It’s hard to explain my irrational passion for this subject.
I started off making caps from other peoples’ patterns for myself and my Revolutionary War reenactor friends, then moved to making patterns from documentation in books just to see if I could, then taking patterns from originals so I could reproduce them. Each one is a little work of art, with its own challenges and questions.
Along the way I had to master minute hand stitching. You cannot make these with a sewing machine; machines can’t replicate the construction or stitching used in the 18th C. I learned about cloth and thread, needles and pins, new stitches — one new stitch, the rolled gather, took me more than a year to master.
I also delved into the history of cloth, clothing manufactures, the Atlantic trade, the work of tailors and milliners, the making of pins, the social and cultural place of women and sewing. . . . There is still so much more to learn! This body of knowledge adds to my understanding of this one little piece of clothing.
I’ve been doing this research for more than 10 years. There is so little in print that I had to use a few pages from this book and a few pages from that book to get started. These gave me hints where to find artifacts and portraits to document my theories as the evolved. It’s been a treasure hunt. I hope with this blog to fill this gap in knowledge.
In real life, I am a librarian, mother, poet, crafter, dancer, reenactor, wife, friend. I have a Master’s in Library Science, with 25 years’ experience in college libraries. Librarians at my university get assigned fields of study for which to become the research expert. One of my specialties is costume history. I am a member of the Costume Society of America, and exhibited my museum reproduction caps at their conference in 2016.
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