Mandy and I got together today to work on bonnets. While she was here, I decided to pull out a couple of original bonnets that she hadn't seen yet. During our examination, we discussed our decision to move from single layer to double layer buckram forms. We pulled out the handy dandy microscope and compared single layer (left), double layer (center), and extant (right) buckram. The differences in the weave and density are rather obvious in the photographs. The double layer is significantly better creating a studier form. (Don't worry mid-19th century folks! Our brims for 1855-1865 are made of stiff cotton netting. Just the crowns are buckram.)
When looking at 1850's and 1860's reproduction bonnets, there is one little detail that living historians often miss: The Cap. The cap is a frill of netting or lace around the face seen in 1850's and 1860's bonnets which was a replacement of separate caps. Unfortunately, trimmings including caps have been removed from many extant bonnets making the cap seem like a little skippable detail. However, looking at antique photographs will show caps as almost universal on bonnets making them and important detail present on quality reproduction bonnets.
In this digital age many people ask me, why I collect originals rather than just viewing online. Looking at online museums, eBay, Etsy, and countless others, there seem to be endless images of antique photographs and original garments to examine. In the case of original photographs, one of the reasons is resolution. Ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, and tintypes contain a level of detail that is absolutely mind blowing. For example, this 1850's ambrotype is approximately two by three inches in size. A scan of the image allows me to look at the individual flowers in the bonnet and details in the cap that wouldn't be recognizable at the original size. Looking at the ties, one can see that they aren't hemmed, cut rather messily, have a picot edge, and are even a bit wrinkled.
When I started participating in living history, I always thought I will never do the 1820s. The twenties are too crazy. Then I took a closer look. Now, the 1820s is probably my favorite decade. Elaborate trimmings, wide bonnets at flirty angles, and oh the hair!!! If you are looking forward to 1820s 200th anniversary events, we are here to help. Last year, we released our Sophia pattern offering multiple brim options to span the 1820s. Additionally, our new and improved 1820's fashion plate book has 79 fashion plates spanning the decade to help you perfect your historic impression!
Many of you have been to my workshops on preparing feathers. I also offer prepared feathers at events, but never on the website. Well they are here. Each feather is individually curled, sewn into a bunch, and then curled again. These feather bunches add a level of sophistication and luxuriousness not often seen in historic reproductions.
In preparation for the Treaty of Ghent event in Camden, South Carolina, I decided to make a batch of Federal Era Toques. These little puffy confections can dress up a winter coat and are even appropriate to wear in the ballroom. The best part of these darlings is they are an affordable way to dress up your impression or show off some delicious millinery trimmings.
In the last couple of years, I have really slowed down as far as collecting for several reasons. First, I have a lot of bonnets and have gotten rather picky. I really don't need several of the exact same thing. Second, the bonnets I find are just too expensive and I am not finding the deals I once did. That changed recently. I found two incorrectly marked relatively inexpensive bonnets.
The first bonnet was labelled as a sunbonnet and was pointed out to me by my friend Anna Worden Bauersmith. Anna and I will point bonnets out to each other that we feel that one of us "needs." The pictures were not great, but the shape was right for mid 1840s bonnet. The seller described the bonnet as in poor condition, but for $20 plus shipping I was willing to risk it just to study the shape.
I received the bonnet and opened it to find it in excellent condition for a bonnet that is almost 180 years old. It is dented, but the silk faille fabric is in very nice condition. The brim, made of both buckram and pasteboard, makes it a transitional piece from the early to mid 19th century.
The second bonnet was also pointed out to me by Anna. It was labeled 1880s.
A lot of bonnets are labeled 1860s when they are 1880s, but not the other way around. This bonnet has all the characteristics of a mid 1860s Empire bonnet. It has points which are not present on 1880s bonnets. It has a little flared piece under the bavolet characteristic of mid 1860's bonnets. Another super cool thing about this bonnet is the trim. First of all, I am thrilled that it still has trimming, but even more what the trimmings tell me about this bonnet. Almost all black bonnets are labeled mourning bonnets, they are not. This one is. The presence of crape and flat rather than shiny ribbons indicate that this bonnet is indeed a mid 1860s mourning bonnet.
10 1/2 inches of snow and getting ready for the Treaty of Ghent event presented perfect excuses to make this hood for myself. Based on an original in the Timely Tresses collection, you may find the Instructions for making this hood in the new projects issue of the Homefront Herald. With silk to stop the wind, brim stuffed with down, quilted silk curtain with wool batting. and adjustable channels, this is the perfect period correct ski jacket for your head.
After a very busy summer, I am back to work on new stock. This week I have added two straws ready for trimming, a completed 1860's silk bonnet, and a number of nets.
Several people have contacted me about the mysterious disappearance of our made to order straw forms. Don't worry they will be back. I am just trying to catch up on special event orders taken in the last four months. If you have an urgent millinery need, you may always email me at Dannielle@timelytresses.com and I will see if I can accommodate you.
We are so excited about the new website and being back at our old domain address. We are continuing to add new items and update inventory daily. 2018 is going to be a great year!
I am still adding the inventory to the new website. If you are looking for something that was on the old site, please let me know. Keeping fingers crossed that the domain transfer will complete soon. Happy New Year!
I hope the holiday season is finding you well. For the past couple of years, our website has been inhabited by gremlins that like to break our buttons and change formatting. Hopefully the new format will change some of that. It also allows me to put items for sale that have been sitting in my studio, but not on the website. I just found 90 yards of 3" ombre taffeta ribbon that I know you would love to have. Please be patient with me while I work to get everything back online. If you have an urgent millinery need for something that was on the old website, please email me and I am always happy to help!