This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. most of the time. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**

About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, Dean Emeritus of 2018 Costume College; member & Past President of the San Diego Costume Guild, member of Orange County Costume Guild, a representative of the San Diego History Center, & an honorary member of SITU (Someplace in Time, Unlimited) in Seattle. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of one.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

My 1830s Bonnet for Cranberry

I’m down to the 5 days before the Dickens Festival in Riverside and had to re-group on my plans for finishing two costumes for the fashion show. I came down with stomach flu last week and I've lost 5 days of any sewing progress at all. On the bright side I’ve lost 5 lbs too. So maybe I can use that as a benefit and keep it going.
With the deadline this close I know I can’t finish Persimmon and have it look how I wanted. It still needs 13 bows made to go down the front of it. And some kind of decorative button in the middle of each that I haven’t even started shopping for. So I gathered my forces and re-grouped.
The Final Plan is to just wear Cranberry as my character in the fashion show of Miss Betsey Trotwood from David Copperfield. I did the last finishes on it, like that hook & eye I needed at the waist.  I seem to put those off until suddenly a safety pin magically appears to finish it. So all that’s left is to trim my bonnet, and do something with the belt.  
Yesterday I managed to finally drag myself into my sewing room and seriously started thinking of how I would trim my straw bonnet. I had this as an idea for trimming it. I liked the big bow in front and I will have curls. Due to my time limits I may only have the one bow in front but would like to add some on the side and the undersides that you can see in the painting. Ok, now I’ve talked myself into putting the ones on the underside so I have some color around my face. I may need it. 
I purchased this straw bonnet form from Austentation  for $28.
I have antique white faux silk taffeta to pleat inside the bonnet but couldn’t decide what color for the outside. I thought I could use a matching ribbon but it was too pale. I dug around in my stash some more and came up with two pieces of silk taffeta, one being a turquoise that would have been fabulous but was a measly piece and could only make a bow. I wanted to wrap it around the crown, make a big foofy bow, and then it needed tie ribbons. So the only other choice was an aqua silk taffeta I had left over from a previous gown. I had about a yard and scraps from it. When I photograph it, it’s much darker and doesn’t look like a good match for the dress but it’s actually lighter and anyway I didn’t want it to match the dress exactly. There’s going to be an antique white lace pelerine between it and the dress too, with the cranberry belt below that. 

I started thinking about the flowers to go with it and remembered some vintage millinery light brown leaves I had that had a touch of the same color as the aqua on it. This photo shows the paler aqua that it is.
I tore three lengths of the aqua in 2 1/2 inch widths and used a pair of scalloped scissors to cut a bit along the sides of them.
This is the first time I’ve used these scissors. They’re made in Japan of stainless steel, no brand name, and were a bit dull after cutting one 36” length. I think I bought them at a sewing supply store in the Garment District. Not happy. They’re not paper cutting scissors either. I already got rid of those when I realized that but these are meant for fabric. So good luck with that. I’m not even sure scalloped ones can be sharpened. When I was done, I just trimmed some little hangey bits with my thread nippers. *Note-I made up a new word there-hangey*
I started by draping the ribbon around the crown starting at the back. I used glass balled straight pins to hold it in place as I worked. After crossing over the front, I gently tied a knot in it.  

Then I pulled it up and over the top and down the back where I crisscrossed them and folded the ends under my bonnet. All of this is held in place while I do tacking stitches on it to hold everything down.
 The bow is a normal tennis shoe style tied bow but I made an extra loop that I basted onto the back of it. This will all be covered at the bottom so it doesn’t need to be fancy.
I placed the leaves on it and now it all comes together, and is just the right accent to my darker dress.      
Now comes the tedious part: pleating the white silk for the underside. I’ve found out I’m better at eyeballing the pleats rather than trying to mark it exactly and then try pleating them correctly.
So that’s on the game plan for the next couple days. I run out of energy after a few hours so that’s the best I can do for now.
And Chloe has been taking good care of me when I’m resting.


  1. Such a pretty bonnet, and I think you've pinged it not making it too matchy. I love that aqua with the fabric. I do hope you feel much better super soon!

  2. Oh Val!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the blue trim and those beautiful leaves! I think this bonnet is going to looks so AWESOME with your dress! Can't wait to see you all dressed up!!


    1. In a couple more days, it will be photographed. I have a friend there with me who has taken some great photos of me before, & I'm going to ask her for some special ones of this. I normally just stop for a minute, have my photo taken, then run off. I'm no good at standing in different poses and locations. That's not my forte.

  3. love the bonnet, thanks for sharing how you trimmed it :)

    1. Thank you, Kura. I'll have more when its totally done, and on me. :)

  4. I had the same problem with the scalloped shears that I bought. I'm pretty sure they can be sharpened just like regular pinking shears, but I didn't have the time at that point in my project. I found that mine would cut multiple layers easier than 1 layer. So I just cut 4 layers of trim at a time.


I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!