Cap Black



Sarah Gray

(click images to to enlarge)

Outline the story …

The inspiration for my entry comes from E.D.E.N. Southworth's 1859 story, "The Hidden Hand". In the tale's opening pages, readers learn the story of Capitola Black, a teenage orphan girl who finds herself on the streets of New York. Needing money, and recognizing that no one will hire a girl, Cap decides to exchange her dress for a suit of boy's clothes that will allow her to pass as a boy. Initially, I thought of attempting to craft a jacket or, perhaps, trousers, but as this is only the second I've ever sewn, I quickly realized this was a bit more of a challenge than I was yet up for. So, I determined to make the shirt Cap would be wearing under said jacket, as the pattern seemed much more in line with my extreme beginner status. I used the Kannik's Korner, "Man's Shirt, 1790-1830" pattern as the text makes clear that the clothes Cap traded for were quite old.

Outline the construction…

To construct Cap's shirt, I used unbleached Oznabrig linen and 60/2 unbleached linen thread. I chose to construct the whole by hand since that would have been the method by which Cap's shirt was constructed. To be honest, the entire project was a challenge, and I found myself wondering on several occasions why I chose to hand sew the thing. It took much longer than expected, but the true challenge only arose when I reached the final two steps: application of the sleeve bindings and side gussets. The bindings didn't fully make sense to me, and I was confused how to fell a seam along the unfinished edge of the gathered sleeve. I made the decision to wrap the binding around the raw edge to create a finished edge, then felled the other edge on the shirt body. If the purpose of the binding is to divert stress from the seam, I think this achieved that goal, though I know it's 100% wrong. The side gussets should have been easy since I'd already attached gussets at the collar and under the sleeve arms; however, the instructions on the pattern noted these were attached in a different fashion, and I didn't fully understand the method. I attached them in the same way as the others since I knew it worked, and the pattern said the alternate method was "often" used, not "always" used. Aside from this one instance, the Kannik's Korner patterns was extremely easy to follow, and a great help.




  1. Avatar Theodore Allegrini on March 11, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    I love the simplicity of this and the natural linen. Really well done!

  2. Avatar Phanuel Jagna Levinsen on March 11, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    I love the colour with this type of design! Really the story as well!

  3. Avatar Missy on March 12, 2021 at 12:25 am

    I love the fabric you used! And I kinda want to try to make this shirt for myself, it looks so sweet. All that handsewing is very impressive!

  4. Avatar Katherine Baluta on March 12, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    Capitola! I was so surprised to see her name, I’ve never met anyone else who knew that story. That you chose an out-of-date pattern for it based on the economy of second-hand clothes impressed me. A shirt so carefully and well sewn will make you proud for years. Beautifully done. Congratulations. (I would wear that shirt a lot!)

  5. Avatar Nicola Taylor on March 12, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    I love your choice of fabric and the simplicity of the design, well done!

  6. Avatar Sherri on March 12, 2021 at 8:58 pm

    I’m in awe of all the hand stitching! Your stitching is beautiful. What a creative interpretation and pattern choice. I’ll be checking out the pattern!

  7. Avatar Eugenia Snyder on March 12, 2021 at 9:49 pm

    I love the fabric and the stitching. This is wonderful!

  8. Avatar Violet on March 13, 2021 at 1:18 am

    I’m very impressed with the set of the sleeves, especially as it sounds like you had a bit of a challenge there. The gather at the top looks very neat, well done!

  9. Avatar Cassandra on March 14, 2021 at 3:58 am

    That looks really comfortable and versatile =) Great job

  10. Avatar Valerie Meachum on March 15, 2021 at 1:00 am

    Wow! Excellent work with sneakily tricky construction.

  11. Avatar Joshua Graham on March 18, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    gussets can be a bane, but the sleeves look great

  12. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 20, 2021 at 3:55 am

    Simple yet elegant in it’s own way. I love this and am jealous that you get to keep it! Thank you!

  13. Avatar Senta on March 21, 2021 at 3:04 am

    Well thought out and clever ! Well done ! I like this a lot 🙂

  14. Avatar Laura Ingalls Gunn on March 21, 2021 at 10:47 pm

    What a beautiful shirt. The perfect fabric. Bravo!

  15. Avatar Carol Phillips on March 25, 2021 at 2:32 am

    A garment that exactly fits the frame of the story. Aren’t you fortunate to be able to wear it brand new, instead of getting a 5th hand garment! Your historical construction technique is excellent. Think that the original (imaginary) garment maybe had to be rushed also, so the alternate way on last gussets makes i more in keeping with the story.

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