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Posts Tagged ‘Bonnet making’

Parisian bonnets from Ackermann's Repository (1817)

“Parisian Head Dresses” from Ackermann’s Repository (1817)

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!

The buckram top and brim, partially assembled

The buckram crown and brim, partially assembled. This is as far as I got in the class.

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.

The buckram frame fully assembled with the pellon adhered

The buckram frame fully assembled with the pellon adhered

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.

The bonnet with the fabric handsewn on

The bonnet with the fabric handsewn on

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.

All finished!

All finished!

"Parisian Bonnets" from Ackermann's Repository (1817)

“Parisian Bonnets” from Ackermann’s Repository (1817)

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!

Related Posts

How to make a piped band

Making Ribbon Flowers

How to make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Making a Regency Spencer

Jane Austen Festival – Australia, 2013

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

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The poke bonnet was fashionable at the beginning of the 19th century, and consisted of a small crown and wide brim to shade the face. From 1830 through to the 1840s, the shape of the brim became more tubular in shape and increased in size until the wearers face was only visible from directly in front.

A French satire print on the poke bonnet in the 1810's; "Les Invisibles en Tete-a-Tete". The bonnets were called "invisibles" in France because the face of the wearer was virtually concealed except from the front.

The Gentleman’s Magazine proposed (tongue-in-cheek) the formation of a Female Convocation or Parliament in order “to regulate dress in all its changes and varieties” (1807). The author drew several comparisons between the all-male Parliament and its female counterpart, with particular mention of the poke-bonnet.

Men may act very perversely in questions of peace or war, but there would be little room for animosity in discussing the height of a turban, or the colour of a shawl; men may be warm on extending the militia, or increasing the army, but there would be more liberality in puckering a handkerchief, or gathering up a petticoat; in enacting a poke-bonnet, or proposing an amendment in the straw-hat bill; I have no doubt, indeed, that all the members would be so duly impressed with a sense of the importance of their office, as to discuss with most becoming temper, the dimensions of the square bust, the curvature of ringlets, the necessity of indispensibles, the side over which the veil is to fall, and the manner in which the dress should be broached on the shoulder, with every other circumstance of equal importance to captivate and conquer.

The Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 100, January, 1807.

My Poke Bonnet

The materials you will need are: 

  • A straw hat (from a craft shop or second-hand shop)
  • Material for the crown
  • Material for the lining (chiffon, fine netting, silk or lace)
  • Ribbon or bias binding, to bind the edges of the hat
  • A small amount of cheap, thin craft ribbon
  • Ribbon, lace, or feathers, to trim or decorate bonnet
  • Thread, scissors, needle, pins, safety pin, sewing machine.

Step One

Begin by bending the straw hat in half to decide on the shape you want for your bonnet, and then cut the hat in half. My straw hat was quite small, only 25 cms in diameter.

Step Two

Bind the edges of the hat with bias binding or ribbon, using a needle and thread.

Step Three

Gather the lining material about 1cm from the selvedge edge. I used a thin voile, similar to chiffon, with a selvedge edge that was 1 metre long. Measure the width of the brim, from the brim edge to the base of the crown, and do a second line of gathering stitch that same distance from your first line of gathering stitch. You can see from the photo below that my two lines of gathering are approximately the width of the brim.

Step Four

Hand stitch the first line of gathering stitch to the binding on the inner edge of the brim, using a simple running stitch.

The second line of gathering stitching should rest along the base of the crown of the hat. Pull the gathering threads tighter to fit. You can attach this line of gathering to the base of the crown with a hot glue gun or some hand stitches, but I left it loose.

Step Five

The lining will now have a lot of fullness inside the hat. Trim it level with the bottom edge of the straw hat, and then bind the raw edge by hand sewing another piece of bias binding or ribbon along it to prevent fraying.

Step Six

For the crown of the hat, fold your piece of material (mine measured 45 cms x 60cms) lengthwise to form a rectangle. If you would like a more gathered crown, make your rectangle longer; alternatively, make it shorter if you would like an ungathered crown. In order to have a decently gathered crown, the length of your folded rectangle would need to be at least 2 times the circumference of the base of the crown of the hat.

Sew the short ends of the rectangle together to form a tube, leaving a small section (0.5 cms) unstitched closest to the folded edge. This will enable it to be gathered with ribbon in the next step.

Step Seven

Using a safety pin, thread a thin piece of craft ribbon inside the folded edges of the seam, so it comes out the other side. (It’s kind of like threading elastic in a waistband, except there is no casing for the ribbon. Not having a casing enables you to tightly close the crown.)

Then you can pull it tight and knot it so it forms the top of the bonnet.

Step Eight

If your crown is very loose on the straw hat, it will need to be gathered to fit. In order to hide the raw edge, you can either turn it under and sew it (as I did), or bind the edges with bias binding, ribbon or a long strip of fabric.

Step Nine

Sew two lines of gathering stitches and adjust the gathers to fit the base of the crown.

Pull it down over the base of the brim (where the nape of the neck would be) so it holds the hat in a bonnet shape. (Try it on at this stage, just to make sure it will fit your head!) Then, using a basic running stitch to attach the crown, hand sew through all layers.

Step Ten

Decorate the bonnet with ribbon, lace, feathers or other trims as you wish.

I used a craft straw hat that was 25 cms in diameter (designed for a doll, I imagine), so it was not large enough for me! The Intended Recipient, my youngest daughter, was duly impressed!

A poke bonnet, with pleated green taffeta

Tips:

  • Buy a thimble!! I bled all over my bonnet several times!
  • Use a foam head, as it will help you decide how best to shape your bonnet.
  • Melt the ends of any ribbon with a match or cigarette lighter, which will stop them fraying everywhere. (Don’t set your bonnet alight though!)
  • The more “invisible” your hand stitching, the better the result.
  • Have fun creating!

    Bonnet detail, with a ribbon flower

I made these bonnets by following a tutorial given by The Oregon Regency Society. The author also gives alternative ways to construct a bonnet for those who are not sewers, and has another tutorial on making a Regency stovepipe bonnet.

I love historical fashions! They are my cup of tea!

Related Posts

How to use Ribbon to make Decorative Trim

An 18th Century Reproduction of a Sacque-back dress

Dress-ups for a Baby

Sources and Relevant Links

How to make a Regency Poke Bonnet, by The Oregon Regency Society

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, By Denise Dreher – This is a great book on the different techniques required for successful millinery, and also includes a basic pattern guide to the various fashions in hats through history.

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