Every historical era is recognised for its political figures, customs and, of course, for its fashion. The early 19th-century Regency period is no different. Ladies of the era wore corsets, empire-wasted dresses and ornately-decorated bonnets. You can construct regency bonnets simply, or decorate them with flowers, feather plumes and ribbons. Even novice costume makers can create a Regency-era bonnet with a little bit of time and a few steps.
Lay a straw or seagrass sunhat on a flat surface and draw a straight line across one side of the hat, being careful not to trace the line onto the domed portion of the hat. Cut across the line and curve the ends inward slightly.
Lay the hat down on the dome and place a large piece of muslin over the top, to make the inner lining for the bonnet. Spread the muslin into the hat so that it presses up against the interior on all sides. Smooth the fabric over the interior brim of the hat and cut the material approximately an inch too large all the way around.
Remove the fabric from the hat and use a single stitch to fold over the very edge of the fabric to create a smooth edge. Place the fabric back onto the hat and use a single or zigzag stitch to sew one of the seamed edges just over the top of the brim so that a half-inch of fabric is placed on top of the brim. Insert a few stitches through the dome of the bonnet and into the fabric to keep it formed nicely within the hat.
Wrap a piece of muslin in the colour of your choice around the crown, or dome, of the straw or seagrass hat. Cut the muslin so that it makes a circle that is approximately an inch larger than the dome part of the bonnet. Fold over and hem the seams of the circle for a clean edge. Sew the edges of the circle around the dome of the bonnet.
Wrap a two-inch-wide ribbon around the dome of the hat to hide the edges of the fabric circle and secure it with an occasional stitch.
Wrap a ribbon around the top of the hat, in between the dome and the brim, drape it down to the bottom of the hat and leave an additional 10 to 12 inches of ribbon on either side to tie in a bow. Insert an occasional stitch along the ribbon and hat to secure the ribbon to the bonnet.
Things you need
- Straw or seagrass hat
- Muslin fabric
- Sewing needle