Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Sewing a Straw Bonnet

I am not a milliner. I have utmost respect and appreciation for those who are. Millinery is a mysterious art and science. All my attempts at millinery have been somewhat unsatisfactory and as of yet I have not been overcome with a desire to become more proficient in this skill. Therefore, I will preface this post by repeating: I am not a milliner. What follows is my attempt at recreating a straw bonnet from a fashion plate. I have no idea of the accuracy of my methods. I just did what made sense to me. I think originally the straw braids would have been molded and sewn over a hat block, but lacking that myself, I had to improvise.
I started by making a paper pattern for the brim and crown. The brim is rather capote shaped and the crown basic and roundish. (Yeah, that's a lame description). I took apart a vintage straw hat for the braid and dampened it. I decided to sew the brim and crown separately and then join the two pieces. To start I loosely basted the first row of straw directly to the paper pattern. 

The next rows were sewn overlapping the prior rows. They were just sewn to the braid, not to the paper pattern. 

After each row I checked the shape against the pattern and steamed it into place. 

Getting close!

Finally the brim piece was done, and could be trimmed and removed from the paper pattern.

The short edges were joined and a braid stitched around the raw edge.

I slipped the crown into the brim for a preliminary peek, before sewing the two together.

Here the crown and brim have been joined and the bonnet steamed and shaped. So far I am quite happy with it, although my fingers are sore! All the whole I was sewing it I kept thinking of the story of Rumpelstiltskin who spun straw into gold, and wondered at the state of his fingers! 

I next have to size it, then line it and trim it. The brim is finished with a zig zag edging of straw which I sewed on tonight, although it was too dark to get a picture of it when I was done.


  1. For not being a milliner you do make pretty headwear. I love it, looking forward to seeing it trimmed!

  2. We just read about Ma sewing straw hats in Little House in the Big Woods. Grace will be so excited to see your post! She asked me to make her one and I said it was beyond me, but you give me hope...

  3. Lovely! Looking forward to seeing it finished! It's going to be so cute!



Thank you for your lovely thoughts!