reproduction 1840s day cap

During Victorian times, women covered their head during the day with day caps of lace, ribbons, and trim. The look was low and wide with more decoration on the sides than top.

"For at-home wear, the lady wore a cap of lace and ribbons with little lappets coming down the sides of the face like a spaniel's ears (which was, coincidentally, the most popular breed of dog at this time). These caps were charming in the extreme."
Winter, Janet & Savoy, Carolyn. Victorian Costuming Volume I: 1840-1865. Other Times Publications, 1987, p. 104.

Victorian women would instantly know the difference between a doily and a day cap. Unless you plan on balancing tea upon your head, don't wear a doily, make yourself a day cap!

    Materials:
  • underlying fabric, batiste (opt)
  • lace/lace trim
  • ribbon
  • thread

For more historical look, use natural fibers like cotton and silk instead of polyester ribbons and lace. Extant caps are often very, very fine and soft, think thin batiste cotton or fine net like base instead of quilting cotton fabric base. The one below is much better than a doily and leaves a nice border of trim peeking out from a bonnet, but wouldn't pass as an extant cap.


  How to make a Victorian day cap: pattern How to make a Victorian day cap: pattern draw in darts
Draw a half circle with a radius of 6". The front will be the flat side. Fold in half and then half again. Near or along these fold lines, make 2.5" long x 1"-1.5" wide darts on the back and back sides. Draw some cute 6.5" ears and add them on.
How to make a Victorian day cap: cut out lace and pin overlay on fabric How to make a Victorian day cap: cut out lace and pin overlay on fabric
Cut out lace or cutout backing fabric and lace/net overlay.
sew overlay to fabric
Sew lace overlay onto fabric
Pin darts Sew darts
Stitch darts and then iron or fold them towards the center.
How to make a Victorian day cap: Sew outside lace How to make a Victorian day cap: Sew outside lace
Sew lace/trim around outside. This example has wider lace on the back.
How to make a Victorian day cap: Add more lace How to make a Victorian day cap: Add more lace How to make a Victorian day cap: Add more lace
Add more lace being careful to go around the curves of the fabric/darts. You may find it easier to pin the lace on while the cap is on a styrofoam head or some other round head sized object. Hurrah! A use for all those favorite scraps of lace you've been saving.
How to make a Victorian day cap: Add ribbons How to make a Victorian day cap: Add ribbon ties to back
Add ribbons. Add ribbons ties at the ends of the half circle underneath the ears. If you don't want ribbon ties, you may want to add loops on the bottom for bobby pins or sew in a few hair combs.
reproduction 1840s Victorian day cap with ears quarter view Finished reproduction 1840s day cap looks like this. If this style originated in 1840s, probably younger women wore it first, then older women might be wearing it in later years (or same woman wearing the cap 10 years later like your mom or grandmother wearing yesterday's fashions).
Synthetic black and white lace and ribbons over cotton fabric.
reproduction 1840s Victorian day cap with ears front reproduction 1840s Victorian day cap with ears left reproduction 1840s Victorian day cap with ears back reproduction 1840s Victorian day cap with ears right reproduction 1840s Victorian day cap with ears top reproduction 1840s Victorian day cap with ears quarter view


These instructions are free and for your personal use. If you would like to make a contribution for this tutorial, donations are accepted: