FOUNDATIONS REVEALED COMPETITION ENTRY
Grandma’s Nightgown and Cap
Outline the story …
When I saw the theme of the competition I though excellent! – a hand embroidered court suit (a dream project) for Prince Charming, caught myself and hit a wall.
My final chosen project is Little Red Riding Hood's grandmothers nightgown and cap from a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm 1812-15 (using Zipes translation from 2014) titled "Little Red Cap". A wolf disguises himself in the grandmothers clothes and cap to trick the little girl - I reseasoned that the "clothes" would be a nightgown as the grandmother is described as being sick and weak. I also took inspiration from the version by Thurber from 1939 called "the girl and the wolf" and several illustrations. The idea for this theme came from a poor woman's cap (from the workwomans guide, 1838) that I chose to make for my nan as a joke.
I am entering the beginners section as I started hand sewing this winter purely because I needed something to help me switch off from work and unwind of an evening. While I've seen my mum making clothes and stage costumes I've only tried super simple things because I find machine sewing really stressful, whereas I find hand sewing much more enjoyable. A 19th century sewing manual lead to the workwomans guide, which lead to a joke cap, a whole community and an international competition.. what a year!
Outline the construction…
As mentioned above the patterns are taken from the Workwoman's Guide (1838), I didn’t need to make any changes except shortening the length. Due to covid restrictions I had to buy online, and the first linen I purchased was very sheer – it would have been neither modest for the grandmother nor worked as a disguise for the wolf. I therefore resorted to an old coarse linen (possibly a cotton blend) bedsheet. The grandmother in my head is a practical, lower class lady and so I felt the rough cloth that would last a long time was the more suitable option. I used linen thread which I waxed, following the instructions within the book; I also used another Victorian sewing manual where I didn’t understand the text descriptions. I looked online at picture of similar garments in collections which was extremely useful e.g. for choosing buttons – I chose vintage glass. The construction of the gown is fairly simple, other than the yoke, as it is mainly rectangles sewn together on straight seams – having said that I had never done a gather or a buttonhole before! I aimed for consistent seams, basting before finishing. The cap is basically a circle gathered onto a band, this is made of a slightly different but relatively coarse fabric again. I chose to add ties as I like the look this created, but I didn’t add a frill at the front as this wasn’t included in the cutting instructions.