Summer Series – How Long Did A Straw Bonnet Last?

Two weekends ago, I heard several questions about the life of a straw bonnet or hat. Some asked how long one would last. Others asked if they could be remade. These questions wander down a delightful path.

I already addressed the durability of straw in a previous post. Read

While some women could afford to purchase multiple bonnets a year, some women needed their bonnet to last several seasons or even years. Other women were just sensible and/or even crafty.

Straw is a forgiving material allowing old thread holes and markings to disappear fairly well. This meant a straw bonnet or hat could be redecorated from season to season or as the need arised. This could be the floral trims, the ribbons, or the entirety giving it a new bavolet, frill, and trims resulting in a “new” bonnet.

As the shapes of bonnets changed from season to season, the shape of a bonnet could fall out of fashion. Many straw goods merchants offered blocking services. This enabled a straw form to be blocked, or reblocked, to better reflect the newer style. While this would have been more difficult proceeding through the 1850s as the brim rose in height, the changes from the 1840s into the 1850s, then the 1850s into the first half of 1860s as bonnet size shrinking were managable.

Women with skill could rework a straw bonnet or hat at home. Early in my millinery adventure, I came across a this Godey’s 1856 passage describing how to pick apart a bonnet and resew it alternating straw rows with strips of silk.

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Published in: on August 1, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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