As promised, my interpretation of the ribbed bonnet in the 1789 engraving. There are a few problems with this beyond the model. (Which is not to say that I don’t like this bonnet– I do!)
I used the Kannik’s Korner bonnet pattern (view F, I think) as the basis for this because I already had a brim, lining, and caul cut and in a drawer. Given my current medicated state, using something pre-cut seemed advisable. That means I didn’t play with the brim to create the line of the Williamsburg bonnet, or the curve of the brim in the “Fortune Teller” engraving.
Is this style acceptable for the period I typically interpret (1775-1783)? Well… there are other examples of the lampshade-style bonnet, as in the Edward Penny painting of the Marquis of Granby. This painting is dated “after 1765” so there’s some room for interpretation there…too much room. But if that’s 1765-1770, and the “Fortune Teller” is 1789, I think we have comfortably covered the 1775-1783 time frame, even if it is a bit like a queen-sized blanket on a twin bed.
As you can see, the bonnet does have some lamp-shade-like tendencies on my head, which I consider a benefit. I like the way the ribs are visible, even if I remain unconvinced by the caning. I think it’s a little too wide, and lacks resiliency, though to be honest, I have only felt baleen at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, where there is a large sample on the second floor.
To compensate for the disappointing cane in the brim, I slipped a piece of millinery wire into the pocket underneath the cane. The layers in the brim are:
- black taffeta
- horsehair canvas
- linen buckram
- yellow taffeta
The channels are all hand-sewn, and then the cane was slipped in. I stitched the black taffeta caul to the first three layers, and then lapped the yellow taffeta over the raw edges and stitched it down to finish the brim/caul seam.
Usually, I line the cauls of my bonnets, but through shear laziness or distraction, I opted not to this time, and I think I’ll leave it this way for a while. You will also note that I have not trimmed this: I have some black silk ribbon coming, and I may try that. I don’t have enough black taffeta left to cut self-fabric ties, and there do seem to be some plain examples. A plainer, lamp-shade-like bonnet may be just the ticket for Bridget.
What would I do differently? Next time I would definitely play with the brim shape using a paper template. I’d like a lower, curvier, brim. Once I had the shape worked out in paper, I would use that as a template to cut the taffeta and horsehair or light buckram layers.
I’d also try zip ties. I know: not period correct! But short of risking federal prosecution resulting from a trip to New Bedford with some shears, I’m not sure that anything other than plastic will have the resiliency and spring that baleen has, and that made these bonnets so special. I thought of them while making this bonnet, but I think Mr S used them all at work in the past two months. A Facebook friend has been thinking of zip ties, though, and has a hankering for one of these bonnets. I can’t say that I blame her– and honestly, I think I might join her.