lace researcher, (next life!) I accept her designation. It is only slightly gathered, with enough bunching to get around the tip. Short 3/8″ tapes are sewn on the underside, then threaded out through the lace, emerging on the outside point to be tied. That means the lace would be under the bow when worn.
Questions that remain
The fact that everything here is pieced is intriguing. (By now I am imagining a grandmother desperate to work up a cap with her granddaughter, “Here, Honey, I think I have enough left over…” Which also explains why the cap shows no signs of wear?)
The lace-edged lappet is a common mid-century cap. One set of examples is John Wollaston’s gallery. It was either a big fashion during his painting years, or he had those 2 caps in his studio to choose from. Gen 91.170.1 doesn’t have the extra bunch at the CF, like many of these portraits do, however.
I had to remake pieces of this cap several times before I got it. First the lappets were too fat, then they were too thin. I put the holes for the gather strings on the inside, not the outside. I was entirely finished When I discovered I put the bottom piece of the caul on upside down. I started over, and cut the same piece with the fold on the wrong side. Egad. I did finally got a satisfactory version accomplished — only to discover I once again put the holes for the gather strings on the wrong side. So don’t look but this has 2 sets of holes.
Click here for notes and pattern: gen 91.170.1
Thank Yous and Permissions
This cap is presented here with permission, Courtesy Susan Greene Costume Collection, Genesee Country Village & Museum, Mumford, NY. I worked with Patricia Tice on my visit to Genesee. I also corresponded with Susan Green, who generously helped me understand what I was seeing here.
Photos by the author.
Other Related Scholarship
This cap does not have an online catalog record. I am not aware of any other scholarship about this cap.