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These are the last two embroideries for my new quilt project, “Jane Austen’s Bonnet” by Brenda Ryan.

This quilt is a wall-hanging, and features 20 diamond patches that are embroidered with various stitcheries on a Regency theme. The embroideries are nicely framed within the patchwork structure of the quilt and the result is very pretty.

These last two embroideries are quotes and are not in the original quilt. These replace some of the flower embroideries that weren’t really my style. After I searched up some quotes, I printed up a design on my computer that could be traced onto the fabric and then embroidered.

A quote

A quote from Jane Austen’s letters to her sister, Cassandra.

This quote is from one of Jane Austen’s letters to her sister, Cassandra.

Next week shall begin my operations on my hat, on which you know my principal hopes of happiness depend.

I thought a hat quote was essential in a Jane Austen’s Bonnet Quilt! The embroidery is done with a backstitch in one strand of DMC embroidery cotton. I should have done two strands, as all of the other quotes have used two strands.

A quote

A quote from “Emma”, by Jane Austen.

The above quote is from Emma, by Jane Austen.

If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing by the truth from me.

Mr Knightley says these words to Emma as he tries to find a way to ask her to be his wife. This embroidery has also been stitched with a backstitch, but using two strands of DMC embroidery cotton. I have also stitched a quick running stitch around the outside of the diamonds to mark the stitching line, which I hope will be useful when I put the quilt together.

Stay tuned for the last post of this series, Part Eleven, where I will be putting the quilt together and finishing it all off! – coming soon.

Related Posts

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – Part One

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

The next two embroideries I had planned to do for my project, the “Jane Austen’s Bonnet” quilt by Brenda Ryan, were ones of Regency men. These embroideries are not included in the original quilt, but I chose to replace four floral arrangements in the quilt that weren’t really my style.

The easiest way to get a suitable picture to embroider seemed to be to find a fashion plate of the era. I particularly wanted pictures that had very little of the face showing, as I find faces quite difficult to embroider. The first picture I found was of my intended “Mr Bingley” portrait.

Costume Paresian, 1809.

“Habit de Drap Vert Melange. Culotte de Peau Blanche.” Costume Parisien, 1809.

Google Translate kindly translated the French for me: “Green coat cloth mix. White leather breeches.”

The next image was for my intended “Mr Darcy” portrait.

Costume Parisien, 1806.

“Habit a Pattes de Redingotte. Culotte blanche de Veloursacotes.” Costume Parisien, 1806.

Google Translate also translated the French for me on this one, although a little more cryptically: “Great coat dress has legs. White pants corduroy.” One day I will learn French, but at least you get the idea.

I used a light box to trace an outline of the images in fine-liner, only copying the detail that I wanted to include. Then I enlarged my fine-liner copy to the size needed for the quilt. The enlarged copy was then traced (again with the aid of a light box) on to the material to be embroidered.

The first one to complete was “Mr Bingley”.

Mr Bingley was good looking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasing countenance, and easy, unaffected manners.

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Mr Bingley, embroidered

Mr Bingley, embroidered, wearing a dark green coat and buckskin breeches.

This embroidery uses backstitch, running stitch, colonial knots, satin stitch and whipped chain stitch.

The second embroidery to complete was “Mr Darcy”.

…Mr Darcy soon drew the attention of the room by his fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien; and the report which was in general circulation within five minutes after his entrance, of his having ten thousand a year.”

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

Mr Darcy, embroidered

Mr Darcy, embroidered, with a dark blue coat and grey breeches.

This embroidery uses backstitch, running stitch, and colonial knots, with some gold beading being used for the buttons. I quite like how they have turned out!

I have also stitched a quick running stitch around the outside of the diamond to mark the stitching line.

The last two embroideries of the quilt will be included in the next post, Part Ten.

Related Posts

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – Part One

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Image Source: Regency man fashion plate, from 1809 – via Pinterest

Image Source: Regency man fashion plate, from 1806 – via Pinterest

I am down to the last few embroideries of my quilt, the “Jane Austen’s Bonnet”, by Brenda Ryan. This quilt is intended to be a wall hanging in my home, and I have chosen a purple and green colour scheme. I have been really enjoying the process of working through small embroideries with the aim of putting them together for a bigger project later.

This post presents the last two stitcheries that I will be doing that are included in the original quilt. They are titled by the author, a “nicely worked reticule” and “The Regency bonnet”.

An embroidered reticule

A lilac reticule in embroidery

This embroidery uses backstitch, running stitch, whipped chain stitch, satin stitch, blanket stitch, and both colonial and french knots. The handle and neck of the reticule are made with ribbon embroidery techniques. The green “cords” have been created with a green chain stitch whipped with gold thread, and beads have been added to create a tasselled look. The wisteria flower decoration is my own creation and is hopelessly out of scale to the reticule, however this quilt represents some of my first attempts at a wider range of embroidered flowers so I suppose I should expect these types of errors!

A frilled bonnet embroidery

A frilled bonnet in embroidery

This embroidery uses backstitch, running stitch, bullion stitch, detached chain stitch, blanket stitch and french knots. The ties for the bonnet have been made with ribbon embroidery. The original design had a few more ties which I have omitted, however the inclusion of the extra ties does make the embroidery sit more centrally on the diamond.

In addition to the embroidery, I have also stitched a quick running stitch around the outside of the diamond to mark the stitching line, which I hope will be useful when I put the quilt together.

The last four embroideries I will feature as part of this series are similar in style to Brenda Ryan’s, but I have sourced and traced myself.

Stay tuned for Part Nine of this series.

Related Posts

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – Part One

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen's Bonnet, by Brenda Ryan.

Jane Austen’s Bonnet, a quilt by Brenda Ryan.

I am just over half way through my current project, the quilt “Jane Austen’s Bonnet”, by Brenda Ryan.

This quilt is a wall-hanging, and features 20 diamond patches that are embroidered with various stitcheries on a Regency theme. The embroideries are nicely framed within the patchwork structure of the quilt and the result is really gorgeous.

I have chosen a purple and green colour scheme, and I am trying to use relatively bold colours so the embroideries stand out.

For my 13th embroidery I did the ladies floral fan.

A floral fan in purple accents

An embroidered floral fan, in purple accents.

This pretty fan is one of my favourites. It is embroidered using backstitch, and running stitch, colonial knots, detached chain stitch and fishbone stitch. It is further embellished with gold-coloured beads and glass beads. The bow and ribbons, as well as some of the flowers, are made using ribbon embroidery.

For embroidery number 14, I did another pretty Regency lady looking a tad windblown! This one reminds me of when the ladies of “Persuasion” went walking along the Cobb at Lyme.

A Regency Lady

An embroidery of a Regency Lady, being blown about by the wind.

This Regency lady was embroidered using backstitch, running stitch, stem stitch, colonial and french knots, and detached chain stitch. It also has ribbon embroidery on the bonnet and corsage, for the ribbon ties and some of the flowers. I am slightly unhappy with the paleness of the flesh colour I have used for the neck and chin, and am considering trying to highlight it with a slightly darker thread. In this picture it does not look so bad though.

I have also stitched a quick running stitch around the outside of the diamond to mark the stitching line, which I hope will be useful when I put the quilt together.

I only have six more embroideries to complete, two of which are Brenda Ryan’s own design. I have decided to add two more Jane Austen quotes to my quilt, and I am trying to draw up two “Mr Darcy’s” to include as well. These four embroideries will be replacing four floral emblems that are included in the original design.

Stay tuned for Part Eight of this series. – coming soon

Related Posts

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – Part One

How to make an American Quilt

My English Paper Piecing Project

Sources and Relevant Links

Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

Jane Austen’s Bonnet – by Brenda Ryan Embroidery Designs

The next part of my latest 18th century ensemble is the closed-front robe a l’anglaise, with en fourreau pleats at the back.

The robe a l’anglaise was fashionable for an extended period of time during the 18th century. Literally, “the English gown”, it was characterised most generally by a fitted bodice, in contrast to the robe a la francaise which had a pleated-and-draped back that flowed free from the shoulders.

During the 18th century, the Anglaise often had a long centre-back panel piece, extending from the shoulder to the floor. This back piece was then formed into a series of sewn-down pleats on the dress bodice (the “en fourreau” back) which were then released to form fullness into the skirt of the gown.

Towards the later half of the 18th century, the gown began to be seen with a closed front bodice, even though the skirt could remain open revealing a matching or contrasting petticoat. The front of the gown could be closed with hook and eyes, or by long pins. The skirts could be trained, or pulled up polonaise-style, or left at the same length as the petticoat.

A robe a l'anglaise with an en fourreau back, c. 1770-1780, from Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

A robe a l’anglaise with an en fourreau back, shown over a quilted petticoat, c. 1770-1780, from Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

Pattern

The pattern I wanted to do for this dress was another of Janet Arnold’s patterns, in Patterns of Fashion 1. It has a closed front bodice, with an open skirt. The back is cut en fourreau, and the skirts are gathered up in a polonaise-style. The gown is shown over a quilted petticoat, whereas mine will be over a matching petticoat.

The pattern is made up of several pieces:

  • Front bodice panel
  • Front bodice lining panel
  • Back (bodice and skirt) panel
  • Back bodice lining panel
  • Sleeves
  • Shoulder band
  • Skirt Front

A few points to note: Janet Arnold’s patterns do not include seam allowances; and I always do a mock up of the bodice over the correct stays before I begin. In this case, I did a mock-up of the lining pieces so I had an accurate idea of how it would fit me and could adjust the pattern accordingly.

This gown is made with a printed cotton fabric and lined with white cotton broadcloth. It is entirely hand sewn.

Construction Steps

Step 1: The first place to start seemed with the en fourreau pleats in the back panel. I happened upon a great article by The Merry Dressmaker (En Fourreau Back – The Lazy Dressmaker’s Version) and decided that this was a great way to do it.

The back lining piece had a curved centre back seam to allow for fullness at the bottom of the bodice for a false rump, so this seam was sewn first. Then I began pleating the back panel, making sure I had the back lining piece to use as a comparison of finished size.

Most of these types of gowns had 3 pleats on each side of the back bodice. The first pleat was generally pleated into the middle of the back, and the second and third pleats were turned to the sides, however there are some instances where they were all pleated in towards the back. They tended to be curved pleats, which accentuated the slimming look of the waistline. It took me quite a few tries to get the pleating to look right.

The en fourreau pleats have been pinned down to the lining. (You can also see in this picture that the front panel has been pinned to the back panel at the sides as well.)

The en fourreau pleats have been pinned down to the lining.  The first pleats are curved and have been drawn into meet at the centre back. The second and third pleats are straight and have been folded in towards the centre back. (You can also see in this picture that the front bodice panel has been pinned to the back panel at the sides as well.)

Then I laid the back bodice lining piece underneath (wrong sides together) and did a running stitch through all layers to secure the pleats. The pleats are secured down to where the skirts begin, and are then released to allow the fullness into the skirt.

Step 2: The front bodice panel was then sewn to the sides of the back panel. I did this by laying the outer-fabric front panel with the outer-fabric back pleated panel, right sides together. The front lining panel was put with the back lining panel, also right sides together. This created a seam with four layers. Then the seam was pinned and sewn through all thicknesses.

The front panels are pinned to the back panels.

The front panel in the outer-fabric can be seen on the left. The front panel in lining fabric can be seen to the right. The seam (in the middle) is sewn through all thickness, which means the seam allowance is pushed towards the side.

This means that, once the front panels are placed together, the raw seam allowance is already hidden within the lining of the garment.

Step 3: The skirt panels were sewn together, front skirts to back skirt-bodice piece. I left a 10-inch gap in the top of the side seams for a pocket slit.

The skirts are then pleated and sewn (right sides together) to the outer fabric. The skirts do not meet in the front, as there is a large opening for the petticoat to be seen.

Interestingly, Janet Arnold comments that the skirts of her gown were sewn to the lining fabric and then the outer fabric was pulled down, the raw edges folded in, and then caught down to the waist seam (on the outside of the garment) with some stitches.

The skirt is pleated and attached to the bodice.

The skirt is pleated and attached to the bodice. You can see the second row of stitches that holds the pleats in position.

Step 4: Once my skirt was sewn on, the bodice lining was pulled down, with raw edges folded under, and stitched down with a slip stitch.

The lining is pinned down ready to sew.

The lining is pinned down ready to sew. You can see the running stitches that secure the en fourreau pleats on the left. On the bottom right, you can see that the skirts stop very short of the centre front.

Step 5: The centre front bodice could be finished by folding the raw edges in and edge stitching. Instead, I folded the outer fabric over the lining and sewed it down with a slip stitch. I then inserted a very thin piece of boning down each side of the centre fronts. Boning in the centre front does not seem to be a common practice, however boning was often inserted in the backs of these bodices. I just thought that a more firm centre front bodice would help me with fastening.

Initially I had wanted the centre front to be fastened edge-to-edge with hooks and eyes, but I changed my mind when I couldn’t get the hooks and eyes to sit properly. I ended up making a bit of overlap on the left centre front piece so that the right edge could be pinned over the top, to match up the stripes more accurately.

The centre front closure, shown closed with two pins.

The centre front closure, shown with right overlapping left, and closed with only two pins. I had used about 6 pins during wear.

Step 6: The sleeves were flat-lined with cotton broadcloth, and the sleeve seams sewn through all thickness. The seam allowances were then folded under and slip stitched down.

The sleeves were then attached to the bodice with a backstitch, ONLY under the arm. For an explanation of how to fit sleeves the 18th century way, American Duchess has done a great tutorial which I found very useful!

There is also a great video on how to pattern sleeves to have greater mobility in garments, particularly in fitted bodices. I found this a great video, as it explains to me why the shape of sleeves look so different in historical garment pattern pieces. I used this technique in this gown, and it greatly increased my arm movement!

Step 7: The sleeve head was then pleated to fit over the shoulder and the shoulder band was stitched on top. Once again, see the American Duchess tutorial for a great explanation of this technique.

The finished sleeve head

The finished sleeve head.

The bottom of the sleeve was hemmed and finished with trim.

Step 8: The back top edge of the bodice in Janet Arnold’s book was finished by turning the raw edges in and edge stitching, however my en fourreau pleats were sewn to the lining and prevented me from doing this. I decided to cover it with a “back-binder” piece, common for gowns of this period. There is a gown in Costume Close-Up (by Linda Baumgarten) that is constructed in this way.

The back-binder piece

The back-binder piece

If you look closely you will see that the back binder piece does not join the shoulder band properly, however by that stage I was happy that it covered the raw edges!

The rest of the raw edges of the bodice (along the neckline and along the front of the waist) were turned in and edge-stitched.

Step 9: Finishing touches! The bottom edge of the gown was hemmed, allowing for a slight train if left down.

The front edges of the gown skirts and the neckline were finished with trim.

The trim around the neckline.

The trim around the neckline.

Four tapes were sewn to the inside of the gown skirts; two on the bottom of the back bodice, and two on the skirts at the back. These can be tied together to create a polonaise effect over the false rump.

The tapes sewn to the inside of the skirts, and tied up to form a polonaise.

The tapes sewn to the inside of the skirts, and tied up to form a polonaise.

Here are some of the finished pictures from the Jane Austen Festival Australia, 2016. This outfit was worn on the Georgian Day of the Festival.

The Front

The front view; I ended up wearing my pockets over the top of the petticoat, but under the gown. This meant that they could be easily reached through the front of the gown, instead of through the pocket slits.

The side view

The side view

The back view. The fichu is a little crooked!

The back view. When the polonaise is down, the skirt trains slightly on the ground. And sorry, but the fichu is annoyingly crooked!

The gown is shown here with my pair of embroidered lawn ruffles, my embroidered muslin fichu and my embroidered pockets (sitting over the petticoat but hiding under the gown). I am very pleased with the outfit overall!

Related Posts

Does My Bum Look Big in This? – Making an 18th Century Rump

Making a Robe a l’Anglaise: Matching Petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold – on Amazon

En Fourreau Back – The Lazy Dressmaker’s Version, by The Merry Dressmaker

Setting 18th Century Sleeves the 18th Century Way – by American Duchess

How to modify sleeves for better arm mobility – video by Threads Magazine

Costume Close-up: Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790, by Linda Baumgarten- on Amazon

Classic Georgian Hairstyle – by Locks of Elegance

A robe a l'anglaise, with a matching petticoat, from MET Museum.

A robe a l’anglaise, with a closed front and a matching petticoat, c. 1785-95, from The MET Museum.

This year I have had a long list of costumes planned to make, but a Robe a l’Anglaise was not one of them. However, I quickly changed my mind when a friend decided to make one and it became convenient and easy to work on the project together!

The robe a l’anglaise was fashionable for an extended period of time during the 18th century. Literally, “the English gown”, it was characterised most generally by a fitted bodice, in contrast to the robe a la francaise which had a pleated-and-draped back that flowed free from the shoulders.

A gown cut en fourreau, from MET Museum.

A robe a l’anglaise, with the back cut en fourreau, c. 1776, from The MET Museum.

The Anglaise saw many different variations through the 18th century: open and closed bodices; long and elbow-length sleeves; worn polonaise style; etc… During this time, the Anglaise often had a long centre-back panel piece, extending from the shoulder to the floor. This back piece was then formed into a series of sewn-down pleats on the dress bodice (the “en fourreau” back) which were then released to form fullness into the skirt of the gown. Towards the end of the gown’s popularity, the bodice was cut separately to the skirts and attached with a waist seam.

Another transition in this gown was with the front. Gowns that had been worn open to reveal a stomacher earlier in the century, began to be worn closed, either pinned or closed with hooks and eyes. The skirts could also be closed in front (called a “round gown”), or be worn open to reveal a matching or contrasting petticoat.

For this particular costume, I decided that I wanted a petticoat to match the gown, and with a pinked flounce. It also needed to have pocket slits so that I could wear my new pockets!

The petticoat

The petticoat, c. 1775-1785, in Patterns of Fashion 1, by Janet Arnold.

Pattern

In looking for a suitable pattern for a petticoat, I went with one in Janet Arnold’s book, Patterns of Fashion 1. It is dated 1775-1785 and is part of a matching petticoat/gown set. It is a very basic skirt pattern, made up of a large rectangle of material (pieced where necessary).

The FINISHED WIDTH of the front panel of my petticoat (not allowing for seam allowances) was 62 inches wide (and then made as long as I needed it for my height). The back panel was exactly the same as the front.

This gown is made of a cotton printed material, and is completely handsewn.

Construction Steps

Step 1: After you have cut out the large rectangles that make up the skirt, sew the side seams together. I had to piece several pieces of material together to get the required width, but I made sure I had two side seams to make allowing for the pocket slits easier. The top 10 inches of the petticoat side seams were left open for the pocket slits. All seams are either on the selvedge or flat-felled.

Step 2: Pleat the top of the front panel onto a waistband. My pleats start from the centre front and go out to the sides. Pleat the back panel in the same manner with a second waistband. Often petticoats of this era could also be attached to a length of twill tape as a waistband.

Step 3: After finishing the waistband, attach ties to the ends of both the back and front waistbands. I made an eyelet through each end of each waistband and then tied a length of cotton tape to it.

The two halves of the waistband, with ties on each end.

The two halves of the waistband (back and front), with ties on each end.

Step 4: Hem the bottom edge of the petticoat. I inserted some cord into the hem to help it stand out better.

The hem, with a length of cord threaded through the hem casing.

The hem, with a length of cord threaded through the hem casing.

Step 5: Using pinking shears, pink the flounce with a scallop at the top and a zigzag at the bottom. Attach the flounce. My flounce is 9 inches deep, and twice the length of the bottom of the petticoat. It is box-pleated to fit the petticoat, and it should only just overhang the hem.

The flounce, box-pleated to fit.

The flounce, box-pleated to fit.

Step 6: Add any trim. My trim is just a piece of plain gimp-like braid with a ribbon threaded through it at intervals.

The trim; a length of gimp-like braid with ribbon threaded through it.

The trim: a length of gimp-like braid with ribbon threaded through it.

The finished pictures!

The front, shown over my hip roll.

The front, shown over my hip roll. The front half is tied around the waist first, and the back half is tied around the waist second.

The side view. Because the petticoat is not shown with my stays, you can see the pocket slits in the side.

The side view. As the petticoat is not shown with my stays, you can see that it doesn’t quite fit the dummy. There is normally a bit of an overlap between the front half and the back half. The pocket slits can be seen in the side.

I was quite pleased with the end result, though I do think I need another plain petticoat underneath (over the hip roll) to help with the skirt’s body.

Look out for the next post in this series, the closed-front gown to match. – coming soon!

Related Posts

Does my Bum Look Big In This? – Making an 18th Century Rump

An 18th Century Robe a l’anglaise – a very early and non-historical attempt!

How Heavy is Too Heavy for a Dress? – about a quilted petticoat

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Robe a l’Anglaise, c. 1785-95, from The MET Museum

Image Source: Robe a l’Anglaise, c. 1776, from The MET Museum

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwomen’s dresses and their construction, c. 1660-1860, by Janet Arnold – on Amazon

A sailor's tarred hat

A sailor’s tarred hat, made of leather with a gold and black striped ribbon streamer.

The last thing to make my little midshipman uniform complete was some sort of hat. I had planned on making a bicorn hat but, whilst I was waiting for the millinery supplies to arrive, I decided to make a sailor’s tarred hat for “undress” or casual/work attire. Many sailors wore these hats for dressing up smartly, but a midshipman would wear an officers bicorn for dress occasions.

Sailors of His Majesty’s Navy wore a variety of headwear to protect them from the cold, the sun, and the rain. The sailor’s tarred hat was generally made of leather and was coated with black tar to make it waterproof.

It was trimmed with black and gold ribbon, the ends trimmed with gold fringe, and the ribbon was often embroidered with the name of the ship that the sailor belonged to.

Pattern

After looking at few pictures and extant items online, I referred to the patterns in one of my books called From the Neck Up, by Denise Dreher. This book has a pattern for a sailor’s boater hat, which gave me a basic pattern to work from. The pattern was adjusted a little to fit a child.

My hat was made from the following materials: cardboard (the sort used for dress slopers and hat mock-ups), PVA glue, tissue paper, florist wire, gesso, acrylic paint, spray lacquer and ribbon.

Construction Steps

Step One: Cut out the cardboard, adding “seam allowances” or extra bits for joining the pieces. The tip is a circle shape, but it is actually slightly oval to match the actual shape of the head. “Seam allowances” are added around the outside of this piece. The side band is a long rectangle, and “seam allowances” are added to the short ends of this piece (about an inch). The brim is a circle shape with a circle cut out of it, but is once again slightly oval to match the shape of the head and tip. This means it is important to distinguish the front/back of your pieces so that they go together correctly. “Seam allowances” for the brim are added to the inside of the circle.

The pieces cut out. Extra is added around the tip circle, at the end of the crown rectangle, and on the inside of the brim circle.

The pieces cut out. Extra is added around the tip circle, at the end of the side-band rectangle, and on the inside of the brim circle.

Step Two: Glue the pieces together with PVA glue. I started with gluing the tip (circle) to the side band (rectangle). The “seam” edges should be snipped, folded in and then glued to the inside of the hat. You can glue the side-band piece together at the “seam” at this stage as well.

The tip of the hat is glued to the crown.

The tip of the hat is glued to the side band.

In order to increase the stability of the cardboard hat, I glued some tissue paper over the top of the “seam” edges. This meant that the “seams” would be held from both sides.

Step Three: I glued the brim onto the side band next, with the “seam” edges snipped and glued to the inside of the hat. I added tissue paper on the inside of the hat again to strengthen the seam.

At this stage I noticed that cardboard doesn’t always behave very well with PVA glue, as it absorbs the moisture and can go a bit wrinkly. At this stage I decided to bend some paper-covered florist wire into the shape of the brim’s outer edge and glue it on. I covered the florist wire with more tissue paper. This helped the edge of the hat brim be a bit more sturdy.

Step Four: I painted the hat all over with gesso.

The hat is painted with gesso.

The hat is painted with gesso. You can also see the tissue paper around the brim’s outer edge where I have attached the florist wire.

Step Five: I painted the hat all over with black acrylic paint (two coats). Once this was dry, I sprayed two coats of clear gloss polyurethane over the hat.

I imagine that you may be able to purchase a black gloss paint in a spray can, which might neatly combine this step! The polyurethane does give the hat a little bit of protection from moisture during use. The last thing I wanted was a sweaty forehead with a black line smeared across it!

Step Six: Then I attached some ribbon around the hat. I could only find gold and white striped ribbon, so I hand sewed some thin black ribbon onto the white parts to more closely resemble the traditional ribbon of this era. I sewed a little bit of gold fringe to the end of the ribbon to complete the “streamers”. Remember to fray-stop or melt the ends of your ribbon!

The ribbon was attached with some double-sided craft tape. I did add a little bit of black elastic to the underside, as the hat wasn’t deep enough to sit properly on my son’s head, so it was a bit more practical to have something to hold it on.

The finished hat!

The finished hat! It does have a few anomalies in the way it sits, but I figure a seaman’s hat would surely have looked a bit beaten out-of-shape after a while.

My son really wanted me to embroider the name of a ship onto the front of the ribbon, however we were running a little short of time. I am also pleased to announce that the hat survived its first whole weekend of wear, which I was initially concerned about! It’s not completely accurate, but it worked well for what we needed it for.

The outfit worn at the recent Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, Australia.

The outfit worn at the recent Jane Austen Festival in Canberra, Australia.

I would love to add to this midshipman’s costume by making a bicorn hat, for dress occasions. – coming soon!

Related Posts

The Making of a Midshipman – the first post in a series.

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: Royal Navy Uniforms: Sailor’s Shore Going Rig – by The Dear Surprise

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher

Making an 18th Century Tarred Sailors Hat, by Jas. Townsend & Son – Youtube video tutorial

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