A verrry long time ago I started tearing apart a straw bonnet that didn’t have the right shape, got frustrated, and didn’t think about bonnets again until the beginning of this year. While gearing up for Gettysburg, I simply needed a bonnet. I’ve never really made a bonnet before but of course I decided to make my first a hard one.
I got bit by the drawn-bonnet-bug after seeing a grad student/friend of mine make an absolutely lovely reproduction of a bonnet she found tucked away in the hat boxes at the theater department. Her reproduction was stunning. She used a silver shot taffeta and wire frame.
From seeing her process, I became really intrigued with making one, but first I had to see whether or not a drawn bonnet would be appropriate for the American Civil War years (1860-1865). In my research (and people, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) it seems that the drawn bonnet style was definitely more popular before the 1860s, and isn’t as widespread up through 1865. That was kind of a bummer, but I dug a little deeper. I searched through fashion plates, seeing one occasionally, and would randomly come across a cute bonnet from museum sites only to find out that it’s a child’s bonnet or some other such nonsense.
|Look how precious! But it’s a child’s bonnet 😦|
A little bit about Civil War Era Bonnets: Bonnet styles progress like any other type of fashion, some years they’re in, some years they’re out, some years they’re round, some years they’re not. Specifically, from 1860-65 the “spoon bonnet” became popular. The “spoon” refers to the profile view of the bonnet looking like a spoon, having a gentle curved and slightly pronounced brim at the top; and from the front view it has an egg like shape, much like a spoon. Also, during these years, the caul of the bonnet was somewhat shallow and had a pretty steep grade from brim to crown.
After having so much trouble finding an okay bonnet with the correct shape and being a drawn bonnet (that I like and want to reproduce) I was forced to use Pinterest. LE GASP! Now, I will say this with a disclaimer:
PINTEREST IS NOT A FULLPROOF SEARCH TOOL AND NOT EVERYTHING ON PINTEREST IS WHAT IT SAYS IT IS. ANYTHING YOU SEE ON PINTEREST COULD BE A FRAUD AND IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO RESEARCH SAID PHOTO TO VERIFY IT’S AUTHENTICITY.
So, in essence, everything on Pinterest must be taken with a grain of salt. Pinterest can be a great search tool as there are so many photos linked with great websites. Unfortunately it is not always the case. I encourage any person who finds an intriguing photo from Pinterest to find out its original source and give said source due credit. End Rant.
The bonnet I found is from Time Traveler’s Antiques. It is a drawn bonnet, which isn’t altogether shocking, but the shape of it is definitely of the 1860s. You can see in the photo how high the top of the brim is, it is not round like most of the drawn bonnets from the 1850s, definitely spoon shaped. Now, the caul of the bonnet doesn’t have a very steep grade, but the trimmings are concentrated at the top of the head, which also point to the 1860s.
So, this is the bonnet I am to recreate, just with a different color scheme. The next post shall be about the construction!