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There’s something about a Regency bonnet that is just so cute! But making something so 3D and involving such unusual materials as straw and buckram can be really daunting.
But working with straw is actually a lot easier than you think and making a bonnet pattern is quite simple.
Regency Bonnet Video:
I made my bonnet using these synthetic straw discs from Parkin Fabrics. They’re a specialist millinery supplier but you could always unwind the straw from an old straw hat. Just make sure it’s a hat made from coiled braid and not woven straw.
I didn’t unwind my disc all the way but left a small circle for the tip of the bonnet.
I then coiled the straw around the edge of the tip at right angles and whip stitched the edges together.
Then carry on coiling and overlapping the braid slightly and whip in place. Keep going until your bonnet crown is the desired height. Regency bonnets have quite tall and sometimes tapered crowns. Take a look at some historical examples or fashion plates for inspiration.
You will need a pattern piece to make the brim of your bonnet. The easiest way to do this is to draw around the crown you have just made. That way it is guaranteed to be the right size!
Then fold the paper in half and sketch out a rough shape of the brim. It’s best to start too big and then trim it down until you are happy with it.
It helps to pin the pattern piece to the crown and try the bonnet on so you can better judge the proportions.
Once you have your pattern piece, you need to coil the braid into the shape of the pattern piece. I started in the middle and then spiraled out for a few rows. How far you go with this depends on the size and shape of the bonnet.
Eventually you will need to start working in semi circle shapes, changing direction by folding the braid back on itself. I made sure to position my folds off the edge of the pattern piece so I could trim down the bulk later.
Once your bonnet brim is the right size, don’t cut off the excess braid. We’re going to use it to neaten the edge later.
Once everything is pinned in place we can zigzag stitch all those layers of braid together on the sewing machine. You can also sew it by hand of course but it’s much faster by machine!
Then neaten the back edge where you kept changing direction but putting the paper pattern piece back on the brim and trimming it to size. You may find it easier to pencil in this curve then cut it.
Then I neatened the back edge by taking the excess braid that I had left earlier and cover the cut edge with it.
I had enough braid left that I could add an extra layer around the edge of the brim for stability and as a nice decoration.
I then trimmed off the excess braid and turned under the excess edge to neaten it.
Joining the Crown to the Brim
To join the crown of the bonnet to the brim I simply pinned the brim to the crown and whipstitched the two parts together. I first did this from the inside and then repeated for the outside. This kept all the layers flat and was nice and secure.
At this point the Regency bonnet itself is complete! and now we get on to the fun part, the decoration.
I based my decoration on this fashion plate.
It just looks like a gathered tube of fabric. So I took some off cuts from my Little Dorrit dress and stitched them into a tube before turning it right side out. I then threaded a ribbon through this tube to gather it up and stitched the ribbon in place to the bonnet.
I also added lengths of ribbon to tie the bonnet on. And that’s it! A Regency bonnet
You can trim your Regency bonnet any way you like. Feathers and lace were a very popular combination and this is a period with some really wacky hat designs so feel free to go to town!
The Finished Regency Bonnet
I really hope you like my finished Regency bonnet! I’m so pleased with how it turned out and I think it’s the perfect addition to my Little Dorrit costume.
I’m hoping to do some more historical costume projects in the future so let me know what you would like to see,