Category Archives: 1860-64 plaid dress & ensemble

1860s Marie Stewart bonnet of scarlet silk

Last updated April 21, 2011.

Inspiration: The availability of an inexpensive bonnet form with that darling downturned point at the top of the crown! I love the “Marie Stewart” shape. I am particularly fond of this extant cream silk fanchon bonnet with blue ribbon and fringe, accession number 47.1519, at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Form:
  Purchased reproduction buckram form from Timely Tresses, their “Wilhelmina Elizabeth” in the “Marie Stewart” shape appropriate for 1863-1867. It was not a terribly common style historically, but I’ve always loved it, and it isn’t inappropriate, just a trifle unusual.
Lining:
  White or ivory (or maybe very pale pink) silk taffeta or habotai
Ties and Ribbon Trim:
  Probably black silk, either taffeta or habotai, but possibly brocade if I find something promising.
Outer Trimmings:
  Probably a black ostrich feather or two, possibly some black silk satin ribbon, possibly a red artificial flower. I’ll revisit this later.
Trimmings Inside Brim:
A frill of white or ivory silk organza
Thread:
  TBD
Construction:
  Linings and trimmings will be entirely hand-sewn, though I believe that the form itself is machine-stitched.
Current Status:
  This bonnet will not be included with my Div III. There’s simply too much to do, so I’ve been scaling back the 1860s pieces. But I plan on going forward with this particular project soon, quite possibly this summer.

Print resources for 1860s bonnets of this style:

A September 1864 plate shows four new styles of bonnets, at least one of which appears to be of the Marie Stewart shape, on page 66. A full scene plate of August 1865 has only one bonnet, but it is of a similar style to mine, on page 69. Two ensemble plates from October 1865 include bonnets of a similar style to mine, on page 70. (See below for more general bonnet references in this book.)

The early 1860s photograph (image 67) at the upper left of page 27 depicts a mother and small daughter, both of whom wear bonnets. The mother’s bonnet is a spoon shape with a slight dip at the top, while the daughter’s little bonnet has a very pronounced dip. The book’s text describes it as “heart-shaped,” but it is quite close to the Marie Stewart dipping point shape. The brim appears to be filled with a small frill.

Grayscale fashion plates of full ensembles: Figure 89, dated 1863, on page 127; Figure 90, dated July 1864, on page 127.

Quotation from Harper’s Bazar, November 2, 1867, on page 8: “The ‘airy fairy’ fanchon, so long popular, is gradually being deposed by the much more stately Marie Antoinette bonnet, more in keeping with the picturesque costumes now worn.” Quotation from Harper’s Bazar, November 2, 1867, on page 8: “The fanchon still lingers with us in a slightly changed form. It used to be a matter of some doubt which was the front and which the rear of this bonnet. But as now worn with the Marie Stuart point still remains in front, while the back is shorn of its points, being entirely straight on the chignon.” Quotation from Harper’s Bazar, November 23, 1867, on page 29: “The fanchon is so universally becoming that all efforts to displace it have failed.”

There is also a very useful section of the book that pulls information on “Making Bonnet Frames and Bonnets” directly from Harper’s Bazar of May 9, 1868, on pages 210-220.

Terminology: Although the source for the assertion is not cited, page 80 states that “After the Civil War, milliners conceived smaller [than spoon bonnets], curtainless Empire and Fanchon bonnets as larger and more elaborate chignons were worn high on the head.”

Extant: There are four photographs on page 82 of an extant spoon bonnet of moderate size which is fully trimmed with the original decorations. The inside of the brim retains “the original fine ruched silk tulle,” which goes around the entire inside edge of the brim. There are also artificial flowers at the top of the inside of the brim.

The lower left period photograph on page 76 shows a woman in an early 1860s bonnet of a slightly different shape, with a dense frill of what appears to be a crisp, sheer silk all around the inside of the brim. The earlier, wider bonnet in the left photograph on page 78 also has a frill on the inside of the brim, but it also appears to have flowers at the sides. The tall spoon bonnet in the second photograph down on page 79 has a dense frill inside the brim, as well as a spray of flowers. The lower right photograph on page 91 has a tall spoon bonnet which dips in the middle, though not quite to the full point of the Marie Stewart style; inside the brim there are frills at the sides and large flowers at the top.

Introduction, pages 4-5. Spoon Bonnet, 1855-60, with “A frill of silk net and cream silk lace…inside the brim,” on pages 58-59. Fanchon Bonnet, 1865-70, of a slighter later variety than mine (smaller), but of a similar variety, with a slight Marie Stewart style dip at the front, on pages 64-65. Mourning Bonnet, 1865-70, a similar fanchon to the previous example, again with a slightly pointed dip at the front, on pages 74-75. Information on trimmings, specifically ribbons, with photographs, pages 34-35. Glossary, page 94.

Grayscale fashion plates images, with descriptive text, from May-December 1865 of a selection of bonnets of this style, including some of the Marie Stewart variety, pages 144-149. See entry below for information on this this book as a general bonnet resource.

The figure at left in Plate 31, of June 1864, wears a bonnet of the Marie Stewart shape. It is described (on page viii) as a “White crepe bonnet, with a fall of point lace over the brim à la Marie Stewart.” Other plates which show bonnets of a style similar to mine: January 1865, Plate 32; April 1865, Plate 33; March 1865, Plate 34; November 1865, Plate 35; May 1865, Plate 37. See below for more general bonnet references in this book.

An April 1864 fashion plate from Peterson’s Magazine includes a bonnet of the Marie Stewart shape, which appears to have fringe hanging across the top of the brim, on page 267.

Print resources for 1860s bonnets in general:

A July 1861 plate offers the latest styles in millinery (three bonnets and one hat) with descriptions, on page 44. An August 1862 plate shows, among other things, two new spoon bonnet styles, with trimmings, on page 48. A full scene fashion plate of January 1864 includes two spoon bonnets, on page 57. A January 1864 plate depicting the back of a cape also shows the back of a bonnet, on page 59. A December 1864 full scene plate shows three spoon bonnets, two in side view and one back view, on page 64. A September 1864 plate shows four new styles of bonnets, at least one of which appears to be of the Marie Stewart shape, on page 66. A full scene plate of August 1865 has only one bonnet, but it is of a similar style to mine, on page 69. Two ensemble plates from October 1865 include bonnets of a similar style to mine, on page 70.

Schematic drawings, with notes, of extant bonnets: pages 191-193.

The photographs of dressed and posed mannequins sometimes have bonnets, but their details are not always readily discernible. However, several from around the early 1860s make appearances throughout pages 220-236.

While rather disorganized, this book pulls fashion and vast quantities of fashion information, including instructional articles, from original 1850s-60s ladies’ magazines; in this volume, all is about headwear. In addition to the section of 1865 bonnets in a style similar to mine, listed in the entry for this book above, there is a great deal of general useful information, and an immense array of images to look at for trimming and style inspiration. The section devoted to bonnets specifically is on pages 107-160

Full color fashion plates of complete ensembles, including bonnets: September 1862, Plate 28; November 1864, Plate 29; April 1864, Plate 30. See above entry for further references, to bonnets of a style specifically like mine.

Online resources:

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