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.**



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HI, my name is Val. I'm a member of Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, 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.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Salvaging a Disintegrating Bonnet

 With four days left until Dickens, my purple dress is done minus a button or so. But over the weekend I found out the temperature that day was predicted to be 88d, although it has since dropped to 83d but still, wearing a dark purple faux silk taffeta dress? Since I don’t behave very well when it’s hot, I stayed awake one night dreading wearing it and becoming a sodden mess by the time the fashion show began.

 So a decision was made that I would wear my blue and white cotton lawn dress during the day, and changing into the purple dress for the fashion show. Good thing is at least it won’t get wrinkled.
 But I never got around to finishing a bonnet for it. I was just wearing a lacy day cap with it. And the bonnet I was working on I loaned out to a friend who is also going to Dickens. So I dug through the bonnet stash of unfinished forms, and came up with this one I’d bought off a street corner in the LA Garment District. Probably paid about $3.50 for it.
 My plan was to remove the black grosgrain ribbon and replace it with white, and add some white ribbons with blue floral trims. I bought a stalk of multiple blue flowers at Michaels, and cut it up into parts, then arranged three parts and tied them together, later adding some hot glue to hold them in position.
 This was going to have to be a quick and dirty bonnet. I normally hand-tack my trims because I can remove them easily later to do a different color or design. But because of time constraints and being cheapo, I was using hot glue.
It went downhill from there.
I began to remove the grosgrain around the brim edge and the bonnet literally began to disintegrate before my eyes. It did have a very thin piece of plastic “wire” sewn around the brim, thank goodness for that. But even it wasn’t being held on very well. The loosely woven straw had nothing left to hold it together. It was dry and brittle, and pieces were falling on my lap. First thing I did was grab my bottle of Stiffy liquid and pour liberally around the edges and on the lower back edge of the crown which pretty much had disappeared into a pile of little bits. After that finally dried. I tried to machine sewn the white grosgrain ribbon around the edge. But it was too brittle and any bending would cause it to break. Plan B: hand-baste the ribbon on. It looked pretty rough. I did a little touching up with hot glue to the edges so it would lay flat and stay attached. Then to cover the inside of the ribbon I glued some cotton crochet lace edging on.
 So far so good.  Except then I remembered WHY I quit using hot glue years ago. Unknown to many budding hat trimmers, in Southern California (and elsewhere when it gets hot), hot glue softens and melts when you’re outside standing in the heat. So there you have that pretty flower hanging down in front of your face, with lace drooping on the sides. And remember it’s going to be hot that day and I will be outside. *insert sad face* So on top of hot gluing, I now had to hand-tack everything.
I looked at some 1860s bonnets on Pinterest for some ideas of trimming, and came up with doing some gathered loops around the crown. I tied it in bunches with thread, and then tacked it to the bonnet. No glue.
 The back portion was a disintegrating hole so I had to use some creative covering of it.  I need to add a bavelot aka curtain along the back but still need to dig through my stash fabric for something for it.

 The flower clusters were hot glued, then tacked with thread. I repeated the same cluster on the other side at a slightly different angle.

 So a word of warning: if you see a bonnet near the corner of 9th and Maple for $3.50, keep walking.

                                                             ~~Val~~
















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