The Pumpkin Hood aka Wadded Winter Hood

What is a Pumpkin Hood?

A “Pumpkin” hood or bonnet is a wadded bonnet, most commonly made of silk on the exterior and polished cotton, cotton or silk on the interior. Wide, full channels are filled to a full loft with wool batting either lightly or densely. The channels are separated by smaller channels, single or multiple, that are drawn in by cord or ribbon. The front brim may or may not have a decorative ruffle, attached or tucked from the base exterior fabric. These usually have a petite to moderate bavolet either lightly filled with batting or without batting.

Some other terms that seem to apply: Wadded bonnet/hood, “Ugly”, a “Kiss-me-quick”.

How early were these worn?

Most museums seem to start their dating of wadded, pumpkin style hoods in the second quarter of the century. Some do push earlier, as far as the late 1700s/early 1800s, such as this example from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

As domestically made winter hoods were a utilitarian garment rather than a fashionable one, their appearances in fashion literature is limited. I see one set of passages referencing a wadded hood or bonnet, drawn in, worn close to the face that may help us give wadded hoods drawn close to the latter 1830s:

In the Ladies Pocket Magazine, of 1838, London, we see a mention of wadded bonnets as a fashionable item. Of English fashions – “Wadded bonnets which before were very much in vogue, are now almost the only ones adopted in promenade dress, and it must be confessed nothing could be better calculated for the season, particularly when they are worn, as in often the case, over a blond morning cap of the demi-cornette form.” (In this passage, wadded pelisses and wadded mantles are also mentioned.) Of Paris fashions “Winter has set in with all its rigour, but that is of little consequence to our elegantes, who, occupied with the grand dinners, balls, and fetes that are always given in the commencement of winter, have deserted the promenades. Novelty in out-door costume is consequently out of the question, velvet or satin mantles, which are trimmed and sometimes lined in fur, that their busts are defended by a large fur palatine, their hands doubly shielded by fur cuffs, and a muff, and their pretty faces guarded by a large wadded bonnet, which completely meets under the chin, we have said all that can be said of out-door dress.” The year prior, the same publication tells us: “We may cite with confidence, among the new bonnets will be very fashionable, the capotes a conlisse ouatees, or wadded drawn bonnets; the are a most comfortable head-dress, composed of satin or pou de soie, lightly wadded, and simply trimmed with ribbon. They differ a little in shape from the other bonnets, sitting closer round the face.” This may or may not be the beginning point of the wadded, pumpkin style bonnet. Neither publication includes an illustration of this practical winter wear in the midst of the popular large bonnets of the era.

In that same time period, we see wadded and quilted hoods/bonnets constructed for children in The Workwoman’s Guide. The illustrations suggest the quilted versions have larger crowns that are volumous in some cases. It is important to note the difference between this shape and the Pumpkin shape. I believe this is the construction that evolves through the rest of the century as the quilted bonnet.

Blackwood‘s suggested I should look at “quilted wadded capotes” as well as “bonnets” and “hoods”. Though, this February and March 1843 Peterson‘s suggest capotes were quilted, rather than wadded with loft.

One of only photographs clearly depicting a wadded “pumpkin” style bonnet/hood is a bit of tease. While taken in 1897, the photograph does not show contemporary/current wear, rather historical costume wear. This photograph is held by Deerfield.

Were they worn during the Civil War?

Yes, evidence suggest wadded hoods were worn in the 1860s. The 1860 painting, School Girls, by George Augustus Baker, shows the girl on the left in what could be a red silk wadded pumpkin bonnet. The artist did several studies for this painting, including Little Girl in a Red Bonnet, which is undated.

Examples:

Learn more about Wadded Hoods and How to Make Your Own in my New Wadded Hood Workbook.

Museum examples:

Published in: on October 31, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

The Pin Fair

In recognition of this weekend’s Agricultural Society Fair at the Genesee Country Village and Museum, here is a sweet article from the 1867 The Lyceum Banner, (Chicago).

Pin Fair

The enterprises of boys are never recorded, no matter how much energy, talent and taste they display. It gives me great pleasure to be able through these columns, to describe to other boys and girls, an enterprise on which I know there was a great deal of energy shown, but of the taste and talent, I will leave others to judge.

I had just attended the Rock Island Fair, and having examined the grounds, buildings, articles entered, and race-track, and inquired how it was conducted, I proposed to open a Pin Fair on an empty lot near my home. Johnnie Gow, brother Roddie and myself constituted ourselves a stock company, and agreed to plan, execute and control the fair without the assistance of the grown folks. We spread tables in the open air for display of articles, built an amphitheater of raised seats under some trees, and made a race-track in a circle, Oscar Dow as Marshal. Cousin Carrie printed some handbills, and the following saw the price of entry and the premiums awarded:

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We only sold tickets to children in our neighborhood, because we were afraid we could not control a large crowd, without assistance of the grown folks. The day was pleasant. The tables were covered with beautiful articles tastefully displayed and interspersed with splendid bouquets and wreaths. The most noticable among the premiums awarded to Nettie Guyre, for best embroidery and prettiest doll; to Lizzie Whitman, for best bead basket, best charm; to Charlie Riggs, for best collection of geological specimens, best original drawing, best puzzle, largest bunch of grapes and larges apples; to Lucy Harper, for prettiest toy lamb; to Jennie Gow, for best collection of sea shells and prettiest toy dog; to Minnie Hakes, for prettiest paper doll; to Cornelius Smith, for the best worsted knitting; to Mary Gale, for best bouquet; to Lucy Gow, best pin cushion, best crochet work; to Roddie Riggs, best collection of river shells, largest pear, largest toy chicken; to Clara Whitman, largest glass marble; to Minnie Gow, prettiest bead ring, largest doll, prettiest pen-wiper; to Carrie Conant, largest collection of carnelians; to Harry Carter, best crab apples.

[paragraph on racing]

Our receipts were 187 pins. We spent a very happy day in the open air, increased our love of the beautiful, gave an impetus to our industry, and I hope improved our health and by social intercourse, our good manners. Next year, if we get larger grounds and if the grown folks will control it, we can open it to the public, and get up a big Pin Fair. Charlie.

Published in: on October 1, 2022 at 6:05 am  Comments (2)  

Fancy Work Friday: What’s Inside – The Pin Cushion Experiment

This seemed like an appropriate post to revist for Fancy Work Fridays.

Squishing filling into a pin cushion one day, I started to wonder what a fun game it would be to stuff a bunch of pin cushions with different fillings and see if people could guess which was which.

As weird thoughts go, this one kept rolling round in my head… Over the years, then and now, what all have people tried to stuff their pin cushions with? How did each one act? What worked? What didn’t? What really didn’t? …. This rolling became a “must try this.” I had a bunch of pin cushion circles left from the workshops didn’t? Yep….

Let’s first look at the history:

What did “they” fill their cushions with? I have seen a few materials inside pin cushions and sewing cases. There are others I not experienced in person but know to have been used. These include:

  • bran
  • raw wool
  • scraps of wool threads such as those pulled from fabrics
  • straw or flax
  • sawdust and wood shavings
  • emery

For the ‘experiment’, I used both materials that would have been used in the 19th century and modern use ones. I thought it would be an interesting comparison. Factors I looked at included easy of stick-ability, weight, compression and effects on pins over time. Each of the cushions are made with quilt weight cotton and crochet cotton. The crochet cotton helps determine how the filling compacts.

What I stuffed with:

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Wool batting/roving – This seems to provide the softest/squishiest of the wool fillings. It is firmer than the poly-fil. While it compacts, it does so evenly with a moderate amount of pull on the string.

The cushion is fairly light weight. Pins stick easily with a slight depression before going through the fabric. As wool roving and batting are easily available, this is an inexpensive and accessible, period correct option.

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Raw, cleaned wool – This seems to provide the densest, least squishy of the wool fillings. The raw wool I used was fairly tightly wound to itself in clumps. I think this made stuffing the cushion easier. I can feel some of those twists inside. It compacts consistently with a little more pull on the string than the roving did. Some areas do feel less dense than others. The pins stick easily with a slight depression before breaking through the fabric.

The natural lanolin in the wool is said to be good for the needles. Raw wool may be easily available for some but not others. If available, this is an inexpensive period correct option.

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Wool scraps – The scraps for this cushion were threads pulled from about 8-9 square inches of heavy weight wool that had been washed and lightly felted. This cushion compacts consistently and evenly. It is not as dense as the raw wool. The pins stick easily with a slight depression before breaking through the fabric.

If someone regularly works with wool, this is a free stuffing option as scraps would abound. It does take some time to pull the threads apart.

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Poly-fill – This is the softest and lightest of the cushions I have here. It is also the squishiest of the bunch. I found this cushion to compact unevenly and inconsistently. You can see this in the segments in the photo that are misshapen. (I did make a second cushion to recheck my process.) This cushion takes compression before the pin will break through the fabric.

This is an inexpensive option for filling a modern pincushion. I would like to note, this fill made my eyes burn.

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Walnut hulls with lavender – This cushion is filled with a commercial product for making pin cushions. It is ground hulls with lavender inside. The hulls are about the size of coarse salt on soft pretzels, maybe a little bigger. This filling was easy to fill with, though a bit messy (each hull could be picked up by hand.) The cushion is one of the heavier of this batch. It will not roll or slide. This would be a good option for a weight. There compression is even and consistent. Pins go right in with a rather pleasing ‘crunch’ feel.

The bag I have cost about $5. I expect it will make a half dozen pin cushions this size. I need to investigate the authenticity of this option.

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Sawdust – The sawdust I used was somewhere between dust and shavings, some was little, soft curls of wood. This made a weighty cushion that is quite as heavy as the walnut hulls. Pins go into this cushion nicely without much depression. The cushion compressed consistently but with some uneven areas.

If you have a wood shop, this is a free option for filling that is period correct. Be sure to pick clean, dry shavings. I do not know if any particular woods would be better or worse, or if any would turn corrosive over time.

Cat Fur (No Photo Currently) – Out of curiosity, I filled a pin cushion with Clara fur. Clara has two types of fur: a long, straight hair and a soft, shorter fur. The latter compacts densely quite like fulled wool. It is very difficult to seperate the hairs though. I found the pin cushion was densely squishy similar to wool but with less spring back. I also found the longer hairs started to stick out through the cotton.

Those I still need to do:

Sand – Need to get some

Emery – It is here, somewhere….

Cotton battingYawn

Bran – Need to get some

Rice – Need to just make it

Human Hair – Not sure I’m going to do this or not.

Those I did not try:

Silica beads – Though several websites say silica makes a nice pin cushion, I am skeptical and hesitant. I think of silica in connection with moisture control, that the packets attract moisture. I really don’t want a pin cushion that attracts moisture. All I can picture is the damp-rid bins we use in storage – ewy-goowy messes. I have started saving the little packets several times, but have yet to make this sample.

Graphite – How I laughed at this one. I do not want any additional ground or powdered graphite in my house. Husband tracks enough home on a daily basis. *In all seriousness, I simply can not picture a graphite filled cushion going will when working with white silk.

Others also mentioned on various sites and discussion boards…. pencil shavings, rock salt, small pet bedding, vase filler , foam wrapped in batting,

What do we like in our pincushions?

Liz Clark “The one in my little FanU sewing box is filled with wool roving, and it’s my favorite. I don’t sew with pins on the machine, but I do sometimes use a few for handsewing and the wool keeps them nicely!”

Gail Kellogg Hope“I have sevearl. My least favorite is the modern tomato. Not enough weight & I chase it across the floor a lot. My Fat Lady, who is larger, weighted and filled with polyfill. My great-grandmother’s woven, which is filled with sawdust fo some kind…. I like the weight. Weighted is important to me. That way I’m not knocking it across the room when all I want to do is put a pin in it. It shouldn’t take two hands to put it in.”

Eileen Hook” I have 1. a sand filled pin cushion (one of those pin cushions with a bag attached for little bits of thread), 2. a poly filled one, and 3. a wool raveling filled one. The sand filled one is good because it’s solid and heavy enough that it doesn’t slid across the table. Poly fill is light and easy to find in qntitty, but it is pretty light and the cushions aren’t as ‘solid.’ The wool ravelings are period appropriate and I used them for my period pin cushions. I can stuff quite a lot of wool into a pin cushion!! It feels more substantial than the poly fill.”

Carolann Schmitt – “I use a magnet pin cushion on my sewing machine, ironing board and cutting table. I use a fabric pin cushion stuffed with wool batting when I’m hand-sewing. The wool batting helps prohibit rust and moisture building up on the pins. And I always have an emery bag at hand to remove the protein buildup on pins and needles.”

Others Talking about Stuffing:

Published in: on September 30, 2022 at 6:05 am  Comments (2)  

Veil 101

I am reposting favorite helpful posts each Monday throughout March, April, and May. This post will wrap-up this series. Starting in June, I will share posts focusing on the the questions I am asked most often when Intepreting.

This look at veils concentrates on the everyday veils of the mid-19th century, the 1840s through 1860s. It does not include mourning veils.

As some of you know, I have issues with sunlight that can trigger migraines or full-body crashes. So, veils are very important to me. This is very much a “don’t leave home without it” item.

You will notice each of the veils I wear are silk gauze. This is for two reasons. First, when we started exploring veils locally, some years ago, the silk gauze at Dharma was what we felt suitable. Our research has expanded. Second, personally, I find the gauze helps with my light issues nicely. I am kinda afraid to make the change to net. But, I will be giving net a try when I find a net that I feel mimics the feel of those originals I’ve held.

Veil Shapes

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The most common shapes for veils included the wide rectangle and the semi-circle. In each shape, they tended to be wider than they are long, ranging approx from 30″to 40″ wide and 15 ” to 20″ long based on those I’ve been able to see in photos and in person.

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Right above: A rectangular net veil, approx 36″ wide by 17″ deep. Right below: A semi-circular veil. I need to double check the dimensions, as I am pretty sure I bought this one but haven’t a clue where I put it.

There were some variations to these shapes. This example at the MET may be mid-century. It is a variation on a rectangle with the top and bottom edges curving. There is a shape I would call a petal, with two sides each an arc. At the bottom of the page, you will see a quasi-triangle shaped veil meant for windy weather.

Be sure to browse your favorite and local museums to see original veils.

Veil Materials

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Let me first say I am utterly clueless about lace, or at least entirely lacking confidence in my knowledge of lace. I will leave the details of which lace is which and which is correct to those who have studied lace in depth.

That said. In minimum:

In terms of fibers, silk, linen, wool and cotton all come up for nineteenth century shawls in museum collections.

When looking at the net ground of net or net lace, you want little hexagons. You do not want the little rectangles or diamonds.

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Veil Colors

1830s travel program me 1

The most commonly found veil colors for the century are black, white and ivory. We can also find blues and greens. These do tend to appear more frequently in earlier remaining veils then in those of the 40s, 50s and 60s.

To the left is an image of me in an 1820s bonnet with a green veil. This is a dyed silk gauze veil made by Bevin Lynn. I found this green to be gentle on the eyes when out in the sun, given moderate protection. It did not give glare as some white veils can do. It did play with the light giving a streaked color effect similar to what some migraines can produce.

I have also worn white and black veils. I find black silk gauze to give the most protection from the sun. It also gives the most vision dampening of the colors I’ve worn. White give some light protection. I prefer it on moderately sunny day for short walks across the tree filled square.

Attaching a Veil

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This is how I attach my veil. Original veils show either a channel at the top of the veil or worked holes, through which a thin cord or ribbon can be drawn. In my veils, I prefer to put a small knot or loop in the end. This helps keep the cord from sliding back through and makes it easy to grab.

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Once this cord/ribbon is drawn up, the veil can be positioned along the brim edge. I drape the veil over the back of the bonnet.

I prefer to pin just back from the edge. With my drawn bonnet, seen here, I pin under the second cane. On my straw bonnets, I pin a row behind the fancy plait or about the 3rd row back. The end pins are pinned upward sorta following the row of cane or plait. In the center top, I pin one or two pins across the veil, trying to catch the cord,

parallel to the cane or plait. (pinning perpendicular to the plait will allow the veil to pull forward or backward as it drapes.) Here you can see how this veil drapes forward and back. This is a silk gauze veil made for me by Bevin. It is trimmed in silk ribbon. It is a little longer than most 1860s veils. Some 1850s images do show a similar length.

Here Betsy Connolly is wearing a semi-circular veil. Notice how she doesn’t have the ends pooling on either side as a rectangular veil would.

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Specialty Veils

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Note for the repost: This is one of those posts I intended to get back to and provide additional information on but didn’t because life happens. I do hope to do another post about veils addressing several questions and details. Hopefully soon.

Published in: on May 16, 2022 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Free Printable Sewing Resources

As part of the 5 year anniversary for Fanciful Utility I created these goodies for the workbox. These are “Fill Your Case” useful PDFs you can print and put in your sewing case.

Basic Sewing Booklet from Eliza Leslie’s Lady’s House-Book 1850

Basic Sewing Booklet from Eliza Leslies Ladys House Book 1850

Mini Quick Reference Booklets

Mini Booklet Sewing Guide

Mini Booklet Gather Gauge Button Guide

Mini Booklet Gather Gauge Button Guide

Mini Booklet Basic Sewing

Directions for folding the two mini booklets:

Mini Booklet Directions images

Needle Packet Labels

These are scanned from antique packets in my collection I’ve included directions for the two ways these packets are folded as well as label and packet measurements.

Sewing Needle Labels to Print and Fill Your FanU Case

*note: These are direct scans. Some were on the packets angled.

Construction:

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Each of these packets can be made of black paper slightly lighter than writing paper and the label printed on white paper.

  • Print your labels on white printer paper. Cut them to the size indicated on the print out.
  • Cut the black paper using the dimensions accompanying each label – 3 times the width and 3 times the length. ie – if the folded packet is 1″x1.5″, cut the black paper 3″x4.5″
  • Fold the black paper in thirds lengthwise. Fold the paper in thirds width wise.
  • Looking at the placement chart and the notes with each label, glue the label in the corresponding location on the exterior. Use either a brush or small glue stick for the best control.
  • You can also cut a second piece of black paper, slightly smaller to fit inside the outer paper to help hold your needles.

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Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility?

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Published in: on May 7, 2022 at 12:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wearing the Mid-Nineteenth Century Hat

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Wearing nineteenth century clothes, we find they fit differently than our modern clothes. The waist is in a different spot. The bust sits differently. Seams are used to accent or de-accent parts of the body. The fit feels different and moving in the clothes is different. The same is true for hats and bonnets. In previous posts I’ve talked about bonnets and perch. Here, we are going to look at how a hat was worn and how it “fits”.

In the 1850s and 1860s, hats were worn much higher on the head than we are accustom to in the twenty-first century. Think about when you wear your modern beach or garden hat. You know that line across your forehead where it sits after a long hot day? You do Not want that. A mid-nineteenth century hat sat higher, at the top of your forehead, at your hair line, or even higher. Take a look at these fashion illustrations from 1860-1862. Notice where each hat sit. In a few illustrations, the front hairline is obviously below the crown line. In others, the crown sits just at this line. The hat sits atop the head, not encompassing it. The curve of the brim is what dips to the eye line, not the hat itself.

examples

What does this mean for you when picking a size?

There are two factors for finding a comfortable fit: Size and shape.

The difference in wear or placement means we measure for a mid-nineteenth century had differently than we do for a twentieth or twenty-first century hat. The modern hat is measured just above the eyebrow. (This is also where many of us measure for bonnets. We want to keep you on your toes.) For mid-nineteenth century, we measure higher, at the hair line. In this illustration, we can see the difference between where the two measurements would be.

measure

These higher, hairline measurements are often smaller than those taken at the eyebrow. A hat worn at this point can be slightly smaller to slightly larger for comfort. So, add and subtract an inch to your hairline measure.

For example: I am 22.5″ around at my eyebrows and 21.5″ at my hairline. The vast land of the internet tells me that the average woman’s head measures 22.5″ to 22 5/8″ around at the modern measuring point. So, I am about average. I comfortably wear a mid-nineteenth century hat that is 19.5″ to 21.5″

General guidelines I use:

  • Small = Less than 21″ at the hairline (crown less than 20″)
  • Average = 21″-22.5″ at the hairline (crown 20-21.5″)
  • Large = Greater than 22.5″ at the hairline (crown greater than 22″)

Just like every head measures a bit differently, they are each shaped a bit differently.

round oval

When looking from above, some people have rounder heads while other have more oval heads. Both of these shapes to the right can have a circumference of 22.5″. Yet, the same hat would fit each head differently.

I will try to indicate which hats have rounder crowns or more oval crowns. I am in the process of naming the crowns. Hopefully, that will help.


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Published in: on April 25, 2022 at 5:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Millinery Care and First Aid

I am reposting favorite helpful posts each Monday throughout March, April, and May.

I have written a couple posts in the past about caring for or storing our bonnets. Lately, a few specifics “uh-oh” fixes have been asked of me. So, I thought it would be good to put together a more detailed article on millinery care and first aid. Here I will be talking about Straw millinery only.

Preventative Care Your Bonnet

The best prevention is to store a bonnet or hat on an archival stand, under a glass dome with its own security system. ….. A dream, right?

(If I could have all the storage space in the world and start over – I would attach two stands to the inside of the lid of a tote (I think they are the 15 or 20 gallon totes) With the lid as the bottom, the tote becomes the top. I could then place a bonnet on each stand with the ribbons rolled up. No wrinkles, no dust, no issues. Again, that is my dream.)

I’m going to boil this down to my list of dos and don’ts:

Do – Keep you hats and bonnets on stands

Do Not – Use foam heads for storage. These will release chemicals that will discolor your bonnets. Even covered with other fabric this can happen.

Do – Cover your bonnets some how to keep dust off of them. Yes, a box is best.

Do Not – Store in overly moist or overly dry areas. Moisture can cause mildew, mold and color issues. Dryness can cause silks to shatter.

Do Not – Store a bonnet on its face, side or bavolet. This will cause crushing, wrinkling and misshaping.

In Case of Mishaps

Rain – A gentle sprinkle can usually be okay with a gentle drying while on the bonnet stand. If you find you were stuck in a heavier rain with your bonnet on, first remove all flowers and ribbons from your bonnet. Hang your flowers upside down. I have this awesome stand from Wilton that was meant for cake making that works great. You may want to use clothes pins to hang them from a clothes hanger. Lay the ribbons flat to dry on a paper towel or old towel as not all ribbons are color fast. You may find you want to remove the bavolet as well. Lay it flat, net side up. Most bavolets can be pressed with the aid of a pressing cloth once dry.

For the bonnet itself, press any mishapings out with your hands gently against the counter if need be. Take a roll of paper towel. Unroll it to about the size of the tip of your bonnet. Place the bonnet face down on top of the upright paper towel. If you left the bavolet attached, let it lay open but not touching the bonnet. Arrange the pleats and work out any wrinkles carefully with you hands. Allow it to dry completely. In the case of a hat, you may need to shape the top of the paper towel roll to reflect the curve of the crown and lay a layer or two of towels over it to make a smooth surface.

Reattach the ribbons and flowers.

Wrinkled ribbons – Ribbons get wrinkled and crinkled when tied and untied. Bonnets should be stored untied with the ribbons neatly rolled into a coil. (I even roll some of mine around little ribbon pillows I’ve made.) Rolling the ribbons will help coax the fibers that were inside in the bow to relax back where they should be while keeping additional wrinkles from forming.

If you find your ribbons to be holding their wrinkles, you can steam them to help relax the wrinkles then roll the ribbon. You can also try pressing the ribbon with an iron using a pressing cloth. (Most silk ribbons are vintage with older fibers, while newer ribbons, even high quality ribbons are a combination of rayon, polyester and nylon. A low temperature and pressing cloth is safer than ending up with your ribbon stuck to your iron or breaking.)

Squashed Flowers – a Flowers can become squashed during wear or storage (or oopses). For velvet flowers, I find a light spraying of spray starch and reshaping with my fingers works best. Spray just a small area at a time, 1 or 2 square inches at most. The petals should be barely damp, not wet. Gently work the damp petals and leaves back into shape. Allow them to dry fully. If you have removed them from the bonnet or hat, clip the flowers to something so they stand up to dry.

For organza or other faux silk flowers, a light steaming may work to help coax the fibers in the petals to be manipulated and reshaped. Allow them to dry fully as well.

Crushed Frill – a A slightly crushed frill can be steamed and reshaped with the aid or a bodkin or hair pin. A severely crushed frill needs to be removed and pressed with an iron. Silk organza or cotton organdy should be able to be pressed on the designated setting. Lace should be pressed on a low setting with the aid of a pressing cloth. I try to press the frill while it is still pleated. (un-pleating and re-pleating is timely.)

Crushed or Shattered Straw – This is a though one. I’ve had a couple people ask me about bonnets that have been sat on or crushed in baggage. If the straw is not completely broken just misshapen, I suggest removing the flowers, ribbons, etc. Dampen the area(s) that have misshapened. Reshape the area(s) with your hands. Use objects in your kitchen for support if need be. Allow the straw to dry fully. If needed, mix some millinery gelatin or white glue & water (1:1) and brush it on the area for firmness and strength.

If a single or only a couple straws have been broken, it may be possible to replace or support those areas with additional plait if a matching plait can be found. To support, clean the break with fine scissors or nail clippers so the cut is along the diagonal of the plait. Unpick the stitches connecting that row of plait to those adjacent. Cut a piece of straw 2 or 3 inches long with diagonal cuts. Slide the piece into the fracture. Line it up carefully. Sew the piece into place catching the layers and the broken strips.

If multiple rows of plait are broken or it is a woven straw, the best chance is to realign the straw (dampened) and support it from the back with sinway or a piece of woven straw. The front of the straw will need the aid of a bodkin and/or tweezers to get the right look. You will want to use millinery gelatin or a glue solution to firm up the realigned straw. I would only recommend this if purchasing a new one is out of the question as it will be very intensive.

Dust or Cobwebs – If you store your bonnet or hat on a stand, you may get cobwebs. My favorite solution is a can of spray air, like the kind used for computers. Spray gently and at an angle.

Squashed Bavolet– A bavolet can get squashed during storage. If this happens, Turn the bonnet upside down. If need be, tie the functional ties together and hang the bonnet from the loop. Steam the bavolet encouraging it to flop over the tip and sides of the bonnet. Steam both the silk side and the net side. Smooth out tough wrinkles with your hands. Once the bavolet is back in shape, let it dry fully and spray with spray starch.


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Published in: on April 18, 2022 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Where Can I Wear That Hat?

Recently, with my focus on hats, I have been asked a several times “where can I wear that hat?”

This is an excellent question. I love that people are asking. It means they are thinking about when and where they can appropriately wear a particular hat. It also means I don’t have to worry as much about one of my hats appearing in an inappropriate scenario. (Yes, I worry about such things.)

I want to cover the background to the answer(s) rather than just the answer.

First, where do we look to find out what situations are appropriate for different types of hats? We need to look at visual references for context. This will include context based photographs (cdvs, sterioviews), illustrations and paintings. This will show us the scene, the type of hat, the wearer and the clothing it accompanies. We should also include textual references, keeping in mind the written descriptions can misinterpreted due to various reasons.

Second, we need to keep in mind the chronology and geography of references. What was common in the 50s may not have been common in the 60s. What may have been common in an urban area may not have been common in a rural area. What may have been common in New England may not have been common on the Gulf coast.

Let’s look at some images. (Just as start. I’ll try to come back and add more.)

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This pair of images I recently found after completing the violet velvet hat. These women are from a family photo that I lack citation details on. The daughter is holding a croquet mallet, indicating a recreational situation. Both women are wearing straw hats with brims that curve down all the way around, providing some sun protection. The hats appear to be simply decorated with ribbon. The clothing suggests a date between 1860 and 1863/4.(the link provided does not agree, estimating the photo is just post-war.) I estimate the girl to be in her young to mid teens, the mother in her 40s.

Straw Garden hat clip 2

Continuing with the recreational scenario, this shot from a Lily Martin Spencer painting depicts a picnic on the 4th of July. The hat is a larger hat. It has a wide brim that would shade the face. The crown is shallow, maybe 2″ high. It is simply decorated with a ribbon and possibly a ribbon or flower arrangement in the front, bow in the back.

2016-03-16-13.21.13.jpg.jpegThis stereoview, A Charming spot for a Country Home,  shows what appears to be a small town or rural garden of a comfortable family. Dated 1865, this image is from New Jersey. We can see a woman seated in the chair with her back to us, wearing what appears to be an undecorated straw hat (with little blocking in my opinion.) This hat reminds me of this description of a well worn, favorite garden hat. Near the fence is a pre-teen girl in a wide brim, low-ish crown hat with a simple bow. Hats to do seem to fairly common in photos of people in the yards or gardens (upper working class, leisure class homes.)

Harpers Monthly June 18502016-03-16-13.23.13.jpg.jpegThis next stereoview, View of grounds at Newport, is estimated to be 1860, taken in Herkimer, NY. This can also be considered a recreational image as the woman stands in a field alongside a haystack. Her hat is smaller, with a very shallow crown and brim that reaches just about the depth of her face. (meaning the brim comes about as far forward as her nose.) This is a fashionable shape for a hat that I believe would be appropriate for a walk in a village as well. Compare it to the hats to the right from June of 1850, which have significantly larger brims.

Seaside hats from Charles Wynne Nicholls

One can not mention recreation without touching on seaside. I don’t think many of us truely get to do impressions that spend time seaside. I think large, shady hats often come to mind when thinking seaside recreation. But, as we see in these late and post war paintings (English), smaller hats were worn seaside.

Close ups of how to wear a hat Stereoview The Baptisim

 

 

 

As a general rule of thumb, formal occasions were not appropriate for fashionable or casual hats. This includes church. This stereoview clip suggest there were some exceptions, in this case a baptism. (I’ll see if I have the whole scan saved elsewhere.)

 

Scenario Specific Hats (I really ought to find time to write more about):

  • Coarse hats
  • Southern made hats
  • Reform hats
  • Riding hats
  • Sporting hats (archery)
  • Resort/Watercure hats
  • TBD

More hats in context:

Published in: on April 4, 2022 at 4:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Got Perch?

A favorite blog post from 2014

A CDV recently appeared that brought up how women wore their bonnets perched on the backs of their heads from 58ish to 63/4ish. (I want said cdv & will be bidding. Fingers crossed.) Here is a close-up:image

See how the bonnet sit further back on her head? Her interior flowers land almost at her mid-line.
The question I am hearing is “how did they do that?’
There as a few aspects that help:
– A bonnet stay. This is a ribbon, strip or even wire inside the bonnet, positioned to act like a headband holding the bonnet in place. (These need to be fitted to the wearer.)
– The frill and interior decoration. The placement and fullness of these act like a catch or a band to help hold the bonnet.
– Balance. The front to back balance of the bonnet needs to put more weight in the brim and forward crown area of the bonnet rather than the back.
The placement of the hair can also be a contributing factor.

This is my first straw bonnet, years & years ago. While it has some early issues, it shows what a stay can do. These photos were taken after a parade marching into 40 mph winds that ended in a hail storm. During this walk, the force of the winds actually snapped a bone in my cage. But, the bonnet stayed put.image

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Here is Lily in the same bonnet. It sits further back on her. But, stays pretty well. (It finally got to retire after this.)image

This next bonnet is a different shape, drawn. Instead of a stay, it holds put thanks to the frill and flowers. The frill is gathered like ruching in this one. The back edge sorta stands fluffed, holding against my hair.image

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This is my bonnet from last year. (How awful is my facial expression?) I think you can see the position of this one. This stays with the work of the frill and my hair.image

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Here is how I often wear my hair:image

Now, Lily’s bonnet from last year does need a stay as she does have some issue with I staying put. Granted, se is also showing kids how o play with games including stilts much of the time. She also has far better posture than I do. Now that I think about it more, she has less hair in the back too.image

Here is a photo of both of us from last month with the same two bonnets. (different ribbon on mine) This shows the fullness of the frill pretty well.image

Tomorrow, I’ll be wearing my new soft crown. It has the ruched frill but no stay. Of course, the weight will be at the top. I will likely be wearing my veil turned back over the bonnet most of the day. I will report back on how well it stays.

Betsy Connolly sent me some beautiful photos showing excellent perch. (The photos are so pretty, I’m not going to crop them.) She says some have stays, some do not. She agrees that staying put is about balance.image

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Here is Lisa Springstube Lindsey in a mourning bonnet with the full frill helping hold it and a Marie Stuart:image

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Here is Beth Chamberlain with two good examples:image

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If you have a good ‘perch’ photo & would like to share it, please let me know (I think if you link it in the comments, I can grab it. Otherwise, email or message me.)

Published in: on March 14, 2022 at 5:05 am  Comments (1)  

The Pumpkin Hood aka Wadded Winter Hood

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What is a Pumpkin Hood?

A “Pumpkin” hood or bonnet is a wadded bonnet, most commonly made of silk on the exterior and polished cotton, cotton or silk on the interior. Wide, full channels are filled to a full loft with wool batting either lightly or densely. The channels are separated by smaller channels, single or multiple, that are drawn in by cord or ribbon. The front brim may or may not have a decorative ruffle, attached or tucked from the base exterior fabric. These usually have a petite to moderate bavolet either lightly filled with batting or without batting.

Some other terms that seem to apply: Wadded bonnet/hood, “Ugly”, a “Kiss-me-quick”.

How early were these worn?

Most museums seem to start their dating of wadded, pumpkin style hoods in the second quarter of the century. Some do push earlier, as far as the late 1700s/early 1800s, such as this example from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

As domestically made winter hoods were a utilitarian garment rather than a fashionable one, their appearances in fashion literature is limited. I see one set of passages referencing a wadded hood or bonnet, drawn in, worn close to the face that may help us give wadded hoods drawn close to the latter 1830s:

In the Ladies Pocket Magazine, of 1838, London, we see a mention of wadded bonnets as a fashionable item. Of English fashions – “Wadded bonnets which before were very much in vogue, are now almost the only ones adopted in promenade dress, and it must be confessed nothing could be better calculated for the season, particularly when they are worn, as in often the case, over a blond morning cap of the demi-cornette form.” (In this passage, wadded pelisses and wadded mantles are also mentioned.) Of Paris fashions “Winter has set in with all its rigour, but that is of little consequence to our elegantes, who, occupied with the grand dinners, balls, and fetes that are always given in the commencement of winter, have deserted the promenades. Novelty in out-door costume is consequently out of the question, velvet or satin mantles, which are trimmed and sometimes lined in fur, that their busts are defended by a large fur palatine, their hands doubly shielded by fur cuffs, and a muff, and their pretty faces guarded by a large wadded bonnet, which completely meets under the chin, we have said all that can be said of out-door dress.” The year prior, the same publication tells us: “We may cite with confidence, among the new bonnets will be very fashionable, the capotes a conlisse ouatees, or wadded drawn bonnets; the are a most comfortable head-dress, composed of satin or pou de soie, lightly wadded, and simply trimmed with ribbon. They differ a little in shape from the other bonnets, sitting closer round the face.” This may or may not be the beginning point of the wadded, pumpkin style bonnet. Neither publication includes an illustration of this practical winter wear in the midst of the popular large bonnets of the era.

In that same time period, we see wadded and quilted hoods/bonnets constructed for children in The Workwoman’s Guide. The illustrations suggest the quilted versions have larger crowns that are volumous in some cases. It is important to note the difference between this shape and the Pumpkin shape. I believe this is the construction that evolves through the rest of the century as the quilted bonnet.

Blackwood‘s suggested I should look at “quilted wadded capotes” as well as “bonnets” and “hoods”. Though, this February and March 1843 Peterson‘s suggest capotes were quilted, rather than wadded with loft.

One of only photographs clearly depicting a wadded “pumpkin” style bonnet/hood is a bit of tease. While taken in 1897, the photograph does not show contemporary/current wear, rather historical costume wear. This photograph is held by Deerfield.

Were they worn during the Civil War?

Yes, evidence suggest wadded hoods were worn in the 1860s. The 1860 painting, School Girls, by George Augustus Baker, shows the girl on the left in what could be a red silk wadded pumpkin bonnet. The artist did several studies for this painting, including Little Girl in a Red Bonnet, which is undated.

Museum examples:

Published in: on October 17, 2021 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment