Saturday, February 1, 2020

My Sewing Kit and a Linen 1760's Cap

Last March this Historical Sew Monthly challenge was all about sewing kits: Sewing Kit: create an item that makes use of your favorite sewing tool, instrument, or gadget: or an item made for your historical sewing kit.

I read this challenge description and starting trying to figure out what I could make for my sewing kit. And I came up with nothing. Then I tried to figure out what my favorite sewing gadget was. And again, I came up with nothing. By the end of the month, I decided my hand sewing kit, stored in a little zipper pouch, which goes with me everywhere, was my very favorite sewing thing. Thus, my project for that month was something I used this sewing kit to make.

And so, with that in mind, let's explore my sewing kit, and one of the many things it was used to make back in March of last year. My sewing kit is stored in this little zipper pouch made by my grandmother. My grandma makes the most wonderful quilts, and she has an awful lot of fabric scraps left over from quilts she has made. Over the past few years, she has started turning these quilt scraps into useful items such as hot pads, coasters, bowl cozies, tote bags, and zipper pouches, and giving them out to her daughters, granddaughters, granddaughters-in-law, and great-granddaughter at Christmas. These Gram-made items are just the best, and a highlight of our family Christmas!

Inside this purple zipper pouch are all the things necessary for most hand sewing projects.

White and black thread. Other colors and types of thread are added and removed regularly depending on what my current hand sewing projects are - but the white and black are always there.

Beeswax for waxing thread. I sewed without beeswax for the longest time, but once I started waxing my thread there was no going back. It really does help keep the thread from getting knotted and it strengthens the thread as well. Basically, it removes an awful lot of frustration from hand sewing.

A thimble. I have several thimbles, but this yellow plastic one (found in an old sewing kit in the attic of our old house) happens to be my favorite at the moment as it fits my finger perfectly! I avoided using a thimble for a very long time, because they were just awkward. Then I made the pink ball gown. That fabric was hard to sew through. No matter how sharp and thin my needle was, it did not go through the fabric easily. A thimble was required in order to get the needle pushed through the fabric, and so, by the time that dress was done, I had learned how to properly use a thimble and my hand sewing became much quicker because of it. No going back now!

A pincushion full of a variety of needles and pins. This particular pincushion was a gift several Christmases ago and it's awesome! The pincushion is set in a wooden base, which helps prevent needles from getting lost the way they usually do in all-fabric pincushions. My pins are all glass-headed, so they don't melt if I iron over them like plastic would.

A tape measure, because this is one thing that should always be kept close at hand.

Sharp little scissors. These are mostly for cutting thread, but get used for other things, such as fabric, and ribbon, and whatnot,  pretty often. I love these Fiskars spring-assisted snippers. I was given a pair of them for Christmas several years ago and they are just the best! Sharp enough to cut through almost anything, easy to maneuver, and one of the best things ever for opening button holes if you don't have a button hole chisel handy.

When I'm traveling by air however, those sharp pointy snippers are changed out for a pair of child safely scissors, which meet the TSA requirements for scissors in a carry-on. With pins, needles, and these scissors in my carry-on (and any larger, pointy, scissors packed in my checked luggage) I've never had an issue taking a sewing project on a plane with me. Thus, I've gotten a decent amount of sewing done in the air over the past year.

There's a few other random things often lurking in the bottom of my sewing kit - safety pins and sometimes a seam gauge and tailors chalk or another marking device - but that's the bulk of it. 
So what did I make for the "Sewing Kit" challenge of HSM? A 1760's linen cap.

I used a handkerchief weight linen remnant from Fashion Fabrics Club and the 1760's cap pattern from The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking.

I scaled up the gridded pattern, cut it out of my linen, and stuck all the pieces in my sewing kit, where they got carried around for a month.

I worked on the cap a little bit here and there, whenever I had a spare moment. Over the course of the month, all the pieces got hemmed, the caul got gathered to the brim, and the ruffle got pleated to the brim.

By the end of the month, this "little bit at a time" cap was done, and I wore it under my hat to the Rococo Picnic in April.

What the item is: A 1760’s linen cap
How it fits the Challenge: This cap was my “go everywhere with me” sewing project at the beginning of March. In other words, the little project I took along to work and elsewhere to work on whenever I was out and about and had to sit and wait for something. As such, I made this cap using the small hand sewing kit I made myself which easily fits in my purse.
Material: Handkerchief weight linen
Pattern: The 1760’s cap pattern from The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking.
Year: 1760’s
Notions: Cotton Thread, Silk Thread, Linen Tape.
How historically accurate is it: It’s all hand sewn, using period accurate techniques to the best of my knowledge. The linen is accurate, though my thread really should have been linen as well. To the best of my knowledge the pattern is accurate. I’ll say 85% - 90%
Hours to complete: I don’t know, it was worked on a little bit at a time between other things.
First worn: April 27, 2019
Total cost: under $10. I believe I paid $9 for the yard of linen and $3 for the spool of silk thread, and I have plenty of each left over for another project or two. The cotton thread and linen tape are deep stash, and the book was a Christmas gift.


  1. I have never understood the purpose of beeswax, but now I will definitely try it! My thread always get so tangled.
    Thimbles are awkward getting used to, but so worth it in the end, and Fiskars spring action are THE pair of thread snips/mini-scissors in my opinion. My pair was also a Christmas gift many year ago. They also work great to poke out corners if you don't poke too hard.