August 14, 2015

A Ruffly Romantic Cap

I finally finished my ridiculously ruffled, Romantic Era cap!   

Photography courtesy of the sister - thanks Maria!

I spend most of my time at the museum interpreting in the 1830s buildings - Foster-Tufts House, Thomson Tavern & Hosmer's Inn dinners - and the look sure has grown on me!  I love the 30s - the frilly caps, the sleeve puffs & let's not forget those fantastic poke bonnets!  So, I think it's time that I make my own early 30s day dress...enter my current project:

So far, so good...I'm working kind of working backwards by beginning with the accessories as well as all new undergarments; then, I plan to tackle the dress using Past Pattern's full high gown.  

Close up of the dress print.  When I stumbled across this fabric,
it screamed 30s dress to me and demanded to be bought immediately!

I quickly whipped together a brown silk belt with a pretty mother of pearl buckle:  (And, I'm so happy that I did because I wear it at work constantly!) 

Made from brown silk dupioni (no visible slubs, yay), faced with plain, white muslin and interlined with sturdy cotton twill.  All hand stitched.  

Now, getting back to my newly finished cap, I was inspired by these examples:  I even made an entire pinterest board for Early 19th Century Caps!

Lady's ruffled white cap, 1800-1850.
Tasha Tudor Historic Costume Collection
Augusta Auctions, Lot: 142
(Image via:

Cap, 1820-1835.
Colonial Williamsburg, Acc. Num: 1990-192
(Image via:

After seeing this cap, I knew immediately that I wanted to use dotted swiss for the body and caul & a light lawn for the ruffle:

Ruffled cap, early 19th century.
(Image via:

And, here's my version of a ruffly Romantic cap...

Just look at those ruffles!  They are really doing their ruffly thing, even without starch & being crushed under bonnets for several days already...yay!  When I started, was worried that the cotton lawn was just too wimpy and fine to stand up to the job.  

Slowly, but surely, I worked away at this cap...for being so small, it was quite the undertaking!  Each straight edge was finished with a tiny 1/16" rolled hem and the caul & ruffle were attached with whipped rolled gathers.  And, I am so proud to say that it is entirely hand stitched!  Last year at this time, this project would have been impossible - I've come so far.  

Detail shot of the flat felled seam & whipped rolled gathers.

I made sure to concentrate the gathers around the lappets, so the flounce lies smoother.  I also played around with a bit of ribbon hoping to add a pop of color and settled on brown satin (no silk on hand) ties after the portrait in Foster's dining room.

Inside & out views of the lappets.

The cap turned out a bit large, but I'm too happy that it's finished to change anything!  Now I want to make another ruffly confection...

More completed pictures, all thanks to the younger sister :) 



The other side.


Thanks for reading!


  1. Oh my screaming gosh!!! Ok, focus....I am so in love with your cap!!! It is precious beyond belief and I love the fact that it is made of dotted swiss! It looks just like your inspiration photos!! Huzzah for you!!! And where in heaven's name did you find that to die for fabric? I need your address so I can come and steal it from you because you don't seriously need it do you? Hahahahah....I am only half way joking...I am in LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!

    1. Thank you so much, Gina!! You always leave the sweetest comments! I am so happy to hear that it turned out like the inspiration - for a while there it was giving me grief!

      My fabric! Though I might be willing to send you that address if it meant that I get to meet the great Gina, historical seamstress extraordinaire, before you make off with my fabric...or, hop on over to Hancock's of Paducah to get your own! I believe it also comes in blue...

    2. It would be so very fun to meet you and I promise I wouldn't steal your fabric! We could have fun playing dress up and having tea and I would visit your "work/play" place!!!

    3. Definitely a dream come true!! (Meeting you someday is on my bucket list!) :D

  2. That cap is adorable, and your work on it is amazing. It's nice that it's a cap, I hate it when your hand-stitching is lovely but it's on a piece no one will ever see. That it truly gorgeous and everyone will be able to see it.

    1. Why thank you kindly!! What a wonderful comment to receive! I agree, it's so rewarding when you invest a lot of time into a project that people will actually see!

  3. the cap is DARLING! your stitching is just as lovely! wonderful job!!

    1. Thank you so much, Samantha!! Such high praise coming from an expert cap maker :)