Tuesday, April 29, 2008

1845-1855 Ruffled Baby Cap

Today I made Judah a baby cap. At seven months, maybe he’s a little too old to be wearing one but I decided it was for him after it was all done and he kept on his head for pictures. It was supposed to be for my Etsy shop but I can make another. Little Judah can have this one.

The cap is based off of one that is dated 1845-1855 from the Wisconsin Historical Museum Online Collections. The original cap is made of a sheerer material than I used, but I wanted to test out the shape and all that. I made a bunch of sketches the other day from looking at all the baby caps on the WHM site and will be trying them out. While most of the shapes seem incredibly simple the ornate embroidery and lace insertion on many of the caps is truly breathtaking! There were a few caps that were very plain, however, one with just a narrow lace edging around the face.

This cap is one-piece, with a ruffle around the entire thing, and the fullness is taken up at the neck and face with drawstrings.

Here is the pattern I drew out to make the cap. Just print full-size. (I really need to get the Adobe program for these sorts of things but am loathe to spend the money on it since I don’t know how often I would be using it!)

Cut 1 cap on the indicated fold line. Sew right sides together, finish seam in preferred way (I just sewed two rows of stitching close together and trimmed the seam allowance, since this was pretty much a ‘practice’ cap).

Make the ruffle by cutting out a strip 2.5” wide by 72” long. Sew into a circle. Hem one edge of the strip and run two rows of gathering stitches on the other edge. Draw up fullness, pin to cap and stitch, right sides together. Remove gathering threads and press seam allowance to inside of cap.

Cut a strip of fabric 3” wide x 35” long. Sew into a circle. Pin to cap, right sides together, with ruffle turned to outside of cap. (you will be making a ‘sandwich’ of the cap and casing strip, with the ruffle as the ‘filler’ in this step). Stitch to cap.

Make eyelets in casing strip were indicated on pattern. (2 at center back, and one at each chin edge).

Turn under raw edge of top of casing, pin to cap and slip stitch into place.
Take drawstring, and thread one drawstring through the face edge, with each loose end emerging at the eyelet at the chin edge.
Cut two smaller drawstrings. Thread one through one center back eyelet to chin edge. Secure edge of drawstring firmly inside casing at chin edge. Repeat for the other side.

Draw up drawstrings to fit the baby.

The End. :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Another very rainy, windy day. I had a visitor this morning and the young lady who comes over each Thursday for guitar lessons didn’t come this afternoon so I used that time to work on my projects a little.

First, I got the drawers done. The worst part was picking out the seams. I really hate picking out seams! It seems like you are taking a step backward, but at least the finished product looks better! Two pairs down, two to go.

Then I replaced several tapes on my cage. I have the 108” cage from Kay Gnagney’s kit but after a few years (this year will be my 4th season wearing this cage) the tapes are raveling and coming apart. I made new tapes out of strips of muslin on the straight grain, with the raw edges folded towards the center of the strip. The strip was doubled and stitched together, creating little pockets in which the individual hoops rest. The hoops were sewn to the pockets to prevent shifting. Two tapes down, seven to go.

Then I cut out the bodices and skirts for the babies new dresses. I decided to make the usual gathered bodice and the sleeves are rounded at the hem to make a flutter-type sleeve. I meant to copy this sleeve style from an original dress, but failed to look again at the pictures before I cut out the sleeve. I realize now the hem shouldn’t be circular but cut straight. At least, that’s what the picture of the original looks like to me. Oh well. It’s too late to go back and redo the sleeves now. They will just have to wear them that way. On these dresses I am putting the extra bodice length in the waistband so I don’t need to make tucks in the bodice. The skirts will have a deep hem and ½” tucks. Hopefully I’ll get the bodices finished tonight and the skirts and fasteners done tomorrow. I know I should have done the gathers by hand but I didn't. :( I just don't have the time. Alas.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Baby Bonnets

It’s been a lovely Saturday! It is warm, breezy and spring-like. David got off work early and came home early and we are going to go take a walk with the babies here pretty soon. Then fish for dinner. Yeck. But I promised David I’d make it since we compromised a few nights ago. He has a thing for fish. :)

Today I made the babies pinafores and bonnets. I used Elizabeth Stewart Clark’s 1-2-3 Pinafore instructions from her website. For the bonnet I browsed the Wisconsin Historical Society website and found a simple shape I liked. I was originally going to make corded bonnets, but lack the time. After I found the bonnet I wanted to copy from, I measured the head of my oldest child. Based on his measurements, a quick drawing of what I thought the pattern pieces should look like and some trial and error I drew out a pattern. I usually just draft right onto the fabric but it is inevitable that later I wish I had saved the pattern because I want to use it again. Why has it taken me almost ten years to learn that? I can be so thick-headed sometimes!

I used left over pink print for Davey’s sunbonnet and Judah’s bonnet was recycled from an old shirt of his papa’s. I put drawstrings in at the neck so they can be adjusted. They are a little big now so should last a while. I now need to starch the living daylights out of them if I don’t want them to be floppy. I might just quick quilt the layers of brim together on machine instead, though. I really am not big into starching. (I know I should be, but I just haven’t gotten to that point yet.)

Here is little David in his bonnet. Sorry for the blurry picture! He just won’t hold still! Surprisingly he seemed to actually like wearing it and I wanted to get a picture of how it looked on a head.

If any of you all are interested in making one like this, I scanned the pattern pieces. They are here:
Just print full-size on a sheet of regular printer paper. :) Oh, and um, I don’t know if making the curtain piece wider in the middle is period correct or not. I just did that so as to shade the back of their necks better but not have really long curtain pieces over the shoulder/neck. You could just make a plain old rectangle too. :)

I’m off!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Judah Baby In His Dress

Well, instead of making pinafores I decided to try the dresses on the babies and take pictures. Little David was NOT cooperative, prefering to try to tip over the rocking chair on which his brother was seated (and, alas, almost suceeding). Here is little Judah, who now can sit up and who also has his first tooth! I don't know where his other arm has disappeared to in these pictures but I assure you he has all his limbs intact. :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oh Scallops, Scallops. . .

I was very happy with the progress I made on the dresses today, in-between playing with my sweet wee ones and putting the drawers back in my sewing desk that the baby decided to take out and empty, and hunting high and low for my spool of white thread that the said baby made off with and deceptively Hid from me. He prefers real things to toys. After all, they are more interesting. It is very interesting to unroll thread from a spool, undoubtedly!

The skirts were easy to set on. I used a full width of the 60” wide fabric for the skirts. I was afraid 60” would be too skimpy but they turned out just fine. The material is a little heavier, anyway, so the stiffness makes the skirts stand out nicely. The scalloped band was incredibly fun to make.
First I made a template like this, by folding a piece of paper into eighths and then drawing half of the scallop on the fold. Cut out the scallop, and there you go! A template.
I then traced the template onto the strip of bias fabric (3 ½” wide)
And then cut it out.
Then I folded over the top edge of the bias band and stitched it to the skirt.

I still am not sure how to actually bind the scallops. I tried several different methods earlier but none of them worked out. I’m thinking the self fabric bias binding I made is just too heavy because of the weight of the fabric and I might need to make binding out of a lighter fabric, so in a nice trim color. White? Red? Black? I think perhaps black and red would look nice and boyish.

And here they are with the band attached. I think the band really makes the dresses have character and makes them different from just a plain old dress.
That’s all I did for sewing today. I still need to add buttons or hooks to the backs of the dresses, but I don’t have any appropriate buttons right now and I don’t have any hooks either. Hmmm. I think a trip to the fabric store is in order tomorrow when we go into town!
Here is a picture of my finished drawers.
And some of new fabric I recently got. Plaid silk, and some wool from eBay that was intended for baby coats. Alas, the wool is really too heavy for baby coats. I think I’ll use this wool and the babies will have coats made of my green flannel cloak that I intended to take apart and remake into something more appropriate for the 1860’s. I REALLY want to get the silk made up for my Sunday dress before our first event in a few weeks, but I don’t know if I’ll have time. Hope so! I’ll try! I really don’t have much left to do.