I swear by my St. Birgitta’s cap, as you could see in the post “How I wear my veil” I use it as a base when I pin my veils. It can also be worn as it is as you can see in these pictures.
Here you can see it on the woman on the left
The cap have a long strap that is put over the head two times
A collection picture
There is also a extant cap
There is a lot of people that have written about this already, Isis post on it on Medieval Silkwork is a good read.
What I will show here is a simple version, without the fancy embroidery.
If you have looked at other peoples patterns, you will see that my patterns differs slightly. Most patterns have a square lower front, my pattern have that part rounded of, the reason is that I find it easier to gather it when it is like that. I have tried the square pattern, but the rounded of corner works best for me.
Start of by cutting your cap parts, you will need two parts. I use a medium weight linen fabric, make sure to make the marks both in the front and back, these are important later on in the process. As the pattern does not include seam allowance, you can choose what is best for you. In these pictures I have 1,5 cm seam allowance on the back seam and 1cm on the front of the cap.
Pin the top seam, you will sew from the front to the marking in the back. To be able to put the cap on you will need a slit in the back and the back marking marks out where it begins.
I sew backstitches with silk thread.
Sew with backstitches all the way to the mark for the slit.
Now you need to press the seam you sewed apart, I use my fingernail to simply scrape it open.
Fold in the raw edges to make the cap neat on the inside.
Then sew the felled seams down, I use small stitches and only pick up a few threads of the outer layer, this makes a almost invisible seam from the outside.
Now it is time to gather the lower edge, this gives the cap it’s shape in the back.
I stitch with big stitches from the back up to the mark in the front.
By sewing two lines of stitches you will be able to gather the fabric nicer.
Now it is time to sew on the ties straps. I first take a strip that is 70 cm long and 5cm wide. On one side I mark out my 1 cm seam allowance and on the other side I press that seam allowance down.
Now on to some measuring, on the centre of your 70 cm make mark, this is where the top seam of your cap will be. From the centre you will mark out the distance of the front of your cap, in this tutorial it is 26,5 cm, a total of 53cm. This will make it fit a head measurement that is around 56cm. The measurements is 3cm smaller then the measurement of your head to allow for stretching of the fabric and so that you do not pull the slit completely together. If the slit is completely closed you will have a hard time getting a snug fit on your head. You will have to experiment to find what measurement fits best on you.
Put the cap part and the strap right sides together and pin them together.
The gathering should be as tight as you can to the back of the slit, sew the seam with backstitches.
As the strap should be longer I now sew on the other strips. They are 65 cm long and 5cm wide as I made this cap without a special person in mind. Most common is to have one continuous strap, but you can also pin the strap ends together when wearing the cap. When trying the cap on you will find what length you will need and you can shorten your straps later.
These two straps I prepare by folding and pressing in 1 cm seam allowance on both sides of the strip.
Then I sew them on on each sides of the strap that you have already attached to the cap with backstitches.
I scrape the seam open with my fingernail.
Now what is left is to close the straps up and to enclose the raw edge on the front of the cap.
I pin and sew the entire length of the strap together, enclosing the raw edges.
If you wish to pin the straps together when wearing it, simply fold in the raw edge at the end of the strap and sew it shut.
To sew the strap together, this is how you both put the cap on and measure how long the ends should be. If you are planning on having a continuous strap, you should not sew the entire length of strap together out to the ends. Save around 10 cm on the ends and then do this next part before joining the ends with a backstitched seam. After that you can close the last bit of the strap up.
Put the cap on your head, if you have long hair it is good to have it in braids in the back or to put it in a low ponytail. As I have short hair I generally just put it in a low ponytail and stuff my bangs inside the cap. This cap is to small for me, I have a large head so for my personal caps I don’t use these measurements, also I could not bother with putting all my hair in the neck inside the cap, I always wear wimples so I usually don’t bother that much about some hair sticking out.
Cross the straps in the back.
Pull them to the front and cross again, make sure that the straps lay nicely and so that they are not twisted.
Then pull them over the back of your head above the bag that have formed for your hair, the straps should be snug around your head, if not the cap will slowly slide of your head. If you feel that the positioning of the straps makes the cap slide of your head you could also put it under the bag that have formed for your hair.
Put a pin where they meet, now you can see where you need to sew them together, or if you want to pin them in stead, you can now go along and putting on wimples and veil if that is what you prefer.
Here is the pattern, in cm as always, and not including any seam allowances.
39 thoughts on “St. Birgitta’s cap”
I like this method, with the curved bottom. Definitely makes more sense to gather it that way! How do you determine the top curve? I’ve always struggled with that.
I love your tutorials. you are an excellent teacher, never assuming any detail is too small to include. thanks so very much.
Edyth Miller: I did a bunch of mock ups in scrap fabric until I found a good shape for the top curve, but those curves are tricky!
I wanted to say thank you for sharing this tutorial. I made this cap for an event this past weekend and it got a lot of complements. It fit just prefect and held my veil in place all day (which is a first for me). I love my cap and can’t wait to make another one or two.
very good tutorial! you’re much better at explaining the details than me ;-)
the link to my post on m-silkwork is broken though, so here’s the right one for people who are interested: http://m-silkwork.blogspot.be/2008/11/womens-caps.html
Tusen tack för den fina hättan som kom med posten idag, den satt som en smäck. :-)
Thank you for this great tutorial! I just made one and it is fantastic! I don’t know why I haven’t made one of these before.
Fabulous! I’ve just put a link on my website for other ladies. I hope you don’t mind the share!
Thanks so much for your tutorials, both this and the veil wearing (though I’m using it for a Game of Thrones costume, I’ll be making them again for historical clothing too.
I have trouble with the measures. For which head circumference is the pattern designed?
Am I understanding correctly that the full band should be 200cm in total?
will it stay on if you have short hair, I have tried with other caps and they tend to fall off the back of my head because the ties don’t have a knot of hair at the back to tie under. I find they just slide up the back and the cap becomes loose and comes off. Any advice gratefully received as I prefer to wear a wimple. My personal solution is a cap and wimple combined but I don’t think this is period, but at least it stays on my head.
If the cap stays on or not have a lot to do with your head shape. You can help the cap stay on by having braided hair pinning it to the braids.
I have not seen wimple and cap together by them selfs. But if you top it of with a veil, that is absolutly period.
Thank you very much ! I had hard time figuring what is the drafting method using the various numbers and ended up multiplying size( my sister have a 60 cm head ) and eyeballing the curves :). The sewing is very clear, so I hope to end up with something wearable on short hair and not falling away.
Hi, i followed this tutorial as a bloody beginner and i am thrilled with the result! I think I’ll make another one, thiy time with the nice embroidery in the middle, right away! I could actually see me wearing those while doing household tasks, to keep my hair nice and tight on the back of my head, out of my face, or maybe I’ll make one with a funky fabricl and wear it for sports instead of a headband. Thank you!!!
For medieval purposes i now just have to figure out how to pin the veil because i royally suck at it at this point :p
Thank you for this tutorial. It is very clear. I made lovely coif thanks you.
Tack för ett bra och tydligt mönster 🙏
It’s going to be end of mine day, but before end I am reading this great
post to increase my know-how.
Thank you so much for this tutorial!