Measuring for Mid-19th Century Hats

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.


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″

Here is my head with the tape showing where to measure. This is where I wear most CW era hats. This is the circumference of my head. My measurement is 21 1/2″. (Note: this is a full inch smaller than the modern measurement take lower.)

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″)


It is helpful to know whether your head is more round or more oval.When looking from above, some people have rounder heads while other have more oval heads. I have an average oval head. Very round hats don’t work for me without adding to the lining.

round ovalHat blocks can be more round or more oval with the same circumference. To illustrate: Both of these shapes to the right can have a circumference of 22.5″. Yet, the same hat would fit each head differently.

Published in: on January 10, 2019 at 9:01 pm  Comments (4)  

New Millinery Addition

New in the shop

Published in: on January 10, 2019 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Millinery 2019

Aka “How Do I Buy a Hat or Bonnet?”

I feel bad when people message me saying “The hat I wanted already sold.” I want to be able to get everyone the millinery they want. Here is a little guide to how to buy my straw bonnets and hats.

This year, I will be trying to make and post 6 straw hats or bonnets each month during the school year. This means one or two pieces each week. During the summer, I will be sewing full time as my sole income.

I sell all of my straw millinery through my Etsy shop.

Pieces can sell quickly. Sometimes that is days. Sometimes that is hours. Sometimes that is minutes.

Be The First To Know

The best way to know new millinery is available is to subscribe to this blog. I post pieces here as I post them on Etsy. To subscribe and receive emails for each new post, look under my photo to the right for the subscribe box that says “enter your email address.

It is a good idea to know what size and style you want ahead of time so you don’t second guess yourself. Take a look at my post on hat sizes and measure your head. Then browse my blog to look at the different styles I offer.

When you see a piece you like, click on the orange Etsy button, also found under my photo.

My Millinery

I focus on two types of millinery: straw plait millinery and quilted/wadded winter millinery. All of my straw pieces are hand sewn using historic techniques. I use both original bonnet and hat blocks, as well as hand carved blocks for blocking my pieces. I use two different millinery sizings. While I primarily offer straw forms, I occasionally offer fully decorated pieces. When I do, I use appropriate techniques and as accurate trimmings as possible. Given the likelihood that antique silk ribbons will shatter or fracture, I strongly prefer not to use them in pieces to be worn. I want you to be able to wear your millinery for years.


I am slowly expanding the time periods I am creating pieces from. As of January, this is a rough outline:

  • 1400-1600s – Researching
  • Late 1700 – Starting to look at
  • Regency era – Developing appropriate shapes.
  • 1820s-1830s – Dabbling.
  • 1840s – Working off an original block.
  • 1850s through 1864 – Making a variety of bonnets and hats
  • Bustle era – Making occasionally. I am eyeing a couple original blocks.


For sizing, please be sure to read my posts on sizing and fit.

Working with original blocks, I find these bonnets and hats feel “average” to “small” for most modern women. Most of my pieces are average to small. I do try to regularly make average to large pieces as well. Each Etsy listing will have measurements.

  • Small is 20″- 21″
  • Average is from 21.5″-22.5″
  • Large is 23″-23.5″, maybe 24″



I will do my best to keep millinery pieces as affordable as possible. Please, keep in mind each piece is entirely hand crafted, that I hand sew each row of straw, and I hand select each trim used. With the current cost of straw, necessary materials and shipping, undecorated straw forms will start at $110. Variations in straw, style, and (brim) will influence the price.


I am currently not taking requests or commissions or orders. I would love to be able to. I am simply too far behind in last year’s request list to take any more at this time. Goodness, I still have an amazing custom dyed strsw from two summers ago to make up.

I will not do sales outside of Etsy because Etsy is also how I keep track of sales.

Winter Millinery

I am not sure if I will be offering winter millinery this year. I really want to destash much of my over stashed sewing stuff before I unpack silks for sewing hoods.

Let’s see. What have I missed?

Published in: on January 3, 2019 at 9:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy New Year!!!!

I decided to start the new year off with three new hats!

Find them in my Etsy Shop:

Published in: on January 1, 2019 at 11:04 am  Comments (3)  

2 Hoods – A Quick Look

This week, my collection of winter hoods and ribbons came home. A friend was housing them during the relocation. Among the boxes was a shipping bag containing the last two pieces I bought before life got disrupted. I never even unpacked them. I think they got as far as the freezer, that is it.

I want to share some quick photos of each of these. I still need to sit down with each to really look at the construction and details. That will be when I don’t have a head cold. So, these are just first look thoughts.

This is an adult size hood. The exterior fashion fabric is a black taffeta with a satin weave dot. It was received with the brim folded back. Black lace is attached to the edge of the brim. I will examine this process closer.

The exterior appears to be constructed of two pieces – a single brim, crown, and sides of the bavolet, with a trapazoidal piece for the back of the bavolet. I will look closer at this when I sit down with the piece. The back is gathered where the bavolet meets the crown.

Close-up of the fabric:

Close-up of the lace:

The interior uses a shot silk and a polished cotton. The silk has shaed of gold, green, and purple depending on how the light hits it and where the soiling is. The diamond quilting is only through the silk and batting. The rectangle placed on the lower part of the brim may be a patch as the opposite side has a different shaped piece of polished cotton.

This second piece is a child’s size. The exterior is a solid brown. Fibers tbd. The exterior is quilted with sets of three narrow rows. These narrow channels may have cording in them, tbd. The seam between the crown and brim is piped. The seam connecting the crown and bavolet may have the cord applied on top. I need to look closer. The brim folds back to show a plaid which is constructed from ribbon.

This may also be made from two pieces – a single brim and bavolet, with a crown piece. I need to look closer to see if I can find a seam connecting the bavolet to the brim, because I did not see one at first looks.

Notice there is no easily visable seam along the bavolet area. It may be skillfully hidden in the quilting. Or, there may not be one.

The interior is made with two solid fabrics, tbd. The whole of the brim and bavolet are lined with the pieced plaid silk ribbon.

I am pointing to the only seam along the bavolet I’ve found. This is nearly center back.

Published in: on December 23, 2018 at 1:29 pm  Comments (1)  

Anatomy of a Drawn Bonnet

The technique of drawing silk or sheer fabric on to cane spanned millinery through most of the nineteenth century. The look can be absolutely stunning when done correctly.

This is one of those garments or accessories where it is absolutely essential to understand the construction of originals before embarking on a piece of your own. Luckily, Dannielle Perry has already written a beautiful book on drawn bonnets compiling an extensive grouping of extant examples. Buy this book!


As you read and look at originals, please note the anatomy of a drawn bonnet and its key aspects.

Anatomy DB2

A drawn bonnet is built on a foundation. This foundation was frequently willow, net, or buckram over a wire frame. This foundation gave the bonnet structure and the fashionable shape of the season.

The foundation helped define the main components of a bonnet: the tip, the crown, and the brim. While the drawn bonnet did create some variations in the shaping of these three areas due to the nature of the drawn silk over cane, these areas are still found on the vast majority of extant period drawn bonnets. Notice how the bonnet on the right has a round tip. This is a circle or an oval in nearly every Civil War era bonnet. Even when the bonnet has a “soft crown” such as the bonnet on the left, the basic shape underneath is still round for most bonnets. (There may be some exceptions in the minority. Dannielle – Is this the case for the brown and black bonnet on the second row all the way to the right?)

The beautiful texture that makes a drawn bonnet so very appealing is created by combining the silk and the cane or wire, upon which it is drawn. The fullness of the gathers, the spacing of the cane, the puffing of the silk between the cane, all create different looks. This is done with hand stitching to keep the gathwrs light and airy. Most drawn bonnets combine different spacing and gathering amounts to move the eye around the bonnet.

Sadly, there are some interpretations of the drawn bonnet that are promoted that simply do not have the basic construction elements of original drawn bonnets. Please avoid bonnets without a foundation, as well as bonnets that are drawn on plastic “bones.” These simply no not reflect the construction or look of the period.

If you want to learn even more about drawn bonnets….. Good News! Dannielle is teaching a class on drawn bonnets at this August’s Corsets and Cravats. Capture+_2018-12-20-11-44-35-1.png

Published in: on December 20, 2018 at 5:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

2019 Projects and Goals

One of the non-project goals I have for 2019 is to take more photos and have kore photos taken of people in my life as well as myself. With my cousin passing last month, I found I needed to see photos of her. I know this will perplex some, but with Dan leaving, I also found I wanted to go through photos, but there simply are not a lot of photos of us together. I am one who needs visual and tangible physical reminders. These are my memory cues. While I do have a remarkable visual memory, photographs and objects still reconnect me with many memories that slip. With this in mind, I don’t want to find myself lacking photos of anyone.

Now, on to the various projects…..

Attire for Me

  • I need a new coat. Mine are at their last threads. Okay, one can work well for an impression needing a tattered, worn look. The other just has bad bad vibes now. I think, hope, I have enough of the dense black wool left for a hip length paletot. If not, the cream wool it be. In that case, I could go longer.
  • I have a few lengths of wool waiting to be made up into dresses. About a week ago, I woke up with the desire to make myself a wool dress. So, I will finally make up a length into a dress for me.
  • 1830s working attire has been on my wish list from last spring. I need some versatile clothes that will work for straw sewing demonstrations and general other happenings for the 30s.
  • It may also be time to make up travel attire. Proper travel attire. The research on travel has been buried for far too long. I have to work through what would be the ideal dating for the interpretation and thus clothing.

Smaller projects

  • My relaxing feel good project is going to be the Ticking embroidery kit from Colleen.
  • The dolls all need clothes. Well, not all of them. Marie needs better clothes. Mini needs everything from chemise out. Two dolls need bodies and names.
  • Series of pin balls has rolled over from a few years ago. I have a box, inside my pin cushion projects box, just for different types of ball shaped pin cushions. I am hoping this series will use up some of the small bits in the stash.
  • I have linen waiting to be a new travel bag. As much as I feel the duffle style is over-done, I have enjoyed my old one for well over a decade. Plus, they are so much easier cleaner to make than a carpet bag, which I do have another frame for, somewhere.

Millinery/Shop Goals

  • 75 hats and bonnets
  • 6 fully decorated hats
  • 6 fully decorated bonnets
  • Finish and release “The Dolls of Godey’s” (working title)
  • Write and release “Wintering Over” (working title)
  • Write useful blogs posts regularly.

I know I keep talking about a great stash destash. It is coming. I even have a plan. Let’s call it the Great Brown Bag Stash Destash. I have a bunch of brown paper gift bags. I will put a name on each and fill them with stash stuff I just won’t need or get to.

Published in: on December 19, 2018 at 8:55 pm  Comments (2)  

It Takes Village

….. To Care For A Village.

New York’s Pathways Through History website lists 20 historic villages in New York State. These villages, both in-situ and relocated range from a small collection of buildings to a full replication of community. (I assure you there are additional collections of historic buildings that were not included on this list focused on enhancing our tourism.)

Please take a moment to learn about the historic villages and sites in your state/area. Find out how you can support them, whether that is time or money.

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Published in: on December 12, 2018 at 6:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Itty Bitty Delight

Much to my delight, I discovered the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has a collection of hats in miniature, many of which are straw. These aren’t just miniature hats…. These are amazing, as in heart racing, how close can I get to my screen, put me on a plane now.

Yes, I have a problem.

Each piece is dated to the second quarter of the 20th century, but reflects earlier styles. The collection appears to be from Mildred Blount, of California. I asked Google more about her. She was a milliner for celebrities and films in the 1930s and 1940s. The LACMA collection pieces appear to be part of an 87 piece study of styles from 1680 to 1937 that was displayed at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. 87 piece! Can you imagine? Squeals!!!

Here she is working on some of the miniature hats. (this is the University of Texas blog post)

I am floored by the detail. The straw plaits Blount used are incredibly fine. This is straw we can not get today. I have 1 hank that I think would be the right size. It is the only hank Ive seen this size in person. Then the trims. We are going on 80 years old. The feathers boggle my mind. They are so full, fluffy, and shiny. Usually, pieces of this age have lost their vibrance at best. Nice job LACMA.

Okay, so, I was going to droll on about the details of each of these. But, I won’t. I want tpyou to go look at the collection. Drool. Zoom. Have your eyes pop out.

Published in: on December 12, 2018 at 5:00 pm  Comments (2)  

End of 2018…. On to 2019!

This really was quite the year. Because it was so filled, I need to go month by month to recap….

January – In January, I was on a head-dress and octagon pin cushion kick. The first was part of planning for my Symposium workshop. The latter was because velvet octagon pin cushions are just cool.

February – I had started February focusing on a set of posts looking closely at how women wore their bonnets and hats. But, everything quickly focused on Clara with her emergency surgery. I will forever be incredibly grateful to everyone who helped out and sent their love for Clara. She is doing very well. She loves doing zoomies up and down the hall of the new place. She finally allows gentle belly rubs too.

March – In March, I announced the release of To Net, or Not To Net: Revisited. I am very pleased with the reception of my latest publication.

April – April was very much about exploring straw hat shapes, including a new favorite, the Mousquetiare.

May – In May, I started getting really busy at work while I went into straw over-drive at home. I made this simple post that looked at the many styles I work with.

June – June was GCVM’s War of 1812 event. This was a must attend event for me because marked the one year point from being in the hospital. I also wrote a post I would like to draw attention back to “Pizza and the Piggy Bank.”

July – July, July was amazing. I had an incredible time at the museum’s Civil War event. It was wonderful seeing old friends and new. I had a beautiful day with friends at West Sparta’s Old Fashioned Day.

August/September/October – I had such plans for August…. But, plans change….. We moved ….. Dan left….. Damaged organs got cranky…. I needed to find a new normal….

November – With November came my much loved Domestic Skills Symposium and Preparing for the Holidays. I got back to sewing straw. Pieces disappeared (sold) from my shop so quickly most never were seen on FB. I also started p.aying with more videos on my blog and Instagram.

December – and that brings us to now…..

It has been quite the year with some wonderful “ups” and, fankly, some crushing “downs”. At the beginning of 2018, never did I image nearly losing Clara, then losing my home and husband. I was thinking about projects, straw, dresses, and what to write. So…..WOW!

I want to say some of you have been beyond amazing, truly incredible friends. Thank You!!

I do have to look toward 2019. No, I choose to look forward to 2019. I will have a new normal to figure out.

I also need to keep focused in my shop. It would be very helpful if you could take my quick survey to let me know what you are looking for in the coming year:

Planning 2019 Survey

Published in: on December 9, 2018 at 6:01 pm  Leave a Comment