Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Smallest Kepi

I have made a lot of American Civil War reenactment clothing over the years. However, I have never made a kepi before and I have never made anything for an animal before. When our unit commander asked me a few months ago if I thought I could make a kepi for our units mascot, a little yorkie-poo doggie named McGregor I hesitated at first. But then he said "I know you probably can't do this. . ." and that was it. I just had to prove I could!
The kepi was probably the most common form of headgear worn by Union troops in the 1860's. If I remember correctly, the kepi was adopted from the French army. They are impractical things, of course, but the army didn't seem to think of practicality in the clothing they issued at times. :) I began to study David's kepis to get an idea of the shape and realized a kepi is a pretty basic thing, after all. A circular, stiffened crown, a shaped band, a rectangular band on the bottom, a leather brim and leather chin strap- which, if pictorial evidence is any guide, was hardly ever used as a chin strap and served mainly as a decorative addition to the kepi.

For McGregor's kepi I asked for his weight and used a similary sized stuffed animal as a guide. I used scraps of blue wool flannel left over from David's sack coat for the main part, lined it with black polished cotton and used bits of soft, old black leather from an ancient duffel bag in my possession for the brim and the chin strap. Alas, I did not have any small Federal Eagle buttons to put on the kepi so two four-hole brass buttons were used instead.

To accomodate pointy doggie ears I added narrow black grosgrain ribbon in V shapes at each side. A long tie was attached to the point of each V to tie under his chin. Modeling the kepi is little David's stuffed doggie who has approximately the same size head as McGregor.

I'm crossing my fingers that this will fit him. . .hopefully it will. I will find out Friday!



  1. Gah! Beyond too cute! Can't wait for Saturday!

  2. lol, you never cease to amaze me. :-) The kepi looks just right, hopefully you'll be able to get a picture with it on the proud new owner.

    Mrs. G

  3. Naaw, that's so cute! I too hope to see a picture of McGregor wearing it soon.

  4. Very cute! You must post pictures of it on McGregor!

  5. This kepi is adorable. You are so creative.

  6. Mrs. G, I don't know about McGregor being proud of it, but hopefully McGregors owner, Ron, will like it. :) I had David call him a few nights ago because the center back seam does not align perfectly with the center front of the brim. . .but Ron said he wasn't picky. Hopefully it will work.

    I'll definitely be taking some pictures if this fits him!

  7. It is sooo cute Sarah!! And, knowing the little Yorkie, he is going to look so adorable in it!!! The perfect little mascot! You wonderful work! Wanna make hats for my goats? :P


    P.S Love the model you choose!

  8. That turned out splendidly!!! I love it and the dog will look adorable I'm sure :-)

  9. Oh, I hope you can share a picture of him wearing it!

  10. This is just the kind of thing that makes me giggle with delight. A feeling that resembles soda bubbles running into your nose pleasantly, if that makes sense. It's the only way I can describe it. Every now and then, a blog post or something like that makes me feel that way, and it's certainly one of the pleasures of life I'm grateful for. Thank you!

  11. I think this kepi is really cute...and I didn't know it was French in origin. That makes sense though...I think the French, good-looking uniforms were important..and maybe more so than the practicality? Not sure...but this turned out great. post a photo of it in the actual dog, if possible :) :) Glad you took on this challenge and succeeded!!! Have a great weekend. Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!