Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Plaid Sunbonnet II: Making a Pattern

Picking up from part I, which just got too long.  Here's my actual process:

I decided to cut the sunbonnet in 3 pieces: a brim, crown and curtain.  The inspiration bonnet seems to be a 3-piecer.  To make the brim, I cut a rectangle of scrap fabric: the shorter dimension of the rectangle is about 3 inches longer than the depth of my head (from bun to forehead--always leave room for a period hairstyle), the longer side started around 24".  This piece is draped over the head, with the longer edge framing the face: I measured it to the chin on each side, and then trimmed off excess fabric (leaving 1/2" on each side for seam allowances).

With the brim pattern draped over the head, I made the crown measurements.  Facing a mirror*, imagine a line between the front corners of the brim (under the chin) and measure it's length.  Next, from a point in the middle of the imaginary line, measure upward to the center front of the brim above the forehead.  I cut out a rectangle with these measurements, and then rounded off the top two corners extremely, making one of the short ends of the rectangle almost a semi-circle.  It doesn't have to be perfect, but the sides should be symmetric.
Back "mailbox-shaped" piece of sunbonnet.
The Not-Quite-A-Rectangle Piece
I marked the middle of the brim piece along one of the long edges, and the center of the arc on the crown piece. Then I matched these center marks and basted the two pieces together.  I then trimmed the excess fabric from the bottom of the crown, and tried it on.  The bonnet mock-up fit close to the head, with several inches of fabric projecting over the face (and, at this stage, drooping forward over my eyes).  The bottom of the brim falls just past the chin, as intended, and the crown should fit smoothly to the brim.

To make the curtain, I measured along the lower "neck" edge of the brim/crown assembly.  Next, I measured from my chin to my desired curtain length, a few inches past my shoulder (curtains usually seem to fall between should and elbow length, protecting the neck and the top fo the dress from the sun).  I then cut out the rectangular curtain piece (adding a few inches to the long side for maneuverability; 1-2" should also be added to the short side to allow for hemming).  I then basted the curtain to the bottom of the mock-up, pleating the curtain to fit.

Mock-up of sunbonnet.
Bonnet Mock-up, modeled by the iron
White, grey and purple paid shirting-weight cotton.
The Fabric
The full mock-up is ready to try on.  Now's the time to make any final fitting changes, and decide on any final adjustments: changing curtain length, making a fuller cap, adjusting brim size, etc.  If I were fitting the bonnet with back ties, I'd tack on some ribbon or scrap fabric, and see that it works as intended.

Satisfied with my mock-up, I decided to cut it out.

First up was the brim.  Following the inspiration bonnet, I opted to cut on the bias.  I folded back a corner of the fabric on the 45 degree diagonal until I had space for the pattern piece, then cut it out, with one long edge along the fold.  The brim needs to be in two layers for 'sandwiching' the cords (or slats, etc.), so either two brim pieces need to be cut and sewn together along the front edge, or the piece is needs be cut on a fold. After my adventures cording my first bonnet, I opted to add about a half inch to the sides of the brim (not the face edge); this gives me some leeway for squaring off the sides if the fabric should 'skew' while the cording is sewn.

I next cut the curtain out, using the full 1-yard length of the fabric piece along a selvage edge (thereby avoiding a need to hem).  If the fabric doesn't have a usable selvage, a hem allowance will be needed. Finally, I cut out the crown, adding about 3/4" to each side for a slightly fuller look.  It will be gathered along all the edges down to the pattern size, so that the extra fabric goes into a full crown, rather than making the bonnet too large.

From the scraps, I cut out two small rectangles for ties.  These will be narrow-hemmed by hand.

I'm sewing the whole bonnet by hand this time, so I'll end this entry here and make a third part with the sewing pictures (which could take a while).

First row of cording sewn into sunbonnet brim with running stitch.
Teaser: The first row of cording on the brim

*Obviously the bonnet crown goes at the back of the head; it's hard to measure behind oneself, so I start by measuring the front to get an approximate size or the crown.

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