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Green Corded Bonnet – Part One

May 6, 2011

Before Christmas I decided to have a go at making a corded bonnet after seeing some Costumes Parisiens fashion plates. 

It looks as though the corded bonnets were very popular, mainly between 1808 and 1812, as there are no end of fashion plates showing many variations…some very strange looking indeed.

Now let’s go back to the 1980s when my interest in needlecrafts, and bonnets especially, was re-awakened… 

Whilst working at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life in Lincoln, I had discovered Victorian sunbonnets, which had been worn by women of all ages whilst working in the fields or in their gardens, and was so enchanted by them that I just had to have a go at making one. 

A sunbonnet from East Anglia with rows of piping and tucks

A simple but stylish sunbonnet from Yorkshire

One turned into many, as it was suggested I should make them for children and sell them in the shop, but to my surprise it was the adults that wanted them!

Lincolnshire Sunbonnet


Anyway, back to the Regency era.  My attention was grabbed by these bonnets because of their similarity to the Victorian sunbonnets. 

I bought a metre of green cotton fabric and a few metres of piping cord and began work, adding rows of piping and frills as I went along, as I would with the sunbonnets.  Then I began to gather and stitch to the size required until I ended up with this…

Gathering far so good...

Then came the first little niggle.  I realised that, unlike the sunbonnets, the backs of these bonnets were usually round rather than horse-shoe-shaped, and what I should have done was to have shaped the back of the crown to curve round and join at CB, so that the bottom edge curves around the neck elegantly.  

How was I to resolve this problem?  First, I tried making a round back piece and sewing this on, but it looked wrong (second niggle!), so I had no alternative but to undo it, and decided that a horse-shoe-shaped back was the only solution this time.  I’m not too happy with the result, and will have to devise a decoration to partly hide it…loops of ribbon, perhaps?

In Part Two, I will show you the finished bonnet and how I finally decided to decorate it…and any more ‘challenges’ I might encounter!  

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