Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Infant's Day Cap Tutorial (Baby Bonnet) -- partially

I realized I need to outfit the baby for TITP this year. After discovering The Workwoman's Guide in Google Books with everything in it, I thought I'd give one of those patterns a try. I've never made a baby bonnet, so I thought I'd start with how they used to do it.

When you use The Workwoman's Guide, it's like learning a new language. The first thing I had to learn was how long a nail is. My husband being the geek he is knew some engineer had already discovered that and Googled it for me: 2.25". Easy enough.

This pattern is titled "Infants Day Cap" found on page 20, with images from Plate 2, figures 9, 10, and 11. It is suited for the "higher classes" and made of worked cambric or spotted lace. It is "generally worn only by infants," so there were no larger sizes listed.

First problem: "higher classes". The people we've portrayed are, well I don't know, they ran a half-way house (inn). They're not low class, but not high either. Second problem: I don't have worked cambric or spotted lace, nor do I quite know what either is (boy do I have a lot to learn).

I have a lot of (cheap) muslin, though. From what I understand, muslin in the "olden days" was much better than our muslin today, but when I use muslin, I just remember ours is not the same as theirs. I do like it, though. So soft and easy to sew on. Justification: no one who sees the cap on the baby will know those things either. (I know you sewing history gurus are cringing, sorry. Maybe I can get some worked cambric or spotted lace sometime and try it.)

I hope these make some sense, use the pictures.

You should have a rectangle a total of 18" by 5 5/8" (the grain goes the long way). Fold that in half for a rectangle 9" by 5 5/8".

Press some marking lines in the folded rectangle: fold in half, top to bottom, press, unfold. Fold in half, left to right, press, fold in half again (so it's in quarters), press, unfold. Cut a little notch out of the furthest bottom right section (not the folded side). The original picture also shows a little curve out where the front brim curves back around the neck. You probably should round out that part (see original illustration).

I cut my circle 3.25" in diameter. (Finished it's supposed to be 2.25 in diameter, so I added an inch, but 1/2" would have probably been okay.)

The next instructions are:

It is finished as follows: make the runners and hem in front very small and firm, either at regular distances from each other, or otherwise, according to fancy. Sew up the back, H, and make a small neat hem at the bottom, JK, to admit another bobbin; afterwards, whip the top, LM, having previously with pins divided it into quarters. Hem the circular piece and crease it into four also, and gather the cap into the crown, drawing the whipping evenly, and making each quarter correspond.

Wow. Huh?

I took my best guesses and then e-mailed Liz (I probably should have waited to hear from her, though, but I just couldn't help myself). I'm sure if I read more of the book I'll get more answers and this will all make a little more sense, but who reads books anymore these days? Just kidding. I'm a fan of actually reading through this kind of stuff to get the overall picture. I just haven't yet.

Hem the front as small as you can, tucking your raw edges under.

OK -- a note on hand stitching here. I can see why with something like this hand sewing is ideal (and the project is so small, it really wouldn't take much more time). You have so much less bulk!! Nevertheless, I used my machine (justification: the house where we volunteer was one of the first in Utah to have a sewing machine).

Iron some equally distanced lines in the front part of the bonnet (more narrow part -- I goofed this up once and put them on the longer section, which is the back). Fold along one of the lines and stitch very close to the fold. Open and iron. Stitch along the other lines also.

These little lines are called runners: "A runner is a narrow casing through which a thin woven linen tape or string is threaded; it's used to draw up a portion of a garment to fit (such as a cap brim.)" Thanks, Liz! So if I wanted to, I could run some string through these little runners to tighten up the cap.

Next, stitch the two longer ends, right sides together so you form the bonnet. You should probably whip the ends together.

Make a small hem along (tuck raw ends under!) the curved out (neck section) of the bonnet.

Mark with pins or use your iron to mark quarters in the bonnet (bottom seam, top, both sides). Run gathering stitches all the way around the back.

Mark with pins or use your iron to mark quarters in the circle.

Gather up the back of the bonnet to fit the circle, match your quarter marks. Sew together.

The original instructions say to hem the circular piece. I'm not sure why, and I didn't do it.

I added a ruffle around the edge. I cut it 1.25" wide by 40" long. The circumference of the bonnet was 20". I wasn't sure what I was doing, so I didn't take pictures. It was the most time intensive part.

I added ties 18" long by 1.25" wide (folded into quarters with raw ends in and stitched together). You could also use ribbons.

You can see where I could have rounded off the back corner when cutting.

I still have to finish the inside. I suppose I have several options. I can make another circle, hem it and hand stitch it over my raw inner circle. I can also take a ribbon and stitch it over all my other raw ends.

Another option is to make a second bonnet and hand stitch that inside this bonnet (wrong sides together). The original instructions do say, "These caps look very pretty with a white or delicate blue or pink satin or silk inner cap, to set off the work."

If I do this again, I will probably just make 2 identical bonnets, not finish any of my edges, put right sides together with a ruffle squished between, stitch around all the edges, leaving a turning area, then turn the bonnet through the hole. That's probably the more modern way to do it.


La TempĂȘte said...

This is beautiful, thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, even in homes with sewing machines, caps and other accessories were often done by hand anyway... the finish is so much lighter!

My experience with the double-layer caps (sewn right sides, etc) is that they are too heavy to look like the originals... so keep on with your single layers! That sweet baby of yours is adorable with the gentle frills around her face.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting ready to make this same bonnet. Thanks for the tutorial! It was really helpful to see your work. :)


Emily said...

Thanks Jessica! I'd love to see what you end up with! I have a flikr group set up, just haven't totally figured it out yet! Oh well. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Any idea what measurements would be needed for newborn cap ? Thanks

Emily said...

I'd say use the measurements listed, or you could cut maybe 1/4" - 1/2" off around your edges to make it a little smaller. Have fun!


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