Friday, December 16, 2011

1840's Bonnet

Well, David's 1840's outfit is NOT going to be done by Christmas. I did try. I made his trousers this week like I wanted to but it seemed every single thing I attempted to do with those trousers, whether it was threading a needle, winding a bobbin or cutting out a pattern piece, I had to do over at least once. It seems I am Cursed in the 1840's. So anyway, the trousers are done but I am not going to tempt fate and rush myself getting a waistcoat and tailcoat done before next weekend. I want these to be very nice, and if by rushing I will end up with a less than satisfactory product, well, it's not worth it. So he is just going to wear his black frock suit and be 1850's. I won't feel "right" being in a different decade, fashion wise, than he but as he told me, most people won't know the difference anyway.

So I have been working on my 1840's bonnet instead. It is coming along annoyingly slow. Like I did with my dress, I stop after every stitch I take, it seems, and recheck something. After studying the plates, paintings, portraits and original bonnets I could find online I cut the basic shape out of paper and then cut it in buckram, and reinforced the edges with wire and added a layer of cotton batting to soften the buckram form before I put the silk on it.

I was happy with it at first. I liked the shape and thought it was representative of the 40's. (I am definitely no milliner). But then I began to wonder about the shape of face edge. It seemed to me that the area of the brim that goes over the face juts out farther at cheek level than it does above my head. I didn't know if that was correct or not.

I pieced in a little piece of buckram at the top of the bonnet, to see if that gave a better shape. One where the jutting-out-over-the-face factor was about the same at cheek level and forehead level.

I don't know if it really makes much difference, or if it matters at all. I feel like my nerves are tensioned way high and I wish I could just relax. It's just a stupid bonnet. But still, I want it to look right. I don't know. I keep waiting and thinking but if I don't just cover the darn thing and call it good I won't have any bonnet to wear with my dress on Christmas!

In the meanwhile we are crazy busy getting ready for Christmas. We have been cooking, decorating, making gingerbread houses, working on secret homemade gifts, eating way too many sweets and staying up late at night watching movies.

We were going to get a family photo taken for Christmas this year (a professional one!) but decided that, after all, the $10 fee with the coupon was just not worth it. The horrors of our last attempt at a professional family photo loomed up before us and we knew the procedure would be painful rather than pleasant. So once more we decided to take our own instead. I took some of the boys today so we can get them printed and sent to grandparents. Here are my three little men:

They are growing up quite handsomely, I do think. It's hard to believe they are not babies anymore.



  1. I think you're bonnet is coming along fine, and who needs a professional photographer? The photo of your little men is fabulous!

  2. Dear Sarah Jane,

    Good morning! The bonnet shape is pretty...perhaps check some fashion plates that show a side view, if you are still concerned? Or let it go and let the craziness subside?

    The portrait of your sunny sons is really neat and I question whether a professional could coax as good a result.

    Very best,


  3. Hi Sarah,

    I think your bonnet is lovely so far ;) :) Your kids are cute, too :) :) That's a nice photo of them :)

    I'm working on a pair of mittens as a gift...and the first came out great..the second one did I'm making a replacement mitten..It has to be done tomorrow, because I'm bringing the gift to church tomorrow. Well, it's time to put on a DVD and do some power-knitting.
    Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  4. Wow, that bonnet really looks great. I would have probably done the same thing -- you know, added a buckram piece to alter the shape -- but in the end I think you're right that it probably doesn't make much difference when all is said and done. What matters most is that you're content with it, but try not to let it stress you out too much.

  5. Now that I look at the photos again...I kind of like it with the extra buckram along the top. It somehow balances things out.

  6. Hullo! I haunt here much, and finally I am going to say something.

    I can't advice on your bonnet, but the frontish view looked very nice to me (after looking at fashion plates and daguerreotypes).

    The picture of your boys is wonderful- it honestly reminds me of daguerreotypes of siblings and perhaps friends in the 1840's/'50's. How they sit together in a loving pose trying not to smile (ha ha) at the camera.

    ~Amorette, another Sewing Academy-er

  7. I had a go at making a bonnet like your quilted one the other day. I think it will be great for winter.

    I think the shape of the bonnet is nice. Suits you.

  8. Being home from college for a few weeks allows me to get caught up in reading my favorite blogs. WOW, Sarah! The things you've made over the last several months are simply atonishing. With every garment (and hat!) :) you make, you just seem to get better and better at creating them historically accurate. Beautiful, breath-taking work!

  9. Oh Sarah! Thank you for reminding us of one of the funniest blog posts ever! Your retelling of taking your boys to the photographer had us nearly in tears (again)!!! Seriously. Hilarious.

    Your bonnet is going to be smashing! Pretty much like the dress is. :-)

    Karen (the Mrs.)

  10. You have some cute boys! The bonnet looks like its coming along nicely. =) I try sewing often but i dont have a lot of patience so i mostly end up with half finished projects or i try to get my mom or sister to help me.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!