More Double Ruffles: Philly 87.35.827

This beauty is at the Philadelphia History Museum, dated 1750-1800, #87.35.827.  It is crafted of very fine linen, 11 1/2″ from tip to CF.  A simple lappet, with those kissing strings and another example of a double ruffle. There is no public catalog record for this cap.

The Original

18th C linen cap from the Philadelphia History Museum.
Philly #87.35.827 is a linen lappet with doubled ruffles.

The Caul is about 8″ tall by 4 1/4″ wide (measured flat). A 3/8″ casing at the bottom encloses a very thin linen tape. These tapes are attached to the far side of the channel, come out on the inside under the ear, and then hang down 19″ on one side and 12″ on the other. I assume the short tape is torn. The front caul edge hem is 1/16″, and when it turns into a whipped gather over the top, there are 26 miniature pearl-like stitches per inch.  I counted.

The headpiece is also hemmed with that tiny hem all around, and butted to the caul and ruffle.

That hem makes an anchor onto which we can whip the ruffle.  The ruffle is doubled. It’s made by hemming one rectangular piece of cloth all the way around, folding it off center, and whipping it to the headpiece on the fold.  Note that for that to work, the outside edges have to be hemmed to opposite sides of the rectangular cloth.  As is usual, the ruffle is only gathered enough to get around the point, and stops at the join with the caul. The ruffle gets skinnier as it rounds the tip, and skinnier still as it goes up the back of the lappet. (1 1/4″ at CF, but 3/4 at the far ends.)  It is pieced.

The ends of the lappets are reinforced to hold the 1/2″ linen tabby weave tape. It is 4″ long, just enough to make a bow.

Tip of the lappet showing string attached.
I only have one other good photo: a close up of the gathered turn of the lappet.

Questions that remain

This is from the Philadelphia History Museum, and most of its clothing collection is Quaker, and this cap is noted as Quaker.  In the 18th C, that did not mean fossilized fashion.  You could be a “gay Quaker” or a “plain Quaker”, which meant you went in for fashionable colors and embellishments, or you chose muted and simple clothing. Don’t take that to mean not fashionable, or not expensive. If you could, you wore silk of course.  It’s on my list to write about Quaker fashion, as it was one of the many rabbit holes I went down on this journey.


Mrs. James Smith, painted by Charles Wilson Peale, 1776, wears a cap like this one.  The gathers under her chin are very subtle. The ties that hold the lappets are visible.  She has added a ribbon.  This is another example of an older woman in a lappet. I like it that her chins are still visible!  She looks friendly. I bet this grandchild was a great favorite.
Mrs. Smith wears a double-ruffle on her cap.

The Reproduction

Saines' repro of double ruffle cap on green background, with snow.
It’s frigid and snowing today. My repro of Philly 87.35.827.
Saines' repro on drawing from notes shows discrepancies.
After it was all made, I laid it on the drawing I made and realized it is about 1″ too small all over. *sigh* Philly 87.35.827 repro.

This was the cap that finally showed me how the double ruffles were put together.  It was not nearly as clear in the first one of these I saw. Whipping the folded edge was neat and easy.

But, I didn’t finish opposite sides of the ruffle, so the inside ruffle shows its hem. But it’s really teeny — you’d never notice.  And anyway, you can see both sides of the ruffle’s edge when you wear it.

I always wonder how they would know where to put the gather on the ruffle.  Did they sew down from the CF, and do the gather as they went, where it needed to sit?  I don’t have any evidence that there were patterns with that level of detail to follow. So this time I tried it that way, whipping it to the headpiece, and gathering as I went.  That’s a whole new level of skill!  I got it too tight again. Because you are sewing along a folded piece, at least you don’t have to roll that edge before you join it.

Which brings me back to the ruffle getting skinnier as it goes.  I actually cut this out with a built-in taper.  I’d like to go back to the original and see if I could find a taper in the ruffle.  It has to, doesn’t it?  and if the ruffle’s edges deviate from the straight grain, are shaped to taper on purpose, it means the place where the gather goes is predetermined. That was hard to explain.  Do you see what I mean? Who did that math?

Another complicating factor is how much to allow for the gathered part. I was taught that for ruffles you allow about a 2:1 ratio. That is, allow twice as much cloth for the space you want to cover with ruffles.  12″ yoke? 24″ of cloth. But I am learning that the required measure depends on several variables. Most important is the weight of the cloth.  No one can make 26 whipped gathers to the inch with a 6 oz. linen.  But with super fine, maybe 2.5 oz., you almost can.  So lighter cloth takes up more in a gather than heavy cloth. It also depends on how small a gather you can produce (stroke or whipped). It helps to have a long, fine needle, like a milliner’s needle, and fine, strong thread. Silk is a good choice. The needle should not leave a visible hole in the cloth, and the thread should be the same or lighter weight than the threads of the cloth.

My Notes

Click here for notes: philly 87.35.827

I didn’t include my pattern because it was so off measure. I need to redo this one.

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.

Photos by the author.

Other Related Scholarship

There is no other research about this cap as far as I know.


Winterthur “Wedding Cap” — Or is it? Wint #1955.003.013, 1760

I was so excited to discover this cap, and see the photographs.  It has provenence, it is beautifully made, its style is interesting and unique.  At Winterthur, the research assistant walked me through many layers of security, locked doors, hidden entrances, to bring me to a workroom with this cap laid out under a cloth.  It felt like the big reveal when we pealed back the cloth, and I couldn’t help myself, I cried out, “This is a child’s cap!”  It is so small and perfect and jewel-like. So, like the Boston MFA cap, the query here became: could it really be, as the record asserts, an adult wedding cap?

This cap is at Winterthur Museum, # 1955.003.013.  Their online catalog includes a photo and description.

The Original

Wint 1955.0003.013; superfine supersimple lappet cap, with provenance.
Winterthur Museum record photo. Used with Permission.

3″ by 5″ is a very small caul.  The lappet is only 8 1/2 ” at its tip.  The “ruffle,” which isn’t gathered at all, averages 5/8 wide.  So all the dimensions are small.

The needle work is incredible.  Each edge is whipped, then whipped again to join it to its neighbor, creating a little raised edge inside. But what you see on the outside is just 25 perfectly even tiny stitches per inch.  The entire  finished join measures less than 1/16″ across.  The outside edges are rolled, not whipped, to finish.

The caul is pieced up the back, and has a 1/8″ casing along the bottom, but no exit holes for gathering strings.  The only gather is along the top 5″ of the caul, a perfect miniature rolled gather.

The shape of the lappet headpiece and the unruffled ruffle is unique among the examples I’ve seen.  The headpiece is cut on the grain, but curved under the ear, ever so slightly. The ruffle is shaped like a bread knife, with the slightly wider part near the ends.  Joined, these two pieces make a round end, with the join going right up the middle.

Winterthur dates this cap with provenence because it came as part of the collection of needlework made by Mary Alsop (1740-1829), with a note pinned to it, “My Mother’s wedding Cap.”  As Mrs. Alsop was married on April 27, 1760, that is the date given the cap.  (All this is on the long record of the item.) You can see more of her needlework  in the online catalog.

The cloth shines like silk, but it is cotton.  The cloth is beginning to wear away; several mended places are visible.

Lappet cap beside a ruler gives an idea of size.
My study photo. I didn’t get any good detail photos.

Questions that remain

Is it an adult cap?  I noticed when I went back to the record to write this post, that its description is changed now to “child’s cap.”  (And then changed back!) It is true that many items that come to us with provenance end up, upon close examination, to be falsely attributed.  So maybe her family did not know which cap was really her wedding cap.  I’ve also seen in museum records, conflicting accounts by various visiting experts about the date or story for an item.  I love that the curators carefully attach all these to the item for the next person to discover, a story gathering over time, perhaps with a conclusion, perhaps not.

I’m leaning toward calling this an adult cap. Here are my reasons:

First, I put my reproduction on the head of Newbold Richardson, (Newbie) who claims she has the “smallest head in the world.”  It fits her.  True, Newbie has short hair, so there isn’t any bulk under the cap.  Also, as I note below, my version is a little off, but not substantially, I think, for fitting purposes.

Modern woman in reproduction of this 18th c cap: it fits!
Newbie models Wint 1955.0003.013 at CSA 2016. (Thanks, Newbie!)                                        

Second, unlike, for example, Boston MFA #49.366, which has gathering strings that will make that cap even smaller when worn, this cap shows no sign of gathers.  The normal method of sizing by gathering the caul is not being used.  This would sit on her head in just this shape, exactly fit for the purpose.  And, as Newbie shows us, it is rather nice looking laying simply on her head.  It could be worn higher, on dressed hair, with ribbons and flowers, and still look fitted and appropriate.

young woman modeling the wedding cap on dressed hair
This is how I imagined the cap looking on dressed hair.


Here’s another good example of the cap on dressed hair. Thanks, Simone! 


No portraits.  No examples.  I’ve never seen this shape anywhere else.  Have you?  I’ve been looking at baby caps in museums (of which there are hundreds!),  websites and books about baby garb, portraits of women and children, both 18th and 19th C sources. I don’t see anything anywhere like this.  Which doesn’t help, does it?  If something is unique — Mary’s one-of-a-kind self-designed custom-fit not-really-fashionable wedding cap — it leaves us at a loss to place it, prove it, or dispute it.

The Reproduction

I made this from silk to mimic the fineness of the 18th C cloth.
Saines repro of Wint 1955.0003.013.

As with many caps, one challenge here was reproducing exact 25-stitches-per-inch perfection.  I used silk organza to mimic the shiny look of the original.  The fineness of that cloth, with silk thread, made it possible to achieve those minute edges.

I had some trouble with the shape, especially in the lappet.  Mine ended up pointy rather than rounded.  And the curves suffer from stretching. I pulled so hard on the cloth to make those tiny rolled edges that some look riffly when they should lie flat. I think I would enlarge the pattern pieces of both the caul and the ruffle to allow more room to work.

My Notes

Click here for notes and pattern: wint 1955.0003.013

Thank Yous and Permissions

Linda Eaton, Senior Curator of Textiles, gave me permission to  discuss this artifact here. Lea Lane met me at the museum that day and helped me with questions afterward.

Museum record photos by Winterthur Museum.

Other photos by the author. Thanks for permission from Newbie to show her modelling this cap. Thanks for permission to include the young woman modeling the dressed hair; I will add her name when I find my notes.

Other Related Scholarship

The museum record notes this article, which details many other needlework items owned by Winterthur and made by Mary Alsop. This cap is not described in the article.

Krueger, Glee. “A Middletown Cameo: Mary Wright Alsop and Her Needlework.”Connecticut Historical Society Museum & Library Vol. 52, No.3-4 Summer/Fall 1987

Mary Alsop’s work was part of the museums’ 2009 exhibit, Who’s Your Daddy?

Version 4; add name of model at Schoenbrunn.

Gauzy Ruffles: Winterthur 1969.4675

A solid example of an 18th C lappet cap, cotton muslin with a gauzy cotton ruffle gathered only at the turn.  Long “kissing strings” gather the caulWinterthur Museum date: 1750-1800.  Their online catalog includes a description, but no image.

The Original

Really badly lit photo of a lappet cap with many stains and tears.
Winterthur 1969.4675, a lappet cap with superfine needlework.

Three pieces are finished, then joined:

  1. The caul, only 7″ tall, with long tapes in 1/4″ casing at the base. The tapes come out at the front join of the caul and the headpiece.
  2. The headpiece, cut on the straight grain, minutely whipped on the front edge. Felled to the caul on the back edge with the world’s tiniest hem (except where it is stroke gathered across the top). 10 1/4″ at the longest point. Ties sewn to the tips are 4 1/2 ” long, sewn to the inside.
  3. The ruffle, made of fine, loosely woven cotton, 1 1/4″ wide, is whipped, then joined to the headpiece. It is pieced on both ends. The front edge is finished with a 1/16″ hem.  1/16″.  Let that sink in…

The gather at the top of the caul is a stroke gathering, unfinished on the inside, across the top 6″ of the arch.

I think it was while examining this cap that it hit me what was going on with those long strings, functionally:  each one is sewn to the end of the channel on the other side. The strings are doubled inside the channel, so then pulled, they pull against each other and gather up the base of the caul.

So these kissing strings maybe have to be long so they can be tucked somewhere, otherwise they hang under the ears and get in the way.  But we don’t know where they got tied. See my discussion of this over here.

The original has many mended places, perfectly darned.  The cap is stained.

If I were to pick an example of a “typical” lappet with “typical” construction, I’d pick this one.  Its lines are clean and the stitches perfect, nothing oddly cobbled together or poorly executed.

Detail of the top of the cap showing the outside, with the close and even stroke gathers.
Close up of the the stroke gathers. Winterthur 1969.4675

Close up of cap folded back to see the inside. 18th C lappet cap.
Shows the inside unfinished stroke gathers, with transition to felled seam down the sides. Winterthur 1969.4675

Close up of 18th C lappet cap.
The fineness of the felled seam is clear here, also showing some examples of mended areas. Winterthur 1969.4675

Questions that remain

By the time I got to this cap, I’d already asked the questions raised here: what are those long strings for? (Not sure) Was it common to have a ruffle of finer stuff? (Yes.) Is this typical of 18th C caps? (Yes.)  How do they make those minute hems and stitches?  (Practice, practice, practice.)


18th C portrait of a women wearing a lappet cap with a white bow under her chin.
Anna Porter Brown (Mrs. Nathaniel Brown). Painted by Joseph Badger, @ 1750. Fine Art Museums of San Francisco.

Anna Brown, @ 1750, wears a cap like this one.  Its simplicity is echoed in her dress, neckerchief, and sleeve ruffles.  Her cap is tied on with a simple white ribbon.  Note how it sits back from her face, the ruffles fanning out but not actually gathered.  Anna was from Massachusetts, and the clean and fine lines of her garments make me wonder if she is Quaker.

The Reproduction

The challenge of this cap was to get those edges and joins as small as the original.

Repro cap shown on black head mount against a green ground.
Saines reproduction of Wint 1969.4675

I used batiste cotton for the body and mull for the ruffles.  I’m learning that if I want to recreate really fine stitches, it helps to have really fine cloth — but you already knew that, didn’t you?  It also helps to have really fine thread and needles.  Ideally, the thread should match the weight of the cloth being sewn, and the needle should not leave a hole bigger than the weave.  I’ve resorted to silk thread because it is as fine as a cotton batiste.

People often ask me where I get my cloth. I go to the normal reenactors’ suppliers:  Wm. Booth, Draper or Burnley and Trowbridge. Their finest linens and organzas are close enough to get the look right.  The really fine weight cloth (3.5 oz or lighter) is expensive, but a cap takes 1/4 or 1/3 of a yard, so that makes it seem almost affordable.  I don’t live near to any big cities with a garment district, so when I travel I try to get to good fabric stores, but even these have very little. I also buy linen blouses and Indian cotton skirts at second hand stores and take them apart.  These often have finer cloth than I can find by the yard.  I once got a whole stack of cloth at a Goodwill — must have been a reenactor who never got around to things.

The mistake I made on this cap is I put the lappet tapes on the outside, and they are supposed to be on the inside.

My Notes

Click here for notes and pattern: wint 1969.46.75

Thank Yous and Permissions

Linda Eaton, Senior Curator of Textiles, gave me permission to  discuss this artifact here. Lea Lane met me at the museum that day and helped me with questions afterward.

Photos by the author.

Other Related Scholarship

I am not aware of any further research on this cap.


The Cap That Started It All — and the Debate that Ensued

This was the first cap I saw in a museum. It is housed at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. I found it because it is one of the very few women’s caps in American museums dated to the 18th C that have online catalog records. It was so exciting to go behind the scenes for the first time and be allowed to touch something 200 years old.  I was wide-eyed and awe-struck, in a sort of history bliss coma.

I was also disappointed: the cap was so small!  Although the museum has it categorized as an adult cap, we wondered immediately if, after all, it was for a child.  Deciding that question became the focal point of my investigation of this cap.

The Original

Small 18th C cap of linen, with lappets.
Boston MFA #49.366. Yes, but is it an adult cap?

Boston MFA #49.366 is a lappet cap with the usual 3-piece construction of semicircular caul, headpiece on the straight grain, and a ruffle, this one made of lace.  It is linen, dated by the museum “18th C”.  All details here agree with that dating.

Being only 11″ from tip to tip isn’t what makes this cap really small; its the caul, only 6″ high by 4″ deep.  The seams are unfinished on the inside; stroke gathers go along the top 3″ of the caul. The ungathered edges of the caul and headpiece are butted together, 22 stitches to the inch.  A 1/16″ hem down the front of the headpiece is whip stitched, before the lace is whip stitched on.

The record identifies the lace as linen bobbin lace, and since the study of lace is another thing all its own, I defer to their judgement.

The headpiece is on the straight grain, with a little triangle of cloth that dips under the bottom edge of the caul.  So the caul and the headpiece have to be cut to agree on that curve.

The really interesting part, and for me the final deciding factor, is a casing made of a straight piece of cloth that goes from the tip of one lappet, around the nape of the neck, down the tip of the other lappet.  A plain linen tape is encased here, allowing the cap to be pulled into a gather all around the bottom at once.

In correspondence with Curator Jennifer Swope, I learned that this cap was give to the MFA by Mrs. Wendell Taber, who gave the museum a collection of clothing dating from 1742 to the 1830’s, but no information about the wearers.

Close-up of top of cap where headpiece and caul are joined.
Cap from the top: the headpiece is made of 2 pieces butted together in tiny stitches, with rough ends exposed inside.

Lace edges the front of this 18th C cap.
Good view of the bobbin lace with purple glove behind as contrast.

Close-up of top of cap, showing join of the headpiece and gathers of the caul.
Seams are all unfinished on the inside of Boston MFA cap #49.366.

Questions that remain

So, the question: is this an adult cap? My verdict: no.  This is a toddler’s cap. It’s that all-around-the-bottom gather that seals the argument for me.

Here’s [my repro of] the cap on an adult head:

Very small cap shown on adult head.
Steve Saines, 59, models the Boston MFA cap.

4-cut picture of baby in repro cap, laughing.
Weston Wells, 4 mo.s, models Boston MFA 49.366

And here it is on a child, with the gather string making a really pretty face-framing ruffle:

Thanks to Selena Wells, Weston’s mom, for allowing Weston to model for us!  Weston is probably just a little young for this, but you can see the effect the gathers makes.

While many of the caps I’ve seen seem really small for my head, I wear an XL hat. But in general, 18th C caps are smaller than 19th C caps, which are often made to cover the whole head and frame the face.  18th C caps tend to ride further back, higher on the hair, more like a halo than a frame. You can see the hairline, the whole forehead, often even one’s ears. So I’m not going to say that every small cap is for a child. See my discussion of another really small cap, Winterthur 1955.0003.013 for comparison.


I haven’t found a portrait of a baby in a cap with lappets tied under the chin! Help me out here! Maybe 18th C babies didn’t like having things tied under their chins any more than my babies did. Maybe that’s why this cap survived.

I did discover this very similar cap at the UK National Trust, dated 1730-1750. Dimensions aren’t given, which is too bad, so we can’t compare exactly. I see a similar gather casing along the back of the lappet, just like this one. The online record identifies this as a child’s cap.

The Reproduction

As the first cap I tried to measure, pattern, and recreate, this was a learning experience.  How to discover the shape of a gathered piece had me flummoxed for a while. Making the curved headpiece mate with a curved caul was a puzzle as well.  I have since made this cap over several times, and it is, with experience, — and a working pattern — a simple, pretty baby cap.

See Sharon Burnston’s notes and pattern, too. Her pictures are clearer than mine. Better two than one.

Lappet cap, repro of Boston MFA cap, probably child's.
First attempt, before adding lace. I made the lappets way too wide.

Repro cap, gathered and displayed stuffed with paper to show shape.
Here is a second version, with lace, of Boston MFA 49.366. It’s pulled up to show the gathered effect.

My Notes

Click here for notes and pattern: boston MFA 49.366

Thank Yous and Permissions

I want to thank Sharon Burnston, who met me at the Boston MFA, taught me to measure and examine an artifact, and set me on this journey with her help and blessing.

Diana Zlatanovski, Curatorial Research Associate, helped us at the museum that day, and Jennifer Swope, Curator, corresponded with me afterward when I had more questions.

Photos by the author.

Other Related Scholarship

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


The Second Round-Eared Cap: Smiths 6608B

[2nd draft. pics rev ]

In all my travels, I have found only two round-eared caps from the 18th C. They are both at the Smithsonian, both from the Copp Collection.  The other one is described here .

The cap is housed in the textiles collection of the National Museum of American History.* The record for this item is not online.

The Original

Study photo of round-eared cap.
Smiths 6608 B is a round-eared cap with a wide ruffle

The museum dates this cap 1795-1815, so it just barely qualifies as 18th C.  Since we can’t ask the curator who assigned these dates so long ago, we don’t know what that person saw to prompt her to date this one later than Smiths 6608.  I think that the wider hems and cotton cloth are clues to a later date.

Made of cotton mull, superfine and almost gauzy, plain white, with an edging on the ruffle (it isn’t lace; an extra fine tape, perhaps?).  My notes are unclear here.  (Argh!  even when you think you’ve been thorough…)

It’s made of three pieces, all on the straight grain: semicircular caul, 1 3/4″ straight headpiece, and a ruffle that’s wider at the CF than the bottoms. The headpiece is pieced at the top with a felled hem. That’s pretty common. Gathers on the caul and the ruffle are rolled, whipped, gathered all in one stitch, making a pretty popcorn effect inside that goes across the top 4″ on the headpiece, the top 8″ on the ruffle. The headpiece is hemmed 1/8″ all around, and the hem of  the ruffle is 1/4″. A casing runs along the bottom of the caul and headpiece, allowing the strings to come out right under the ears.

Questions that remain / Portrait

Mr. and Mrs. Brewster, seated. She wears a round-eared cap
Mr. and Mrs. Brewster, 1795-1800. Her cap shows us about as much detail as an American portrait gives us.

What don’t I understand?  The two round-eared caps have straight headpieces.  I keep recommending Kannik’s cap pattern, but really her cap isn’t like these at all. That cap I wear, that I’ve replicated a dozen times, has a moon-shaped headpiece, and a shaped ruffle that is gathered all the way down.  Many French portraits have detailed renderings of caps, but for American caps, Mrs. Brewster is abut the only one I can see any detail. This portrait is 1795-1800, so it fits the time period given the cap.  I think her headpiece is straight, too.

And what do you do with those gathering strings once you’ve pulled them?  Where do they hang?  Where do you hide them? They would be looping down under your earlobes.  Tie them under your chin?



The Reproduction

Round-eared cap with gathering strings at the bottom.
Saines repro of Smiths 6608B, made of cotton.

I had a nice soft cotton to work with, and the repro matches the original shape and size. The caul pattern is off; I had to make adjustments as I went, and I noted “redo this” on the pattern, so don’t trust it!

Having the gather string go all along the bottom and tie under the chin, plus the really wide ruffle,  gives this cap a halo effect when worn.





My Notes

smiths 6608 B round notes and pattern

Thank Yous

Nancy Davis, Curator of Textiles at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, helped me to identify items in that collection that were useful to this study. That was no small feat, as records were spread across several legacy cataloging systems, and details were minimal.  I can only hope I found what there was to find!

Other Related Scholarship

I am not aware of any scholarship for this artifact.

*. . . which is not the same thing as the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt, in NYC. Their textiles section was under construction at the time of this study, so I didn’t get to see their artifacts.








Doubled Headpiece: Genesee 87.213

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.

The Original

18th C cap from Genesee Museum, on a model head, is a lappet.
Genesee 87,213 sports and unusual doubled headpiece.

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.

Mrs. Framer in a similar lappet style cap. 1768-1770
Hannah’s cap is only slightly gathered, and the ruffle appears to continue around the back of her neck. Hannah Framer (Mrs. Benjamin Peck) 1768-1770 by John Durand (Winterthur)

18th C portrait of Mrs. Bostwick in a black gown with a lappet cap.
Sara has wrapped a large striped ribbon around her lappet cap. The lace ruffle wraps around her neck and ties under her chin. Sara Bostwick (Mrs. Sherman Boardman (1796) by Raph Earl (1751-1801) (New Milford Historical Society and Museum?)

The Reproduction

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.

Saines repro includes doubled headpiece like the original.
You can see it better here. I turned it inside out for the photo.

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.

Saines in lappet cap.
Me wearing my repro of Gen 87.213

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.

My Notes

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.


Double Caul: DAR 2000.10.2 Lappet

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.

Lappet cap with complex doubled caul.
My repro of this cap: the back looks like a tunnel because I curved the piece in too much.

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. Also, 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


The doubled caul makes me wonder in awe at the ingenuity of this maker.  She had a lot of this fine linen and must have thought it was too thin for her purposes.  How did she invent that sew and flip thing?  Here I’m going on my own idea that women weren’t passing around patterns, but based on a general understanding of how caps are made, invented their own ways to create the effect they desired.  

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.


Women with a lappet cap aren’t hard to find.  A little less common is this ruffle that goes all the way around the cap, making a complete circle once it is gathered at the nape of the neck.  That means your neck is encircled by the ruffle, giving it almost the effect of a linen choker necklace.  


Woman in dark purple dress, large white neck kerchief and simple lappet cap, holding a small round box.
Ann Fitzhugh Rose, 1771, Virginia. Ann’s cap is a simple lappet like this one, with a ruffle that goes all the way around, tied under the chin. We cannot determine if this caul is doubled, of course! Williamsburg.