Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mopcap, a Colonial Fashion Statement

By Susan F. Craft
Author of The Chamomile, a Revolutionary War romantic suspense
A portrait by English painter Joseph Wright of an unidentified woman wearing a mopcap.

        A mopcap is a round, gathered or pleated cloth bonnet consisting of a caul to cover the hair, a frilled or ruffled brim, and sometimes a ribbon band.
        An informal style worn by colonial women at the beginning of the 18th century, it protected their hair from dust and dirt. Women also wore the mopcaps to bed to protect the covers from grease and from the powder and perfume that some of them used.

Cora Munro, a character in The Last of the
Mohicans, wears a mopcap under her straw hat.
        In the late 18th century, the mopcap became a high fashion item and was worn mostly indoors. For outdoor wear, the cap was worn under a straw hat.
        The mopcap was called a mobcap during the French Revolution, because the poorer women who were involved in the riots wore them, but mopcaps had been in style for the middle class and even the aristocracy since the century began.

To make a mopcap

You will need
  • ½ yard material (cotton or linen)
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • 36-inch length of ¼-inch ribbon
  • crewel or large-eyed needle (safety pin will also work)
  • rotary cutter with a wide skip blade - optional

  • From heavy paper or cardboard, cut an 18-inch diameter circle (use a charger plate or dinner plate to create the circle).

  • Draw a 15-inch circle inside that circle and cut it out of the center. This is now your pattern.
  • Place the pattern on material and cut an 18-inch circle. With a pencil, draw the 15-inch circle onto the material.
  • Along the pencil line, snip holes large enough for a ribbon to be threaded through them. (I used a rotary cutter with a wide skip blade. It’s like a pizza cutter for material, but fashioned so that when you roll it across the material, it makes dashed cuts.)

  • Cut a 36-inch long piece of ¼-inch ribbon and thread it into a crewel needle (large eye needle). Thread the ribbon up and down through the holes in the material until 2 inches from the starting place. (If you don’t have a needle, attach a safety pin to the ribbon and use that to thread the ribbon through the holes.)
  • Lightly gather the fabric along the ribbon, making sure that the ribbon tails are equal.
  • Place cap on head, pull the ribbon until the mopcap fits snugly, and tie the ribbon into a bow.


  1. I love the idea of the mopcap. I am sure the ladies hair stayed better and longer after being fixed. Great post...thank you, Susan!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  2. I remember making a mopcap for my daughter for a school play. She did look awfully cute in it. I could have used this pattern at the time.

  3. This is cute. Not sure I'd wear it anywhere. lol Loved the history lesson!