A Valentine’s Chocolate Box Juliet Cap: Margo Anderson’s Cuffietta Pattern

“You are a seamstress. Borrow Cupid’s needle, and sew with them fine edges bound” –Not Mercutio

Exactly two years ago in 2021, Margo’s Patterns, which specializes in Renaissance era patterns for men and women, offered to let me help pattern test some of her newer patterns.

The first pattern up for testing was an Italian Cuffietta, a Patreon-exclusive at the time, now part of Pattern 029. This pretty design is based on the little football-shaped caps worn in a few late 15th century Italian portraits (most famously Ludovica Tornabuoni) and made famous by productions of Romeo and Juliet, which have dressed Juliet’s actress in such caps for centuries. Thanks to its iconic association with the Shakespearean play, the style is are commonly known as a “Juliet cap” in both fashion history and modern bridal wear.

I was excited to try out this pattern because it was a small project, perfect for breaking a sewing drought, and because it gave me an opportunity to use a pearl necklace I accidentally destroyed a few weeks earlier!

So that’s why my brain’s been all fuzzy! All my pearls of wisdom rolled away.

It was also nearing Valentine’s Day and it seemed fitting to make a red velvet “chocolate box” style cap for English Lit’s most popular tragic lover.

The pattern recommended buckram, but I used some bee-printed cotton duck soaked in a 50/50-ish mix of Aleene’s Tacky Glue and water. It worked like a charm! I applied the mixture with a paint brush, making sure the cloth was soaked enough to be wet through, but not so much that pools of glue would leave plastic-y spots on the surface. I did it on a piece of aluminum foil so I could easily peel it off when it dried. Don’t use wax paper or plastic wrap. The wax paper disintegrates with the moisture and tears. The plastic wrap too easily wrinkles, causing your homemade buckram to wrinkle as well. Foil is much easier to keep smooth and remove later.

I used this fabric for my Jaco”bee”an Jacket, too. I’ll get a post for that project written soon!

The directions were very easy to follow, even the part where you have to zig-zag the butted center seam together, something I’d never done before. I sewed floral wire from Dollar Tree around the edge by hand rather than by machine. Same for the binding made from a scrap of bias tape. At this stage, Chris walked in and asked if I was finally giving up and sewing my own bras after whining for years about the terrible state of the American underwear market. And that’s when I realized my boobs were the same size as my head!

34 J US for reference, LOL!

To hide the seam, I used some double-layer gauze I got from Walmart and then covered the whole thing in some rayon velvet cut from a shirt I’d been hoarding from Goodwill since 2014.

If you are making a solid cap instead of a net one, velvet is the perfect fabric because it hides stitches, it grips the hair to hold the cap in place, and it is bougie as heck!

The decoration portion is entirely up to personal preference. I decided to combine the chocolate box and historical netting looks together, stash-busting some thin metallic gold ribbon applied in a criss-cross pattern which I then decorated with the pearls from the broken necklace.

I opted to sew everything on by hand rather than hot glue for once. It took twice as long to decorate as it did to assemble the base, but it was worth it.

The cap was complete! But to properly show it off, you also need the period-appropriate hairstyle. My natural hair is very tent-shaped, randomly wavy, and unruly–like spaniel ears.

But seriously, it’s uncanny!

And, it seems, that works out in my favor because my favorite wild-hair eras are full of dog-ear hairstyles!

Woof! 1450-1500 (Allegorical Portrait of a Lady), 1660-1680 (Portrait of a Woman), 1820-1850 (Anonymous Portrait of a Woman)

To achieve a properly puppy-eared late 15th century hairstyle, I center parted my hair. Then I parted out my bottom layer of hair by running my thumbs along the sides of my head diagonally from my temples, leaving a curtain of hair hanging around the bottom half of my head. The top I gathered into a tight bun. I used the same clip-on ponytail hairpiece that I used for my Game of Thrones hairstyle, turning it into one thick braid and wrapping some of the gold ribbon around it. Attach it to the bun and wrap the braid into a thick coil at the back of the head. The bottom curtain of hair I curled with my thinnest curling iron. Gently separate the curls with your fingers.

You will look goofy until the last moment. That’s how you know you’re doing it right!

When you’re done, you’ll realize how nicely the Cuffietta/Juliet Cap finishes off the look!

You may also discover that in addition to looking smashing as a cap, a cuffietta makes an excellent multi-purpose accessory!

Interested in more Italian Renaissance costuming? I’m working on a short write-up about my pattern test for Margo’s Italian Renaissance Gamurra pattern! It will be posted soon.

In the meantime, you can check out my adventure making the Simplicity “Ever After” dress pattern (the one you see in the pics of my cuffietta) or visit one of my favorite Italian Renaissance costume blogs: “Diary of a 1480s Florentine Gown” by Jen of Festive Attyre! She has her own version of Ludovica’s cap on there, too, if you’re interested in seeing what a net cuffietta looks like.

The Procrastinator’s Purse: A Free Printable Reticule Pattern

So I am the queen of procrastination and when I made my Renaissance Fair dress last month, I realized the night before that I had nowhere to put my “modern necessities,” i.e. my cellphone, chapstick, safetypins, and the like.

Drawstring purses are pretty easy to make and there are tons of variations ranging from a simple square folded over to more complex bags with flat bottoms, and fancy linings. I have made simple drawstring purses mere minutes before I had to be out the door, but this time I had a few hours. Plenty of time for a slightly gussied-up version! All I knew is that I wanted something shield-shaped that could fit my book-shaped cellphone case and other sundries. This is the final result, which I’ve dubbed THE PROCRASTINATOR’S PURSE:

I was originally going to do an exhaustive walk-through of how to draft your own pattern for one from a piece of US Letter (A4) paper…

…but then I decided to save y’all the trouble and just make a PDF version you can download and print from home!

The Procrastinator’s Purse Pattern PDF

To maximize the size, it does go all the way to the edges of the paper, so your printer at home may cut off the top and bottom a bit. Just draw it back in. I am no professional pattern or instruction drafter myself, so don’t worry about getting it just right. This is the Procrastinator’s Purse, not the Perfectionist’s Purse!

I put two shapes on the pattern for you to choose from: a sharp triangle bottom (solid line) and the curved shield-shaped bottom (dotted line). Seam allowance is already accounted for. This pattern can be sewn with a 1/2″ or regular 5/8″ seam allowance. It’s just up to your personal preference and how much room you want.

The first time I made this purse, it took two and a half hours because I was just making it up as I went along and I added trim. Now that I know what I’m doing, the plain striped version I whipped up for this post took only an hour to make!

Step 1: Cut 2 of your fashion fabric and 2 of your lining fabric. The lining will show, so keep that in mind when picking out your fabrics!

I picked two scraps for this demonstration: striped faux-silk from the Regency waistcoat I made for my friend Wix and swiss dot cotton from my Butterick 6093 project.

If you want to add any trim across the front of your purse–like I did for the yellow and black version of this bag–sew it to the right side of your fashion fabric first before proceeding with the next steps.

Step 2: Pair each fashion fabric piece with a lining piece. Put the right sides together. Use a pin to mark where the top line of the drawstring stitching goes on each side.

Step 3: With right sides together, sew each fabric/lining pair around the squared top edge starting above the pins marking your drawstring. I recommend backstitching at the beginning and end of your stitch line for strength.

Clip the corners before turning the pieces right-side-out. Iron the pieces flat, turning under the seam allowances about 2 inches down the sides. This will make sewing the drawstring channel easier. Sorry I didn’t get a picture of this step, but if you scroll down to the picture in step 5, you can see the leftover fold marks.

Step 4: Sew the drawstring channel. The channel I put in the pattern is 1/2 inch wide. This is top-stitched, so your stitching will show on the outside of the bag. Pick a color of thread that blends into your bag (at least for the most part).

Step 5: Once you’ve got both drawstring channel stitch lines done, make small snips in the seam allowances so you can iron it flat. Do this to the seam allowances on both the fashion fabric and lining.

Once you’ve snipped the seam allowances and ironed the two halves of the purse flat, put the two halves together with the fashion fabric sides together.

Step 6: Stitch the two purse halves together starting below the bottom of the drawstring channel. Backstitch at the start and end of your stitch line for extra strength. Be careful not to sew the ends of your drawstring channel shut!

This purse is not bag-lined, so it will have “raw-ish” edges on the inside (remember: this is the Procrastinator’s Bag, not the Perfectionist’s Bag!). To minimize fraying and add strength to the seam, I zig-zag stitched close to my original stitch line and trimmed away the excess fabric for a neater finish (especially if your fabric wants to fray like my faux-silk did).

Turn your Procrastinator’s Purse right-side out and iron.

Step 7: Cut two long pieces of ribbon and thread them through the drawstring channels on each side of the bag.

28 inches is a good length for your ribbon, though if you like longer, more luxurious tails, you can cut yours 32 inches long. You will loose about 2 inches of length trimming the ends later, so keep that in mind.

For this demonstration purse, I used 1.5 inch wide poly satin ribbon from Walmart, which is about the widest you can fit into a 1/2 inch boning channel. For my first yellow purse, I used 3/4 inch wide ribbon elastic (the type used to make headbands and hair ties). I like the elastic  because it holds the “scrunch” at the top of the bag better than the smooth ribbon, but it does make your bag bob around when you walk and it will stretch the more stuff you carry.

To get the ribbon through the channel, I folded it over a few times and put a safety pin through as a makeshift bodkin.

The following steps are optional ones I did to achieve the look I wanted. You can do all sorts of things to personalize your Procrastinator’s Purse depending on how much you procrastinated. Have a few hours left? Add some beading. Have a few minutes left? Just tie your ribbons together and get in the car, girl!

Since I had an hour left, here’s what I did to my purse:

Trim the edges of the ribbon diagonally. This removes the pinhole left by the safety pin and will help keep the ends from fraying. To weigh them down, especially if you used a lightweight synthetic ribbon like my Walmart poly one, tie a simple knot an inch or two back from the end. You could even add beads (like the large-holed ones used for add-a-bead jewelry) if you wanted to gussy it up for evening-wear!

Tie the ends of the other ribbon together to form a carrying loop.

This purse is very deep, which is great if you have a large phone or plan to really stuff it full of souvenirs. However, all that stuff puffs out the point, distorting the nice shape and leading to a lot of inelegant and frustrating digging around for tiny things at the bottom of the purse.

To alleviate both these problems, I squared off the bottom with a line of stitching 1.5 inches up from the point. I marked a optional stitching line for it on the PDF pattern. This stitch line can be moved father down, too, if you want a squared bottom, but your phone/fan/etc. needs a bit more room.

The joy of horizontal fabric stripes: my fabric happened to have a handy-dandy line right where I needed it!

And for a last bit of pizzazz, I added a dangle to the point of the purse. For both purses, I used an Indian wedding earring from a pair that I found at a flea market.


This purse is big enough that everything in the above picture– cellphone+case, chapstick, 40″ strand of glass pearls, vintage cigarette-turned-business-card case, safety pins, hairpins, and fan– fits inside:

Shazam! Magical disappearing act!

Huzzah! Now I have one version that matches my Renaissance dress and another that will work with my Regency and Edwardian dresses!

It’s not perfect, but it’s a pretty, practical project for the ambitious Procrastinator!

If you make your own Procrastinator’s Purse (or any drawstring purse), pop over to my Facebook Page and send me a picture so I can see it!