26 May 2014

Whip It Up: The Rolled Whipped Gather

When sewing that lappet cap, I found the rolled whipped gather--the stitch that attaches the ruffle to the caul--to be the trickiest part. While having the extant cap to compare my work to was super helpful, it also raised my standard for what I consider a good finished product. Below I've outlined my journey (OK, it was a struggle) with this stitch...

Looking at the extant cap, I could see easily enough that the original stitch is made with one piece of thread...which is great. There's less sewing and it should take less time. From what I could *gather* you roll the ruffle hem and whip stitch this, while pulling, to the caul. Seems simple enough. After trying on a handful of occasions, I couldn't get the ruffle to have enough "frill". It just looked flat.

A friend helped me identify this mystery stitch (thank you Miss T.!) and told me that it's in The Lady's Guide to Plain Sewing. Though the mess that is my sewing room has swallowed my copy, I figured there must be a few tutorials from fellow bloggers.

After a little googling I found the following:
  • Chloe at Slightly Obsessed, offers very detailed directions in this 2011 post, but being a visual person I found it a little tricky to interpret. 
  • Connor Praire has a YouTube video tutorial, which was helpful though a bit blurry. 
  • Kelly from Tea in a Teacup, shared her experience with making a Regency day cap that includes a bit about learning this stitch. (This was posted after I completed my cap.)
To make my rolled whipped gather, I followed the guidance from Connor Praire. Rather than sew it in one full swoop, like my extant cap, I made the rolled whipped gather on the ruffle then attached it to the caul in a second set of whip stitches, which you can see below.

 They look pretty good...nice and rolly and gathery.
  A few from the top of the cap.

However I struggled to make the rolly/gathery part look as full as it should. The inside of the stitch, where the thread is most visible, looks better than the fashion fabric side. You can see this contrast in the photo above, and a detail of the nice rolled look from the inside in the image below.

When whipping the ruffle to the lappet's point, I should have eased in a bit more fabric to accommodate the curve and create less of a wrinkle. Viewing the whipped gather work side-by-side, you can see that my stitches should be finer, perhaps by using a smaller needle, but definitely by making more stitches per inch.

Given the popularity of ruffles on extant caps, which are also seen in many 18th and 19th century portraits (for examples see my Cap Crazy Pinterest board), taking the time to perfect this stitch is important. The ruffle frames the face. As a historical interpreter who engages with the public in a museum setting, it's a detail that visitors will notice. If you've had any success with the rolled whipped gather, or want to commiserate with your struggles, I'd love to hear from you!


  1. I believe I've used this stitch (or a very similar one) on my folk costume, to attach the collar to the blouse (opplöt). It was a few years ago now, but it worked well for me: http://amostpeculiarmademoiselle.blogspot.se/2010/05/folk-costume-progress.html

    I have an 1840's cap planned shortly, and mean to attach the ruffles using this method, so we'll see how that goes...

    1. What beautiful work, thanks for sharing the link Sarah! And I love your hemstitches!

  2. This was a really interesting post!!! the cap looks amazing and you've just helped me identify a stitch I've seen on a shift in the Scottish National Collection Centre - Big thanks. I'm coming here again!

    1. I'm glad to hear it was helpful Michelle!

  3. I find that to have more frill - make the overcast stitch on the gather a tiny bit further apart. When I add a ruffle to a cap - I don't cut the ruffle to a set length - but allow the gathers to happen - then when nearing the end - finish off the length end. It helps to use silk thread, too - it is strong.


Your feedback is appreciated. :)