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Costumes Parisiens, from Les Modes Dames (1817)

Costumes Parisiens, from Journal des Dames et des Modes (1817)

Historically, hats have always been trimmed in a variety of different ways. Flowers and feathers were very common trimmings, but artificial fruits, ribbon, lace and different types of fabric also were frequently used.

It is always a puzzle to me to figure out exactly how different trimmings were made, and my task this week was to come up with something for a bonnet that I am finishing.

I decided that a ribbon flower was what was needed and my inspiration was a fashion plate printed in 1817 in Journal des Dames et des Modes. I liked the look of the several flowery-looking (or maybe bow-looking) things in this picture, which are additionally adorned with feathers. Here are my efforts!

Step One: Take the ribbon and fold it to make the first petal. Here I have used two contrasting layers of ribbon that have been laid on top of each other. Gather the petal at the base.

Gather the first "petal".

The first “petal” gathered

Step Two: The second petal can be done in the same way, leaving about an inch of space between them.

The second petal

The second petal

Step Three: Keep going in the same way until you have the number of petals you want. I wanted a flower with four petals.

The four petals completed

The four petals completed

Step Four: Arrange the petals in the way they will sit and tack them in place in the centre of the “flower”.

The petals are tacked in place through the middle of the flower.

The petals are tacked in place through the middle of the flower.

Step Five: Turning to the back of the flower, pinch together the top layer of two adjoining petals and do a small stitch to hold them together.

Tacking the top layer of the petals together

Tacking the top layer of the petals together

This will have the effect of the petals sitting closely together and being more puffy and round.

The resulting "flower"

The resulting “flower”

Step Six: For the centre of the flower, a covered button will work wonderfully. Unfortunately the centre of my flower was too large for a button to work well, so I made a “yo-yo” by cutting a circle of material and gathering the edge. The diameter of the circle should be double the diameter of the finished centre.

The circle, gathered at the edge

The circle, gathered around the edge

Step Seven: Pull the threads to bunch up the material.

The little "puff"

The little “puff”

Step Eight: Tack the centre piece to the flower, making the stitches as invisible as possible.

The finished flower!

The finished flower!

The finished flower can now be attached to a hat.

Hopefully this bonnet will be featured in my next post, once I finish trimming it!

Related Posts

How to use Ribbon to make Decorative Trims

How to make a piped band

Sources and Relevant Links

Image Source: The Costumer’s Manifesto

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher – a great book on hatmaking and trimming

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My Christmas Present!

I thought I would show you one of my Christmas presents!

A teacup pin cushion! Perfect for a sew-er who likes pretty china!

It is my cup of tea!

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A Chocolate Teacup!

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Here are a few different types of ribbon trims that can be used to decorate period hats or costumes.

Plaiting Ribbons

Start with 3 lengths of ribbon about 1cm wide. Pin the three pieces together at one end, as shown in the picture below. (I used sticky tape initially, but it created problems when I ironed the folds of the ribbon!)

Plaiting Ribbon - Step One

Fold the ribbon to form a plait.

Plaiting Ribbon - Step Two

I used an iron to flatten the ribbon and stop it slipping. I then did some small stitches at the junctions of the three ribbons to hold it in place better.

Plaiting Ribbon - Step Three

The resulting length of plaited decorative ribbon can be used just like a normal ribbon to decorate any of your particular projects. Simple, but I think it looks great!

Ribbon Rosette

Use some thick ribbon and sew a loop in one end of the ribbon. My loop lengths were 3cm.

Step One - Sew a loop

Sew a second loop close to the first, leaving some space between the loops. Do not cut the ribbon.

Step Two - Sew a second loop

Continue to sew loops in the same manner. I had 12 loops for my rosette.

Step Three - Lots of loops

Repeat the above steps in a matching or contrasting colour to make an inner layer. For this one, I again made 12 loops but made the loop lengths a bit shorter, at 2cm.

Step Four - The same in a contrasting colour

Hand sew the first layer of the rosette to a patch of buckram or stiff interfacing, arranging the loops around in a circle as you go.

Step Five - Arrange loops and sew in place

Hand sew the second layer of the rosette in a similar way.

Step Six - Sew the second layer

For the middle, gather one side of a piece of ribbon and pull the threads to form a tight circle.

Step Seven - One edge of ribbon gathered to form a circle

Hand sew it to the middle of the circle to cover the exposed buckram, making sure your stitches are small and close to invisible.

Ribbon Rosette - finished!

Ribbon Flowers

Using some thin ribbon (2mm wide), wind it around a rectangular piece of paper. The width of the paper will be the length of the petals. You can wind another length of ribbon of a contrasting colour  over the top for a two-toned effect, if you desire.

Step One - Wind ribbon around a piece of rectangular paper

Lay another length of the same or contrasting ribbon along one edge and sew through all thicknesses.

Step Two - Sew a piece of ribbon along one edge

Then rip the paper out from underneath. This will be a bit fiddly, and you will leave some paper behind.

Step Three - Rip the paper out

Pull the ribbon rings around in a circle and hand sew to a piece of buckram or stiff interfacing.

Step Four - Hand sew to a stiff backing

Sew a button to the middle of the flower to hide the exposed centre. You may also need to trim the stiff backing so it is not visible from the front.

Step Five - Sew a button to the middle

This is a two-toned flower that I made for a bonnet recently. Here I have used a covered button for the centre instead, so it matches the bonnet material.

Two-toned Ribbon Flower on a Poke Bonnet

Related Posts

How to make a Regency Poke Bonnet in Ten Steps

Sources and Relevant Links

From the Neck Up: An Illustrated Guide to Hatmaking, by Denise Dreher – I discovered these trims in this book.

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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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