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How to Tie a Cap Tally

Updated April 17, 2017

A cap tally is a ribbon tied around the band of a sailor's cap. Cap tallies are commonly black and often bear lettering in yellow or gold. The lettering on these tallies usually spells out the name of the ship, fleet, navy or other seafaring establishment to which a sailor belongs. While cap tallies are used by the navies of all countries, the manner in which they are tied varies. The most common method of tying a cap tally finishes the tie in a neat bow.

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  1. Wrap the tally around the outer circumference of the cap where it fits against the head, taking care to place the centre of the lettering above the front seam.

  2. Make an underhand knot at the left seam line of the cap by passing one free end of the ribbon under the point where the tally forms a complete circle while holding the knot down with your thumb. The underhand knot makes two tails of the tally: an upper tail and a lower tail.

  3. Make a small loop with the upper tail over the knot to form a bight.

  4. Pass the lower tail under the bight to the outside of the knot. This forms a second bight behind and inside the first bight.

  5. Pull both tails of the tally to tighten the knot. Cut the tails to short lengths to make a neat bow.

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