Millinery Monday: Plaid Winter Bonnet


Today’s winter bonnet is a plaid silk adult size bonnet. The structure of this piece classifies it as a bonnet rather than a hood. This piece loosely dates between  the 1840s and 1870s, though the small crown tip and shape of the wide cheektabs with the shorter bavolet makes me think it is an 1840s example. A single plaid silk fabric is used throughout for the exterior as well as the interior and for ties. The plaid is asymmetrical in one direction and symmetrical in the other. The entire bonnet is handsewn. Channels of puffs and cord alternate through the brim. While the majority of these are evenly spaced, a couple alter slightly to follow the shape of the bonnet. One in particular, the eighth from the front, widens at the bottom to accommodate the curve transition from the cheektab to the neck edge.


Wire, cane, cord, and buckram are used to support this bonnet. Wire is found around the front edge, around the cheektabs and even along the edge of the bonnet. Cane is found in the channels immediately behind the brim edge puff and through the front section of the brim. Further back, the narrow channels between the body puffs are a dense, exceptionally firm cord. At first, I thought these channels also had cane, as other bonnets have. But, I can feel a diagonal ridge indicating a twist in cord. Buckram lines the interior crown tip of this bonnet.


Compare the left side of the bonnet above with the right side of the bonnet. You can see where the brim wire has been bent. This brings attention to what can happen to wired and caned millinery during storage. The vast majority of winter bonnets I have seen have the wires and canes bent or broken from being stored flat. This bonnet was lucky. Or, actually, has such a firm “batting” that it made it difficult to store flat. This brings me to the interior. Normally, I use words like “batting” or “wadding” to discuss what is inside a bonnet or hood. Instead of using wool batting, this bonnet is filled with what appears to be bundles of cotton/wool* string. This area where the silk has worn away shows just how densely the string has been packed inside. This is Not something I see commonly. The bavolet is filled as fully as the brim of the bonnet creating a triple tier bavolet rippling around the neck. (Notice you can see the cane, wire, and buckram (which may be willow) in this photo. The back bow is made from the same silk as the bonnet.)


I have to spend some time with the ties and bow on this bonnet. I find they are remarkably unfrayed for what looks like faux ribbon cut from the silk.


This detail of the cheektab interior shows the wire along the edge and the cane.

Published in: on February 1, 2021 at 1:11 am  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Anna – is this the bonnet you got from me? It’s so unique in materials used to create it – was a real beauty in its day!

  2. It is! I just love it. It has so many great features. Thank you so much.

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