At the Jane Austen Festival in 2013, I did a workshop on making a bonnet from buckram. I have always wanted to do more millinery but have struggled to know where to start without proper tuition, so this workshop was very exciting for me!
The pattern was of a late Regency bonnet, circa 1817, and was provided as part of the workshop. The basic materials (buckram, wire, and pellon) were also provided. We were set to work handsewing the strips of metal wire to the edges of the buckram.
In millinery, the buckram is cut to the desired shape and the wire is used to hold the buckram in this shape. For this reason it is important to pre-shape the wire to the desired shape before attaching it to the buckram. It is also important to double check that the part of the hat that sits on the head will fit your head!
Once I got home, I sprayed the assembled buckram frame with a spray-on adhesive and stuck the pellon (thin layer of padding) to it. The pellon pieces covered the entire outer sections of the hat, as well as the inside brim area. The inside of the bonnet had no pellon.
Then the fabric was cut out and handstitched to the frame. The fabric was cut out in 6 pieces: the outer top, the inner top, the outer side, the inner side, the outer brim, the inner brim. The fabric I chose for the inner sections was different to the fabric I chose for the outer sections, thereby creating a contrasting lining.
Then I decorated it. The trimmings were all sewn on by hand after the hat was finished. This means that the trimmings can be easily removed and replaced later to create a new look.
The piped band and ribbon flowers were both made by me (the links are below), and I obtained the ostrich feather from my local craft store.
These pictures from Ackermann’s Repository helped provide ideas of how these bonnets were trimmed at this time. I particularly wanted mine to match the Regency spencer I have just finished. Now I have a lovely bonnet-and-spencer ensemble! For my first-ever buckram hat, I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.
I really loved the opportunity to work with buckram because the skills I have acquired give me so much more versatility to my hatmaking. Now I am able to purchase other hat patterns or draft my own to make my own range of hats.
Hats are my cup of tea!
Sources and Relevant Links
Image Source: Regency Era Fashions from Ackermann’s Repository 1817 – by EKDuncan “My Fanciful Muse”
The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, by Ackermann – read various volumes online
How to make a Regency stovepipe bonnet from buckram – Youtube tutorial (The author recommends using millinery wire as I have done, but does not use it in this particular tutorial.)
Covering a Regency stovepipe bonnet – Youtube tutorial (The author shows how to cover a buckram frame. I sewed, rather than glued, mine.)
From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher – this book has many ideas for hat patterns, as well as construction steps and decorating ideas.
Jane Austen Festival, Australia – website