Wednesday, April 11, 2012

1860's Boys Brimless Cap

So, a month or so ago I was going over the boys wardrobes for this reenacting season. Judah has gone through a large growth spurt and can barely squeeze into the clothes he wore last year, and David is not far behind. Malachi is now the recipient of the Old Tunics. I feel wretchedly guilty for not making Malachi new clothes, too, but really, why should I? I think it is honorable to the memory of our 1860's mothers to hand down clothing items that are clean, sound, and in good repair for a younger child to use. I am going to retrim a few of the nicer ones left from David and Judah and call it good and try to feel better about not making nice new clothes for my baby boy. And besides, Malachi has turned up his freckled, snobby little nose at any of the potential fabrics I have on hand for new tunics. He particularly detests the brown spotty fabric I used for his brothers tunics. I am not going to waste my time making little garments for him when he'd be sure to recite the oft'heard phrase he has been so fond of saying lately. "I'm not wearing that, Mommy. I don't like it."

David was not very interested in going through original images to get ideas for his new tunics, but Judah was. Judah at length decided on this image as one he particularly liked:

While David was away at Shiloh we draped a pattern for a tunic like the one in the image above. We did change a few things about it. We had the tunic open in the front so the boys can dress themselves. We made short sleeves so the tunics will be more comfortable to wear in the heat. I added a little white collar over the small standing band collar. This is what we ended up with: (David's, for the record, is, as usual, identical to Judah's).

None of the old caps would fit Judah. His head is now 22" in circumference! That is the same as mine. And he is four. So, I brainstormed about the best way to make the little tasseled cap seen in the original image. I remember reading before that brimless caps were worn more often by younger boys, instead of brimmed ones, so in the end I went with a basic bag hat with a fitted band around the bottom edge. I cut the outer layer of plaid wool suiting, and the lining of some scrap striped cotton left over from my hooped petti. Here you can see the basic shapes - two U shaped pieces for the top of the cap and a big rectangle for the band.

All sewn together! I fringed out some silk taffeta to make the tassel and braided a cord of silk buttonhole twist and sewed it to the center of the cap. Right now I think the tassel cord needs to be shorter and the tassel could be a bit fuller, but oh well. For a first try it is not too bad! And shortening the cord will be an easy fix.

Because the suiting has a lot of body, the cap didn't "slump" to one side like it appears the original does. It wanted to stand straight up from the head. To remedy that, I pinned and tacked a few pleats at the side of the head to make the cap "slump".

And here's some finished pics of Judah in his new cap!



  1. Fabulous as always! Now to try my hand at one! :)

  2. Wonderful! I love both the tunic and the cap, they look terrific!

  3. I love how you dress your boys. It gives me such happiness and inspiration for my little one that just turned 3. It will be an interesting reenacting season this year for us!


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!