Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Silk, Straw, and a Lot of Finger Pricking

First off I need to give a shout out to the very sweet young lady who was so patient in helping me with my bonnet from beginning to end.  Thank you F!  She blogs over at Ruffles not Rifles, and sews superbly!  If you haven't checked it out already, I encourage you to :D  And just so you know, the things done correctly on this bonnet are due to her good advice, and everything done incorrectly on this bonnet, is well, due to my own (not so good :P) advice.  And I need to put Bascha in the good advice category as well, she put up with several phone calls...and many notes :)

I would have really liked to have studied the insides of original bonnets.  I zoomed in as well as I could to pick apart the images online, but I just couldn't find a whole lot of photos of linings or frills for some reason. Maybe I was just searching incorrectly.  But anyways, without further ado, here's what I did.  

To begin, I of course bought the bonnet.  (actually, I should say my Mimi and Poppy bought the bonnet since they paid for it :) Love you!) It was $35, from Abraham's Lady. I highly recommend her company (as do many reenactors I know), and the lady who contacted me was super nice-she even put it online so I could buy it!  Shipping was like $10 though, so if you are in Gettysburg and want to buy the straw bonnet, drop by her store.  :)

Second, I collected the supplies I would need.  Leftover white cotton curtains from my tucked petticoat project for the lining, a 75 cent curtain to use as the frill, and some silk for ties and trimmings.  I got 2/3 yards silk for $10 (ouch, most money ever spent on one piece of fabric) off a scrap table when I went shopping with Bascha and her Mom.  I'm not sure exactly what type of silk it was-it had a slight sheen to it, it was an incredible tight weave with hardly a slub to be seen, and not quite as plasticy feeling as taffeta, but definetly stiff.  It both wrinkles and irons really well.  As soon as we felt it though, we all agreed it would make a lovely dress..except the 2/3 yard part :P  (I hated the taffeta....there was no way I was going to pay that kind of money for silk that felt like super thick flag material!  It was not at all what I was anticipating.)

Then I plunged into the construction.  To line the bonnet, I laid the fabric in it, making sure it was smooth at the round back part.  I pinned this down to make sure the back round part fabric didn't get any odd wrinkles.  I stitched this down with straw colored thread.  As for the rest of the lining, I measured down 4 inches from the brim and marked it all the way around with a pencil.  I cut along this line.  As you can see in the following photographs, the lining was very full around the edges, so I made some small pleats to tuck that excess fabric in.  Then I folded under the raw edge and stitched it down with straw colored thread.  
marking the lining
Measuring 4 inches from the brim on the lining so I knew where to cut it
cut bonnet lining in the full stage

pleated bonnet lining pinned

sewn bonnet lining
the lining makes me think of the amish and menonite caps
For the bavolet I cut a strip of silk 36 inches long, and hmmm, I think 5 inches wide.  I made a narrow rolled hem along the bottom, and the edges.  Before I box pleated it to fit the back of the bonnet, I folded over about 1 inch and using a large machine stitch just basted it in place.  After I had sewn the bavolet to the bonnet I removed the basting stitches.
pressing down one edge of the bavolet for the rolled hem
folding it over, tucking the raw edge in and pressing it again
after that I whipstiched it down doing a "blind" hem (not really blind...this was a very
tight weave) with about 2 stitches per inch
I box pleated the bavolet, and here you see it pinned to the bonnet
sewn down
You really wouldn't think that a bonnet would have much trouble staying on your head would you?  I didn't think so, but it does.  I used a couple scrap pieces of cotton twill tape for functional ties, which are the unseen ties doing the hard work of keeping the bonnet on.  Here is where I put mine.  
my fuctional bonnet ties
attached under the pretty bonnet ties
placement of both ties
bonnet ties before getting hemmed.  I narrow hemmed them also
1860s bonnet front - pink trim
This was my inspiration for the trim.  I just loved the poofs!
And I really wanted to find something original from the 1860's
to base my trim off of.  And I also found this little blurb when reading
something in an article on bonnets from the Huntingdon Journal (PA), August 2, 1854
 "A modest straw trimmed with white." So this just had to be :)

the trim

For the frill, I cut a peice of the curtain about 2 yards long (...I had a whole curtain, no need to be stingy) and 6 inches wide.  I put two rows of gathering stitches on one end and gathered the frill to fit the bonnet.  It covers part of the lining on the inside.  Then I sewed it down with straw colored thread across the gathers at the base of the frill, and then each side of the frill to the cheek tabs.  Then ta-da!  The frill was done :).  
hee hee, look at all my metal hairs! :P this was the frill pinned in

sewing the frill in
frill sewn to cheek tab
the frill sewn down
As of now, there are no silk flowers or things inside my bonnet.  Maybe I'll add a few one day, but then maybe I won't.  I'd really like some pinky-red flowers and light olive green leaves...not a bunch, but just enough to give a little color.  But anyways, here are a few pictures of the finished thing :D

My mom saw this picture and said "selfie!" (a term she just learned
a couple weeks ago) :P
Until next time!



  1. Oh lovely bonnet Theresa! OMG I love it when moms use terms they just learned! haha

  2. Nydelig, Theresa :-) Wonderful! I like it SO MUCH!!

  3. Thank you Marie! Every time I tie the bow I'll remember the time you came to America and chatted with me downstairs. :D

    1. :-) Haha, so fun! I would like to think of that... <3

  4. It looks absolutely wonderful! I never thought of box-pleating the bavolet, but it does look an awful lot neater. And your net ruffle is so darling, it reminds me of crepes.

  5. :D Thank you (for your comment and for your help)! I had seen some original bonnets with a box pleated back and I just thought it looked cool so I tried it:). And speaking of crepes-I was planning on making some tonight actually! (not to put in my bonnet of course :P)