Drawn Bonnets (the less ubber-quick version)

When talking about drawn bonnets, we should start with a little vocabulary and “how it is done”.

Drawn – Drawn is when the fabric, most often but not exclusively silk, is sewn with channels into which cane or wire is inserted. The fabric is then bunched, or drawn, up along the length of the cane/wire to create a gathered effect. The drawn cane/wire is attached to the bonnet form.

Shirred – Shirred is when a fabric, often silk, is gathered without additional structure. This can be flat or with flounces.

A single bonnet can have either drawn or shirred techniques, or it may have both.

Construction can be done with individual strips of fabric or larger pieces with multiple sections of drawing or shirring. These were done on both wire only frames and frames with light foundation. Drawn and shirred sections are seen on the brim, on the brim and crown, evenly spaced, unevenly spaced, edged with a different material and even running front to back in some cases.

Now, let us look at some examples. (My apologies for the flash in the images.)

In this fashion illustration and description, the bonnet is directly referred to as “drawn”. This bonnet would have the crepe gathered on cane or wires passing over the bonnet. This bonnet could have been made with two drawn sections, one for the brim and one for the crown.


The bonnet of drawn cuir-colored crepe, trimmed on the front with a fanchon of white lace, loops of green ribbon, and Scotch feathers. The inside trimming is of bright flowers, of the
Scotch colors. The cape is covered with a fall of white blonde. (Godey’s, May 1864)

This bonnet, from the MET, has very easy to see canes which the silk is drawn on. 4 canes draw a single piece of silk onto the brim, while a separate piece is set smoothly over the crown and tip. These canes are on the thicker/larger size, being round. (the widest cane channels I’ve seen in an image are on this Henry Ford Museum corduroy bonnet.)


This bonnet also has the drawn sections on the brim while the crown is smooth. It appears to differ from the previous bonnet in that the canes are drawn on separately in strips. The very edge of the brim is covered with one strip. Three strips are drawn onto canes. These are applied from the back to front, with the front most strip being drawn onto 2 canes, creating a little flounce just behind the front edge.


The next several bonnets show drawn silk on the brim and crown. Notice the variety of spacing used. Some are set snuggly, while other are set with quite a bit of space. The green bonnet has fairly evenly spaced drawn canes/wires.  The blue and white pairs the drawn canes together.  Flounces drawn on cane or wire are tucked in as well. The black and white one has a flounce just where the crown meets the brim. The brown bonnet highlights the angles and overlapping that was done on some bonnets. This helps add to the curvy movement to some bonnets.


This example shows that gathered sections can be worked vertically, over the back of the tip. This may or may not be drawn. A better example, where the canes can be seen, showing it is truly a drawn bonnet can be seen HERE


This last illustration show that a drawn brim can be done with a soft crown. (A tempting idea for this summer. Maybe I’ll make one.)


This bonnet has a front of drawn green silk. The graceful soft crown is of white silk. The trimming consists of a tuft of meadow grass and field flowers, also loops of white silk placed directly over the crown. The inside trimmings is of white and black lace and field flowers. (Godey’s, May 1864)




This is my pin board of 1840s through 1860s drawn bonnets. (I’m splitting drawn and buckram. Bare with me.)


Published in: on June 13, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Anna…I was just wondering if you would be publishing your Winter Hooded Bonnet pattern for this winter. I so want to make one but missed it last year?

  2. Yes, I will be. I’m actually working on a bigger project too.
    Thank you for asking. I have to start a new request list.

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