Why are Bonnets so Much?

[I wrote this around this time last year. It was just requested on a FB group. You may also be interested this chart “The Cost of Authenticity” from 2010.]

This is a question that comes up fairly regularly. Bonnets are expensive.wpid-2014-05-24-20.18.40.jpg This is because they require multiple materials and require time to make them. ???????????????????????????????

To give you an idea, here are the materials that go into finished drawn bonnets and straw bonnets along with the price ranges for each item:

Straw Bonnets

  • Straw plait ($20-$55 a skein depending on origin, plait and color)
  • Millinery wire ($20/coil)
  • Lining ($10-$15/yard)
  • Facing ($10-$20/yard)
  • Organza, net or lace for frill ($10-$30/yard)
  • Bavolet net ($32/yard)
  • Silk or Ribbon for Bavolet ($5/length to $30/length)
  • Ribbon for functional ties ($2.80)
  • Fashionable Ribbon ($4-$30/yard)
  • Flowers ($10-$40)
  • thread, sizing, etc

Drawn Bonnets

  • Buckram ($4-$12/yard)
  • Millinery Wire ($20/coil)
  • Cane ($15 coil)
  • Silk exterior fabric ($10-$30 yard)
  • Lining ($10-$15/yard)
  • Facing ($10-$20/yard)
  • Organza, net or lace for frill ($10-$30/yard)
  • Bavolet net ($32/yard)
  • Ribbon for functional ties ($2.80)
  • Fashionable Ribbon ($4-$30/yard)
  • Flowers ($10-$40)
  • thread, sizing, etc

To hand sew a straw form from straw plait, it takes between 6 and 10 hours depending on the type of plait and the shape of the bonnet or hat. Finishing and decorating varies.

Published in: on May 29, 2015 at 7:00 pm  Comments (2)  

The Pin Fair

I can’t quite pinpoint why I found this article from the 1867 The Lyceum Banner, (Chicago), but I did.

Pin Fair

The enterprises of boys are never recorded, no matter how much energy, talent and taste they display. It gives me great pleasure to be able through these columns, to describe to other boys and girls, an enterprise on which I know there was a great deal of energy shown, but of the taste and talent, I will leave others to judge.

I had just attended the Rock Island Fair, and having examined the grounds, buildings, articles entered, and race-track, and inquired how it was conducted, I proposed to open a Pin Fair on an empty lot near my home. Johnnie Gow, brother Roddie and myself constituted ourselves a stock company, and agreed to plan, execute and control the fair without the assistance of the grown folks. We spread tables in the open air for display of articles, built an amphitheater of raised seats under some trees, and made a race-track in a circle, Oscar Dow as Marshal. Cousin Carrie printed some handbills, and the following saw the price of entry and the premiums awarded:


We only sold tickets to children in our neighborhood, because we were afraid we could not control a large crowd, without assistance of the grown folks. The day was pleasant. The tables were covered with beautiful articles tastefully displayed and interspersed with splendid bouquets and wreaths. The most noticable among the premiums awarded to Nettie Guyre, for best embroidery and prettiest doll; to Lizzie Whitman, for best bead basket, best charm; to Charlie Riggs, for best collection of geological specimens, best original drawing, best puzzle, largest bunch of grapes and larges apples; to Lucy Harper, for prettiest toy lamb; to Jennie Gow, for best collection of sea shells and prettiest toy dog; to Minnie Hakes, for prettiest paper doll; to Cornelius Smith, for the best worsted knitting; to Mary Gale, for best bouquet; to Lucy Gow, best pin cushion, best crochet work; to Roddie Riggs, best collection of river shells, largest pear, largest toy chicken; to Clara Whitman, largest glass marble; to Minnie Gow, prettiest bead ring, largest doll, prettiest pen-wiper; to Carrie Conant, largest collection of carnelians; to Harry Carter, best crab apples.

[paragraph on racing]

Our receipts were 187 pins. We spent a very happy day in the open air, increased our love of the beautiful, gave an impetus to our industry, and I hope improved our health and by social intercourse, our good manners. Next year, if we get larger grounds and if the grown folks will control it, we can open it to the public, and get up a big Pin Fair. Charlie.

Published in: on May 28, 2015 at 8:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

A New Style Hat

wpid-2015-05-26-10.58.40-1.jpg.jpegFor lack of a true name, I am going to call these “flatties.” Cheesy, huh? The nickname sorta reflects my initial skeptical thoughts about these hats. Don’t worry, as soon as I figure out what the original cast called them, I’ll use that.

These hats have a very low, rounded crown that subtly transitions into a convex brim. They appear almost flat compared to other hats of the 19th century. The montage to the right shows some examples. The lower right one appears to have a brim that falls evenly all around. The one above it, with the green ribbon, seems to be the flattest of the bunch with a brim curve dropping front and back. The same drop appears in the upper left hat. The one with the daisies has a neatly upturned brim, letting us see the brim lining.

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I’ll have the Etsy listing as soon as I get home tonight. (My phone is being cranky. I don’t know if it is the reception in the car or the site.)

One oops. I made my version without the images next to me. I usually have working images on my phone. But, my phone died. I made the hat with the oval tip center like the other fashion hats of the mid-century, rather than the small circular center each of these has. Errr.

Published in: on May 28, 2015 at 6:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Reading Homework – Perfection and Myth

Some weeks back a blog article found its way on to my feed from a blog I was unfamiliar with. “Social Media and the Myth of Perfection” is not the common “look at this pretty” blog post. Instead, it takes an honest look at all the realities of life behind the costuming and writing.

My blog is by far not the prettiest, filled with fabulous photos and shiney awesomeness. Yet, I do have a bit of a regular readership. (a huge thank you to all of you.) Despite being an infamous Facebook whiner, I don’t always share the raw details in my blog posts. This week, this could include how I’ve had to glue parts of my fingers together because of the straw cuts or the avalanche that took place in the sewing room while trying to balance the phone on my shoulder and numerous garments in my hands. I’m not going to share photos of just befores, just afters or whiles, because I simply can’t even match the events up in my head anymore. In the time I’ve written this blog I have lost my father and grandparents, been homeless, dealt with family and personal medical problems and had heart-aches I’m just not ready to share.

I think these follow-up posts are also worth the read:

Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?” – The Myth of Perfection by American Duchess

The Myth of Perfection by A Damsel in This Dress

Published in: on May 27, 2015 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Pinwheels and Their Friends

Opps. Sorry, I pressed the wrong button.

Published in: on May 26, 2015 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

One More for This Weekend

This second bonnet of the weekend was finished just before midnight last night. It was actually still damp when I took the photos this morning.

It is one of the highest brimmed Civil War era bonnets I have done. The brim has a slight flare and spoon shape.

IMG_6486 IMG_6487 IMG_6490 IMG_6495 IMG_6502 IMG_6506 IMG_6516 IMG_6517

Published in: on May 25, 2015 at 1:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Straw Hat

I spent the whole day inside relaxing and sewing yesterday. Shortly after noon, I realized if I pushed myself and made use of the fan, I might actually be able to finish a hat in one day. I did. I think I started sewing around 10am. By 10pm it was drying.

I wanted to make sure this hat would be good for a veil. So, I made the brim wide enough all the way around to allow a veil to drape nicely off of it around the face. The crown is shallow and shaped to make the curves of the brim. It is shallowest at the sides, while being a little deeper in the front than it is in the back.

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Published in: on May 24, 2015 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  

New Marie Stuart Bonnet(s)

It isn’t very often I make Marie Stuart straw forms. But, this week, I made 2. One already had a home before it was started. The other has found it’s way to Etsy. Before I dive into the photos, take a moment to check out my previous post: Marie Stuart Bonnets Part 1 and Marie Stuart Bonnets Part 2.

Here is the pair together. The one on the right hugs the face a little more than the on one the left. (Hopefully, I’ll be able to share more of that one soon.)IMG_6394

Here is the one that is available. It has a higher and wider brim. It will be able to have decoration on the top, in the dip as well as in the sides. The top of the crown, behind the dip is flatter, almost squared to provide a good platform for flowers and ribbon.

IMG_6435 IMG_6434  IMG_6437 IMG_6430IMG_6443 IMG_6447

Please, check out this bonnet on Etsy. (SOLD, Thank you!)

Published in: on May 22, 2015 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Show Your Millinery” Give-Away Entries

wpid-2015-05-09-11.13.11-1.jpg.jpegThank you to each of the ladies who took the time to enter my “Show Your Millinery” Give-Away.

I suspect I made this give-away a little too complicated because I only had a few entries. But, I have to say, each of the entrants are look absolutely lovely in their millinery.

Now, what you have all been waiting for….. The winner of the “Show Your Millinery” Give-Away and the recipient of the Genesee Country Village & Museum‘s first Centuries of Fashion Cards is…..


Give-Away Entrants:


Darline did a lovely job finishing her black straw form. “I love how this bonnet fits.”

Erin did a beautiful job decorating her 1880s straw form. (Check out her blog and amazing dress by clicking on the photo.)


Darline also has one of my favorite drawn bonnets, this green and white mini-check. Here is the side view.


Darline also has one of my favorite drawn bonnets, this green and white mini-check. Aren’t the colors perfect for her?

Inspire Me! Entrants:

:( I actually didn’t get any “Inspire Me!” entries.

Published in: on May 22, 2015 at 8:00 pm  Comments (1)  

Hats of Mine

I realized something today. I had a few people asking if I make hats for adults as well as children. I do. Of course I do. Oh, but they sell so fast, few people ever see the listings. Ooops

Here are some of the hats I’ve made. (These are just the photos I have on hand right now. I’ll add more asap.)

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Published in: on May 21, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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