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.

 

 

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.