1830s straw bonnet with plaid silk ties and white trimmings

Inspiration: My need for a charmingly enormous 1830s bonnet to go with my fashion plate gown; I’m not imitating any specific bonnet trimming style
Form:  Purchased reproduction straw form from Timely Tresses, of ivory-colored hemp braid in their 1835-1840 Frivolia style
Brim Lining:  White silk taffeta or habotai (which I still need to procure)
Crown Lining:  White cotton batiste
Ties and Ribbon Trim:  Plaid silk taffeta in cornsilk yellow, dove gray, and white, purchased at Delectable Mountain Cloth, which I will cut into wide (6″ plus) ribbons and turn narrow hand-stitched hems on.
Outer Trimmings:  Puffing and possibly a bow of the plaid taffeta ribbon, one large white ostrich feather from Timely Tresses.
Trimmings Inside Brim: Three bunches of white velvet lily and two bunches of ivory/yellow velvet violets from Timely Tresses (though I may move one of the bunches to the outside of the bonnet)
Thread:  TBD
Construction:  Linings and trimmings will be entirely hand-sewn, though I believe that the form itself is machine-stitched.
Current Status: I’ve ordered the form and trimmings, but currently all I have for this project is the fabric to be made into ribbons (which I’ve had for over a year, since I originally intended to make this bonnet as part of my 1830s clothing independent study). Since I’m using a straw form rather than buckram, as I’d originally intended, it should go together fairly quickly, so hopefully I can manage to finish my bonnet by my Div III final meeting – or at least by graduation!

Print resources for 1830s bonnets:

Grayscale fashion plates of complete ensembles, including bonnets, all dating from 1832: Figure 41 on page 70; Figures 42 and 43 on page 71; Figure 44 on page 72.

Grayscale fashion plates of complete ensembles, including bonnets, 1838-1840, pages 2-7. There are no color plates dated earlier than 1841.

There are schematic drawings of, and notes about, an extant bonnet on page 140; the bonnet is described as a “Large WHITE SILK BONNET; Trimmed white satin and pale blue ribbons” and appears to be the same bonnet as on pages 26-27 of Hats and Bonnets by Althea Mackenzie, where it is shown in photographs. Together, these sources offer a great deal of information about this bonnet, which is unusually well-preserved. Mackenzie dates the bonnet to the late 1820s. See entry for that book below for more information.

Images of extant 1830s bonnets on fully dressed mannequins: straw on page 190, silk-covered on page 191, page 194 (same bonnet/mannequin as page 190, from another angle), straw on 196/197 (same bonnet from two angles in two pictures).

In the first section of image plates, following page 32: there is a photograph dated “Summer 1840,” of a woman in a late 1830s style large bonnet, either drawn silk or with a shirred silk lining, plate 3; there is also a photograph of “Queen Victoria’s going-away bonnet after her marriage on 10 February 1840,” plate 4.

“Chapter XXI. The Art of the Milliner, or the Mode of making Hats, Toques, &c.” encompasses pages 522 through 564. It offers a great deal of useful information, translated and edited from 1820s and 1830s sources. Included is detailed information on trim, such as how to make different types of bows and ribbon trimmings, and about different types of ornaments. There are very few images, and most are of 1820s hats, but this section is overall a useful informational reference.

Grayscale fashion plates of full ensembles: Figure 51, dated 1834, on page 89; Figure 52, dated 1835, on page 89; Figure 55, dated c. 1837, on page 90; Figure 56, dated July 1837, the popular image of the seated woman in corset with a standing dressed woman beside her, on page 91; Figure 57, dated November 1838, on page 92; Figure 58, dated 1839, on page 92.

The text on “Women’s Bonnets” is on pages 158-162, including hoods and a caleche (or calashe). The associated plate is plate 20. There is some useful information about how to go about lining, covering, and trimming a bonnet. There is also a section on “Straw Plaiting” at the end of the book, on pages 278-290. This book can also be accessed online, so direct links to pages and plates are included.

Extant bonnets: a silk-covered bonnet from the 1820s or 1830s, page 47; a silk-covered bonnet dated “early 1830s,” page 51; a large drawn bonnet, c. 1836.

Fashion plates with bonnets: from Journal des Dames et des Modes, 1830, page 51; fashion plates including bonnets, c. 1830, pages 52 and 53; fashion plate, 1835, page 54; fashion plate with drawn bonnet, 1836, page 55.

Introduction, pages 4-5. Information on straw plaits, with photographs, pages 24-25. Enormous silk-covered bonnet of the late 1820s with intact puffs of ribbon, pages 26-27. Leghorn bonnet, 1830-35, with trims added later, pages 28-29. Winter bonnet, 1830-40, covered in novelty fabric, with a cream satin lining with a gathered strip around the brim edge, pages 30-31. Bonnet of the later, closer-fitting shape, dated “Late 1830s – 40s,” with interesting applied striped ribbon decorations, pages 32-33. Information on trimmings, specifically ribbons, with photographs, pages 34-35. Glossary, page 94.

Note: Futher information on the late 1820s silk-covered bonnet is available on page 140 of Nancy Bradfield’s Costume in Detail. There are schematic drawings of, and notes about, an extant bonnet; the bonnet is described as a “Large WHITE SILK BONNET; Trimmed white satin and pale blue ribbons” and appears to be the same bonnet as on pages 26-27 of Hats and Bonnets by Althea Mackenzie, where it is shown in photographs. Together, these sources offer a great deal of information about this bonnet, which is unusually well-preserved.

Full color fashion plates of complete ensembles, including bonnets, 1838-1840: plates 2-5, of which 2 and 3 are both double plates. Plate 6 is also dated 1840, but only evening styles, with evening headdresses, are pictured; there are no bonnets.

The plate shown on page 8 and described on page 9 is dated to c. 1842, but the style of the clothing is quite similar to fashions of the late 1830s, including the large bonnet, so it is useful for reference. The bonnet’s wide ribbon ties are left untied.

Two extant 1830s straw bonnets are shown on mannequins in 1830s gowns, page 34. Extant wedding bonnet of “cream silk with cream crêpe trimming and artificial lilacs 1835-39” shown on a table in a period room, along with a dummy head and a “milliner’s wooden delivery box 1820-50,” pages 87-88. Presumably the same wedding bonnet, shown with a veil, on a mannequin in an 1837 wedding dress, page 91.

Print resources for general millinery, not necessarily period:

This book is less likely to be useful, since it is geared for making hats more-or-less contemporary to the 1960s publication date. However, there is some good general information about materials and techniques.

Online resources, specifically collection photographs of extant bonnets:
(I have organized these roughly chronologically, based on the overall shape. As nearly as I can tell, the angle of the crown related to the brim, at the top, started out fairly acute with early bonnets of the regency era and 1820s, often around a right angle – more like a hat – and around the middle of the 1830s became gradually more obtuse [yes, geometry is relevant to bonnets!], eventually smoothing out completely in styles of the very late 1830s and the 1840s, including the “coal scuttle” bonnet.)


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