Pattern Review – Period Impressions’ Straw Bonnet Pattern

Some years back I was asked to revies the Period Impressions’ Straw Bonnet Pattern. These are the notes that were originally shared at that time.

 Initial observations regarding the materials and directions:

– The pattern is drawn for a low and high brim bonnet with a separate tip.

– The materials list includes additional items you will need to purchase – covered wire, thread, Fray Check and glue. Depending on where you purchase these, the cost will be $5-12 for these. 

– The straw plait is extra fine. It is very pretty. I like how the plait can be manipulated. On the brim and body of the bonnet, this plait easily adjusts for tension and width. The plait doesn’t need to be dampened for the body and brim. It does help for the crown coiling.

On a closer look at the plait, I am not sure if this is a period correct plaiting technique or straw splitting technique. Straw splitters make the strands flat to be braided individually or in pairs. The plait is very pretty in design that is fine. The cotton cording on either end is not something I have seen before.

There are some definite advantages to the flexibility of the plait. This is especially true when making the center of the point. But, since it is so fine and fiddly, it could be harder for a first-timer to work with. It would be easier for some one to make the bonnet from plain split straw of the same width. For this reason, I would suggest the buyer to purchase 18 to 20 yards of 1/2″ 5 or 7 strand split straw to use instead. This is more plait than provided by the kit because the amount provided in the kit is barely enough not allowing for error or flaws in the plait.

– I didn’t understand why Fray Check was included in the materials list at first because the plait I have worked with before didn’t fray. As I worked with the plait, I discovered it does fray at the ends. I would rather see the ends stitched together then Fray Check used.

– I like that they suggest dyeing the straw before hand if desired.

– The glue solution works well for a sizing on both the included plait and plain plait.
Notes on bonnet construction: 

– The suggested method of gathering the plait on one side with a running stitch for the crown is nice. The gathering may not work on plain plait. At the same time, I find it easier to coil the crown creating body with plain plait than this plait. This plait is very floppy.

– The directions at row 7 are different than what I do in that area. I start creating height in the brim further back in the crown. I don’t see directions to do this. In the area around row 7 from the front, I would normally pull the sides back a little while pushing the cheek tab forward a little. This usually takes place over 2 to 5 rows.

– It would be helpful for the transitional points to be marked on the pattern; where row 7 should land, where row 16 should land, etc.

– I don’t like how the cheektabs are shaped. They appear to square. (Admittedly, squared cheek tabs were one of my early mistakes.) There should be a graceful curve along the sides of the crown down into the cheektabs. You will want to look at original bonnets to see how the line should change to more of a curve.

– In the final two illustrations and directions, the “fall” doesn’t look to be right. It should reach further along the sides than illustrated. Look at original bonnets to see where the curtain and ties should be positioned.

– I kept pinning the template closed after each row to see how the plait sat. When I work in the round from back to front, I adjust the tension of the plait a good deal. This doesn’t work the same on the template working flat. The back side of each row of plait appeared looser than I would have liked. I started pulling the top/middle of each row a bit tighter.

– I ran a gathering stitch around the back of the body before attaching the back of the crown. This technique gives a nice transition between the two pieces.

– I ran out of plait after binding the raw edges. I would need about 20 inches more to have enough to cover the wire.

– Last but quite significant – When it came to ripping out the interfacing…. frustrated is a gentle word for what I felt. The stitches on the backside need to be very small for the interfacing to come off nicely. 

Additional thoughts:
– This bonnet needs wiring at the brim and sides for sure.

– I am a little worried about the glue sizing and the flexibility of the plait combined with high humidity and/or rain. I think this will be a “no rain” bonnet.


Prior to sizing

 I added a straw plait to the inner edge to strengthen

Published in: on July 1, 2009 at 11:53 am  Leave a Comment  

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