Love Those Double Ruffles: Smiths 6608-C

2nd draft; pics rev.

Several caps I’ve seen have double ruffles.  On Smiths 6608-D, they are made of finer cloth than the rest of the cap, and the finishing hem, about 1/16″ across, has stitches so fine I couldn’t see them to count them.  The effect is like an edge of tiny silk ribbon.

Lappet cap shown on graph paper for size.
Smithsonian 6608-D has a doubled ruffle whose edge is invisibly hemmed.

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

The caul and headpiece are made from handkerchief-weight linen, but the ruffles are finer.  The headpiece, including the lappets, is 10 1/2″ from tip to top.  The Caul is stroke-gathered to the headpiece, and the edge left unfinished inside.  A casing 1/4″ wide along the nape is made of a piece sewn in (I’m not for sure about that, but I can see the edges in the photos) to create the channel for Kissing strings, 18″ long, of 1/8″ linen tape.  The tapes come out on the outside, just where the caul, headpiece, and ruffle all come together.

The headpiece is pieced at the top, felled together.  It is hemmed all around with a tiny hem and then butted to the caul. You can see the stitches, like whip stitches, joining the two, but loose enough that the 2 hems sit side by side.

Then the ruffles:  hemmed on the front side, and whipped to the headpiece, with a gather only around the lappet tip.  The top ruffle is about 1/4″ skinnier than the bottom ruffle.  I decided later, when I’d seen a couple more of these, that the ruffle was made from one piece of cloth, folded, and joined through the gutter.

The ruffles don’t go all the way around the back, but end 2 1/2″ past the point where the strings come out.  Right here, the straight grain of the cloth has to bunch to get around the curve, so although it isn’t actually gathered, it appears so.  But the top ruffle ends earlier, about an inch past the tip of the lappet….

Which makes me wonder. You can see in this picture, which shows the ruffle laid open on the left side, that there’s a little bit of cloth puckered up under there.  Last detail: the ruffle goes from 1 1/4″ wide at the CF to 3/4″ wide at the other end, so maybe the difference is hidden here?  After this point, there’s a felled join, and the single ruffle finishes the round.

Look closely to see a (folded) piece of cloth between the layers of the ruffle.
What is the little fluff hiding between the layers of the ruffles?



Closeup of CF of cap, inside.
The stroke gathers visible inside. And the exact and fine hems and joins.
Close up of bottom of caul showing tape coming out at join.
The long tapes come out at the point where the caul, headpiece, and ruffle intersect. You can also see what looks like a pieced channel for the gather.
Close up of ruffles at the tip of the lappet.
The skinnier ruffle (1″ at its widest) lays on top of the wider ruffle (1 1/4″ at its widest). The folded cloth, once hemmed, would be 2 1/4″ wide, folded at 1″, and whipped on at the fold. … I think.

Questions that remain

Why do ruffles get skinnier on the sides and back than in the front?  It’s confusing because the grain of the cloth is straight on the outer edge, but the inner edge gets progressively more eaten up by the rolling of the whipped join?  On purpose?  Why?

And the Kissing Strings again.


Remember Mrs Galloway?  Her cap is an exact match.

18th c portrait of woman in plain brown gown with lappet cap.
Mrs. Richard Galloway, by John Hesselius (1728–1778), 1764. Held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art


The Reproduction

No repro yet.

My Notes

Click here for notes: smiths 6608 c 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.





Pieced Caul: Genesee 91.170.1

second draft; pics rev.

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

Lappet cap with tape measure showing the height to be about 12 inches.
Genesee 91.170.1 is a typical lappet, but the piecing of the caul is unusual.

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?)


1749-52 John Wollaston, Catherine Harris Smith (Mrs. Ebenezer Pemberton) (Artstor IAP)
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.