Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to make an 18th century jabot, stock or cravat.

Men's neckwear in the 18th century took several forms.

The first was the stock, a gathered band of fabric that tied or buckled at the back of the neck over the shirt collar. It could have an attached jabot that mimicked the cravat, or could be worn in combination with the cravat. The most common fabric was linen, followed by cotton and silk. It was usually white, but occasionally black.

The second was the cravat (about 1660-1830), a long piece of fabric or lace that was tied in many different ways. It could be wound around the neck, the collar, and tucked into the waistcoat in a variety of fashions. It reached it's peak around 1800 with the wide use of starch, and then gave way to neckties in the mid 1800's. Again, the most common color was white, but any color could be worn, and there was a language of the cravat, just as there is a language of flowers.

The third most common neckwear of the 1700's was the jabot, or ruffled stock. This was tied around the neck or shirt collar, and the collar was folded over it. It could be made from lace, linen or a combination of both. The most common color was white, but other colors were seen as well. This was often worn in combination with the stock.

To make a stock, gather 1/4 - 1/2 yd of 13" wide fabric into 2 tabs of fabric, about 3" wide. Attach those to ties or a band to go around the neck & collar.
Use linen or cotton for starters. Silk is good if you aren't going to be doing hot things (it's very warm).

To make a cravat, roll a narrow hem on a strip of fabric (linen or silk) 10 - 15" wide x 105" long (or longer) and tie till your heart's content. Military cuts were often much shorter: 42 - 72" long.
cut a 56" x 10" strip (on bias or straight), then fold in 1/2 (so it's 28" x 10") and cut a triangle from center to edges. Make neatly rolled edges & done!

To make a ruffled jabot, follow the directions below.
Cutting / Ripping.
2 base pieces (these should be about 6" x 8", or there'bouts).
However many ruffle strips, 2 - 3x wider than your base pieces. I used 5 (originally 6, but one came up short, so I got rid of it).
Rip a 1 1/2" strip of fabric about 25" long for your binding & tie.

1. Make a small rolled hem on all the ruffle pieces to create a finished edge. If you can use the salvage for one side this will save you a lot of time.

2. Make 2 rows of gathering stitches along the top side of each ruffle.

Set ruffles aside.

1. With right sides together, sew side, bottom, side, leaving one end open to turn (this will be your top edge).

2. Clip corners, turn & press.

3. Mark 1/4" - 1/2" from top & bottom with chalk/fabric pen, then evenly divide the space in-between by the number of ruffles you have. (remember to count your top & bottom marks).
Set aside.

Sewing ruffles on.

1. Find the center of the base & first ruffle & mark.

2. Pin together in the center & at the sides on the bottom line.

3. Gather the ruffle into the base and secure with pins or sew on a machine.

4. Repeat with each ruffle on the next line up.

5. Remove gathering threads.


1. Find the center of the band & the center of the jabot, mark and pin together as shown. Buttonhole (hand stitching) or overlock (machine) the raw edge, then straight or back stitch just below.

2. Turn the band over & create a finished edge on the fold with a blind hem stitch or top stitching. It will be folded like double-fold bias tape... in fact, if you are lazy you can use double fold bias tape for this.

3. Finish the band on either side by turning under the raw edges (like double fold bias tape). Remember to turn the ends in and make a neat band.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How to make an 18th century cap

Step-by-step instructions on how to make a simple 18th century woman's cap.

There are many variations, but they all go together about the same.
These instructions are free, this is my own pattern based on research, experimentation and trial & error.
Caps are for sale on my business web site, if you would like one go here for more information.
I do not sell this pattern. It's too easy to figure out on your own, and it's here for free... the illustrations below are all mine.

History of the cap:
In the 18th century (1700's) most women wore linen caps. Various styles were available to all social classes, but generally the more hair you covered the more conservative you were. Caps ranged in size from tiny scraps of lace that were pinned on, to huge hood-like creations with ruffles, pleats & substructures. Or they could be simple, functional garments.

Caps were worn for multiple reasons.
The first is cleanliness. Wearing a linen or cotton cap will keep your hair cleaner longer. Caps keep smoke & other household / environmental stuff out of your hair, and the less you fuss with your hair, the less oil / dandruff will build up.
The second is health. By covering your hair, you are less likely to have your hands by your face, which helps prevent eye & skin infections, etc. It also reduces the number of 'bugs' (lice, fleas & other nasties) that jump from one person to the next. If you keep your hair up & covered you are less likely to get split ends or broken hair.... ladies didn't have access to good quality conditioner & having long beautiful hair was a point of pride.
The third is religion. Most of the western world was Christian or Jewish, and women covering their hair in public was a major element of those religious cultures.
The forth is fashion. Few outfits are complete without the proper hairdo or headgear. Caps complemented whatever the latest style was, and let's face it, they just look super-cute.

Linen scraps (about 1/2 yd) ... you can also use cotton, but it's not as common until the 1800's.
Silk "ribbon," rip on the straight.
Cotton cord.
Optional: lace, embroidered linen / cotton, metallic ribbon, etc.
This will take about a day for an experienced hand-sewer, or an hour for machine sewing. It could take more or less depending on the variations & how fine you want the stitching to be.

Note: the pattern below is just a guide, not a hard & fast rule. Feel free to make as many variations as you like. Look at paintings & prints from the time for more ideas. Not to scale at all.

1. Cut a 1/2 circle or 1/2 oval with a curve measuring 25" - 50" (depending on how much room you want in the cap). The smaller the circle, the less the cap will cover.

2. Cut 2 bands 4" - 9" wide & 16" - 30" long. Length will determine if the cap has barbes or not (barbes are the bits that hang down, flip up or fasten under your chin).
Width of the band will determine how much of a "brim" your cap has. This cap has a 1 1/2" band & ruffle, not a brim.
From center, mark 16 or 17" (this is where you attach the cap).

3. Optional: cut a ruffle 2 - 3 x the length of the band. 1" - 5" wide (will depend if you want pleats, ruffle, etc.). You can also cut it double wide, fold over & stitch the raw edges together.
4. Cut or rip silk for ribbon (or use silk ribbon). length = crown + 10" for bow.

Sewing the cap:

1. Turn over a small hem at the corners of the cap. Back stitch or do 4 short running stitches then one back stitch to secure.

2. Turn over a small hem along the flat side & finger press it. You can stitch now or later.
Turn over again to create a small cord channel. Stitch using 4 short running stitches then one back stitch to the end.

3. Find the center of the arch & pin, mark or tailor tack it.

4. Using 4 strong threads, go from center to ends in a double gathering stitch. These will be removed later.

Set aside.

Sewing the ruffle:
1. If it's in pieces, stitch pieces together using a French or welted seam.

2. Turn a small hem over & use a blind hem stitch, overcast, back stitch or 4 running & 1 back stitch to create a neat, secure hem. What stitch you use is up to you, it will change the look of the ruffle slightly.

3. Make 2 gathering stitches along the back edge of the ruffle & either gather in sections, securing each section as you go, or gather all at once, (up to you how you want to do this). Make sure your gathers are even, or well-distributed.
If you plan on removing the thread, use a different color, if you plan on leaving it, use a matching color.

Set aside.

Sewing the band & ruffle:

1. Sew the ends together if straight, folding 1/4" of one band up to wrong side. This will be the top finished edge of the cap-side.
2. Mark center on band & ruffle.

3. Sandwich ruffle inside the bands, making sure the "up" sides are facing each other.
This can be done in 1 or 2 steps:
A. For all at once, sandwich all layers. (same color gathering threads)
B. For 2 steps, face undersides together, stitch, then pin up to up & stitch. (contrasting gathering threads)
4. Pin & preview. (Make sure up-sides are together, down-sides are together, etc.) before you sew.

5. Sew together using a button hole stitch, then running or back stitch below that to make a clean sewing line.
Remove gathering stitches if applicable.

6. Turn & finger press.

Sewing the band & cap:

1. Find center of cap & band. Pin at center & ends.
Pin down-side to down-side first.
Make sure up is to up and down is to down.

2. Gather the cap into the band, making sure gathers are even or well-distributed.

3. Sew together using button-hole and/or running stitch.
Remove gathering threads now.

4. Flip top of band over & pin. (this is your folded-over edge).

5. Sew together using a back stitch for the neatest finish.
You can also use a blind hem, running or overcast, whatever you prefer.

Sewing the ribbons & cords:

Note: these can be sewn in during previous steps, but for easy laundering I like to sew them on afterwards with an overcast stitch.

1. Sew silk ribbons together at desired width (1 1/2" is nice). Turn & press. Turn edges under & blind hem stitch together.

2. Sew ribbons onto the underside of the band using a whip or overcast stitch. Be sure to secure them with at least 2 stitching lines so there's no stress on the fabric.

3. Insert cotton cording into cord channel.


1. Pull cotton cord tight to fit your head, tie in bow & leave it tied (you may have to re-tie after several wears or laundering).

2. Cross ribbons under the back of your head & tie up & over in a neat bow. Tuck ends under & make sure the ribbon lines up with the band.
This works best with hair in a braided bun, bun or chignon.

Hand or machine wash. I always hand-wash hand-sewn garments. You may want to remove the colored silk so it doesn't get ruined in the water... or go ahead and wash it anyway. Set over a ball, milk jug or balloon to dry.
Hot iron on linen, warm iron on silk.
This cap was made from a 35" 1/2 circle, a 17" x 2" band and a 1" x 50" ruffle (x3)... seam allowances included.