Life of a Straw Bonnet – Cleaning & Care

Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; a Manual of Domestic Economy Containing Approved Directions for Washing, Dress-making, by Miss Eliza Leslie, 1850.

TO CLEAN A STRAW OR LEGHORN BONNETHaving separated the crown from the brim and the cape or neck-piece, and removed the lining and wire, the next thing is to take out whatever stains may be found in the bonnet, the crown of which should be put on a wooden block. For grease, rub on with your finger some powdered Wilmington clay, or a little magnesia; and in an hour or two brush it off, and renew the application, if necessary. For other stains use either cream of tartar or salt of sorrel, put on a little wet. If salt of sorrel,must be washed off again almost immediately, lest it injure the straw by remaining on it. Afterwards (keeping the crown still on the bonnet-block) go over the whole surface of the bonnet with a brush dipped in a weak solution of pearl ash in lukewarm water, (a tea-spoonful to a quart.) Then scour it off at once, with a strong lather of brown soap and cold water, put on with a clean brush. When all the bonnet is well cleaned, rinse it in cold water, and hang it in the sun to dry. Bonnet cleaning should never be undertaken in damp weather. When the bonnet is perfectly dry, you may proceed to whiten it. Fill a chafing dish or portable furnace with burning charcoal; carry it into a small close room or into an empty press or closet, and by a line suspended across, hang the bonnet over the charcoal, at a safe distance, so that it will be in no danger of scorching. Then strew over the coals an ounce or two of powdered brimstone, and immediately go out and shut the door, seeing that no air whatever can get into the room. After the bonnet has hung in the vapour six or seven hours, throw open the door, (having first left open an outside door or window, so as to admit immediately the fresh air,) and go into the room as soon as you find you can do so without inconvenience from the fumes of the charcoal and sulphur. Then bring out the bonnet, and hang it in the open air till the smell of the brimstone has entirely left it. If the day is windy, so much the better; but the bonnet must on no account be hung out if the weather is damp, and it must be brought in before sunset. If it is not sufficiently white, repeat next day the process of bleaching it with charcoal and brimstone.The next thing is to stiffen the bonnet. To make the stiffening, boil in two quarts of soft water, a quarter of a pound of vellum shavings, (the vellum of buffalo’s hide is best,) filling it up occasionally, if it seems to be boiling too dry. It must boil or simmer slowly for six or seven hours. Then, when you take it from the fire, let it stand a while to settle; after which,pour it off into a basin, and it will become a thick jelly. To the sediment left in the pot, you may add a second two quarts of water; and after a second boiling, it will form another jelly or sizing, strong enough for similar purposes. When you are going to use it for a bonnet, melt up a pint of this jelly, and mix with it a small half-tea-spoonful of oxalic acid, (not more, or it will injure the straw,) and then with a clean sponge or brush go all over the bonnet, inside and out, with the sizing. Dry the bonnet; and when quite dry, go over it again with a second wash of the stiffening. Dry it again, and then spread over it a wet piece of jaconet muslin; or damp the bonnet all over with a sponge and lukewarm water, and then cover it with a fine white handkerchief, while you press it hard and evenly with a warm box-iron, exerting all your strength. The crown must be pressed while on the bonnet-block; the brim may be done on an ironing-table. Afterwards expose the bonnet to the air, till it becomes perfectly dry; and next day it will be ready for putting together, lining, and trimming; first mending whatever defective places may be found in it.The front of a bonnet will keep its shape much better if the wire is thick and stout. In lining a bonnet, the best way for a novice in the art, is to pin a large sheet of thin soft paper on the outside of the brim, and (having fitted it smoothly) cut it of the proper shape and size, allowing a little for turning in at the edge. Then pin the paper into the inside of the brim, and if it fits perfectly smooth, cut out the silk lining by it. A piece of oiled silk sewed all round the inside of the crown, at the joining place, and extending down a little upon the brim, will prevent the stain from perspiration, that so frequently disfigures that part of a bonnet.—Without a regular cleaning in the preceding manner, a discoloured straw bonnet may be improved in appearance, if previous to putting on a fresh trimming, you stretch the bonnet on a block, (or something that will answer the purpose,) and go all over it with a sponge dipped in lukewarm water, in which has been dissolved pearl-ash, in the proportion of a small tea-spoonful of pearl-ash to a pint of water; afterwards rinsing it off, wiping it hard with a flannel, and drying it well. Next, go over it with a clean sponge dipped in strong rice-water, which will be the better for having dissolved in it a half-teaspoonful of sugar of lead. Then dry the bonnet, and having damped it all over with a wet sponge, cover it with thin muslin, and press it hard with a heavy and moderately warm iron.TO TAKE CARE OF BEAVER HATS A hat should be brushed every day with a hat-brush; and twice a day in dusty weather. When a hat gets wet, wipe it as dry as you can with a clean handkerchief, and then brush it with a soft brush, before you put it to dry. When nearly dry, go over it with a harder brush. If it still looks rough, damp it with a sponge dipped in vinegar or stale beer, and brush it with a hard brush till dry.A good beaver hat should always, when not in constant use, be kept in a hat-box, with a hat-stick extended inside of the crown.

The Lady’s Receipt-book: A Useful Companion for Large Or Small Families Clean bonnet The House Hook 1843

By Eliza Leslie

Published by Carey and Hart, 1847

BONNETS.—Before you send a straw bonnet to be whitened, it will be well to remove whatever stains or grease marks may be upon it. Do this yourself, as many professed bonnet-cleaners are either unacquainted with the best methods, or careless of taking the trouble; and will tell you, afterwards, that these blemishes would not Come out. You can easily remove grease marks from a straw, leghorn, or Florence braid bonnet, by rubbing the place with a sponge dipped in fresh camphine oil; or by wetting it with warm water, and then plastering on some scraped Wilmington clay, or grease-ball; letting it rest half an hour, and then repeating the application till the grease has disappeared. Magnesia rubbed on dry will frequently remove grease spots, if not very bad. To take out stains, discoloured marks, or mildew, moisten slightly with warm water some stain powder composed of equal portions of salt of sorrel and cream of tartar, well mixed together. Rub on this mixture with your finger. Let it rest awhile ; then brush it off, and rub on more of the powder. When the stain has disappeared, wash off the powder, immediately, and thoroughly, with warm water. By previously using these applications, no trace of grease or stain will remain on the bonnet, after it has undergone the process of whitening and pressing in the usual manner.In cleaning straw bonnets it is best to give them as much gloss and stiffening as possible. The gloss will prevent dust from sticking to the surface, and the stiffness will render them less liable to get out of shape when worn in damp weather. For a similar reason, the wire round the inside of the edge should in all bonnets be very thick and stout. If the wire is too thin, even the wind will blow the brim out of shape.An excellent way of cleaning and whitening straw or leghorn bonnets may be found in the House Book, page 67.In lining bonnets, always fit the lining on the outside of the brim. It is not only the least troublesome way, but the most certain of success. Nothing is more disfiguring to a bonnet than an uneven puckered lining— left too loose in some places, and stretched too tight in others. If the lining is drawn more to one side than the other, the brim will always set crookedly round the face. The best way, is first to fit upon the outside of the bonnet-front, a piece of thin, soft, white paper, pinning it on smoothly and evenly, with numerous pins. Then cut it the proper shape ; allowing it rather more than an inch all round larger than the brim. From this paper cut out the silk lining; allowing still more for turning in at the edges, on account of the silk ravelling. Then (having notched the edge of the lining all round) baste it on the inside of the brim, and try it on before the glass, previous to sewing it in permanently. See that it is perfectly smooth and even throughout. A white silk bonnet-lining should be of the most decided white, (a dead white, as it is called,) for if it has the least tinge of pearl, rose, blue or yellowish-white, it will be unbecoming to any face or complexion. Straw bonnets are frequently lined with white crape or tarletane.The lining of a silk or velvet bonnet should always be put in before the brim is sewed to the crown.In trimming a bonnet, after the bows, bands, &c., have all been arranged with pins, sew them on with a needle and thread; and afterwards withdraw the pins. If pins are allowed to remain in, they leave a greenish speck wherever they have been; besides denting the straw, and probably tearing it. Also, sew on the flowers, after you have arranged them to your satisfaction.Bonnet strings when somewhat soiled may be cleaned by rubbing them with scraped Wilmington clay, or grease-ball, or else magnesia. Roll them on a ribbon- block with the clay upon them; let them rest a few hours ; then brush off that clay, and put on some fresh. Roll the ribbon again on the block, and leave it till next day. You will find it look much cleaner. It is well always to buy an extra yard, or yard and a half of ribbon, to replace with new ones the bonnet strings when soiled.To keep the bows of a bonnet in shape when put away in the bandbox, fill out each bow by placing rolls of wadding inside of all the loops.‘A piece of thin oiled silk introduced between the lining and the outside, partly beneath the upper part of the brim, and partly at the lower part of the crown, will prevent any injury to the bonnet from perspiration of the head, or oiliness of the hair.In bespeaking a bonnet of a milliner, always request her to send you the frame to try on, before she covers it; that you may see if it fits.When a bonnet is to be sent to a distant place in a wooden box, (bandboxes should never visibly travel,) to keep the bonnet steady, and prevent its tumbling or knocking about, sew very securely to the brim and back, some bits of strong tape, and fasten the other end of each bit of tape to the floor of the box, with very small tack nails. Fill all the loops and bows with wadding as above mentioned. A bonnet thus secured may travel uninjured from Maine to Texas.TO KEEP A BONNET WHITE.—If you have a white velvet or silk bonnet that looks well enough to wear a secon^J season, lay beside it in the bandbox a cake of white wax, (such as you get at an apothecary’s for sixpence or a shilling,) cover the bandbox closely, and do not on any account open it till you are about to take the bonnet again into wear. You will then find the cake of wax much discoloured, but the bonnet as white as ever. Shawls of white silk or canton crape, or indeed any white articles, may be kept in the same manner by putting a. cake of white wax in the box with them, and not opening it so as to admit the external air, till the season for wearing them has returned.In bespeaking bandboxes, desire that they shall not be lined with white paper. A lining of the coarsest brown paper is far preferable for preserving either the colours or the whiteness of any articles that are kept in them. The chloride of lime used in manufacturing white paper is very injurious to the colours of silks, and frequently causes in them spots and stains. The very coarse thick brown paper made of old ropes is far better; as the tar remaining about it partakes somewhat of the qualities of turpentine, and is therefore a preservative to colours. White ribbons, blonds, &c., should be kept wound on ribbon-blocks, and – wrapped in the coarse brown ironmonger’s paper. ‘ .

Published in: on May 1, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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