If you didn’t get a chance to read Part 1 of my bonnet adventures, click here!

So, to start where I left off, I had researched drawn bonnets for the 1860’s and came across a lovely image of a great specimen.

From looking at the images, it seems that the canes are not relied upon for the shape of the bonnet. Typically there are two types of understructures, wire base and buckram base (sometimes a mix of the two). Wire bases are more for sheer bonnets or ones that don’t require a lot of extra structure. Buckram bases are more sturdy and structured, and can be sewn directly into to keep fashion fabric in place. I inferred that the bonnet’s understructure is a buckram base, which allows for the canes to be decorative. This explains the interesting pattern on the caul of the bonnet.

tiny bonnet!

From this point, I decided to start working on the base. Getting the shape is the hardest part, since I’ve not made one before. I made little paper prototypes to get an idea of the pattern pieces. It took a lot of tries, but I figured out what shapes make what bonnets.

When I found the approximate shape I was looking for, I made real size paper prototype. This became the pattern.

paper and tape, that is all!

Afterward, I cut out the pieces in buckram and found that it wasn’t as sturdy as I was hoping. I fused two layers together to get the right thickness. As with most buckram bases, the ends need to be wired. So, (as I am cheap and always make these kinds of things spur of the moment) I lock-stitched (by hand) galvanized steel wire from Lowes to the edges instead of waiting for millinery wire, then covered the wire with white bias tape. It worked out pretty well, I think. But in the future I’d like to see if millinery wire makes any difference.

I ended up getting a great shape for my bonnet! I’m really pleased with the pattern.

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