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.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018


This is a little post as I wanted to share a cute little hat I just bought at a small antique shop near Saratoga, CA, over the weekend. And it was only $24.00.
In the past I’ve talked about how I’ve learned some sewing tips from looking at extant bodices, and this time I learned a few things from two hats I just bought.

It’s from the late 1880s, between 1886-1889, and is made of a soft woven straw. I’m sure there’s a name for the material but I don’t know it. It had a price tag that said it was a doll’s hat. Knowing as I do that many hats and bonnets from this time were very small, I wasn’t fooled. It sits just on the back of your head with bits of it popping up on the top of your head.  The French liked it really high. This one is a little more subtle than that. And yes, there’s always that slim chance that this was a mourning bonnet, since the fabric trimming it is a very dull finish, and violets could have been added to become second half of mourning, but its also possible its a fashionable little black hat.

Once I got home I started taking photos of it. The edges have three layers of a soft black chiffony-type fabric that I need to find out what it is too. It’s possible it’s silk organza or chiffon from some of my friends opinions. The ribbons that tie under the chin are silk faille and have shredded pretty bad. Those will be getting replaced so I can wear this in fashion shows to, of course, show it off! The little velvet violets are really sweet looking too. 

I found two photos of ladies with one of these bonnets from 1888 & 1889, the late bustle era. 

And these are a couple extant ones held in the MET Museum. 

ETA: I'm adding this from further searching. I found this photo of a mourning bonnet covered in crape, from the LACMA museum, which doesn't look like my fabric. This is what crape looks like, wrinkly. Another opinion says mine is more like the softer silk chiffon, but may also be mourning. 

I love trimming hats & dresses myself, so I save ideas of ways to do it all the time. This bonnet share with me a way to attach those long ribbons that tie under your chin, which always seem very awkward to attach. It had two lengths of ribbon that were tied together at one end with little tails sticking up, then attached at the center back of the bonnet, and then along the bottom edges towards the front.  
A second 1890s boater hat that I bought at the same store also had a trick to share along the same idea. At the back instead of tying them together, the ends were folded down, basted on, and then left hanging in the back. Very sweet. 
If you’d like to try making your own bonnet like this from a modern straw, read Cindy from RedThreaded’s blog on it, since it was a similar hat to mine.

                          And now back to sewing, if Chloe will let me.

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