I’ve made a lot of basic St. Birgitta style caps without the embroidered band on the center seam of the cap, but finally decided to sit down and figure out the embroidered band recently. I have not been able to find a good image of the embroidery on the original cap and I’ve seen a few different interpretations so I selected one to try. The original linen cap is two halves joined with an interlaced double herringbone stitch similar to a modern faggoted seam, from the front edge to about 2 inches above the bottom edge.
A couple of few weeks ago I taught a class on how to do the stitch at a local event and I would add that if you want to do a trial run of the stitch on a short piece of fabric using multiple colored threads definitely helps the stitches to be more visible.
The St. Birgitta’s coif/cap (also, Bridget, Birgitte, Brigid), currently owned by the conservation department of Sweden’s Riksantikbarieambete (National Heritage Board) is attributed to the fourteenth-century century Swedish saint of that name. The original linen cap was at some point, most likely in the sixteenth-century, covered with silk taffeta which has since been removed by the conservation department. According to the article in Clothing and Textiles the linen has not been carbon dated, so while it most likely dates to the 14th century, the exact age is unknown.
St. Birgitta’s Cap, Source unknown
The original linen cap is two halves joined with a complex herringbone stitch similar to a modern faggoted seam, from the front edge to about 2 inches above the bottom edge. The bottom edge is then gathered into the binding strip that runs across the front edge and then continues on as the ties that help to secure the cap on your head.
Images of similar looking caps can be found in many 13th and 14th century manuscripts. While most images of women wearing only a cap during the day appear to be servants, it is not inconceivable for many of the upper class women to be wearing one under their wimple and veil as there are also images of women sleeping in what appears to be a similarly shaped cap.
Through experimentation I, and many women that I have talked to, have discovered that fastening the wimple and veil to the St. Birgitta’s cap does help everything to stay in place far more easily and comfortably, for hours at a time.
This is the first in a series on the behind the scenes of the Middle Kingdom A&S Faires, one of the most exciting series of events for me each year. I will update once a week for the next few weeks.
The A&S Faires are a great way to experience many of the wonderful projects that people have been spending the last year or so working on and that they bring with great pride to share with others. The process leading up to each of the Regional Faires and then finally the Kingdom Faire is a fun-filled, even if slightly stressful, process for all involved. While the entrants are readying their items and documentation the tally room staff: which includes the Kingdom MOAS, Kingdom Deputy MOAS, Judges Coordinator, Faire Database Coordinator, Regional MOASs, and Deputy Regional MOASs, as well as a number of other people who travel to each faire to help make sure everything runs smoothly, are all making sure that there are appropriate event sites, that people are registering their entries into the system correctly, and that there are sufficient judges for each entry. Additionally, Regional MOASs are also promoting their faires, and are often providing research support.
About a week before each Regional Faire the Regional MOAS, Judges Coordinator, and sometimes the Deputy Regional MOAS all sit down on a conference call to assign judges. While the number of entries and judges is usually checked a couple of times before then, and calls for judges are usually put out about a week or so before the assignment meeting this meeting also serves to double-check that there are sufficient judges for each category. For instance this year at the North Oaken Regional Faire when we started assigning judges we found that we were short on judges for Division 5 primarily for the Brewing and Vintning, and Herbcraft and Apothecary entries, so we publicized that we needed more judges and once those additional judges were registered we were then able to finish assigning judges for the faire. On average assigning judges for each faire takes about two sessions of 2-3 hours each, the Judges Coordinator does this for each of the five Regional Faires as well as the Kingdom Faire.
Check back next week for more! 🙂