Anyway I left said friend's house and popped into Jo-Ann's on my way home to pick up McCall’s 5129. I promptly came home and spent part of my 4th of July weekend working on the bonnet. I have to say that, per usual, I've only used the pattern sort of. I've completely ignored the directions (gleaning guidance from The Neck Up instead) and only used a few of the pattern pieces (#1, #2, #13), some of which I altered a bit. It was a decent base to start from though... particularly for the $1.04 it cost me. :>
I cut out the buckram, shaped the bonnet and, using the sewing machine as much as possible, attached the millinery wire to the edge. So far I've only ever covered existing hats or straw hat blanks so making my own buckram base was extremely satisfying and not as difficult as I imagined all these years. It wasn’t very cute when I was finished, all raw edges, sewn with random orange thread and having a slight wonkiness in the buckram (thanks to the buckram being stored folded not rolled for several years - opps!) but I was quite ridiculously pleased with myself.
In keeping with my resolution to have a lazy, non-stressed attitude toward sewing this summer, the bonnet sat in its raw buckram state until yesterday when I picked it up again. I spent a little time last week researching how I wanted my bonnet to look though. After combing my files and the internet for 1840s bonnets, I decided to go for a fairly simple design - something not too fussy but not too plain either. My original need was for a mourning bonnet suitable for Poe's funeral in Oct. It's looking like I will be in California that weekend (*sniff*) but I decided to stick with the all black idea anyway. I can always add color at some point if I want. Since I can't play with color now though, I decided to play with textures, using a combination of black fabrics - some gathered, some smooth.
I started out by taking apart a pair of vintage black velvet Hollywood pants that Casey gave me last year. The lining was trashed but the hand of the velvet is lovely, silky with a short pile perfect for hat making. I then cut the pieces for a smooth and simple outside brim covering. I originally used the wrong pattern piece (wasting some of my velvet - sadness!) so I had to recut it. Annoying but not tragic.
I then decided that I should work on the inside brim lining first. For that I took a piece of black silk twill, ran a gathering stitch along the salvage edge, gathered it to fit edge of the brim and then pinned it in place. I then pulled the fabric down and marked where the brim and crown met. I used that as a cutting line, ran a gathering stitch along that, gathered it to fit and carefully pinned. I then basted the lining in by hand.
Next I pinned the cut piece of velvet on top of the brim. The edge on the crown end I had cut 3/8" larger than the pattern so I could turn that edge under for a clean finish. I stitched the velvet onto the hat, again with basting stitches, leaving the crown edge free.
I then took the crown pattern, added 1.25" to the diameter, ran a gathering stitch along the edge and gathered it to fit. I then tucked the gathered ends under the brim covering and sewed the section down. It made for a nice little pouf in the back that both softened the look of the bonnet and hid some of the buckram wonkiness in the back.
Next up I took some ½" vintage black velvet ribbon and covered the wired edge of the bonnet. Yummy! Lastly I cut out the back ruffle. Because of my fabric situation I had to seam together two pieces to get the required length. I ran a gathering stitch along the top, gathered it to fit and then pinned the sucker in. I was a little skeptical that it would work as is, since the fabric was meant to be doubled and velvet is bulky but it seems to look okay (and I don't particularly want to hem the edge) so I'm going to go for it. I still have to sew the ruffle in, but I'll do that tonight before I go to bed.
So my bonnet is pretty much in wearable condition and I'm super pleased with it! It's hard to not love something made with that vintage velvet but really it's rather cute. Not bad for one's first bonnet making venture! I'm going to follow Loren's lead and not bother finishing the inside. Who cares anyway? Not me!
So next up the trimming. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet but I know it will involve those raven-esque feathers I bought in NYC last year and some 4" double face ribbon from The Ribbon Store, which I still have to order. I'm not in a rush to finish the bonnet though so I think I'll let my creative juices do their thing until the ribbon arrives...