Pieced Caul: Genesee 91.170.1

first draft;

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!

The Original

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.

linen cap, detail of back.
You can see the three pieces of the caul here.

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?)

Portraits

Yes, I can use this portrait again and again.  Her bow appears to be silk, whereas this cap is tied with 3/8″ tapes.  1749-52 John Wollaston, Catherine Harris Smith (Mrs. Ebenezer Pemberton) (Artstor IAP)

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.

 

The Reproduction

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.

 

two caps, attempts at the same repro.
On the left, the first try; on the right, the corrected version.

My Notes

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Best Practices for Your Museum Research Visit

[This is a repost of an article I wrote for the ARLIS Fashion Librarians SIG blog, July 14, 2014.]

Does your heart sing when you imagine going to a museum to see a child’s sampler from 1757? Do you dream of getting a good look in those incredible store-room drawers of linens and gowns and hats?  I have been doing a lot of this for my current research on 18th C caps.  Here are some things I think are Best Practices to follow.

DAR Aug 13 090

1. First, dig deep into the institution’s web page. If there is an online catalog, use it. Do not to ask the curator to do work you can do yourself.

Learn the policies regarding research visits: specific times, fees, forms, etc.

See if they have an institutional library; it may have unique resources, such as in-house reports or picture files. Do you need a separate appointment to use the library?

Discover the best contact person to receive your request to visit.

Consider bringing a colleague who has done this before and can help you the first time out. (Thank you, Sharon!)

2. Now you are ready to e-mail an informed request. Be as specific as possible. Tell them what you want to do: see, measure, pattern, photograph, etc. Tell them where you have already been to show you have some experience.

The online catalog is often not exhaustive; say, “I found this item that I am interested in, are there others like it?”

Ask about policies you could not locate: fees, forms, etc.

Suggest possible times to come visit, and be flexible.

3. Gather the tools you will need: loop, graph paper, pencils, camera, measure, gloves? (And be prepared to leave any or all of these articles in the locker as per policy.) Test your camera settings ahead of time; bring extra batteries.  Bring a flashlight for picture lighting.  Make yourself a checklist of what you want to examine in each item.

Bring the e-mail and phone number of your contact. Find out where you may park, which entrance to come to, and at exactly what time. Print off maps or set your GPS. Bring change for the meter.

4. Be on time. Find your contact person and do what they say. Ask again about policies and procedures. (You should already know these things, but make sure, in person, that you understand.)

If you are making a full day of it, ask when and how you may leave to eat lunch – and take your contact person out to eat.

Be ready for anything!  A volunteer might sit beside you all day, or you may be left alone in a room with a stack of boxes until closing time.  Some work rooms are roomy and sunlit; sometimes you work on top of a cabinet in the basement.

IMG_20121220_122612

5. Be GENTLE and respectful of the materials. If you move the item, support all the cloth. Look at one item at a time, returning it to its box or stand when you are done.

Write the item’s number on a slip of paper that can be in every photo, to avoid confusion later. Photograph any accompanying documentation.

6. If your contact person is knowledgeable, ask permission to take some of their time today to discuss your research subject. Ask if they can refer you to other items, people, or collections.

7. Be done before your time is up. Don’t keep someone late at work today.

8. Write a thank you note. Send a donation to the foundation. When you go home, look over your notes, redraw your patterns, etc., as soon as possible.   Ask If the museum wants copies of your drawings, patterns, photos, etc., for their files.

9. Later, when you write up your research, give appropriate credit to the institution, and individuals who helped you. Follow their rules about publishing photos or academic vs. commercial uses.

10. Corrections and additions much appreciated! Tell me what you think.

photos: by Sherri Saines, DAR Collections, Washington, DC

Kissing Strings: New Canaan CE419

First draft. no known issues

“Kissing strings” are long (40″ on this one) tapes that extend forward from the nape gather. I keep asking what people think the use was, and here are a few of the ideas:

  • wrap them back up over your head to help secure cap
  • some illogical fashion trend; some marker of age
  • made that way with the intention of cutting them shorter as per user’s head size
  • someone else can grab them and pull the wearer close — to kiss!

I haven’t seen any visible in portraits, so we’re guessing here.

This cap, from the New Canaan Historical Society in New Canaan,  Connecticut, collection, is a good example.

The Original

lappet with many 18th C characteristics
New Canaan Historical Scoiety CE 419

I argue for an 18th C date because of its common 3-piece construction: caul, headpiece, ruffle. And because it doesn’t have  the characteristics of a 19th C cap.  It has one little 1/16″ pintuck 1/4″ in all down the front edge of the ruffle. Oh, and ribbons that tie the lappets. I wondered how those were done. In the portrait section, see examples of both.

The cloth is fine, probably linen, and the ruffle is even finer.  Many many mended areas on the headpiece tell us it was well loved & used.

The stitches are tiny, fine, even. Along the front ruffle edge, a 1/8″ hem finish; go in 1/4″, and there’s a 1/8″ pintuck. Ruffle joined to headpiece with 2 1/16″ hems butted together.  Caul joined to (hemmed) headpiece with whipped gather. I count 25 or more of those popcorn stitches to the inch.

The lappets are 3.5″ long, and a 6″ long, 1/4″  ribbon (now shredded), handmade from a piece of silk, ties the ends.

The group of caps in their collection were donated by Deborah Bead. We corresponded briefly, and she said she did her best to date the caps, using reference sources like Cunnington’s Dictionary of Fashion History 

 

The pintuck on the ruffle, and many mendings are visible here. Get a close look at those whipped gathers on the CF of the caul. New Canaan CE419

Gathers at the ends of the lappets are fine, just enough to get around the turn. You can see the ruffles are finer than the headpiece.
The ribbon ties are in bad shape. New Canaan CE 419

 

Questions that remain

Mended areas are always interesting, and this cap has a lot.  One possibility is some conservator did them, of course; the other is someone who loved this cap wanted to keep using it.  Did people wear mended caps?  I can see fixing a little hole or tear, but this is a lot of visible mending. Does that mean the owner was poor?  So much we can’t know.

Portraits

She has ribbon ties on her lappets! Creator: John Wollaston, American, fl. 1733-1775; Title: Portrait of Mrs. Ebenezer Pemberton. Artstor IAP

Mrs. Pemberton wears a cap with ribbon ties.  Her ruffles are gathered all the way down the lappets, whereas on CE419, the only gather is at the tip of the lappet, to get around the curve.

More like…  Mary Trussler, 1760.  Her cap is almost straight down the sides, like this one. Her ruffle appear sto have a little pintuck in it.  18th C portraits can have such incredible detail in them.  The painingof transparent cloth is such a wonder to me

 

 

 

 

The Reproduction

CE 419 modeled.
A member of the Costume Society of America tried on New Canaan CE 419 for size at my exhibit there in 2016.
CE 419 reproduction displayed.
My repro of CE419 on a stand.

I think this was the first time I tried to do gathers around a lappet, and my effort is pretty comical.  No, there aren’t supposed to be those little

puffs at her cheek.

Mimicking the tiny tiny stitiches made this a fun challenge.  I used cotton organdy to mimic the fineness of the original cloth, and cotton mull for the ruffle.

Making a reproduction gives us a change to TRY ON a cap and see how it would sit on a real head.  It allows us to touch and question the original design.  The artifact is so delicate it could not even be mounted, but now, despite my learner’s mistakes, we can try out the strings and see if they work tied up.  (We thought it was possible, but not really practical.

Notes and Pattern

Click here for notes and pattern: New Can CE 419 notes

Thank Yous and Permissions

Photos by the author.  Permission to use these photos granted by NCHS 2018, via Penny Havard, Curator of Textiles. Thanks to Janet Lindstrom, who was curator at the time of my visit.

Other Related Scholarship

New Canaan does not have an online catalog of their items.

I am not aware of any other scholarship about this item.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under Ruffle? Philly 87.35.825

second draft.

A Quaker with a taste for simple elegance created this cap, probably between 1750-1800.

Philly 87.35.825 is a Quaker cap, which has its own set of interpretive problems.
This 2-piece cap has an unusual gauzy under-ruffle that skims the nape of the neck.

Philadelphia History Museum records associate this cap with Rebecca Jones, a Quaker “minister” (their quotes, not mine), who lived from 1739-1818.  It’s a 2-piece lappet, with one unusual skinny ruffle sewn along the bottom of the cap, encircling the nape of her neck.  

The Original

The pattern for this cap is very simple: cut out 2 flat piece of super fine linen, and sew them together up the middle.  But first, whip the edges, then butt them together and whip again, with the resulting join measuring less than 1/8″ across.  This is another example of fine and exact stitching.

The front edge is rolled, not whipped, to a minute, neat, finish. The gathering channel is only about 6″ long, along the nape.  The short string comes out at the back, inside, through a buttonholed opening.  After the channel, the edge smooths down to a 1/16″ hem that finishes the back of the lappet.

A gauzy ungathered ruffle only 3/8″ wide decorates the bottom edges, from the tip of one lappet, around the nape, to the tip of the other.  Its edges are also minutely hemmed, then whipped to the cap.

 

The other decoration is a row of tiny straight stitches 1″ back from the front edge of the cap, completely straight and even, giving the impression of being pieced, or maybe she just liked the sheen of the thread. I’ve seen this detail on numerous Quaker caps.

I think this is the only cap I’ve seen with a laundry marker.  It is a red “G” in itty bitty cross stitches.  I wonder why  Rebecca Jones made a cap marked “G”?  I guess “associate with” doesn’t mean “hers.”  Made for daughter Gertrude or Gina?

Questions that remain

One detail makes me wonder about the pre-1800 date: the squared lappets.  Curators at both Philly and Chester County were willing to say that is characteristic of post-1800 caps.  

Portraits

William_Jennys_-_Mrs._Cooke
By William Jennys (fl. 1790 to 1810) – Honolulu Academy of Arts, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5928972

The front of Mrs. Cooke’s cap looks similar to this one, a simple lappet with no ruffles.  The Philly example has ties at the tips, but in this portrait I think she has overlapped the ends and pinned them.  I do think this one is made in 3 pieces, so it has shape and gathers that this cap doesn’t have. I can’t find a portrait of a cap that seems to be made of only 2 flat pieces.

The Reproduction

The pattern was easy because the cap lies almost completely flat.  The only question I had was whether to dip in the nape or cut it straight and let the gather string make that curve. I opted to cut in the curve.

IMG_20160527_182728043
Saines repro of Philly 87.35.825.

I had a problem with this one that I’ve had with others: when I whip an edge, then whip the whipped edged together, I end up with dinosaur humps. See how it makes a Stegosaurus back? That join is stiff and inflexible, too.  Someone suggested it was because I was stretching the cloth as I worked, and to run a

line of stitching up the edge before whipping it. I’ll try that next time.

I also forgot the strings at the ends.

I think this cap has an especial simple beauty.  It’s unique and intriguing and elegant.

My Notes

Click here for notes and pattern:  philly 87.35.825

Thank Yous and Permissions

Kristen Froehlich, Director of the Collection and Exhibits at the Philadelphia history Museum at the Atwater Kent gave me permission to use images I made and discuss this artifact here.

Other Related Scholarship

This cap does not appear in the museum’s online catalog.

I am not aware of any other scholarship on this cap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAR 1203: A Cap With A Story

second draft

Few caps are actually dated, but this one has a story and a date.  It’s a simple lappet cap, small and unadorned, of soft sheer cotton mull.  The catalog record tells the story:

“Janneke Phoenix Krum was the wife of Hendrck W. Krum — a soldier of the American Revolution. The flax was spun and woven by Janneke Krum, and the cap made by hand — also by her.”

They were married on May 4, 1777, so the record implies this is her wedding cap.  The DAR Museum in Washington, D.C. owns this cap.

A lappet Cap displayed with a red empire dress and white neckcloth.
The cap on this dress model is DAR 1203, a simple lappet with a story.

The Original

Made of three pieces, caul, headpiece, and ruffle, but with wide (1/4″) hems throughout.  The caul is gathered to the headpiece with whipped gathers over the top 6″ of the headpiece.  The headpiece is on the straight grain, 1.5″ at the CF, widening to 3 1/4″ where the caul and headpiece meet under the ears, and skinnying down to 1/2″ wide at the point. The ruffle is joined to the headpiece with a whip stitch.

The ruffle is gathered at the CF and at the turn of the lappet only, a common characteristic of the era.  The headpiece is reinforced with tiny triangles of cloth at the tips to withstand the tension of the gathering strings attached there.

DAR Aug 13 097
The gathered CF ruffle of DAR 1203
DAR Aug 13 096
Gathers go gently around the lappet, and a string attached here ties the ends under one’s chin.
DAR Aug 13 087
The 1/4″ hem throughout might be an indicator of a later date?

 Questions that Remain

The wide hems and the cotton cloth make me wonder if this is 19th C, but the style and construction fit the bill for 18th C.  Note the museum record says Mrs. Krum spun the flax (i.e., linen) herself, but then identifies the cloth as cotton mull.  I wonder if this is a cap from later in her life?  I wonder if the hand-spun cloth story is real.

Portraits

 

This cap is similar, with a special extra gather at the top in the front.

 

Lappet caps are the most common mid-century cap.    Notice that she has a ribbon under her chin. DAR 1203 has a surviving tie sewn on to the tips, to tie under the chin. I wonder if the ribbon in this portrait is sewn on to the cap, pinned on, or tied around her neck separately?  I’d opt for sewn on to the cap, but I’ve never seen ribbons on an original, not until the 19th C when they grow large and wide.

 

 

The Reproduction

I’m still learning about how the weight of the cloth impacts the gather.  On this cap, although the whipped gather only goes across the top 6″ of the cap, I had to keep gathering it nearly all the way down the sides to make the caul fit onto the headpiece.  That’s also partly because I was still learning how to infer a flat pattern from gathered shape, and got the proportions wrong. Another complicating factor was replicating that curve under the ear.  Most caps are straight here.

Saines' reproduction on DAR 1203, lappet cap of cotton, 1777
My version of DAR 1203.

 

My Notes

Click here for notes and pattern: BookScanCenter (1)

You can see the problems I had making a pattern!  I’ve gotten better at this over time.

Thank Yous and Permissions.

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.

Other Related Scholarship

I am not aware of any scholarship on this cap.

 

 

The Odd One: DAR 2005.13 (2nd draft)

issues: better repro photo; needs a portrait

The Odd One: OK, but WHY?

The Artifact

The only extant cap so far that comes close to the huge linen piles of the late 18th C is this example in the DAR Museum in Washington, D.C.  This one is very fine muslin, with a huge caul gathered on a completely circular doubled band.  There is no way to adjust the size; it must have been made to fit.

DAR Aug 13 092
DAR 2005.13 This late century style is often called a “mob cap.” I think I disagree.

 

 

Most of the gathers are at the center front (CF), on the high forehead.  The sides are not gathered, and the rest of the cloth is gathered lightly at the nape.  All the gathers are stroke gathers, tucked into the band.

Three different laces on the band gussy up the fluff. This cap was displayed in the DAR exhibit, An Agreeable Tyrant, and in the book of the same name.

 

The Reproduction

Saines' reproduction DAR Museum 1790's cap.
My reproduction of the DAR Museum’s 1790’s cap. Not so sure I got all the dimensions right.

Here is my repro:

My muslin is thicker than the original, so maybe that’s why it sticks up so much?

 

The museum dates this cap 1790’s, and that fits with portrait evidence.

Questions that Remain

So far so good. But here’s what I really want to know: why don’t we have more of these? If the high crowned caps are later than the simple lappets, why do we have more extant earlier caps?  Of all the portraits showing these crazed mushroomy caps, why would only one American example survive?

Speculation: there was so much cloth and linen in each one, they could be turned into two or three other caps after they went out of style, so they were all remade.

Worry:  all the surviving caps we call 18th C are just a bunch of 19th C Quaker caps that we have misidentified.

Worrier:  This one is a reproduction made much later, for the Centennial, for ex.  The construction might argue for that, as this is the only cap I’ve seen gathered on a band with no adjustment.

Still, it’s beautiful and unique.

Notes and Pattern

Here are my notes and the pattern I used. I had to really guess at the shape of the caul. DAR 2005.13 notes

Thank Yous

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 and has no provenance that I know of.

 

Double Caul: DAR 2000.10.2 Lappet (2nd Draft)

Issues: make photos enlargable.

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.

The Artifact

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.

IMG_20160527_182721055
Click to enlarge.

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. 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

Thank Yous

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.

Other Research

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.