I’ll say it again: just when you are ready to say, “Never”….
This lappet cap has a doubled headpiece, the only example I remember seeing. Its ruffle goes all the way around the perimeter, making a frill at the nape. (Does that qualify as a bavolet?) The Genesee Country Village & Museum, Mumford, NY, owns this cap and dates it 1770-1800.
Made of a super fine soft cloth, probably linen, in the common three-piece pattern of semicircular caul, headpiece on the straight grain, and a ruffle attached to the outer edge. The ruffle’s front edge is hemmed back 1/8″, and the ruffle goes all the way around the cap. The edge joining the ruffle to the headpiece is whipped, slightly gathered to get around the lappet tips. At the nape, a cased 1/16″ tape (in the bottom of the caul), gathered up, creates a ruffled effect around the wearer’s neck.
The headpiece is two pieces with all their edges turned in 1/8″. No stitches are apparent that hold those pieces together, so I assume it is stitched and turned in where possible.
The caul is stroke gathered and all the raw edges are laid between the 2 pieces of the headpiece, the way we would hide a modern gather. This construction is normal in shirt cuffs, for example, but unusual in caps.
The gather tape at the bottom of the caul comes out outside, and there are two 3/16″ tapes sewn to the outside of the lappets for tying. Actually, I looked at this cap a long time trying to decide whether it is inside out or not, but decided the hem stitches on the ruffle determined in from out.
The poor cap has many mended places, sewn by an unskilled hand in large loopy stitches, in some places with stabilizing cloth.
Questions that remain
I found the doubled headpiece an inefficient set up, and wondered what its advantage was to the maker. Maybe she hated whipped gathers?
And details like poor mending set me wondering: the work of some curator who didn’t want us to think those stitches were original? The cap given to a child to fix for practice?
Here are two portraits with similar caps.
The doubled headpiece I found very awkward to put together. Possibly you would do this by sewing the front of the headpieces together, turn it, and then tuck in the caul’s edges, gather where needed, pin and sew. I didn’t figure all that out until later, though. *Sigh* In either case, it’s hard to get that 1/8″ folded in neatly and keep it there while you fit other things together. The headpiece is actually 4 pieces, with a join at the top. I thought of that as optional, but I shouldn’t have.
I also measured the caul wrong by about 4″ the first time, so I had to go back to the notes and redo the pattern, make a new piece. My notes are a mess.
I managed to put the drawstring on the inside when notes and photos show clearly it exits on the outside. I am confused about the tapes on the lappet ends; they are both on the outside in the photos, but I put one on the inside… Sometimes I look at a mistake and decide to start over, and sometimes I just can’t.
And stroke gathers just make me scream. I used silk organdy for the weight, although the stiffness isn’t right, but really if you have to suffer through stroke gathers, this is a lovely cloth to work with. Perhaps you have some tips on making stroke gathers? I’ve got the whipped gather down to a tee, but never do those stroke hills and valleys line up for me.
Still, once completed, it makes a pretty cap that is big enough for my (large) head.
Click here for notes and pattern: notes gen 87.213
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
I am not aware of any other scholarship on this cap.