This absolutely lovely bonnet has been part of my antique clothing collection for years but I haven’t gotten around to studying it very closely until now. It came on the field trip to Dress University this year and it was great fun to share with the other costume enthusiasts. It likely dates to the 1790s and has much in common with the earlier calash style bonnets.
The primary covering is a brilliant blue plain weave silk – very lightweight. Each of the gathered/shirred area has been stitched flat and strips of cardboard provide the support inside the channels. Buckram is used at the back of the bonnet to give support to the large flat area and there are some signs that a lining may have covered the interior buckram in the past.
Flowers of three varieties adorn the front and one of these days I’ll get around to crafting some samples. The small forget-me-nots are cut from velvet, the large pink roses are made from textured paper (similar to heavy crepe paper) , and the medium flowers have been constructed from linen fabric. All the leaves appear to be silk but I’m still working on closer examination of the stems and more exact construction methods for each element.
A pattern might be forthcoming later this summer, but for now I’ll just enjoy this bonny blue bonnet and imagine the stories it has to tell!