Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Cap At Last

We talked of the new cap all day; what gowns it would suit; whether a certain bow was not rather too coquettish for a woman of Miss Pole’s age. ‘No longer young’, as she called herself, after a little struggle with the words, though at sixty-five she need not have blushed as if she were telling a falsehood. But at last the cap was put away, and with a wrench we turned our thoughts from the subject.”

With the advent of this years reenactment in Jacksonville looming closely in the future, and with my mother in law having decided to come with us this year and her in need of a new gown for Sunday - well, with all that, I have been busy all this day with thinking about what to make her and how it should look and how it will suit her.

Nothing is quite so delightful as musing over the wretched pleasures of fashion. This color, and that style, and this bit of trim here, and that bit of lace there. Even though the fashions in question have been dead these 145 years (or more!) they must have some merit if they can keep me so preoccupied even in this modern time!

Although we decided today on making a new bodice to my mother in law’s purple flounced skirt I couldn’t find the front bodice pattern when I looked at the patterns I had draped on her a few months ago. She is going to bring over her cotton day dress so I can trace the front of it and make up a new pattern for the new bodice but in the meantime I’ve been working on a cap.
While cap hunting I found several illustrations of caps on ladies, both appearing to be young and old, from the 1850’s onward. All looked similar in that there was no noticeable height to the crown and width seemed emphasized more than length. I suppose, to correspond to the wide, flat hairstyles of the day.
She is of the right age to wear caps, and I am so glad! Today I made my very first one as a practice cap, just to see if I could get the shape right. I cut out an elongated diamond shape from the striped cotton I made my corded bonnet of and for trim I just sewed on a row of wide lace at the edges, tucked a little so it would lay flat. Then I covered the row of stitching with a row of narrow cotton lace. Finally, I made three bows out of some dark green ribbon and tacked them on three of the points. So simple! So easy!

I decided to go with this style of cap since even though her new bodice will be the “Muslin Body” from 1857, I will update her look a bit with an up-to-date cap from an 1861 illustration. This same shape I saw in some illustrations from the 1850’s as well. So it seems anywhere from the late 1850’s - early 1860’s is an okay time for this style of cap. In the book Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell there are numerous mentions of caps. It seems that even if a lady wore an older style gown she put great importance on having a fashionable cap each year!
This was also one of the simplest shapes I saw in the illustrations. Some of the caps are so covered with lace and ribbon you don’t know WHAT the shape is, under all that frou frou!
I’m selling this one and will make hers the same style but with peach colored ribbon instead of the green. I don’t have any fiber appropriate lace for it though. . .I’m not sure if I’ll just use the synthetic lace or go with a narrow cotton lace edged ruffle instead. I don’t know of anywhere to get real lace that wide.
Anyway, at last I got to make a cap. It was delightful.


  1. Very pretty cap. You Sew sooooo good!
    I love seeing what you make.

  2. Sarah, marthapullen.com has some wide laces.

  3. Ooh! I love the cap, so pretty. I especially love the hunter green bow.

  4. Beautiful!!! :) Your work is so amazing!

  5. The cap is pretty. I would like to wear a cap or flower arrangement sometime. A cap would be nice for church. Sadly, though, I don’t know of any indoor events around I could go and wear the flower wreaths.

  6. Thank you for the lovely comment! It was so nice of you to say that.
    Hope you are having a nice evening/night.

    Talk soon,


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!