Sunday, August 6, 2017

1814 Regency Bonnet

Since I was planning a new summer muslin gown, I decided that I needed a summery bonnet to go along with it.

I found this fashion plate:

I like the fact that 5 of these are on a straw base.  Straw hats have always been a sign of summer and I wanted a straw bonnet base.  I settled on the one at the center right as it looked easy to duplicate, being basically ruffles on the straw base.

It couldn't find a straw base this shape so I decided to make one out of thrift store straw hats.  This is where you have to analyze both the shape of the bonnet you want and the shape of the hats you have available.  This hat has a tall crown--taller than most modern hats have.  I've been fortunate enough to find some hats with rolled brims, that when unrolled, can extend the crown upon reblocking.

I decided on this one:

When the brim is turned down it looked like this:

I figured I could block some of the fullness out and get a good size crown out of this shape.
First I soaked it in the sink.
Then I figured out how tall I wanted the crown and cut the remaining part of the hat off, leaving about an extra half to three quarters of an inch.

I have a 3 pound coffee can that works great for blocking this shape.  I put the hat on the can and wrapped it tightly with some old bias tape and strips of old sheets--basically anything that the air can permeate.

Once dry, I checked the shape, sprayed some heavy spray starch inside and out and let it dry.

Next I needed a brim.  I found another hat that had a brim I could shape to my liking.

I turned the brim down to check the shape.

I knew that I'd need to shrink out some of the fullness of the brim to get the right shape so I tried this hat on and pinched it in the back to get the amount of fullness I wanted.

I measured this to be 6 inches of brim I needed to remove.  I cut the brim off of the crown, saving the crown for future use as the foundation for a turban.

The fashion plate shows the bonnet brim as being narrower in the back.  First I ripped out the stitching on the edge row of straw which was a double thickness. Then I cut three inches off of each side and reduced the thickness.

I overlapped the  two pieces in the back and machine stitched that seam.  I restitched the edging and cut off a piece which I stitched over the back seam.

Then I put the brim down over the crown, overlapping about a half inch stabbing a few pins to keep it in place.

Since the hat was going to be decorated, I went ahead and machine stitched the two pieces together.

Once again, I sprayed it heavily with starch and steam it.  The top of the crown wasn't completely flat so I sprayed that, turned the bonnet upside down and weighted it down over night to dry.

Here is my finished form.

I analyzed the fashion print and it looks like there is a large ruffle, stitched in the center with one or two more ruffles at the top.  I chose to do two large ruffles stitched in the center just because it seemed quicker.

I determined that the largest one should be 5.5 - 6 inches wide--wide enough to cover a little of the brim and to end about a half inch from the top.  I cut one width of 57" silk taffeta 6.5" wide and another 5.5" wide then I pinked the edges.  I seamed the short ends together on each piece and ran a gathering stitch down the center after marking the piece in 4ths.  I also place pins in the bonnet crown at the quarter points so as to evenly distribute the gathers.

I pulled the gathers on the larger piece and put it on the bonnet tightening the gathers all the way. Once the gathers were evenly distributed, I stabbed some pins in to keep it in place.  

Then I did the same to the narrower piece.

I used doubled silk thread and a large spaced back stitch to secure the ruffles to the bonned, stitching right over the gathering stitches.

I decided to use a lighter yellow ribbon in my stash as trim since the original fashion plate is monochromatic.  I only had 1.5 inch and 2 inch wide yellow ribbon so I folded some 1.5 inch in half and pressed it then placed it over the stitching, securing it in the back.

I was stuck with what to do next.  I experimented with flowers and I didn't like the look of having them stick up in the front like the fashion plate.  I still needed something to cover the stitches in the back.  I ended up using the remainder of the 1.5" ribbon as ties which I sewed to the bonnet right at the seam between the brim and crown.  I ended up making a rosette out of the 2 inch wide ribbon using the shell stitch with 6 petals.   

I can stick some plume under the rosette if I want to fancy it up, but I like it like this for day wear.

Here is what it looks like in action:

Repurposing thrift store hats is fun.  It's amazing how many styles you can duplicate!

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