Last week I made 60 inches of hem stitching on a thin white cotton fabric. The plan is to use it as frills on an 1840’s cap, but I felt I needed to make a trial run first, so as not to waste all that work on something that wouldn’t look right. For this cap I used fabric cut from an old, worn out blouse. Recycling is nice.
There are a few caps in museums, but they are all fancy caps, made from silk ribbons and blonde lace, and that doesn’t fit my social position. The case is the same if you look at fashion plates of the time. Most paintings and photographs show the frills of the cap framing the face, but I managed to get a couple of side view pictures. Also, they showed women of my class, servants and upper lower/lower middle class women.
Detail of The Bottle, plate II by George Cruikshank, 1847.
Servants Gossiping, 1849.
This is what I came up with. The pattern needs some tweaking before I’m completely satisfied with it, but for a trial run it’s good enough, and perfectly wearable. I might add ties to it though, pretty ones that will be decorative when hanging loose.
The fabric is thin cotton, woven in stripes. The cap is constructed in four pieces, the front, crown, and flounces folded lengthwise to make them double on each side. Piping is sewn in between the front and crown, as it is pretty and also prevents the cap from stretching out of shape.
Drawstrings beginning at the same place as the top of the frills and tying at the nape of the neck makes the cap fit properly. Of course it’s hand sewn – sewing machines wasn’t common in the 1840’s, and even if they were, a cap is too delicate to look good with clumsy machine sewing.