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An 1858 Turkish Smoking Cap
From Godey's Lady's Book

For Christmas 2009, I made my friend Mike this mid-19th century smoking cap. We've taken up Civil War reenacting together with our friends, while he's done the military thing with both Union and Confederate units, he tells me that he finds civilian roles preferable. And what Victorian gentleman doesn't need a smoking cap?

Soutache braid in progress.

The pattern for the crown is taken directly from an 1858 pattern in Godey's, and executed in black mini-soutache braid on moss green cotton velvet. I bought the smallest soutache I could lay hands upon, and it was still a little thicker than I could have wanted. Because of this, I modified the band pattern a little so it wouldn't look too bulky.

I traced the pattern onto normal artist's tracing paper and basted to the velvet, and then just sewed the soutache over the paper with a simple running stitch. I was amazed and pleased at how quickly the braiding went on--this whole project took me less than a week.

The cap is entirely handsewn, and lined in black silk taffeta. I originally constructed it without the tassel, but we both agreed it needed one. I was also a bit worried that it wouldn't have enough body of its own, but the taffeta was stiff enough that it seemed to work out fine.

I think it's safe to say he liked it all right...