HSF 7 – Accessorize: The quick and saint-like cap.

Link to introduction of the challenge

Link to introduction of the challenge

Yes, challenge 7 is finished before challenge 6 in my world. I’m not very surprized, to be honest…

The inspiration for this project is the cap of St Birgitta, only not quite as embellished. There’s plenty of pictorial evidence for caps in this style. Which links I’ve used can be seen in this post. If you search for more inspiration of similar caps, I really recommend just searching ”the cap of st birgitta” and there will be plenty of blog posts and images from people having finished their own examples. One blog post that I found really helpful, and it also shows a picture of the original cap, as well as links to other sites considering the cap, is this one by the Maniacal Medievalist. Many of the caps presented on the internet are of a more reconstructional kind than my cap is, since I’ve skipped the herringbone-stitch joining of the halves and I also have an undecorated trim. Mine is a quicker, everyday-style cap. The style has been depicted in sources from 1200’s to the 1400’s, and often on working women, so it’s a practical headwear, and as it turns out, really comfortable!

The cap (slightly the same style as a classic chef's hat!)

The cap (slightly the same style as a classic chef’s hat!)

I promise, I will try soon to do proper photo shoots with the garments from the HSF! This cap will by the way fit under the hood of challenge 1, which will also be seen in the future photo shoot…

The constuction was pretty straight-forward, based on these drawings. I did a ”smallest measurement” of my head and added some centimeters, because I wanted a rather large cap. I drew the general outline on the linen fabric, sewed it together and tried the pleats. And realized that it had gotten quite big.

First fitting.

First fitting

That was easily remidied, as I had left part of the back seam undone. So the final pattern was done simply by cutting some of the spare fabric in the bottom part away. It’s still on the large side, but that’s just the way I wanted it, to give room to a hair bun and still feel spacious.

New pattern, with the centre seam already done...

New pattern, with the centre seam already done…

When it came to the tying-construction-bands/ribbons/tape/can’t find the English word, I made 3 pieces of long, 6 cm wide linen fabric, sewn them to one long piece and folded it with edges inside. I pinned this to the cap, and was trying to get the pleats to behave as well. The pleats-accident can be seen in the last part of this post. But once I’d gotten some sleep, and had a break with a cinema visit, the cap was nice to me again. And after checking the ribbons (I’m gonna call them ribbons now, but they are really just folded pieces of linen fabric) length and sewing them together (check Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles for the reference image of this construction, and Larsdatter’s link page for even more scanned documents), it’s pretty much done.

The finished cap showing insides

The finished cap showing insides. Looks a bit like a bonnet.

As you see I played around with different types of stitches to secure the edges. I think I might prefer the whip-stitch. That the thread is visible is something I just have to live with, as it is that kind of linen thread I had access to. The white linen is a little less white in reality than in the pictures. I know of one experiment of bleaching linen in the sun, which gave a very good result in 8 days. So the colour is probably accurate. The weave is slightly lumpy, and together with the fact that I haven’t decorated it, the finished cap probably represents someone who isn’t among the very richest in society.

Lessons learned by this project:

Just go to sleep when you’re tired. You’ll end up having to re-do your work anyway.

It shall be worn soon!

And now it looks like a bag.

Cap-turing the facts: (sorry, couldn’t help it…)

The Challenge: #7 – Accessorize

Fabric: White linen

Pattern: Based on drawings of the original St Birgitta’s cap.

Year: Basically any time between 1200-1400’s, so ”medieval” covers it.

Notions: Linen thread and beeswax.

How historically accurate is it? I think it would be around 85 %. Handsewn with period materials, based on an actual medieval cap and several images. Though I have, as always, taken some liberties and not made a reconstruction. But 100 % historically possible.

Hours to complete: Not very many, but I forgot to count.

First worn: Today, in the house, marveling about how comfortable it was and how well it stayed on my head. I’m pleased.

Total cost: All stash. Stashbusting working nicely this year!


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Filed under Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge


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