The “Corsage” in the Ruffle: Smiths 6608-D

first draft 1.13.19

The ruffles of most lappets are barely gathered except for the turn at the point of the lappet.  But some also have a tuft of tight gathers at the Center Front (CF), like a corsage of little flowers on top of your head.  Smithsonian 6608-D has that extra flair.

The cap is housed in the textiles collection of the Smithonian’s National Museum of American History*, a part of the Copp Collection. The museum date is 1775-1799. The record for this item is not online.

The Original

Heavy linen cloth gives this cap a unique feel and weight. 

The structure is the same as most 18th C lappets: caul, headpiece, ruffle.

This ruffle goes all the way around the back, so when the gather around the bottom of the caul is pulled to fit, it creates a ruffle at the nape of the neck.  The gather string comes out of a buttonhole inside.

The outer edge of the ruffle is hemmed 1/8″; the inner edge alternates between a rolled gather where needed and a minute whip.  The headpiece is hemmed 1/8″ all around, and joined to the ruffle with a whip stitch. The caul is sewn the same: hem, rolled gather, whipped to the headpiece.  The whole work is as neat and tidy as… an 18th c cap.

I love seeing the human element in an artifact.  This cap is nearly perfect, but the hem around the lappet gave the seamstress some trouble. There’s the edge awkwardly folded, a little bunchy on the turn.  Part of that has to be the heaviness of the cloth.  Getting around the lappet has often left me cursing, too.

The short ties under the chin are 1/8″ tapes, probably linen, sewn on to the hem of the headpiece for strength.

inside of 18th C cap from smithsonian showing stitches and construction
Inside we can see the exact and regular hem, the perfect popcorn of the rolled gather. Smiths 6608-D
inside of lappet shows awkward folding at turn.
I’m so glad to see she had trouble turning that lappet tip, too. They drive me to distraction.
detail of gather at lappet tip.
But the outside is just perfect. I often have trouble getting the amount of gather just right so it lays. This is the ideal.

 

Questions that remain

I wonder if the weight of this cloth means it had a specific use?  Heavier for night time? For winter?  I’ve only seen this weight of cloth a handful of times.  The hood-like cap from the Philadelphia museum is one.

Also, can I call that nape ruffle a bavolet?

 

 

 

Portraits

Abigail’s cap is a lot like this one.  It has a ruffle that goes all the way around her neck,

Abigail wears a cap like this one, with a nape ruffle and that extra little pouf at the top. Mrs. John Edwards (Abigail Fowle) about 1750–60 Joseph Badger (American, 1708–1765) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

and that extra little fancy bit at the top of her head.  Her ruffle appears to several layers, doubled at least, possibly tripled, which really makes me wonder how it is made.  She has tied her cap with a pretty bow matching her gown. There might be a white ribbon over the headpiece, too.

This corsage effect I’ve seen mostly in mid-century portraits, 1750-1770.  The museum date of the last quarter would be a little late, then?

 

The Reproduction

No repro yet.

My Notes

Click here for notes: smiths 6608 d notes

Thank Yous and Permissions

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!

Photos by the author.

Other Related Scholarship

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

*. . . 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.

 

 

 

 

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

[second draft.]

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
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.

Cap from the top: the headpiece is joined here, butted together in tiny stitches, with rough ends exposed.
Good view of the bobbin lace with purple glove behind as contrast.
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:

Steve Saines, 59, models the Boston MFA cap.

 

Weston Well, 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.

Portraits

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 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. [add photo of latest version]

First attempt, before adding lace. I made the lappets way too wide.
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doubled Headpiece: Genesee 87.213

First draft. No known issues.

I’ll say it again: just when you are ready to say, “Never”….

This lappet cap has a doubled headpiece, the only case of that that 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
Genesee 87,213 Doubled caul.

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?

Portraits

Here are two portraits with similar caps.

https://americangallery18th.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/hannah-farmer-mrs-benjamin-peck.jpg
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 (1731-1805)
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)

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.

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.

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, and 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rare Round-Eared Cap: Smiths 6608

[Draft 1: .  Sent to Nancy Davis 6.20.18. for comment. (she retired; forwarded to Bill Yeingst, chair of the division of Home and Community Life, at yeingstw@si.edu)]

Of the 100+ caps I’ve seen, only two are true “round-eared” caps.  They are both from the Smithsonian collection, and from the same collection, the Copp Collection.  They are cut out differently from one another.  This one, Smiths 6608, has a rounded, pointed headpiece, and the ruffle curls around to meet it.  The other, Smiths 6608B, has a straight headpiece.

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

The shiny, fine soft cloth of this cap is probably linen. The incredibly minute stitches are are not unusual in 18th C caps: I counted 20 stitches to the inch.  Each edge  is finished with a whip stitch, then the edges are butted together with another whip stitch. Together, the finished join is 1/16″ across! While not every cap was expertly made, most exhibit these  precise, small, nearly perfect stitches.  Every time I think, “I can do this now, look at those tiny stitches!” I see another example like this of period perfection, and despair.

There are 3 pieces:

  • half-circle shaped caul with a gather tape that comes out of a split in the casing, CB.
  • 2 1/4″ wide headpiece that rounds back to a point under the ear (thus the term, “round-eared cap,” I suppose.)
  • 1 1/2″ ruffle, gathered only enough to get comfortably around that curve. The ruffle is whipped to the headpiece, but the front has a 1/8″ hem.

The museum dates this 1780-1800, partly because the Copp family artifacts include that era.  As with many older collections, the curator who dated this item is no longer at the museum to ask what prompted the dates given.  Nothing about it argues for a later date, and it looks like many caps seen in portraits of the period, so I accept this possibility.

Questions that remain

What don’t I understand?  This cap is small, only 7 1/4″ high, which, once again, makes me wonder if the average 18th C head was smaller. In portraits, many round-eared caps are worn high on the head, with hair piled up inside, so maybe it isn’t intended to cover much ? Or were many extant caps  actually made for younger women? We can’t tell a small adult cap from one made for a teenager.

And I always wonder why THIS cap made it through time for me to touch. Is this the souvenir saved from a child who died? Is this the failed cap that no one liked, so it sat unused? (I can hear the adolescent whine, “But, Ma, no one wears a cap like that anymore!”) Made at school for practice?  Made by Grandma right before she passed away? Made by someone rich enough to have extra caps she didn’t need, found years later in some cupboard?

Round-eared caps are nearly as common in my sample of American period portraits as lappets.  So why do we only have 2 examples?  Did more of them get worn out? Perhaps because they tended to be worn by younger women?  Or did I miss a trove of them when I couldn’t get to the Cooper-Hewitt?

Portraits

This portrait

portrait of the Gordon Family by Henry Benbridge, 1862. Mrs. Gordon wears a round-eared cap.
Mrs. Gordon is wearing a round-eared cap with not much gathering, similar to Smiths 6608.

of the Gordon Family shows Mrs. Gordon in a cap similar to this one.  Most round-eared caps on portraits have a lot of gathers all around the cap, but here is one that seems less so.  The date is 1763. The oldest daughter is wearing a cap like this, too, set very high on her head, so maybe the idea of small caps set high is accurate.

 

 

 

The Reproduction

 

IMG_20160527_182648550
Saines repro of 6608.

 

I used the finest linen I had, but it isn’t as fine as the original.  I didn’t manage to get my stitches as fine, either, especially the whipped edges.  The thickness of the cloth does make tiny stitches harder.  When I sew 20 stitches to the inch on a whipped edge, it often comes out stretched and tight like a dinosaur’s back.

Otherwise, I got the shape and proportions right.

 

My Notes :

smiths 6608 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 don’t know of any other scholarship concerning this cap.[

*. . . 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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.