Here's a bonnet pattern (guidelines/instructions/tutorial) that I made up after making several bonnets using patterns in my earlier days of re-enacting. What I really wanted was instructions on how to craft my own bonnet without needing a physical pattern. So, if you want an authentic pattern, look elsewhere, but if you want something that will work, and where you don't need to go buy a pattern, give this a try.
If you are going for authentic, here are some better options:
Easiest: Elizabeth Stewart Clark's slat bonnet.
Slightly more tricky, but do-able: Godey's Lady's Book 1857 Sun Bonnet (with more sizes here).
1. Fabric: Up to a yard of 45” fabric (see sizing and layout below)
2. Elastic: 7 – 9” of ¼”
3. Interfacing: equal size of one brim piece (see layout below)
Sizing and Layout
[IMPORTANT!]. I'm finding that if you measure your head and subtract two inches for the measurement for your main square, that measurement is a good size for your bonnet.
. For 16" bonnets, use 6" elastic.
. For 17-19" bonnets, use 7" elastic.
. For 20" bonnets, use 8" elastic.
. A 19" square seems to work well for 19.5" - 20.5" heads.
. My friend's girl has a 19" head and she looked great in an 18" bonnet.
. My baby has a 17" head, and a 16" bonnet is just a tiny bit big.
. My head is 22", and a 20" square looked good.
· For a baby doll a 9” starting square works well (see layout below).
(Please note: There are two brim pieces. One is for the outside of the bonnet, and the other is for the lining. The ties sandwich between the two brim pieces.)
1. Cut a square of fabric. In this example, we’ll use a 20" square.
2. For the brim depth, use ¼ (or slightly less) the bonnet length plus the bonnet length for the length of the brim: 5” x 20”.
3. For the ties, cut 2 strips 3” x 30”. (The length may be a little long (especially for kids), so hold the strip up to your jaw to see how long it falls and shorten as necessary.)
1. Fold the bonnet piece in half, and then in quarters (to make a 10” x 10” square). Press to mark a plus sign in the fabric. Unfold the fabric one time so it is still in half (see drawing).
a. Cut a quarter circle off the top half of the folded fabric. Look at the pictures below to see how you can fold the fabric to make a nice cut. I learned that from The Workwoman's Guide!
(Don't mind the bottom of these pictures, for some reason, when I upload, it looks like the picture has gone through a bad photo-copier.)
b. Cut a ½” deep mark 1/5 the way up from the bottom of the fabric: in this case, 4”. Cut another small mark ¼” deep 1” above the first mark. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this!
(You will be folding the top mark down to meet the bottom mark to form casing for the elastic. You actually may need to cut 1 ¼” above the lower mark to create enough room for feeding your elastic – depending on how big your safety pin is.)
c. Mark the top center of the bonnet piece with either a pin or a ¼” snip.
2. Take one brim piece and fold in half two times to end up with a 5” x 5” square. Press to create lines. Unfold once.
a. Cut a quarter circle off the top half. Cut the second brim piece to match.
b. Cut a piece of interfacing to match your brim.
1. Below the bottom slit marks on both sides of the bonnet, fold the fabric in ¼”, then again ¼”. Press. Stitch.
a. Fold up the bottom edge ¼”, then again ¼”. Press. Stitch.
b. To make casing, fold top slits down to meet bottom slits in a “Z” shaped fashion. Press. Stitch bottom and top of casing (leaving ends open).
c. Cut a 7” piece of elastic and feed through casing. Be sure and stitch ends down.
2. Take one brim piece and fuse or sew interfacing to wrong side.
a. Take other brim piece and fold straight edge ½” to the back (wrong side). Press.
b. Stitch the two brim pieces right sides together along the curved edge with a 1/2 “ seam. Trim to ¼”. Clip and notch curves. Turn. Press.
(Sorry! I put my interfacing on the wrong side in the picture!)
c. Mark with a ¼” deep clip the center of the straight edge of the brim (or use a pin).
3. Fold ties in half lengthwise. Stitch a ½” seam from one short edge then across the long edge, leaving one small end open for turning. Clip corner. Turn. Press. (Another option is to press both long sides of the tie in 1/4-1/2" as well as one end. Fold the whole thing in half the long way and press. Top stitch the short, pressed-under edge as well as the long edge. This is a good way to go if you don't want to turn your ties!)
a. Baste ties to inside (wrong side) of bonnet by matching small, open end to notched corner (on top of casing, not below it). (Also, if the tie seems too wide where you baste it on, put a little pleat in the tie -- like a little "z" fold right in the center of the narrow part of the tie -- to narrow it down to the desired size; then just baste over the tie as previously indicated (shown in picture).)
4. Run two rows of gathering stitches from one side just above the tie around to the other side just above the tie. Gather bonnet all the way around.
5. Pin straight edge of brim (unfolded piece) to bonnet, right sides together matching centers and brim ends with notched ends of bonnet. Baste with a ½ inch seam, being careful not to catch the second piece of brim (the one that was turned ½” down). Stitch, ½”.
6. Turn bonnet inside out and hand stitch folded brim piece to inside of bonnet to finish, making sure unfinished edge is tucked inside the brim. (You may also machine stitch this if you are very careful! I find I do better hand stitching this part.)
For a (printable) PDF of this tutorial, click here.
The Idea Door also has a few links to patterns. One link doesn't work anymore, another goes to Mother Earth News (but there are no pictures), and I did try the last link entitled Women's Pioneer Bonnet (.pdf), but can't remember why I never finished that one.
I tried this pattern also, but it turned out kind of funny.
You know, had I known that on-line patterns were called tutorials when I made this pattern, I would have just Googled for a bonnet tutorial like this one from Given Moments in the first place. Here's another tutorial from Pickup Some Creativity.
Hey! If you try my pattern, let me know how it goes! I'd love to know what sizes of fabric work for what size of head.