All posts for the month September, 2015

My Romantic Era Bonnet Is Complete!!

Published September 28, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

I actually finished it a week or so ago, but life took a turn and time became a new and different thing to manage. But It is finished and I am quite proud of it.

My ‘normal’ era to sew for is the 1870’s. I adore the big bustle era, so I make gowns and accessories for that era. This bonnet is 1830’s, also called the Romantic Era. The 1830’s boasted these enormous bonnets, rather odd hair styles and dress with gigantic sleeve puffs around the elbows.


For me this a lot of fashion don’ts all piled into one gown. It is not my favourite era. I know some folks out there adore it to no end. It just isn’t my own cup o’ tea. I took on the challenge to make this bonnet for a number of previously stated reasons. While I still am not a fan of bonnets, I am very proud of the work I put into this bonnet and finished product.


BonnetRightSideIt has garnered lovely comments from the Historical Sew Fortnightly people who have a lot more experience than I have at making these things. Small things I thought may be wrong for the era were deemed correct (yay!). I spent 3 hours (yes, hours!) pleating the interior. For all the naughty words and starting over, I am glad I spent that time. It came out lovely. I received many comments on how nice the interior looked.

BonnetFrontI learned a lot while making this. It challenged my millinery skills (such as they are) just enough to learn without getting overly frustrated. If I were asked to make a bonnet for someone, I would do it. As long I do not have to wear it, I will enjoy the making.

Now, should I keep it, or put it up for sale?

The Bonnet Moves Along – At a Snail’s Pace

Published September 12, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

The bonnet is moving along quite slowly. It is difficult in some respects, easy in others. I have made top hats from buckram, so building the side band and tip pieces was easy. The crown is made and sitting there staring at me wondering wear its brim is.


Completed Crown


The brim is the problem child. I looked at hundreds of museum bonnets, auction bonnets and Pinterest bonnets. The interiors are sometimes quite plain, but most are pleated or done in rows of light ruching (both sides gathered). Some even have faux flowers mounted on the inside.

I decided (because I am too stupid for my own good) to pleat the interior of my bonnet. I bought a soft pink for the interior and the ties that looks very nice against the brown base. I pleated and re-pleated and re-pleated again. It took me 3 hours (yes, hours!) to get the silly pleats looking as I wanted (meaning even and centered) and stitched in to place.


Pleated Brim Lining


Because I am building this like an actual bonnet, and because I have built top hats following similar steps, I know that I do have to do my lining now. I cannot make this, then insert it into the bonnet once the brim is attached to the crown. Since I using real millinery techniques, I am having to re-work the pattern instructions and steps at certain points.

The pattern calls for a lot of gluing. Ew. Glue is great for some things, but it will not make a hat that will last. My buckram frames are sewn together, not glued as the pattern calls for. My frame is mulled (the wire bits covered to make the lines softer), the fabric also stitched rather than glued. As I read ahead in the pattern instructions, I noticed it called for gluing the brim to the crown. I cannot see this working anywhere except in fairyland where magic exists. The brim is not only a little weighty, but sits on the crown at a sharp upward angle. Honestly Butterick, glue?

Next is the outer brim cover and attaching the brim to the crown.

Unless, of course, I add frou frou to the interior.


The Sewing Challenge

Published September 7, 2015 by mindfulofchatter

Green bonnet

My new hobby is already in swing. As I said before, it is a historical sewing challenge. There one challenge every month. The due date is the last day of the month. There are no rules for when you may begin a challenge as the challenges for the entire year can be found on The Dreamstress blog site. As I also said – I am late to the party.

September’s challenge is  ‘Brown”. I may make anything that is brown, or a brown pattern, up to the WWII era. So yes, I can make something in the Viking era if I want to. But I am not. I am making an 1830’s style bonnet.

This puzzled my sister to no end. She even tried to steer me into making something else, like a Regency turban. She questioned my choice of a bonnet for the several reasons:

I am not a fan of brown for clothing.

I am not a Regency or Romantic era fan (love Austen, dislike the ladies fashion).

I pretty much detest bonnets (a large part of ladies fashion for the eras).

I will never wear it (because I pretty much detest bonnets).

As you can see, she has a point or three. Why on earth would I choose to make something I am not going to wear and don’t really like? I asked myself these same questions several times before actually settling on a bonnet. My answer to Sis and myself is:

I have a bonnet pattern (it is part of a multi-hat pattern).

I kinda know how to work with buckram (a hat making fabric).

Since I already am not a fan of brown or bonnets, not wearing it isn’t going bother me.

I want to stretch my fledgling millinery skills.

So a bonnet it is! I found a lovely chocolate-brown cotton (silk is not in my budget) and a pale pink for the interior lining and accents. I have my buckram, the pattern and my millinery book. The rest will fall into place as I go. At some point I will get ideas about trims and decide how I want to trim it out. I have been spending time looking at real bonnets (not reproductions) to get the feel for the era I am tackling. I am thankful so many museums and auction houses post their collections online.

The is will be challenge in more ways than one. I am making something I have never made before. I am making something out of my era of choice (1870’s). I am also making something I am not fond of.

I hope I am up to the challenge.



Finding a New Hobby

Published September 4, 2015 by mindfulofchatter



As my unemployed status drifts on, I find I need things to fill my time. Even though it is said one ought to job hunt full-time, there isn’t full-time worth of hunting to do. This leaves me with time on my hands and a busy mind that’s slowly going insane. Well, more insane than it already is.

A few years ago, I went to visit my sister in Washington for an event in her town. They were holding Victorian Heritage Days. Her town is Victorian port town on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula. I made an 1874 bustle gown for the occasion. I love that big bustle era. My sister had never made a Victorian dress before. I helped her here and there get her dress ready for the event. My sister is an amazing seamstress (a title I do not claim).

Since then, Sis has taken off with historical sewing. She has made some beautiful items. She also has a neat blog called Threading Through Time at Check it out. It’s fun and you may learn some cool things.

One of the things she writes about is Historical Sew Fortnightly  and the Historical Sew Monthly Challenges. Each month is a historical sewing challenge. The challenges are outlined and you choose how you will meet the challenge. If you do all the challenges, you will have 12 historically correct pieces to add to your wardrobe. Kinda cool, ain’t it?

As usual, I am late to the party. They are on challenge number 9 (September/9, see how that works?). If I can keep up, I’ll have 4 new clothing pieces to add to my historic wardrobe.

The HSM challenge #9 is Brown. Sounds kinda dull, doesn’t it. But brown has been very popular on and off for centuries. And here the other thing – I can make anything up WWII. Anything. Dress, hat, gloves, shoes, whatever tickles my fancy. It must be brown, or a pattern that would be described as brown and ______, or _____ and brown. This opens it up to plaids, florals, stripes, checks, as well as solid brown with coloured trims. And no, you don’t win anything. It isn’t a competition. It is for fun only. There is a Facebook page where everyone shares, helps and supports each other.

All I have to do now is choose something to make. It is due on September 30th.

I’d better get crackin’.