I scoured the net, is as my want and found
the picture: Domenico Ghirlandaio Portrait of a Lady, 1480
(right). A smaller Italian (Florentine) snood with whitework
and pearl edging. (I just can't leave it plain!)
Flemmish working women appear to have
plainer, white linen cauls.
The best place to look is contempary
paintings and, of course, Janet Arnold's Queen
Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd (my garb bible).
In general, it appeared that English cauls
were smaller and Italian cauls bigger, but there were
smaller ones as right.
What is a Caul?
Basically, think : snood. The Elizabethan
caul was a small bag, often pinned over a bun, and worn with
other headwear including a tall hat, flat caps and
Portrait of a Lady, 1480
According to Queen Elizabeth's
Wardrobe Unlock'd , cauls were mainly made
of fabric (linen, velvet, silk), fabric with netted cord or
plain netting. They were often decorated with blackwork,
ribbon, embroidery, couching, pearls, gems and spangles
-whatever the well dressed Elizabethan could afford or get
away with, given the sumptuary laws of the period.
Muffin caps were larger than the scuffia (caul), often
made of linen, black wool, silk , decorated fabric.
Les Femmes la Musicienne -
Bronzino, Portrait of a
Little Girl with a Book.
les Femmes la
Caul under head
circle (approx. 40cm diam, for larger Italian caul, and 30 cm diam ,
for smaller Elizabethan Caul). I used a 45 cm circle. gather approx.
1.5 cm in from edge, to the headband width. (Measure around head to
where you want the caul) I used 60cm, as I wanted a larger Italian
1. gather the circle
2. Pin the headband to the gathered
3. Sew the band to the coif.
4. fold over the band and pin to
5. handsew the 'hem' on. You can
add combs to hold it to your head, if you wish.
6. I decided on a pomegranite
pattern for my whitework. I like them.
Finally, I have finished the embroidery,
whitework in splitstitch, and edging the caul band with
I used a blanket stitch to position the
pearls on the very edge of the b and
Viola! The finished article! (R)
How do you think it compares to the Domenico
Ghirlandaio portrait. I like my cauls larger, as they keep
my head warmer!
Though.... on closer inspection, I think
there could be a tie under the chin, which may explain the
way the caul is pulled, so some of the underside is
Janet Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd
Janet Patterns of Fashion, McMillan, New York, 1985,
Blackwork, Dover, New York ,1998, ISBN 0-486-40178-2
- Leed, Drea
Well Dress'd Peasant:16th C Flemish Workingwomen's
Dress, Costume & Dressmaker Press, Trinidad,
Cesare Vecellio's Renaissance Costume
Book, Dover Publications, New York, ISBN:
and Elizabethan Coifs
- Constructing an Elizabethan Caul
http://costume.dm.net/headwear/caulmake.html (9/8/00, confirmed
Century Cauls, Hairnets and Snoods.
References on the web:
- Bronzino, Eleanor of
Toledo (at Ufuzzi)
Portrait of a Woman (La Donna Gravida), 1505-1506
- Pierfrancesco Foschi: Portrait of a
Lady, (Festive Attyre)
Bronzino: Portrait of a Lady (Festive Attyre)
Ghirlandaio: Portrait of a Lady, 1480 (Festive Attyre)
Ghirlandaio: A Young Woman, 1485 (Festive Attyre)
Catena, 1520-25: Portrait of a Woman (Realm of Venus)
(Tiziano Vecellio), 1511: Portrait of a Woman Known as La
Schiavona (Realm of Venus)