Saturday, July 24, 2010

Godey's Lady's Book 1857 Sun-Bonnet Tutorial (another Pioneer Bonnet Pattern)

For more sizes, see this link.

I'm sure this is what you've all been waiting for . . .  I'm just certain it will change your life . . . how about an authentic, free, SIMPLE sun-bonnet pattern from Godey's Lady's Book?  Aren't you just giddy?  (Let me tell ya, I was just giddy when I think I figured out what "filling it in" meant.)

The bonnet calls for some gathering, but you can actually make it without gathering for about the same look.  It also calls for "cotton wick yarn" cords to stiffen it, but I just used interfacing.  Here's how you can make a simplified version:

1.  Download the pattern, print it, tape it together, and cut it out.  (I drew this out in Excel, so when you cut it out, just curve the lines best you can.  I'm sure there's good pattern drafting software out there, but this is all I have!)

2.  Cut out:

  • Front (brim):  1 fashion fabric, 1 heavy interfacing, 1 lining (can match fashion fabric or use white or another light color).  If you want to add the "runnings" to the front, see my "adventures" below on how to do it.
  • Crown (back)
  • Cape
  • Ties:  2" x 18" for back ties, 2" x 20" for front ties
3.   Finish the front.  Use 1/2" seams, except for ties use 1/4" seams. 
  • Press/sew the interfacing to the back of the front fashion fabric.
  • Press the top edge of the lining to the wrong side 1/2".
  • With right sides together, sew the side and bottom edges of the front together, trim edges, clip corners.

4.  Finish the bottom of the crown by folding it to the wrong side 1/4" and again 1/4" and stitching.  The original instructions say to gather and bind the bottom.  I'm making these instructions as easy as possible, so I'm skipping that part and just finishing the bottom of the crown.  Trust me, it will still work.

5.  Make your ties.  Fold in half lengthwise, stitch one short end and along the long end 1/4".  Clip corner, turn, press.

6.  Attach the crown to the front. Start pinning the bottom of the crown to the bottom of the front, right sides together.  Work your way up equally to the center. You see you have a bunch of excess fabric at the top.  Just flatten it out evenly on either side of your center.  You're creating a pleat at the top center back of the bonnet.  I think this is what they mean by "filling it in," well at least it's got to be close.

7.  Before you stitch your seam, place your back ties with the seam toward the bottom 1/2" up from the bottom of the bonnet.  Stitch your seam (re-enforcing a little over the ties).

8.  Turn right side out, tuck your raw edges into your front and hand-stitch your lining down.

9.  Finish your cape.
  • Because the cape is so curvy, hand-stitching is the way to go.  Finish all edges of the cape.  
  • You could cheat and make a facing for the cape (just cut two capes of the same size, sew them right sides together, clip curves, turn, press).
  • After making so many bonnets, I began semi-cheating.  I hand-stitched the curvy parts, then machine-stitched the straighter parts.
  • The written instructions do say "The cape can be of any size desired," so I guess you could modify the shape to be more square, then you could just fold under your raw-edges and machine stitch.  See below for this option.
10.  Attach your cape.
  • Match the center top of your cape to the inside center bottom of your crown.   Pin the rest of the cape evenly to either side of the bonnet.  If the cape does not extend far enough to the sides of the bonnet, remove cape and make a little pleat at the back, bottom, center of the crown.  This will shrink the overall width of the bonnet allowing the cape to extend more around the sides/front.
  • I attached the cape by hand so I wouldn't have a big, ugly machine stitch at the bottom of my bonnet.

11.  Attach your front/inner ties.  I placed them about at the back of my jaw.  If you put them much further back, you feel like you are going to choke.

Finished project with gathers on the crown.
Finished project without gathers on the crown and without "runnings" on the front.

With this one I put the ties a little further back.

Just for fun, here are my "sewing adventures" with this one.  Somehow, the diagram, written instructions, and picture don't match up.

Here's what happens when you cut out the pattern according to the diagram and the written instructions:  "Measure from just below the ear across the head, and allow your cloth to be twice the length."  If you do it this way, the front is waaaaay too long and looks nothing like the finished drawing.  I think maybe it meant twice the depth to allow for runners (see below), or maybe it was twice the length so you could cut it in half for the facing.

I also tried to "measure from just below the ear across the head" (but not double it), but then the finished product looks a little small.  The diagram indicates 23" wide for the front, but my grid paper would only work to 21", which I think looks great.

  If you want to cut your front out bigger to allow for runners, you can do it like this:
Cut the fabric the 21" wide, then double the 10 1/2" depth to 21".
 Sew in your runners as desired (these were 1/2", but 3/4" may have turned out a bit closer to what is seen in the original drawing).  You can see I had a little excess that I ripped off.  Assemble the same as is shown above.
If you sew your "runners" or tucks or pleats or whatever you want to call them on the front pattern piece as it is drawn out, you reduce the front size considerably as is shown below.  So, I think when the pattern said to "allow your cloth to be twice the length," maybe it really means twice the depth to allow for all those runners.

Look how cute this mistake one looks on, though!

Have you noticed, too, that the original drawing has more of a square front, whereas the bonnets I made following the diagram end up with more of a rounded side-front?  I guess it's your preference.  The more rounded edge is easier to see out of; I like it better.
Front cut out according to the diagram.
Front cut out just rounded at the corners (following the written instructions and the original image).
On my first try, I figured I would gather the crown just like every other bonnet pattern, however, after I re-read the instructions, I realized they did not say to gather. That's when I had to figure out what "filling it in" meant.  Gathering could be an option, though (see the green bonnet above).

Now I hate to admit it, but when I saw that the crown pattern-piece was quite a bit longer than the 23" front (or 21" in my case), I cut off the bottom part of the crown to make it shorter.  However, this is what happens:

You lose the back length of the crown!  Duh!  I know this one.  It's just like a sleeve, you know how they are rounded at the top?  You need the excess fabric up at the top to push the fabric down so it ends up where it should be at the bottom!  If I had any knowledge in pattern drafting, I would have caught this one.

 The original pattern says to "gather [the crown] in a little at the neck and bind it."  In some of my versions I did this.  If you don't want to gather, though, you can just run a piece of embroidery floss (or other thick thread), through your finished bottom edge by anchoring it at one end, feeding the needle through your hem, then pulling it out and anchoring it again.  When you gather the bottom of your crown a little, the small cape fits just right.  In the directions I give above, I've eliminated this gathering step to make it easier.  Because you're not gathering, you need to modify the cape -- which I have done in this pattern.

Playing with the cape.
Here's how I modified the original cape pattern to fit this simplified bonnet tutorial (without gathering at the neck).

I made this red bonnet for a girl who's going on trek.  She didn't want the cape so long, so I made a shorter, square-cornered cape.
Looks fine on.

So how many of these bonnets did I make initially?  Well, the 4 you see here, then I ran out of interfacing, so I had to start unpicking versions.  I did that twice.  So you could say it took me 6 tries to get it right.  Well, maybe not right, but the best I could do with the knowledge I have!


harmonious1 said...

Thank you so much for publishing your tutorial, including all your mistakes. It will make doing this very much easier.
I couldn't get the pdf to save, but I was able to get a screen shot and piece it together in paint.

Nettie said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! I made a bonnet already with your pioneer bonnet tutorial, but really wanted to make one that was more "authentic". I had seen the picture for this one, but had no idea how to recreate it and didn't want to pay for a pattern. I was able to use the pattern and your descriptions of your experience to make a version of my own. To simplify it further, I made the cape and crown pieces all one piece. Then used three rows of cording where the runnings are to stiffen it (so I didn't use interfacing). I also squared the cape and bonnet up just a bit from your version. I am really pleased with how it turned out. Thank you!

Kate Challis said...

Thanks so much for this tutorial. You are amazing!! I'm glad that you posted this. I'm going to make some aprons and bonnets for the girls for trek, and your tips will really help.

RibbonsAndPins said...

I'm going to give drafting from the original drawing a try. I need to make some type of headcovering for my 7 year old daughter. I am thinking this may be what she needs. She destoyed a straw hat last summer and grew out of another. With a few extra pleats and some good old fashioned hand sewing this should last her for a number of years! Thank you for posting this pattern!

Little Black Car said...

For fun: Here is that bonnet on an American Girl Hopscotch Hill doll.


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