I am often asked about which stitches were used when on caps. There’s a theory afloat about which stitches are likely to be earlier and which are likely to be later. I can never keep it straight. So I’m not trying to prove or disprove anything here; I just know it’s a question, and here’s my data.
I did a quick and dirty run down of this on Facebook a couple years ago in the “Historically Accurate 18th and early 19th Century Sewing” group. That group is retired now; but I can still get to the archive. Perhaps you can only see it if you were a member, but a lot of my readers were. Still, it’s OK if you can’t get back to see that, because now I’m going to go back and be more careful.
First of all, we are talking about only 13 caps. I saw more than 100, and started off saying there were about 30 for the time period, but in the end I’m only betting on these 13 as being 18th C. I have described them all in the posts on this blog. (I started by counting a whole set of caps that were dated 1800-, allowing for wiggle room, but in the end I decided not to include them because there were differences that seemed to attach to the date.)
I’ve laid these out earlier to later (museum date) in the chart below. Remember, it’s a small data set.
Also, there are many places where a cap is stitched, and most caps are put together with several different stitches.
I’ve tried to make a nice, easy, chart here. I had trouble, as you can see, with spacing; it still looks bulky on the page, so here’s a Word Doc for you, too: stitch chart rev
Can we draw any conclusions here? We might say that the earlier the cap, the more often the gather on the caul is likely to be a stroke gather. On the other hand, several of these have no gather, or are constructed so there is no join. And the ruffles in all these examples are whipped gathered, so it doesn’t mean they weren’t using that stitch.
Why did they use so many different methods and stitches? I think it is because joining the caul to the headpiece is much more complicated than adding a ruffle. To add a ruffle, I make a straight piece with a whipped edge that can be pulled to a gather at any point, and I whip that piece in place. To join a caul to a headpiece, I have to switch from gather to finished edge somehow without creating bulk; the transition is awkward. Then, I wonder why every edge isn’t whipped?
Anyway, there’s my data. Enjoy.