Introducing Serenity 

 I would like to formally, finally, introduce Serenity. 

Serenity is one of three new millinery blocks that made it home to me in June thanks to wonderful friends. Serenity continues the naming tradition started with Galaxy, in receiving a sci-fi name. 

Serenity is an 1860s shape, approximately 1860-63. She is plaster as are her sister blocks, which I will introduce sometime soon-ish. She is lighter weight than I expected, but definitely delicate feeling. 

This past week, in preparation for the GCVM event, I made and blocked 4 bonnets on Serenity. In doing so, I found how naturally the cheek tabs developed their spoon curve as the brim rose. 

There is one similar block I am aware of found in a blog review of Sue Langley’s book, Hats & Bonnets: 1770-1970. It is remarkable how similar the block shape is while the opening below the tip is different. 

Published in: on July 18, 2017 at 7:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

At the Sea Shore and Watering Place

For those friends who will being enjoying the sea shore or other watering places this year….

In looking at the millinery selected for wear at the sea shore, beach or watering place, it becomes obvious there are those women in attendance who wish to enjoy the water visually and those who wish to get a little closer, be it relaxing near the water or in the water. The former group seems to wear bonnets and hats fashionable for the day. I am focusing on those in the latter group who appear to be dressed to enjoy the water or spend a time in close proximity.I am looking at images, illustrations, paintings and photographs, from the 1850s and 1860s.

This group leans towards wearing hats over bonnets. Those in the late 1850s seem to have more hats that have wider brims. Yet, while there are more hats with narrower or moderately wider brims appearing in the 1860 images, this does not exclude the wider brimmed hats.

Simple ribbons around the crown, as bows, and/or as ties seem to be the most common for those hats meant to be worn in or very near the water. (*I recommend testing any trim for color fastness if it will be worn in proximity to water. I also recommend not using paper flowers for this purpose.)

Let’s look at some images.

Details from August in the Country, the Sea-Shore, by Winslow Homer, August 1859:

This first close-up shows two women wearing similarly shaped hats with shallow, oval crowns and shaped moderately wide brims. The on on the left is trimmed with a ribbon around the brim, bow at back and a narrower ribbon to tie beneath the chin. The woman on the right has lace encircling the brim of the hat as will as a ribbon for the crown, and one to tie under the chin.

This next close-up shows the back/top of the hat. It has a shallow crown and an moderately wide brim. The illustration is vague about the decoration, suggesting a ribbon on the exterior.
Details from The Bathe at Newport, by Winslow Homer, September 1858:

On the left mid-ground a woman stands in arm with a man. Her shortened skirts suggest she may intend to bathe/swim. Her hat does not show the crown. I surmise it is shallow. The brim is quite wide with some shaping causing a dip in the front and back. THis hat ties under the chin.

Further to the fore-ground, two women are bathing with what appears to be a type of net or cap upon their heads. Several women in the water are similar. No hat.

Just past the mid-ground off to the right of center is a woman swimming with a tube. To the right of her is an individual of interest because this person is wearing a hat. It is debatable whether this person is a man or woman.
The New York Public Library has a very nice feature where it groups images thematically into digital “book” for easy viewing. They have one such “book” for “Bathing Beaches, 1899 and earlier.” (They also have one called “Resort life.” This gives several additional illustrations to examine for head-wear.

Details from A Day in the Country – At the Sea Side, by Alfred Fredricks, August 1858:

In whole, this illustration has more of a comical sense to it, with a “come as you are” sense to the scene. In the center of this illustration is a mother with two children. She is wearing what appears to be a straw bonnet with minimal trim. This is more of an every day selection rather than a special piece for the beach.
Details from The Mermaids’ Haunt, by Joseph Swain circa 1854-69:

This illustration offers us a wide assortment of hats. It is unclear who in this group has or intents to enjoy getting in the water and who will remain on shore. This first close-up shows three hats. On the left is a moderately wide brim hat that has a fashionable curve to the brim and a low crown. This hat is decorated with a feather plume. (this may not do well in the water.) In the middle is a hat with a shallow brim, a moderately wide brim and a simple ribbon. To the front right is a very different hat with a turned up brim and round crown. This is a fashionable hat.

This nest illustration close-up shows two hats with curved down dome style brims with shallow crown. This style is nice for shading the eyes. Both are decorated with ribbon. In the back ground is a shapely hat as well.
Details from Bathers, by Joseph Warren. I approximate late 1860s-early 1870s:

In the front, a woman hold a rather large hat for the fashion of the time. The crown appears to be shallow and round, while the brim is quite wide. It may or may not have shape to it.

Standing upon the rock, a woman with braids looping by her ears, holds a hat with an oval crown that may have flat sides, and a moderately wide brim. The brim appears to have the slightest curve down.

Additional Information

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Looking at the upcoming Christie’s auctions, I came across Frederick Ifold’s A Day at the Beach. This painting, or another version, appears to have also been called At the English Coast. The 1858 painting has several woman and children depicted with straw hats and bonnets.

To the left, a woman wrapped in a green paisley is wearing a straw bonnet trimmed in white or cream. The bonnet appears to have fring or lace draped from the bavolet as well as brim decoration.

In the center middle ground, we see a woman and child sitting upon a what may be a boat or short wall. She appears to be in what may be a bathing costume with a light color skirt and blue sacque. Her darker brown straw hat has a moderate, domed crown and curved brim with lace draped around the edge.

Children play in the sand in the foreground, the four girls each with hats, three being straw.

*Another painting in the same sale that may be of interest for the same era is George E. Tunson’s The Embarkation.

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I find William Powell Firth’s 1859 Life at the Sea-Side (Ramsgate Sands) to be an interesting and frustrating image. There appears to be numerous scans and photos of this painting on the internet of vastly varying quality and color tone. It seems it is a painting that must be seen in person – with a magnifying glass – and utter silence.

The vast majority of the women in the painting appear to be wearing bonnets rather than hats. Many look like they are straw, but I would not say it is the majority. A number of parasols and umbrellas speckle the painting. 12 by my count. The brown one left of center reads as an umbrella in size compared to the others. Some women wear shawls, including the woman to the far right who has a border plaid shawl in blue with brown and gold. The chairs I see are not folding chairs.

To the far left along the shore line, there are three people with what appears to be a calash style visor on their straw bonnets. The black seems to fold out reaching forward of the brim to shade the eyes. A similar piece is seen just to the right of center on a green bonnet and a bonnet of undetermined color. I know I have seen one of these in a collection before. I am trying to recall where.

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Eugène Boudin enjoyed painting and drawing seaside scenes. Among his work are several pieces of Trouville, such as Beach Scene at Trouville, 1863, which support a variety of millinery, hinting at both hats in bonnets. A further investigation of his work may tell more about the head-wear as well as attire and culture. (I do suspect that with the number of whome wrapping their shawls rather fully around themselves in some paintings (right) and the wind shown in others, that few ventured into the water in this area.) The National Gallery of Art has a nice article about him with a sampling of work. Many other pieces come up in a web search (I rather like the ones at sunset.) It is tempting to order a book.

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I have a few on my evolving Pinterest board for “Seaside, Watering places, and Watercure.”

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 “This hat may be made of straw or leghorn. The trimming consists merely of a band and bow of ribbon.

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Jest by Punch regarding the sea side.

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Published in: on March 16, 2017 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

CW Era Hats – Symmetry vs Asymmetry

I was asked about a few millinery related things in the past migraine infused week. Here is one quick look at symmetry and asymmetry in straw hats of the Civil War era. (Please note: This does not break down the location of trim by yearly or seasonal fashion.)

 

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Image Sources:

MET, MFA, Peterson’s Magazine, assorted pins on Pinterest.

Published in: on March 6, 2017 at 6:00 am  Comments (1)  

A Weekend in the Millinery 

If I was to give this event one word, it would be “relief”.

 This time last year I was in horrible pain, with the worst sun reaction and migraine i can recall, to the point where I was literally hitting my head against the wall and packing my head in ice packs. I was quite certain I might have to be done with historical events. The thought was horribly depressing. I spent the whole year with the fear that I might have a repeat physical event. 

As I stood at the mirror this morning, doing my hair, I almost cried. It was Sunday. I was good. I ended Saturday feeling great. I was good. I didnt even need to resort to my backup , can lace lighter dress. (Actually, I found I laced closed! Alterations coming.) I hoped into the sewing room and pulled out one of my favorite dresses, from a fabric a far away friend gave me. I was good. 

So, here I am. Proof I made it to Sunday. 

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 This weekend, I set the millinery up in the Insurance Office. A big thank you to Deanna and Melanie for arranging this space for me. It was close to Ward Hovey, just in case, and a shorter walk to the gallery for my talk. It has  a lovely breeze and nice shade. It also is right on the village square insuring lots of visitors. Saturday, I pretty much started talking at eleven and didn’t stop until six. (The morning was quite)

My little sister, Lily, helped out in the millinery the whole weekend. She talked with visitors while I was away at the gallery and while I was consulting on millinery questions. She did a very nice job. She also followed the small ice cream handed child around the room guarding the pieces. 

 

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 A myriad of thoughts:

Our most unique visitors were either the well loved plush bunny or the real live rooster. 

All guests during the battle must be watered. Roosters included. 

While I wasn’t sure which project to bring, I ended up being busy wirh sewing the whole of Saturday and I to Sunday . 

I actually got to talk about the dynamics of women’s employment. 

Sunday, two young men had an excellent vignette on my porch. They were gambling, for stamps. As they played, they pulled visitors in. I know some expected me to shoo them off. But, it was such and excellent interaction , I just listened from inside. 

I never once got to do the story I developed behind my unfinished sign. But, I did determine i must have one. 

I got quarantined for a couple hours. Weirdness was theme

I got to see the most amazing original fichu and a lovely net needlework. 

I was gifted some wonderful surprises. I am grateful and blessed by each. Thank you. 

Now, sleep. There may be more added tomorrow 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Milliner Shop

In a short hour or so, the Milliner Shop was set up, all ready for the Genesee Country Village’s Civil War event. A big thank you to Anneliese and Lily for their assistance. 

Let’s start with a fun “What’s wrong with this picture?”

In all the preparation for transforming an Insurance Office into a Millinery – bonnet stands , band boxes, appropriate paint, appropriate papers, ribbons, bonnets, hats, veils – somehow I did not think about sitting down …. in a cage… in these three lovely, matching chairs. 

Ooops. Slight problem, especially since each of my chairs were home awaiting their much needed tlc. 

Luckily, I got the okay to borrow two chairs from Hosmer’s . 

Much better.

This even gave us a chance to color check the paint colors. The hat stands are a shade lighter than the chair. Peter tells me Prussian blue had a range of shades, depending on how much white was added. So, mine just has more white. 

Looking around the room:

Here are the three fashionable bonnets on display. Each is one one of the new stands. The one one the left is the batwing soft crown with the blue and plaid silk. The one on the right is my personal bonnet, a soft crown with sheer check organza. Below is a bonnet with a decorative brim using antique straw threads. In the basket below are my slippers and a box of fabric scraps that would make some cute doll clothes or such. I plan not to bring that box back home. 

To the right, is a stack of my recovered band boxes, and my personal bonnet box. This one came from a local stationary shop. It is perfect for holding my bonnet. Atop the boxes is one of my yardsale find stands holding a wide brim hat. This hat is appropriate for a recreational scenario or a dress reform impression. Draped on the hat is an antique lace that may or may not be considered a veil. (Digging deeper into this.) 

In the corner, is a little table filled with assorted bonnets and hats. As we were setting up, I started to think I should have brought my second table and more stands. The top most, on the boxes is a cottage bonnet draped in my newest veil, one I made with silk net and lace. (Coming soon, I will have a post comparing the light control of different veils.) In the center is a coarse straw bonnet that would be worn by a poorer or institutionalized woman. On the left is my example of a woven straw bonnet, by Vivian ! Murphy. The two hats on the stands are children size. The one resting on the table is a large crown fashion bonnet. The top box is the one I made, sewing a heavy pasteboard. The other two are recovered. 

I am tickled that the ribbons filled this mantle. I think it looks pretty”in use” rather than just display. Lily did a nice job. Can you tell which rolls are real and which are fake? 

I forgot to get a photo of the sign. As the lettering was a fail, and despite sanding off the black paint, the tracing depressions show through the new ground coats, it looks very much like the “work in progress” it is. I’ve decided to say the young man who was painting it for me took off to enlist as the trips came near. But, as we expect this fighting to be over by the end of the summer, he can finish it soon enough. 

How To Make a Bonnet and Cap

Godey’s, November 1856

How To Make a Bonnet and Cap.

Drawn Bonnets.—Have a plain willow shape ready, the size and pattern you wish your bonnet to be; measure round the edge, and put a pencil mark to denote half of the bonnet; measure your silk, or whatever material you are going to make your bonnet out of, on the edge of the shape, and let it be five inches longer to allow for fullness. This quantity is quite sufficient. Measure your material selvage way, regulate the edge of the bonnet very nicely; the fullness must be even, the same as putting on a shirt collar, and neat stitches are required. In drawn bonnet-making, do not cut your sewing silk; wind it, and have your needlefuls the length of the silk or material you are going to run; do not fasten off your silk at the end of the runner, as it requires drawing up before the bonnet is finished; halve the material of your bonnet, before you begin to run with white cotton, all the way down; when you have done the tucks in your bonnet material, place the silk, or anything else you may be making in a bonnet of, on the willow shape, and cut a small piece out at the ears to shape it like the willow shapes; never mind fastening off your ends of silk—they will be all right before you finish your bonnet. The tucks in the silk are to be run just as you would a petticoat or a child’s frock. Four or five are enough. When your bonnet is run, and ready to put on the shape, it ought to measure seven or eight inches deep, according to the wearer. Old persons generally require a larger bonnet than young people. Try you hand in making a bonnet in a piece of book muslin or something common at first. The size of the tucks varies according to the taste of fashion a little. They are now worn all sizes. Some bonnets have only three tucks with wires in them, others five. Before you get forward in your running, try the wire you are going to use, “and do not do what is too often done” – run the tucks, and then find the wire will not do. The wire had always better be too small than too large; in fact, the runners must be loose on your wire. The cane or whalebone for drawn bonnets I have never seen used. A wire, covered with cotton, is to be bought any size you wish. The wire must be very hard and firm for the edge, and soft and pliable for all the rest of your bonnet. Attend to this, or you will make people’s heads ache. I would not give two pence for the prettiest bonnet ever turned out if the wires were not light and soft. All these things only require attention; for little things I have no doubt some of my young readers think them in comparison to the look of a bonnet. Many persons can tell you what part of town a bonnet has been made in simply by the foundation—I mean the wires and supports of the bonnet. If you wish to make a drawn bonnet of two colors or two pieces join them together before you begin; and now be careful, joining the work strong; and let the tuck you put in hid where it is joined, not because you wish anyone to think it not joined, but for neatness. When you have run the tucks in your bonnet, before you begin to put in your wires, cut the piece of silk that at the ends the exact shape of your pattern-frame; this after the wires are to be put in; and now place the silk on half of the willow shape;tack the silk, not the wire is in, on the shape, all around the edge of the bonnet; now pull your wires to the right size, that is, exactly like the shape; having done this, now fasten the short wires that come down at the ears to the pieces of chip and wire that you have run through the edge of the bonnet.

When the wire that goes in the edge of your bonnet must go quite round the back, and cross a little. It is almost the whole support of your bonnet. When the wires are all firmly fastened, you may now draw up your sewing-silk that is in the tucks. Be careful not to break them. You will find our bonnet looking better for being run well, and then drawn tight. All this must be done before you take your drawn bonnet off the willow frame. You will require five supports got ready to put in. They must be silk wire, rather firm, and the color of your bonnet. They should be cut one inch longer than the bonnet, so as to allow a small piece to be turned down, top and bottom. Put one piece in the middle of your bonnet, and the remaining four at equal distances. These wires are called support’s, as they help to keep the bonnet in shape. Having reached so far with your bonnet, bind all round the back from ear to ear, and bow put on our curtain. In putting on your curtain, draw the thread at the top to the size of ten inches, and make this firm; place half your curtain to the half of the back of your bonnet; now sew it on; mid the fullness is equal.

If you wish to make a drawn bonnet with puffs, begin the bonnet just in the same way. When you have made a runner or tuck, push up a little of your silk; a very little will do. You require a piece of net underneath your silk. This net must be the size of the piece of the silk. When you turn down the first hem, put the net inside, and run it with the silk. The use of this piece of net is that you may full your silk on it, keeping the net plain. These kind of bonnets require a lining; it should be a little full. Always bear in mind that two or three inches are a good deal of fullness in millinery, in silk, net , or anything else. When you put linings in any bonnet, puff net on the lining before you put it on the bonnet. If you put more than one inch inside your bonnet, put it on the lining before you put the lining in. The bonnet is lined after the outside is done so as to keep it as fresh as possible.

 

 

https://archive.org/stream/godey1856#page/432/mode/1up

 

Published in: on March 14, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Finishing a Straw Bonnet

Godey’s, November 1856

Straw Bonnets.—Straw bonnets generally require some sort of lining, crape, muslin, or a thin silk. Very few are now worn with a plain lining. It requires just the same quantity to make a little fullness, which is more becoming. I will explain to you how to make a plain lining or a plain bonnet will take just the same quantity; or, if any difference, the plain requires more than the full. I think I hear my readers say this if very strange. You are aware that, in cutting out a plain bonnet or lining, there are several small pieces cut out to the shape. The piece make the fullness, for the material is used on the straight when put in the easy and on cross-way when plain, which compels you to cut pieces off , which on the straight and put in full, is not required. A head lining of silk or muslin should be put in after the lining to make all neat and clean when the bonnet is worn. Straw curtains are worn; but a great many ladies prefer a silk curtain made of the ribbon to match the trimming. The curtain is best cross-way with a narrow straw on the edge. The curtain will not quite take a yard of ribbon; three and a quarter or three and a half are sufficient to trim a bonnet. Plain colors on a straw are neater than mixed, such as primrose, light or dark blue. Sarcenet ribbon is better than satin. It is a good plan to sew narrow strings on the bonnet at the same time you sew the wide tie; the narrow first: it keep the bonnet more firm on the head. When I say narrow ribbon, I mean an inch and a half wide. An old fancy straw bonnet will make up again very weill by putting some silk between each row of straw. You must have a wire frame, and unpick the bonnet; cut some pieces of silk on the cross for puffings, and now lay your straw alternately with the silk. Unless the straw is a very good color, mix colored silk with it. This bonnet will require a lining.

Published in: on March 7, 2016 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Spring Millinery Reading

As spring arrives, a great many of us are thinking…. Spring Millinery!  Here are a few past articles of interest….

Published in: on February 29, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Straw Plaiting

 

Published in: on February 22, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Italian Straw Plaiting

Published in: on February 21, 2016 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment