Originally conceived as brimless headgear to keep the head tidy, bonnets in the Victorian era became a way for the ladies to make a fashion statement and were worn for almost every occasion. Simplicity was discarded for extravagance and the bonnets came to be lavishly decorated with flowers, feathers and laces on top and tied with a ribbon under the chin. Even the dolls that the girls played with were dressed in fashionable outfits with matching accessories. So miniature bonnets were in high demand and with the right materials it is not difficult to make one.
Trace the miniature pattern (you can download it from the net) onto the buckram and the fabric. There should be two pattern pieces each (a total of four pieces), one for the main body of the bonnet and the other round piece for the crown. Cut the buckram and the fabric according to the pattern and set the fabric aside.
Sew the ends of the buckram body piece together and then stitch on the crown panel piece. Measure the amount of wire needed to go round the whole of the buckram, cut and hand-sew it to the buckram to give it a structured shape. The wire is to to be sewn all around the edges. The crown piece is also to be reinforced with wire. The result will look like wire running all around the top and side edges and a round wire on the bottom or crown panel.
Glue on or hand-sew the fabric to the buckram. Either way, attach the fabric piece for the crown panel first and then the larger fabric over the form and stitch/glue it to the crown. Then, stitch/glue the fabric to the edges in such a way that it fits snugly over the whole structure. Use some broad lace or fabric to make the "bavelot" or frill at the back of the bonnet which lies over the neck. Stitch it on to give it a ruffled look.
Sew or glue the piping/binding all around the brim. If you wish, you can trim the edges of the brim with lace. Cut out another piece of fabric to line the inside of the bonnet. Stitch/glue it into place around the edge of the brim and at the back. To give it a better look, cut out some broad lace and sew/glue it on to the lining, leaving half an inch all along the edge.
Take a long ribbon and drape it around the bonnet in the centre. Make sure that the ends are aligned to the area where the bonnet will cover the ears. Stitch/glue the ribbon into place and make sure that ends are long enough to be tied under the chin (of the doll). If you wish, decorate the bonnet with flowers, ruffled lace and velvet, feathers and other trimmings.
Use a miniature straw hat if you cannot get buckram. Use the pattern to cut out a piece, leaving 2" of the crown. Also cut out the fabric according to the hat. Steam iron the top and sides (mainly the sides) and then follow the steps from 3 to 5.
Instead of using glue, it is best to hand-sew the entire project, including the decorations and trimmings at the end.
Tips and warnings
- Instead of using glue, it is best to hand-sew the entire project, including the decorations and trimmings at the end.
Things you need
- Bonnet pattern
- Milliner's wire
- Marker pen
- Sewing kit
- Fabric glue/hot glue (optional)
- Artificial flowers and trimmings (optional)
- Lace, both broad and thin
- Broad ribbons
- Miniature straw hat
- Steam iron