Sunday, March 28, 2021

Handsewn Linen 18th Century Cap | Kannik's Korner Caps Pattern View A

In 2019, I identified a need for an 18th century cap to cover up my horrific attempts at 18th century hairstyling. Making this cap was a quick, rewarding project, and I've since worn it dozens of times.

I used a scrap of lightweight, white linen from Fabric Mart Fabrics - my favorite fabric site which regularly has sales on high-quality linen, wool, and silk. I used some 1/8" cotton tape. I'm so glad I bought a roll of this years ago, as it works wonderfully for corset lacing, ties, drawstring, and even mask ties.

The rolled whipped gathers viewed from the inside

I used the Kannik's Korner "Women's and Girl's Caps 1740-1820" pattern. I really appreciate that this pattern includes a wide range of (not often reproduced) cap styles! I made View A, the round eared cap, with the split ruffle (rather than continuous ruffle) option. However, hemming the pointy ends of the split ruffle and joining those two ends together was tricky and I'm not keen on doing it again. The finished seam of the split ruffle is front-and-center right over my forehead, and I feel quite conscious of the clunky stitching. I recommend that a less confident sewist make the continuous ruffle version to save themselves much swearing and poking.

The pattern instructions required a few thorough read-throughs for me to understand them; I felt like the instructions were lacking in images at some key points and I'm a visual learner. For the rolled whipped gather in particular, I had to consult the more visual instructions in the American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking book and test the stitches on a scrap of fabric prior to working on the cap. Overall, I would recommend this pattern.

I did find, oddly, that after two years (most of that time spent in storage with my other 18th century garments) my cap had visibly yellowed. It was easy to wash by swishing it in a bowl of lukewarm water and using some mild laundry detergent. 

The round eared cap is brilliantly designed with an adjustable drawstring on the caul that allows you to flatten the caul for easy ironing! I simply untied the drawstring, flattened the gathers, and I was able to press the caul back into a pleasing shape. 

I'm satisfied with the finished cap, and mostly just glad that I have something to cover up my half-a**ed hair when I dress up. I appreciate that this cap design allows you to tie a ribbon around it and I enjoy selecting ribbons that coordinate with my outfits (I find it helpful to use small sewing pins to fasten the ribbon to my cap and hair). I really enjoyed making the rolled whipped gathers (whipped rolled gathers??) and am looking forward to trying that technique again.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Another Kind of 18th Century Pocket: French Seamed Linen Pocket

Folks interested in historical clothing and historybounding have no doubt come across the charming practically of the tie-on pockets that were very popular in the 18th century (among other time periods). Most surviving examples of 18th century pockets are made of pear-shaped pieces of fabric sewn together, with the outer edges bound in tape or a fabric strip.

However, in my search to identify extant 18th century pockets made of striped linen (I wanted justification to use up some blue striped linen scraps I had*), I discovered an interesting outlier: the (apparently) French-seamed (I doubt the 18th century peeps called it that) pocket!

*Note: striped linen pockets are well documented too! Larsdatter has a great survey of extant pockets. 

For example, take a close look at this striped linen pocket (dated 1789) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead of binding around the outside edge, the fabric pieces are sewn right sides together and flipped right sides out...encasing the raw edges with the pocket! Further inspection reveals a line of stitching about 1/4 of an inch around the edge of the pocket, which I suspect is to hide the raw edges on the inside of the pocket and strengthen that seam. This appears to be what we'd call "French Seams" today!

The Ladies' Work-table Book from 1850 offers clear instructions on making such a pocket*:

"You take a piece double, and cut it to the shape required. Stitch the two pieces neatly round a little distance from the edge. Then turn it, and let the seam be well flattened, and back stitch with white silk a quarter of an inch from the egde; cut a slit down about four nails, which is to be either hemmed, or have a tape laid round it on the inside. Set on the strings, and the pocket is complete." 

*This book also includes instructions on adding pockets to petticoat/skirt seams. It's interesting that instructions for separate pockets are still circulating in the 1850s!

I sewed my version of the Met Museum's pocket from scraps of blue striped linen from William Booth Draper. The pattern was a simple pear-shape that I made big enough to fit my smartphone. 

I sewed the entire pocket by hand and it was finished after a few hours. I highly recommend trying to make this style of pocket!

I sewed the pocket front and back pieces together with a scant 1/8" seam allowance. I then turned the pocket right side out and finger pressed the seam, and stitched an additional 1/8"-ish away from the seam. 

Next, I cut the slit on the pocket (although this step can be done before assembling the pocket as well). I bound the slit in a narrow strip of the linen fabric. The top of the pocket was finished off with a wider strip of linen fabric through which I'll pass some twill tape for a drawstring.

Here's a comparison of my first 18th century pocket (one of my first sewing projects ever!), with half-finished embroidery and poly-cotton binding, and my new linen pocket. These pockets are a perennially fun and easy project! 

Dear readers, have you ever seen non-bound pockets like this? What's your favorite style of 18th century pocket?