Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Colonial Style Bonnets

Today I thought I would share with you a few colonial style bonnets I have been making. I got the idea while doing research for my, "Dutch Colonial Dress." I knew I didn't have access nor could I afford, some of the wonderful bonnets I was seeing online, so I pondered a bit what I should do?! While looking at a museum site in the Netherlands I came across this wonderful picture of a lace cap-back and it reminded me of an old cut work antimacassar set, I had in my linens and lace stash. I decided to fish them out and use them for making a bonnet. Here is the lovely lace piece that started it all.
This lovely cap-back was made in the 18th century and is made of bobbin lace. Isn't it a lovely delicate piece?! The detail is so fine and beautiful.
I wish I had taken photo's of the separate pieces of this antimacassar set, so you could see how the back bonnet piece resembled the cap-back above, but I got all excited and started sewing these pieces together and forgot to make a record first. My pieces probably date circa 1900s - 19 teens.
This bonnet was made with the two small pieces that would have normally gone on the arms of a chair, and the back piece that you are seeing here, would have gone on the head rest. I had to add a small length of linen to my cap-back, to make it cover my neck, so I added a bit of linen tea towel that had become too ragged for use. It was a piece hand hemmed by grt. grandma, Anne Krout, or one of her sisters, or possibly even her mother. The poor center of the tea towel was mere shreds, but the ends were good, so I thought up-cycling it was a nice way to use it.
 All of the embroidery and cut work on this linen was already done, so when I sewed it together I just had to match the soft grey thread. Gathering the fabric to make the proper shape was a breeze, because they were already pretty much exactly as I needed them to be. A few hours work and I had the prettiest little colonial bonnet you could ever hope to see and since my frontier persona is Dutch, a people who loved all types of fine needlework and embroidery, it is very authentic to the period.
 Here you can see that all the edges of the linen were finished in this lovely grey thread and all I had to do was join the two short pieces in the center to make the front brim of my bonnet.

This second bonnet is of a much simpler style and was made from a piece of machine made Irish lace dating circa 1900 - 1920's. The size of the piece, which was a rectangle the size of a large place mat, rather determined its design.
 As you can see here I merely pinched it in place, gathered it and whip stitched it down. This was a commonly made bonnet for maids, servants, or some of the poorer classes, and would have been made from scraps or recycled lace tablecloths or even runners.
 In this view you can see that I have chosen to leave the edges ragged just as I found them on this scrap.
This style of bonnet is something I would teach sewers to make if they wanted a quick bonnet for any frontier or colonial re-enactment, as it is the simplest. Just rummage through your lace stash for a bit of old table runner or place mat. Snip, drape, pinch, and stitch, and quick as a wink, you have a  bonnet.
This final lovely bonnet, I just finished, is made of two pieces of Italian knot-weave lace, stitched together with matching thread. This lace dates from 1910 - 1920's and is very fine needlework, done by a very skilled hand.
The piece's were two rectangular doilies that had been used under table lamps for years before being put into a box. For all of that they were in excellent condition and took very little effort to shape into a bonnet. The only extra needlework was tucking the point at the back underneath and securing it in place. A bit of blue ribbon woven through the lace finished it nicely and allowed for gathering in back and securing the bonnet at the neck.
These bonnets look very sweet and I think grt. grandma would be happy to see her old linens and laces turned into something usable as well as beautiful. I think bringing these lovely laces back out where they can be seen is so much better than stuffing them in a box, for the next generation to figure out. In designing these bonnets I have not cut or destroyed the original piece, so if in future someone wants to, they can disassemble them and return them to their original shape. I myself however think they look much lovelier as colonial bonnets don't you?! I hope this inspires you to go for a rummage through your old laces and see what lovely things you can create.

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