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  

Avoiding Millinery Mishaps

There were a few questions that came up when I asked for questions for the milliner that had to do with what not to do. I generally prefer to approach things from the positive. But then I saw this post “The Most Common Mistakes in Historical Costuming/Re-enactment- and how to avoid them“, which was written quite well and from a very helpful standpoint. So, I’m sorta stealing her format to look at the mishaps and mistakes that can happen with millinery.

The wrong shape or size for your face.

Perplexing 2This is a point of narrow margin. I believe women in the era followed fashion trends but also paid attention to what looked good on them. Not every bonnet suits, nor flatters every face shape. I hate seeing a perfectly lovely woman who looks like her head is squeezed into a bonnet that scrunches around her face or a woman who appears to have a teeny head floating in the midst of an enormous bonnet. I just want to hug them and give them something that will flatter them and bring their best features. (really, seriously, if I could I would.) Take a look at these two women to the right. Their image were taken at roughly the same time with similar, possibly the same attire. Each woman has a slightly different face shape and has subtle difference to their bonnets. The woman on the left has a squarer jaw line than the woman in the right who has a nearly oval face. One of the biggest mishaps I see for those with a squarer jaw line is to have a bonnet that hugs the sides of the face causing it to look squished or trapped. The bonnet on the left shows the periord way of avoiding this – The sides pull back further just above the ear allowing for the side of the bonnet through the cheektab to curve and angle forward. On the right, the sides of the bonnet are more ovular mimicking the oval shape of her face. The left softens the squareness of the jawline while the right mimics the soft curve.

A great hat/bonnet in the wrong era.

While there are some pieces of millinery from one era that are very similar to that of another era, pieces that distinctly belong in another time period stand out when they are misplaced. I do understand how it can be so tempting to pick up a beautiful Georgian piece and wear it to a Victorian event, it simply does not work 98% of the time.

secondI do happen to be more flexible about dressing out of fashion than many others. I actually don’t have a problem with dressing as much as a decade back if the character and situation so calls for it. Robert Dowling’s Breakfasting Out really emphasizes this for us. The artist depicts women in head wear that spans easily ten years, possibly fifteen years, in a single public scene.

Wearing the wrong millinery for your social class or situation.

We tend to talk about bonnets in two categories: fashion and sun, which may accidentally cause us to compartmentalize fashion into an upper class garment and sun into a lower class garment. This is not the case. What we often call ‘fashion’ bonnets, those structurally made of wire & buckram/willow/net or those of straw, spanned up and down social strata. (We really need to figure out what they would have called their bonnets.) The same span also existed for sun bonnets.

Clunky materials.

There is something about clunky materials that stand out even more than synthetic materials to me. Now, I’m not approving of a poly-taffeta for your bonnet either. I’m saying clunky cotton or poly cotton laces scream at me, as do thickly spun or loosely woven silks. These are not the materials of the vast majority of 19th century millinery. Fabrics, laces and net were fine and light. Even the bonnets that were made from velvets or corded materials were still made with versions often lighter than those we commonly see today.

Trims that will bleed.

To great dismay, and often tears, ladies have found that some beautiful flowers or feathers are not color-fast. While most of us fear the rain when we have a pricey bonnet on, it is at times the slightest sprinkle or even heavy humidity that can cause the dye to run.  The biggest culprits are brightly dyed feathers and paper flowers.

Bad advice.

I sorta feel like a jerk as a blog writer saying “don’t listen to that blog writer”. But, I am. There are several quick and cheap millinery advice posts out there. I plead with you – Do not follow them!

Do not make a bonnet out of a cereal box. Do not use duct tape on a bonnet. Do not use quilters templates nor plastic cross-stitch canvas to make a bonnet. Some of these may be okay for a Halloween costume or middle-school play. They are not correct for a historical site, nor are they healthy when you consider how much heat some of these materials can trap against your head.

Published in: on May 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bonnet Stays

This is the long, long, long since requested post on bonnet stays.

What is a bonnet stay? A bonnet stay is a band inside the mid-nineteenth century bonnet that helps hold the bonnet on the wearer’s head. In the nineteenth century, bonnet stays were also called “cross-bands”, “bandeau” or “traverse” (though these words could also mean other things.)

“A cross-band of black velvet that lies on the hair is trimmed on the right hand side with a group of rose-buds.” (Peterson’s Magazine, 1855)

A row of black lace covers the cross-band and forms a fanchon” (Peterson’s Magazine, 1864)

What were bonnet stays made from? Stays we have been able to identify have been made out of velvet ribbon, velvet fabric, cording and wire. This yellow trimmed horsehair &/or straw bonnet shows a wrapped wire stay. In the one image, you can get an idea of how the stay holds the bonnet on the head. The stay connects to both sides of the interior of the bonnet. Is sits on the head as a headband would, crossing over the head from ear to ear, actually above the ear.

From the Timely Tresses Collection featured in Fashionable Bonnets for the Introduction of the Ambrotype in 1854 through the end of the Civil War in 1865.

“From the Timely Tresses Collection featured in Fashionable Bonnets for the Introduction of the Ambrotype in 1854 through the end of the Civil War in 1865.

From the Timely Tresses Collection - Fanchon bonnet with covered cross-band. Notice the stitches used to attach the band that are visible on the left.

From the Timely Tresses Collection – Fanchon bonnet with covered cross-band. Notice the stitches used to attach the band that are visible on the left.

Dannielle Perry bonnet for stays post 3

From the Timely Tresses Collection – An early 1860s bonnet with a cross-band.

Dannielle Perry bonnet for stays post 2

From the Timely Tresses Collection – An Empire bonnet with a velvet stay/cross-band behind the cap/frill.

How do I make a bonnet stay?

This is a bonnet I had to very quickly make overnight from what straw I could find. The shape is very loose and flat. This stay holds it on rather well.

This is a bonnet I had to very quickly make overnight from what straw I could find. The shape is very loose and flat. This stay holds it on rather well.

To add a stay to your bonnet, you will need velvet ribbon. I suggest purchasing half a yard, a half to three-quarters of an inch wide in a shade that will blend in well with your hair color or bonnet.

Hold the ribbon on your head with the velvet side down against your hair, running from ear to ear so you can feel where it is going to need to sit. Measure a couple finger widths up from the top of each ear and slide a pin in to mark that spot.

Put your bonnet on, positioned how it should fit. If you are nimble with your fingers, slide the pins that are in the ribbon into the inside of the bonnet. If that is too fiddly, pin the inside of the bonnet with separate pins just above the ears a couple finger widths.

Remove the ribbon and bonnet. Secure the ribbon into the bonnet with pins. Try the bonnet on for fit. You should be able to move your head without the bonnet shifting. (I was able to walk into 40mph parade winds without my bonnet coming off.) You may need to repeat the adjusting, pinning and trying on a few times before it is comfortable. Once you have the right fit, tack the ribbon in place securely. I suggest folding the end of the ribbon under and using a thread that matches the exterior of the bonnet.

What else keeps a bonnet in place?

Beside a bonnet stay other characteristics of a bonnet, a mid-century bonnet, helps keeps it in place.  ~The combination of the frill and the interior flowers play a big, no, make that huge part in holding a bonnet in place. It is possible to take an early 60s bonnet that would want to slide right off the head un-adorned and arrange the frill and flowers such that the bonnet will perch in place as it should. The backside of the frill and flowers sort-of catch and hold the hair, keeping the bonnet in place. ~The overall balance front to back is a big help. If a bonnet is weighted towards the tip or the bavolet, the bonnet will want to slide backwards. If the flowers in the brim or on the top/side of a bonnet are heavy, the bonnet will shift forward or sideways. Keeping a balance is a matter of positioning as well as weight. ~ For some shapes, the cheektabs actually help hold the bonnet in place as they hug the side of the head, not the face, the head. ~Your hair placement and style can also be a factor in how a bonnet fits. For some years (more 50s) the hair arrangement goes inside the tip of the bonnet. For other years (more early 60s) the tip rest over or on the hair. In either case, the hair anchors the tip whether it is encasing or sitting on the hair. Another hair aspect to keep in mind is simply having too much or too deep of a hair arrangement for a shallow tipped bonnet. (If you naturally have a lot of hair and a large hair arrangement ask for a deeper tip.)

I will add some additional photos once I take them.

Published in: on May 20, 2015 at 4:00 pm  Comments (6)  

One Hat inspiring future hats…..

IMG_6322I made this taller crown, narrow brim straw hat with the 1880s in mind. More specifically, these hats:

With the attention I’ve been paying to the Regency era for my 1820 dress, I started noticing something….

This… and, this….(Right) and, this…. (Lower left) (Rudolph Ackermann Fashion Plate November 1, 1823)

Which had me asking myself “why didn’t I make a Regency hat?”! Check out the height! Check out that whee curve! Check out those brims!

I am going to have to make an uber tall Regency hat….

This, nearly brimless style is something I find very nifty indeed….1810, from the MET  (non-straw version, similar with a brim that is down turned.)

Then, there is this with the wider, forward shifted brim that is bent down with the ribbonmelding of the hat into a bonnet…

Okay, there are like a bazillion others but they all seem to be from Scene it in the Past.  And, I don’t want to impose on her images. So, go over there and drool away as you scroll through her Flicker slides.

Published in: on May 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

1820 Dress – part 1

Aka “Finally making a Dress”

Aka “The Evolution of a Dress in My Mind”

I finally decided to take a millinery break and make a dress. It is kinda funny that my first dress diary is on a dress from an era I am new to rather than an era I could rattle on about in my sleep.

This has been a molding and remolding process. This fabric has been sitting in my cabinet for going on or just past two year now. I originally bought it off a CW era FB group with the intention of making a 50s/60s washable, if I am ever laborious again dress. Well, over the past two years I’ve gone from liking to disliking the fabric due to the color. In the last couple months it grew on me again. I am still quite worried that the color will look awful on me. It is something about browns and yellow that sallow me out. (Fingers crossed.)Still, actually making a dress was just not catching my fancy. It was all about the straw.

Then, well, spring came.

On Saturday evening I had it in my head I needed a dress for the museum’s upcoming 1812 event. I had a two piece (sacque and petti or shortgown and petti) combination in my head. The shortgown was a crossover front and fitted back. The cabinet offered a couple options – the plaids were out, the paisley is reserved – the brown sorta stripe ovally motif was the fabric. (In my head is still has a blue in it.) By morning, I wanted to make the dress. As the day progressed wandering the historic village the want/need of an early teens dress evolved into a want of a late teens to early twenties dress. Ideas of one pieces vs two piece, earlier vs later, with or without the crossover jumbled around in my head cooking in the sun. By 1 am when I had a toothache (um late 30s, why is that wisdom tooth moving???) the dress was distinctly a single piece, crossover bodice 1820 dress.

Of course, it was 1 am and I had to work in the morning.

wpid-2015-05-10-09.49.58.jpg.jpegMonday was toasty, particularly with a windowless classroom full of computers and broken ac/fans. I was pretty comfortable despite coworkers insisting it was hot and that I must be hot. I did feel hotter on the drive home. But, still went straight to the sewing room sans ac or fan. Out came the pencil, scissors and corset. A thunderstorm rolled in and out; time blurred, as time often does in the sewing room. It is a good thing I have an alarm set in my phone, aka the techie fabric weight. By dinner, I had the lining cut, constructed, fitted and the fashion fabric cut, constructed and ready to attach to the lining.  After dinner, I sewed away as the temperature eased, attaching the two layers. I was pleased with the way it looked. I was not pleased with the photo hubby took to show the fit. Off came my head. Thank you crop feature. (I still don’t know if I’ll share that one.)

wpid-2015-05-12-06.22.53.jpg.jpegI still wasn’t quite tired or ready to go to sleep since it was such a nice day out and my body was so enjoying the warmth and the breeze from outside. So, I grabbed the excess cuttings from the bodice to see what they might want to be. I had thought I would do a few rows of bias ruche around the skirt. But, with these little pieces to play with…..wpid-2015-05-12-06.22.46.jpg.jpeg I ended up with scallopy balloony shape gathered behind a faux self-fabric button. I figure if I set them 4.5″ apart in two rows (sorta like this), I’ll need 20 of them. I do need to learn more about those hems that look padded. In terms of wet grass, I think that would be uber-obsorbant and a soggy mess. I think I see some dresses with cording. So, maybe a corded row under the balloonies. As far as the balloonies themselves, I am considering a smaller version for the bodice. The other option being a plain self fabric or blue fabric button. Why? There is this button over neckline from this earlier dress that I am just smitten with. As Monday came to a close, I had to tell myself to go to bed as the weather was just so nice and warm making me feel so good. If I had allowed myself to start the skirt, I would have likely kept on going through the night.

wpid-2015-05-12-20.06.48-1.jpg.jpegTuesday had higher ambitions that the incoming storm allowed. The skirt panels were cut, then recut (two right-hand side front angles just don’t work.) Once assembled, I basted them into place from the sides to the front closure. Then gathered and basted the full panel into the back. I distributed the back gathering across the full back. (I haven’t settled upon that yet though. A big part of me wants lots more fullness center back.) It was pretty relaxing sewing the skirt to the fashion fabric. It was far more relaxing to the point of sleepy whipping down the lining as the air pressure continued to change and the temperature dropped more. In the end, I only got the skirt assembled, set and attached. I was hoping to get it hemmed and some sleeve sketches done. wpid-2015-05-12-20.06.23-1.jpg.jpegOh, I did plop on the balloon scallops (how I need a better name for these) and cut out more disks.

wpid-2015-05-13-21.02.32-1.jpg.jpegPart of me wonders if the cold, coldness of Wednesday contributed to my sleeve decisions. On Monday, I was thinking about looking up when short sleeves were okay for the teens and early 20s. By the time I sat down to draft on Wednesday, the idea of short sleeves were out the window, far out the window and blown away by a frigid wind. The choice was then straight sleeve or shaped sleeve. While the shaped sleeve had appeal due to its similarity to the coat sleeve I’m used to in the 1860s and utility of fabric, the straight sleeve had the appeal of challenging my fear of wearing a straight sleeve and the simple laziness of the easy draft. The straight sleeve it was. I happened to be wearing a light fleece. So, as I worked, I kept trying the sleeves on. My rational was if the sleeve fit over the fleece, it wouldn’t be too tight. I am pleased with the sleeves.

wpid-2015-05-13-21.02.51.jpg.jpegI made the little pleat-over part of the neckline. I think it turned out pretty cute. I initially planned to do a little self fabric button like the original inspiration. Now, I’m not sure if I will because I rather like the fabric piece as is. tbd.

I started the hem just before bed. As it was so cold, I was looking forward to crawling under the covers. So, the hem hangs half completed.  

imageThursday, ah, Thursday didn’t go so well. I hoped to finish the dress to have this post ready to go Friday morning. Then came food poisoning. It was my own fault. Completion did not happen. I managed to finish the hem and set some hooks & eyes. I also managed to get a few of the scallop-balloonies made. For two rows I need 20 of them. With a few pinned on, I do think the hem needs something more, either another row of scallop-balloonies or a bias or corded bias strip under them or weaving through them.

Part 2 coming as soon as I finish the dress and get photos….

Published in: on May 15, 2015 at 4:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Exploring a New Year – aka – Pondering 1820

As I have been working on my new (first new in a year) dress in a new to me year, I have oodles of ponderings, thoughts and questions. Because I find this to be lots of fun, I will share some of what has been rolling around in my head. I may add what I find as well. (The post on the dress will be finished as the dress is finished. Maybe Friday.)

Personal Linens – What did they use, when and why?

Sunbonnets? Did they?

Parasol different kind. :)  a sun protection must.

What are the dos and don’ts of the kerchiefs?

Those hems, I simply must feel some of those unique hems. Quilted liningPuffs, bias and piping…. Padded hemPadded lining covered with a frill

Oh, oo, do I get to carry a purse/reticule? I’ve become so accustom to my pocket. This will be weird. (pocket slit)

Break out the other shawls. :)

Must find the perfect cap to make. eh??

What are my new, yet practical financially, shoe options? For mid-century, I’ve been boots & slippers. Shoes, oh, shoes….

Sashes? Belts? Self-fabric belt

~~Unique stuff stumbled upon – How cool is this quilted hat?!? — I had no idea this “Orange Peel/Pin Cushion” quilt was this early of a design. I loved one Grandma made.)

Resources to explore:

  • Costume in Detail from the shelf (Ginger recommended)
  • Athenaeum – Paintings ca. 1818-1823ish
  • Must spend more time with another part of the Greene Collection
  • MFA, OSV, V&AM

Sites that focus on 1820:

Published in: on May 14, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

2015 Straw Shape & Style Gallery

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Please, like my Facebook Millinery page.
Published in: on May 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm  Comments (2)  

One of My Favorites – A Late Regency, 1820s Bonnet

I have worked on two absolute favorite bonnets this year (so, far), both of which I haven’t been able to share because they special appearances ahead. With the Genesee Country Village‘s Mother’s Day Fashion Show this weekend, I can finally share one of them….

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Later Regency – 1820’s Straw Bonnet Form –  Keeping that even crown even was such a challenge. I love challenges. I just love this shape now.

[[[[[Waiting for the photos from today to arrive]]]]]]

Published in: on May 10, 2015 at 8:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

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