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Some of you are aware of my love of adventure, sewing, history, and historical fashion–but for those of you who aren’t, this is a prime time for an introduction! :-)

I have been busy lately. The above 1860’s contraptions are just one reason among many…

Though not truly “authentic” (and, truth be told, a bit flimsy), these bonnets were fun to make and allowed my creativity to stir to a degree it hasn’t been allowed to for a while. These are “dress-up” bonnets that probably won’t see a lot of use, but were fairly necessary for a couple of events we somehow ended up being invited to here recently…so I realized I was going to have to try my hand at millinery–which was as yet uncharted seas in my experience.

Stuff and Research…

Here you can see only a little bit of the messy beginnings of the way a seamstress’s mind works–out of apparent chaos, we bring order. Taming diversity to compose a unity. Is this not a great deal of what we call “creativity”?

I did NOT want to spend much money on this project, particularly since I had already spent more than I had wanted to on the fabric for my dress…. So, I had a floppy straw hat and a couple of very stiff straw placemats to work with for my base materials. We went scrounging in some of our accumulated stuff, ending up with a couple of remnants in colors that complemented our outfits and a pile of laces and ribbons to choose from. I also thought that some of that tangled mess of old electric fencing wire would be just the thing to hold the shape of the brims…and I would certainly use the dullest pair of scissors on the straw…and perhaps my fingers wouldn’t bleed from all the rough edges and stiff handwork…..

Meantime, I had been researching bonnet shapes, fabrics, styles, years, patterns, and trimmings in photographs and various other means provided by the internet…. I settled on making my sister’s bonnet round and mine oval, in order to best accentuate our individual faces. Therefore, I used the hat for hers and the placemats for mine.

How…

By far, mine was the more difficult one. Duck tape was the only way I was able to hold the stiff straw into shape. I confess I did not use the tape measure but once during the entire project of making both bonnets–everything was gauged by hand, eye, pins, and a stinky red permanent marker.

Note the electric fence wire held to the corners with masking tape and the reused ribbon band from inside the hat to bind the raw edges….

The lining there at the neck was the only thing I actually took a measurement for…

Fit and trims were tested multiple times…

Additionally, the upholstery-weight cotton velvet I was using had a stain right down the center (which is negligible in this photo, but there, nonetheless)…

So I had to figure out some sort of adornment to cover that up, even though I liked the pleated back…

I call these my “couture bonnets” since they were entirely handsewn and individually fitted…

The Finished Effect…

So…the sisters were dressed!

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