Friday, August 31, 2018

Historical Sew Monthly Challenge #8 - Extant Originals

2018 Challenge #8 - Extant Originals
Copy an extant historical garment as closely as possible.
The Dreamstress
I love historical headwear!  It is where I started on my costume journey.  I started creating historical hats only because I had access to patterns and the internet and with no fear I jumped in.  And loved it!  Studying museum photos and fashion plates from my home computer was all I had to learn the designs of the times and truly that can be enough to start you on your own journey.  There are many patterns available from amazing designers and I have used those by Denise Nadine Designs, Truly Victorian, Wingeo, and Lynn McMasters, and have learned so much I have even designed my own.
When I saw this 1870's bonnet online through the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Museum Number T.163-1923, Place of Origin:  Great Britain, Unkown artist/maker, I knew it was a beauty that I wanted to recreate.

The Museum description:  Bonnet of plaited silvered straw, trimmed with grey and mauve silk ribbon, embroidered cream net and artificial poppies in magenta coloured silk.  There are long narrow tying ribbons of black satin.  H 500mm, W 220 mm, D 190 mm

Quite a few years ago I purchased two colors of plaited straw at auction which closely resemble the extant original bonnet detail but are in a blue and cream color.  Since I have some remnants of a blue silk crepe which matches the blue straw, I decide to make my recreation with the blue straw.  Sadly I have a finite amount of the straw, so I choose to make my bonnet on a buckram base, covered in the silk crepe, and using the straw only where necessary.  The buckram is also a very rigid base for all the floral embellishment.

Lynn McMasters, Out of a Portrait, has a beautiful Mid-Victorian Winter Bonnet pattern with the shape I want for my not-so-winter bonnet.

And from here, it is just a step by step to a recreation!

The bonnet crown tip, base, brim, and crown side cut from 2-ply buckram.

Other supplies are millinery thread, millinery wire, and French elastic.
Millinery wire is hand sewn to the edges of the brim, base, and crown tip.  The crown side band is sewn into a circle and the tip attached.  All wire is covered with French elastic.

The bonnet base and crown are covered with the silk crepe fabric and the brim is sewn to the base.  Sometimes it takes a pliers to push or pull the needle through the layers of buckram and fabric.  It was here that I realized my design did not need the additional brim and I will save that for a future project.
With the crown sewn to the base I can now attach the plaited straw to the base edges, crown edge, and create the front straw wave embellishment.  Using a similar colored thread makes the stitches disappear. 

This beautiful swiss dot net became beautifully dark with some soaking in black tea.  And it still smells like Chai Spice.

The velvet flowers on the left are vintage.  I purchase vintage pieces online or in flea markets whenever I find them knowing that eventually they will fit on a hat perfectly.  The other flowers on this bonnet are made from two stems of modern florals.  I disassemble them, discard all plastic bits, and hand sew them to millinery wire and wrap the stems with floral tape.  For this bonnet I've combined parts of several different floral picks and cut, wet, and reshaped the petals.
When the net and all floral embellishments are sewn to the bonnet it creates quite a mess inside!  I use different colored thread as it matches the embellishment.  All this mess will be covered with the lining so all will be beautiful inside as well as out.

Finally this little beauty is ready to wear!  I love the way the base fits on the head and the black satin ribbon is a perfect fit to the base lower edge.  Here are a group of pretty photos I took outside this morning just as the sun was coming up.

I made a collage to compare my recreation to the extant original.  While my blue straw is more vivid than the original, perhaps almost 150 years ago the original was a bit more vivid as well.  Don't you wish these originals could tell us their story?  Who wore this bonnet?  What were they doing, feeling, and thinking on that day?  Did they love this beauty and feel pretty when they tied it on their head?  I can only imagine so!
Historical Sew Monthly
The Challenge:  #8 Extant Originals
Material:  Buckram, silk crepe, plaited straw
Pattern:  Mid-Victorian Winter Bonnet by Out of a Portrait
Year:  1870s
Notions:  Millinery thread, millinery wire, French elastic, tea dyed net, vintage and hand made flowers, ribbon
How historically accurate is it?  Recreation of an extant original in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, using both vintage and modern materials and historical techniques.
Hours to complete:  12 hours
First Worn:  Photos taken today
Total Cost:  $82