Jenny La Fleur
bee in my bonnet - Jenny La Fleur
adventures in costuming
bee in my bonnet

Wanna know what I've been up to lately? Bonnet madness! After helping a friend cover a Civil War era bonnet last weekend, I got a bee in my bonnet to work on my Poe bonnet. (Ha! I couldn't resist the pun!) It's only been on The List (TM) for umm... 2 years.

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...


18 comments | comment?
gilded_garb From: gilded_garb Date: July 13th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC) (link)
That's lovely! My first bonnet didn't come out nearly so nice. You are shockingly talented :o)
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: July 15th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC) (link)
Why thank you! I don't remember your bonnet. Did it make it online or did you shove it in the closet of shame never to see the light of day? :P
padawansguide From: padawansguide Date: July 13th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC) (link)
Very cool! I'll have to check out that pattern!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: July 15th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC) (link)
Thanks! Yeah it was really pretty good... as a place to start anyway!
chloeandrudy From: chloeandrudy Date: July 13th, 2009 04:42 am (UTC) (link)
I, of the "not able to make bonnets yet guild", am very impressed at how beautiful this is coming out. I have the pattern, and hope someday to try it. Or hopefully the community college starts up it's millinery classes again.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: July 15th, 2009 04:25 pm (UTC) (link)
It wasn’t too bad, not nearly as hard as it looks. You should give it a try!
angelique1776 From: angelique1776 Date: July 13th, 2009 07:41 am (UTC) (link)
Lovely bonnet, love what you did with the back. One can never go wrong with black vintage velvet! Can't wait to see what you'll come up with trim wise. (Isn't it strange how McCall's choose a 1840's bonnet shape to pattern when they don't do any clothing patterns to go with it? (It's perfect for Poe) Then again (for them) it's easier to do a pattern with 2 pieces rather than 3 and you'd need that extra piece to do later bonnets. Also cost less to produce if the pieces and instruction are at a minimum. Isn't the Millinery bible (From the Neck Up) a great book? I haven't read the instructions on this particular pattern but others have been well, not so great:) Be sure to post pics when its all done. Bravo!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: July 15th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC) (link)
Thanks! Yeah, it is odd. I was a little surprised to see they still had it but then again their costume section is a little eclectic. An odd mix really. There is no shortage of pattern pieces in the pattern though - it's a little insane. With all the different ways to cover and trim there are like 35 pieces in the pattern - and for only 2 bonnet shapes, total of 4 options. I was kind of amused that I only used 3 of the pattern pieces myself. :P
nehelenia78 From: nehelenia78 Date: July 13th, 2009 08:37 am (UTC) (link)
I love it!! So pretty! I made a straw bonnet last year which still sits on the shelve untouched cause I´m too lazy to trim it...
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: July 15th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC) (link)
Awww... but trimming is the fun part! :>

elegant_musings From: elegant_musings Date: July 13th, 2009 12:36 pm (UTC) (link)
Oh! I'm so glad you found a use for that luscious velvet! I absolutely adore this bonnet; I am rather partial to the bonnet shapes from this era. ;) Can't wait to see how it looks trimmed...
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: July 15th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC) (link)
It was so perfect - thanks so much! I only have little scraps left but I'm going to keep them and see if I can't come up with a good use for them... maybe a matching ridicule. :>
quincy134 From: quincy134 Date: July 13th, 2009 01:55 pm (UTC) (link)
It looks so fab! Great job!
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: July 15th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC) (link)
anielmom From: anielmom Date: July 14th, 2009 03:55 am (UTC) (link)
You are amazing! I suck at headgear of any kind, and so am always in awe of your beautiful creations.
jennylafleur From: jennylafleur Date: July 15th, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC) (link)
Thank you! I'm really having fun with this millinery thing. It's very addictive though, the more hats I make the more I want to make. And they are not as easy to store as frocks!
girliegirl32786 From: girliegirl32786 Date: July 18th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC) (link)
Oh I love it! You do hats so well.
mlsdesigns From: mlsdesigns Date: July 23rd, 2009 11:36 am (UTC) (link)
Very lovely! I bet your head will be very pettable in this :) No one will be able to resist stroking you :p
18 comments | comment?