I had been planning to make some caps/coifs/biggins' and have searched online for simple patterns. My problem with the patterns is that there seemed to be so much fabric waste! I kept thinking, as I spun and then wove, that in times long gone I doubt that simple folk would want any of their linen to be wasted. They grew and processed the flax, which is an extensive process, and then spun and wove the fabric. Unlike today, people hung on to their clothes (and mended them) because they took a lot of work and a lot of time. So I finally figured out a pattern on my own that left very little waste (which I will turn into amulet bags).
So for those who are interested I thought I would offer up my pattern/process.
The woven linen measures approx 11 inches wide by 22 inches long.
I then fold under the short ends and hand stitch securely.
NOTE: Now it is important to note that I am doing French seams so you will be working, first, with wrong sides together, not right sides.
The first step is to cut off two triangle shapes from the back. Fold your piece in half, with hemmed edges together and on the inside!
Next you will be tracing a sort of triangle piece (which allows for the cap to have more shape and pull closer to the back of the neck) I have scraps from one cap shown here (a bit hard to see but it is laid on the fabric) which gave me the size to cut the new cap. You can cut a piece of paper for this pattern. This triangle measures approx 7 1/2 inches tall (along straight selvedge edge) and is approx 2 1/4 inches along the bottom. One side is my selvedge (the woven edge of my linen) and the other side is the cut edge with the angle. The bottom of this triangle is where you have sewn under the edges. I have cheated, historically speaking, by using a pen I have that has disappearing ink.
So trace that line, or place pins?, and then baste on that line. (sorry pic isn't the same position as previous pics!)
I make sure I really secure the end of that baste, where you have turned under the edges.
After you have basted go ahead and cut about an 1/8th of an inch outside the stitched line, towards the back of the cap.
Now turn cap to put that back seam inside.
Ok NOW put the cap on your head with that seam inside cap. Pull cap on a bit snug.
Take the pointy part of the cap, not sewn yet, at your crown and tuck it down and into the back of the cap.
If you are using linen it creases beautifully with your fingers! Keep tucking it in so that you can feel the points, on either side of head, become smooth, much like a dart in regular clothing. Below you see a picture of what it will look like. The point is to get that curve for the top crown of your head, making the cap fit nicely! Since I was doing this on my daughter I could not smooth it out to my liking, like I can on my own head, pulling and smoothing Haha.
Carefully turn cap so that back seam is on the outside again. Trace your crease from the crown of the cap.
This time do not baste on the line. This is because that line will be your final stitching, the French seam part. Baste about 1/8th of an inch from that line, towards outside of cap.
Then cut off the triangular access about 1/8th of an inch from your basting, again towards the outside of cap.
This is when the French seams is really worked. As you can see with the seams on the outside of the cap your turned under ends of the linen will be on the other side of the cap. It may feel like your cap is being sewn wrong. Turn your cap seams to the inside of the cap now, and fold the seams around those cut edges, enclosing the cut edges in the stitching you will do.
Start with the back seam. Start at the top crown of the cap and backstitch all the way down to the neck part of cap. Now do the same with the crown seam, enclosing that seam. I take a few extra stitches where all the seams connect at the top of the head.
Turn the cap right side out now. You may see some stray threads so just go ahead and trim those.
And you are done!
Well except for ties. Also, kind of softening and forming! You can get the cap wet and wring out, put on your head and really smooth out seams. You could also just iron it, using the iron's steam function. Sew on your choice of ties. I did fingerloop braiding for my caps, which I love! A great video on that is here.