Grandma’s Nightgown and Cap



Felicity Whitehead

(click images to to enlarge)

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.




  1. Avatar Natalia on March 11, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    This is such a wonderful project!

  2. Avatar Madelief on March 11, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    This whole garment breathes ‘a grandmothers nightgown’. Love it!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 8:38 pm

      Thanks so much, I’m normally a procrastinator but I had a definite look in mind and it came out exactly how I’d hoped.

  3. Avatar Inge Sahuleka on March 11, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    Love it! And yes, buying fabric online is so difficult. I really miss feeling it before buying.

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 8:36 pm

      I can’t wait for the shops to open next month, I have local shops to support and fabric to fondle!

  4. Avatar Mathilde on March 12, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    I can totally see the little red riding hood’s grandmother. Love that cap!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 8:42 pm

      I was running so short on time that I nearly ditched the cap – the late nights were worth it!

  5. Avatar Rebecca on March 12, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    i love the photo of your nan in the cap you made! this is a thoughtful project. every step has been carefully considered in the context of history and the story you wanted to (re)tell through clothes. lovely work! good luck from craftyroo/icarus!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 8:49 pm

      Thanks! I hope to get a picture of nan in the whole outfit at some point once its safe. I have really enjoyed the learning/planning process I’m looking forward to taking it forward to next years competition!

  6. Avatar Stanislava Pilkova on March 12, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    Very sensible, just a little ruffle to add a bit of fancy. I like the reasoning behind the fabric choice

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 8:40 pm

      The other choice really would have disguised nothing! Fancy but practical was exactly what I was going for… thanks!

  7. Avatar Sophie Larcher on March 12, 2021 at 6:51 pm

    I just simply love it!!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 8:49 pm

      Thankyou so much, I really enjoyed making it!

  8. Avatar Manon L'Hostis on March 13, 2021 at 10:06 am

    That ruffled collar…. I just love it !

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 8:50 pm

      The pattern had several options and I thought the more ruffles the more disguise – absolute brain ache figuring out how to put the bits together though!

  9. Avatar Andrea Olinte on March 13, 2021 at 10:16 am

    What a wonderful nightgown – and your grandmother with the little teddy bear wears it absolutely convincing.

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 8:53 pm

      I have to thank June for volunteering because it didnt look anywhere near as good on a home fashioned manequin! Thankyou!

  10. Avatar Alizée Charrié on March 13, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    This is so “grandma”, I love it!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 8:57 pm

      Thankyou! I hope “grandma” would have been happy with it.

  11. Avatar Annie Marshall on March 13, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    I love this, Grandmama! 🙂

  12. Avatar Elowen Blackthorn on March 13, 2021 at 3:07 pm

    Oh the insertion of that gore! So good! This is grandma perfect!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 9:02 pm

      Thanks! I had to redo at least once because I got a sleeve on inside out but it came out well in the end!

  13. Avatar Valerie Meachum on March 15, 2021 at 1:45 am

    What pretty nightclothes you have! This is so exactly what it should be. I especially love that collar!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 9:03 pm

      Thankyou – I was going for pretty but practical/working class and I think the balance came out really well!

  14. Avatar Lisa Olsen on March 19, 2021 at 3:05 am

    Absolutely love it, well done!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 9:05 pm

      Thankyou so much – I enjoyed making it and I’m enjoying everyone else’s entries even more!

  15. Avatar Caroline on March 20, 2021 at 12:19 am

    The ruffles, the gathering, all so well done! And the night cap is just adorable!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 9:06 pm

      Thanks! Neat gathers and ruffles are so tricky, and my fabric choice did me no favours!

  16. Avatar AnnaCatherine Sendgikoski on March 20, 2021 at 5:05 am

    Whoa! I am in love with this. The ruffles are stunning…and on a nightgown! I love the cap as well! Great photo of your Nan! Thank you!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks! I can’t wait to dress my nan up in the finished article for a little photoshoot. I chose the ruffliest gown from the book!

  17. Avatar Laura Ingalls Gunn on March 21, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    What a darling entry! I adore the ruffles and glass buttons. Bravo!

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 9:12 pm

      Thankyou! I think the little details really pulled it together.

  18. Avatar Benigna on March 25, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    This looks wonderful and very fitting for the Grandmother.

    • Avatar Felicity on March 29, 2021 at 9:13 pm

      Thankyou! I can see both the grandmother and the wolf making good use of it.

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