St. Birgitta’s Cap

320657d2e8ecc7d1107e75ef838b7f53St. Birgitta was a Swedish Saint from the fourteenth century. One of the surviving relics that we have from her is a cap or coif (shown here ->). This style of cap comes up reasonably often in artwork of medieval peasants from Europe and having now made one, I’m not surprised that it does! It was so simple to put together and if I’d not been chatting online would have only taken about two hours in total. It also uses hardly any material and so wouldn’t have been prohibitively expensive (although, if you had fine tastes…).

I’m quickly learning, with my dreadlocks, that covering your hair is practical. I don’t really know why we don’t do it so much anymore, I guess because we have nice modern bathing facilities in our houses that mean we can wash more readily. But since having long dreadlocks in my hair I seem to spend the vast majority of the time with them covered up. Hats are awesome, more people should wear hats. They look great.

capSo here it is, the St. Birgitta Cap. It’s dead simple, just a square of fabric rounded off with a dinner plate. Then you can either sew the two pieces together normally or insert a decorative seam like I did here. I actually did the entire thing by hand because I wanted to see how good my hand sewing was.

The answer was that my hand sewing is bloody good for someone that’s not done it since they were about ten. There’s no evidence – inside or out – of the stitches unless you look really, really closely. The herringbone stitch I used for the decorative seam is simple but effective. I might go back and add in more work to make an interlaced herringbone, but right now it’s got structural integrity and seems to look simple but nice.

The entire thing cost me nothing, I took it all from my stash. But it’s made from Ikea muslin, herringbone twill tape and some cheap embroidery floss, which would come to less than £3 if you went out and bought them all. Not bad at all.

Sitting in front of CSI I stitched it up while chatting to friends. It took me an evenings work, but if I was concentrating and not chatting to friends it most likely would have only taken about two hours.

Now just to make a few more. One in a dark brown for my Minoan at Odyssey LARP. One in black for wearing day to day. And one that is knackered and distressed to wear to Shadow Wars. Nothing like bringing medieval clothes, kicking and screaming, into the modern age.

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Also – cute photos, huh? Taken in the new studio space. I love my new studio.

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  • D’vorah

    This is a terrific rendition of the basic idea, with lots of room for what looks like a pretty prodigious amount of hair. I also have fairly bushy, large hair, and I’m wondering if you have perhaps a paper outline or a fabric cutout of the shape you used? I can’t quite seem to get the idea of how I should shape mine, to get all my hair in while not making a weird lump on top of my head — I’m very new to sewing and am pretty awful at patterning.

    • Charlotte

      Hey,

      The pattern piece was a square, then I used a dinner plate to round one corner off. That was it. 🙂 I plan on writing up a more comprehensive tutoral at some point though.