Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mrs. Hancock's Pudding Cap Pattern

The next project for Miss Hancock is an essential 18th century toddler accessory: the pudding cap.

The authors of write that, "Pudding caps were common for those learning to walk, perhaps for older toddlers as well. They are a band around the head, lined, stuffed, and edged with leather, tape or suchlike, with ties to hold the circle to the correct size, and other ties under the chin. Some had criss-cross tapes across the top, forming the crown, others have 4 triangles, lined and stuffed like the circle, stitched to it and meeting at the top." 

My goal is to recreate this example from the V&A:

 Child's 'pudding' or safety hat of padded cotton made in the UK between 1775 and 1800

The V&A's description says,

Child's 'pudding' (a safety hat for a young child learning to walk, and designed to fasten horizontally around the head above the ears). The 'pudding' consists of a sausage-like horseshoe-shaped roll of glazed pink cotton, which has a padded white linen inner stiffened with wire and card, and a black petersham ribbon tying string at each end. Four lightly padded triangular flaps of self fabric, stiffened with card, are attached to the roll at regular intervals (partly covering the crown of the head), two of them fastening together over the head with tying strings of broad black silk ribbon. The edges of the triangular flaps and the top seam-line of the roll are all edged with narrow black velvet ribbon.

Since the cap's construction is basic--a band and four triangles--I'm drafting my own pattern. Beth Gilgun's Tidings from the 18th Century includes a pattern, which I'm using as a guide.

To start, I measured Miss Hancock's head which was 18.5in. Gilgun advises adding four inches as the width shrinks when stuffed, so I created a band that is 23.5in long.

I'm not the best at creating straight lines, especially long straight lines. To help prevent crafting a crooked cap, I used my picture hanging level to make sure my picture frame was straight, I then aligned the pattern to the frame's lines to make sure it was even.

Gilgun's pattern calls for four little points on the band, but I eliminated that since the original I'm working from does not have that feature.

I then cut out a pattern for the tabs, 5in high at the center and 2.5in long. To make sure the triangle is evenly shaped, I cut it the same way you would cut a heart from construction paper in grade school.

I then crossed my fingers that this would work and cut the pink cotton fabric. The V&A's pudding cap says it is a glazed cotton. Though my cotton isn't glazed, it has that "new fabric" sheen to it so I didn't wash and preshrink it. (I figured that, once completed, I can spot clean it if necessary.)

I cut two strips for the band. (Though the other extant pudding caps I have researched have linen for the lining, it appears that the V&A's pink pudding cap has the same cotton for the lining.)

And I cut four triangle tabs. It's time to start sewing!

1 comment:

  1. You need these rulers....a 12 in square and a 6x24 in together will let you make almost any regular shape precisely!
    But more rulers are fun ;-)

    I found that my sons were more comfortable in their puddings when they were not over stuffed. I had to stuff them a little less than I thought was enough. Otherwise, they won't curve easily. And even slightly understaffed they work! My son fell out of a wagon wearing one, and pebbles got embedded in the fabric, with nary a scrape in the child's head!