Very often the headwear is the last bit to be finished in a national costume. After I had decided to make the costume from Askola, I noticed that there was a Finnish folk style French hood weekend course starting in February. The course took two weekends that were spaced so that the base we made the first weekend had plenty of time to settle in between the course weekends. My warm thanks to the teacher Marja Pihkala!
A little bit of history of French hoods
This type of French hood developed in Sweden during the 18th-century from soft caps that women used to wear previously. The cap base was constructed out of paper in a sort of a papier-mache technique. Originally these caps were worn by middle-class ladies like merchant women and priests’ wives. They were a great way of showcasing expensive silk fabrics. They might also have sported gold and silver embroidery and beading.
As it often happens, the common folk adopted this fashion after it went out of style among the upper classes. The goldwork and jacquard silk fabrics were replaced with cheaper silk fabrics and chain stitch embroidery. Still, these caps were walking right on the edge of sumptuary laws. Silk was allowed in a small cap and a scarf but bright colours were still frowned upon. The width of lace on a peasant woman’s cap was regulated. To get a wider lace, women used to sew several narrow strips of lace together.
During the 19th-century, the regulations were lifted and bright colours became very popular. The amount of expensive lace increased and the caps became smaller so that finally they perched on the top of the head, covering only the hair on a bun. The cap from Askola is from this era. It is one of the smallest in size and the red colour is bright.
If you are interested in making a cap like this the instructions can be bought from Taito Etelä-Suomi. However, a course is almost a necessity as you probably don’t have the right kind of hat block for this kind of work. I was still able to film during the course, so here is a video on how a cap like this is made using traditional techniques. Enjoy!
As I said in the video, I only made the lace bit to wear until I can get the historically more fitting bobbin lace. I have tried making bobbin lace only once. It may take some time for me to learn the skills to make the lace for the cap. It will be an interesting challenge, though! Luckily the Askola blouse has a narrow bobbin lace at the collar, so I can use that pattern to practice!
The finished cap
Here are some pictures of the finished cap. And yes, I forgot to mention the bow in the video. Sorry about that! It just appears at some point.
The bow is just a wide ribbon tied at the centre with red silk thread. It is pinned to the back of the cap and can be switched to a different bow if I want to.
My costume is progressing nicely. If everything goes as planned the next time you will see the completed shirt! See you later and Happy Sewing!