Sunday, July 10, 2011
Project Complete: Saint Birgitta's Cap
Throughout this project I've been referring to my new Saint Birgitta's cap as a "huvet". The term "huvet" is a French word that Camilla Luise Dahl & Isis Sturtewagen list among the many they located in their research into the possible origins of the extant linen cap now known as the "Saint Birgitta's Cap". Limiting the name of this type of headdress to an extant example doesn't do its somewhat ubiquitous presence in the Gothic period any justice. A huvet, being any number of a variety of linen caps belonging to women, is a term more open to individual interpretation, and, therefore, recreation. The huvet I have endeavored to create for my garb quest is similar in appearance to the Saint Birgitta's Cap, but it is not THE Saint Birgitta's Cap. It is Edyth Miller's Huvet, created through contextual research into my particular time period and class. I encourage all of you to think about your recreations (of any item) with this perspective- it's a great exercise in persona development.
I purposefully made the cap a little over-sized so that, come next spring when my hair is longer, it will not be too small when I wear it for my A&S entry. The cap is 3.5oz white (bleached) linen from Fabric-Store.com, and was sewn by hand using 100% linen thread (white, size 60/2) from Wm. Booth Draper (machine spun). The thread comes unwaxed, so I had to run each length of thread over a beeswax cake before sewing. The embroidery along the front binding is also linen, a slightly off-white, hand spun 16/2 thread, that I also manually waxed. My mother picked that up for me at an event from White Wolf and the Phoenix.
I closed the center seam instead of filling it with the woven herringbone stitch from the extant cap. I closed my previous attempt as well, but this time I did not add any decorative embroidery. The primary reason for this, in the context of my garb quest, is because it is intended to be worn as an undergarment, and going through the extra effort of applying embroidery to an unseen area of the cap would not have been appropriate.
The embroidery along the front binding is a modified herringbone stitch that I sewed through two layers of the binding on top as well as the cap itself. The stitching is then covered with the rest of the binding on the bottom (inside). This helps to keep the binding from shifting or twisting during wear.
One thing that I discovered as I went along is how critical the gap is at the end of the center seam. I originally left about a 3 inch gap, then stitched it shut, thinking that it was too large. When I finally got the binding in place and tried it on (before the loop itself was attached), I realized that I'd left no room for the cap to overlap in order to make it tight. That meant ripping out the stitching to open the gap back up. Turns out the my original gap was exactly right. We'll see when my hair is longer if this is still the case.
Perfecting my craftsmanship is a huge aspect of this garb quest, and the fine quality of this particular piece was a great way to set the bar for myself. I tried very hard to keep my stitches tight and even, and to make the entire cap a well-finished and sturdy piece. I don't feel the band is quite up to par, though. The stitching is good, but I only used two straight pins that I moved along the band as I went, and I realized a bit late that some ares of the band are wider than they should be, and there's also a twist in the band (which is very surprising, since I was trying to pay attention to that detail.) I do want to remove the band and do it again, but I'll have to save that until the end of the project, since I can't devote any more time to the huvet right now, or I'll risk not having the quest completed in time.
There is much more I can say about this cap, but I'll save it for the end of this project, when I make my complete documentation available. In the meantime, however, I would be happy to answer any specific questions you may have through this post's comments.
I'll be moving on to the black wool hose next, as well as a few minor projects laying around that I need to complete. Now that I have a successful pattern on the hose, though, I imagine they will come together fairly easily- knock on wood.