19th century clothing, authenticity, bonnets, Costume, fashion, fashion plates, Historical Sew Fortnightly, Quakers, Rhode Island history, sewing, silk taffeta, style
For this challenge, I initially thought I’d be working on the compere fronts for a silk sacque, but then I took another look at the calendar and realized March was awfully close! Instead, I opted to spend the past week working to better understand the Quakers, especially Quakers in Rhode Island, in advance of a program in early March. (I did do #1, Make Do and Mend, but do you need to know about re-stitching a petticoat binding?)
To help get myself out of a sewing rut and panic, and a general malaise, I made a bonnet. A ‘Quaker’ bonnet. Bonnets are like cupcakes: delicious, sugary, but lower in calories and committment than a full garment.
Quaker women in the late 18th and early 19th century did not, as far as I can tell, wear the black ‘sugar scoop’ bonnet we now associate with Quakers.
There are numerous entries in Amelia Gummere about bonnets, and types of bonnets, and the reflection of particular sects of Quakers in the pleating of the bonnet caul. But early in the 19th century, at the dawn of the Age of Bonnets, Quaker and non-Quaker styles seem to have been closer.
The fashion plate from the Museum of London presented a style that I thought I could approximate, and that made sense to me for 1800-1810ish, but I chose an olive green silk (actually yellow and black sort-of-changeable taffeta) because I have seen Quaker bonnets in olives and tans, especially earlier bonnets. Going with a color that was less distinctive, and a form that was undecorated, seemed to me to strike the best balance between plainness and style in this time period.
I chose this for innovation because the new bonnet forms of the early 19th century are departures from the full, round, pudding-on-the-head styles of the late 18th century, and the Quakers took it a bit further. In standardizing the appearance of their bonnets (simple, unadorned, eventually ossified in form and signaling sect in pleat patterns), the Quakers were innovators in clothing as outward symbol and sign of inner faith and affiliation.
There’s your rationalization, how about some facts?
The Challenge: HSF # 2, Innovation
Fabric: Sort-of-changeable black and yellow silk taffeta in olive green for the body and ribbons, white linen for the caul lining and brim interlining, white poly taffeta for the brim lining, and pasteboard for the brim.
Pattern: Modified Kannik’s Korner Bonnets, View E
Year: ca. 1803
Notions: Thread, PVA (acid-free white glue for book binding)
How historically accurate is it? Well, white poly taffeta aside, pretty accurate. All hand-stitched and assembled in a period method. Gentlewomen can disagree about accuracy of style, but we could call this a plain bonnet ca. 1803 and be safe. After March, I can decorate the bonnet. The poly will remain, so, well, 60%? (How many points from Gryffindor for using the right weave in the wrong fiber?)
Hours to complete: Five, perhaps? These are quick, so five would be from start to finish, not including agonizing in advance.
First worn: First by Mr S, who wasn’t feeling well, but to be carried along by me on March 7.
Total cost: All supplies came from the Strategic Fabric Reserve and chip board depot. It takes so little of anything to make a bonnet…maybe $2.50 in silk, $3.00 in linen, .50 in chipboard, so $6.00? (The silk came from the remnant table at $10/yard, chipboard is $2.00 a sheet, and linen about $12/yard.)