Sunday, 8 November 2015

HSM 15: Challenge 11 - Silver Screen, or the Demelza cap

This autumn I've been glued to Poldark. There's just so much to love in it, 18th century, romance, intrigues, copper mining, the clothes and Aidan Turner isn't too shabby either. I really wanted to do something from Poldark for the silver screen challenge, but just as with the sewing secrets challenge I'm trying to keep my historical sewing projects down, so I wanted something small. As much as I'd love to recreate one of Demelza's full outfits that was simply out of my league for this month. There is one thing that I've been thinking about when looking at this series, and most historical series actually, and that is the lack of caps. If you see someone wearing a cap it's usually an old woman, or a servant. And if you see a poor woman wearing a cap it's almost always over loose hair that is all over the place. Frock Flicks have gone through the hairstyles of Poldark, and you can read their opinions here.

Definitely no cap taming those curls
So I decided to make a cap, a cap that could cover the hair and make sure that it not flies around but is neatly stuck in place.

As for caps, I've always been partial to the big poofy caps, but I also really like the cap in Liotard's painting La Belle Chocolatiere
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chocolate_Girl
Now I know that there are debates around on the issue of coloured bonnets and how common they were. It is clear that they were very popular in Sweden, where it's explicitly noted that even women from lower classes were allowed to were silk caps. I don't know if this was the case in Cornwall, but if Demelza had lived in the same area as I do, also based on copper mining, then I'm quite certain that she would have made herself a silk cap to show her new position in life, already when she got hired by Poldark to be a maid.

Looking at Demelza's choice of colour for her clothes she seems to really like yellows, especially warm mustardy tones. That is really clear when she gets the chance to go to a ball, and matches her gold silk gown with gold ribbons in her hair.
Off to my stash I went, and I found a small remnant of warm, yellow silk taffeta. It's the last piece that I have from a test piece I bought for the gold handmaiden.Yellow isn't my go to colour usually, but since I'm also a (fake) redhead I thought it looked quite nice to my hair.

For pattern I used the pattern available at Duran textiles. I felt that the silk was a bit flimsy though, and I also didn't want it to rub directly on my hair. So I cut out the pattern and interlined the pieces with linen from my stash.

The cap is made up from a round cap part and a band. I turned the raw edges of the linen and silk towards each other and sewed them together at the outer edge of the band, and at the back of the cap. I then gathered the cap and sandwiched it between the two layers of the band. To finish I made some gathering stitches at the back of the cap to make the cap keep its shape better and hold the hair in.

The finished cap.

The cap holds all the hair neatly tucked inside, and it keeps its shape and position with me having to pin it to the hair or anything. Very practical when you are working as a maid, and still want to look your best to your handsome employer. When it's time to wear it I should probably add a smaller cap to wear underneath, or just a piece of white fabric to imitate a cap, that development happened in Sweden and still today the bonnet for my folk costume has a loose piece of fabric that is just stuck under the edge of the bonnet to simulate a cap being worn under it.

What the item is: An 18th century silk bonnet
The Challenge: 11 Silver Screen
What's your onscreen inspiration?: Demelza Poldark, from Poldark (2015)
Fabric: 0,5 m yellow silk taffeta, 0,5 m natural linen
Pattern: Duran textiles
Year: Second half of the 18th century
Notions: regular Güterman sewing thread
How historically accurate is it? Except for the sewing thread I've just material and constructions that are plausible for the time so 90%
Hours to complete: 5
First worn: I've just tried it on so far
Total cost: It was all from my stash, but if I had bought the fabrics new they would have cost $15

1 comment:

  1. Really sweet! I was also entertained to see that you used 'La Belle Chocolatiere' as inspiration. When I was making costumes for an opera set at this period, I used that image, and sketches from the original 1970s Poldark series to organise myself and show the chorus what was requires. Mainly caps! I made about 60 if I remember rightly, and they were very useful ins tock for lots of shows. None of them as grand as this one, it was strictly an amateur company with a budget very close to zero: many of the caps were refashioned table runners, antimacassars and doileys!

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