DIY Victorian/Civil War Bonnet--Emily Dickinson--I Am Not Mrs. Maisel

Which Disney Character Are You?

You know, those quizzes you see on Facebook all the time?

I didn't do that quiz, but my guess is I am more of an Aurora. You know, having dealt with life's adversities and overcoming them, but getting outfit changes-----like 3 of them!

Plus, she knows how to use a spindle...the closest 'sewing' Disney Princess there is. She talks to animals and's what I do come Spring when I am fully going at the garden. And Aurora is not naiive (ahem, Snow White...she's definitely the dippiest.)

Little Time For Quizzes

Running a costume rental business, managing a homestead and still being an active parent to my 18 & 16 year old daughters (although I am an 'empty-nester in training), I have to be a little more selective with which quiz I can do--and I tempted by all of them!

Which Hat Are You?

Way before I started blogging regularly, I subscribed to many blogs...of particular note: style and fashion blogs...of even more particular note: women around my age.

Every morning, before life started, I would eagerly catch up on blog posts from my favorite ladies. And no, I don't have time to read them all, but I am deft in skimming/scannning--my eyes being attracted to Italic, Bold-Face, and Underlines, very muck like I do here on my blog.

Recently one of those quizzes came to me via Nicole Molders, fashionista of High Latitude Style. (I've been following Nicole for quite some time now. I love watching how she stylizes her outfits in Alaska. Her tagline..."How to maintain great style in painful cold weather.")

Although, Nicole and I live on completely different latitudes on this hemisphere (she--Fairbanks, AK, 66.16 N and me--Sacramento, Northern California 38.7 N), and I don't have a need for anti-freeze clothing, she has a great sense of style and we share an obsession for hats (further common interest, vintage hats).

This quiz was about finding the 'best hat shape for your lifestyle'.

The quiz:

Best Hat Shape For Your Lifestyle

Not Who I Thought I Was...Pick Myself Up, And Brush It Off

After answering the jaunty quiz questions, not finding the exact answers that would accurately define my lifestyle, and keeping in mind, this is a 'fun' quiz, not a 'personality test' which would predicate me being hired by a potential employer, I was surprised by the result.

Fully expecting I would be a shoo-in for a Royal Family "fascinator" style hat, I came out a BEANIE!

Me, A Beanie?

And then after self-reflection, mental processing, and disappointment setting in, evidently, I am not Kentucky-Derby-hat or Tea-Party worthy and probably should have lied on the quiz ; )

Me, Eva Winger, Costume Designer

ME--Ahem, ahem, in a Beanie!

The truth...I wear Beanies all winter long (visors in the spring and summer). When I am not working my local, costume rental business, I am usually working around my 2 acre mini-organic-farm-homestead in Northern California.

Do we get cold here? I think you'd laugh. For me 32F is cold. The coldest it might get here during the day is 47F. Night time, nature goes tundra, and we get the necessary chill hours for the fruit trees at 37-32F. Freezing temperatures are rare, but do happen, leaving my baby citrus and avocado trees with a little frostbite if I don't cover them during a forecast freeze.

Me, Eva Winger, Costume Designer and Builder

Me, building a 10 X 16 ft. garden shed

Do I want to be a beanie woman? Nope. I want to be a woman who wears elegant hats! But building 10 x 16 sheds does not going hand-in-hand with whimsical, dainty, netted hats with applique. It's more like I need a yellow hard-hat versus a pom-pom beanie.

...Earth to Eva... can't be The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel unless you pursue a career in comedy...

And yet my hat obsession continues.

I Considered Millinery As A Career At 9 Years of Age--No Joke!

My hat-quiz denial is deep-rooted in me as a 9 year old creating hats out of fabric and cardboard for my Barbies all the while considering a career in millinery---random, right?. No, I did not imagine getting a Biology degree and a career in the pharmaceutical industry during my early 20s and 30s.

Maybe I was Born In The Wrong Era

I have considered that my attachment to hats is from my former lives in the Edwardian times, the roaring 20s, 40's and 50s---geeze, that's a few past reincarnated lives! (I do not have attachments to I was never an animal--lol!)

Oh I would have thrived as Mrs. Maisel! She has all the hats, dresses, the matching gloves and purses.

This is how I want to be dressed... refined! 'I am going to Costco to load up on groceries and toilet paper'.

Once in a while I do get to dress up. This was after a photo shoot for a local neighborhood magazine. My family landed the December 2019 Cover of the "The Link". I'm sure you've heard of it ; ) But I did not go to Costco afterwards dressed like this.

Me, Eva Winger, Costume Designer

Opportunity for dress-up but not to don a hat.

Alas...I did have one opportunity in my life to wear a hat--a legitimate excuse to wear a hat in which I did not look out of place or in a time-warp.

A couple of years ago, friends invited us to a Great Gatsby themed garden party at Spring Mountain Winery in Napa. And you know I jumped all over that!

Me, DIY Great Gatsby Cloche Hat and Costume

Me and my D.I.Y. Cloche Hat (and costume)

Let It ALL Hang

So I don't get to be all dolled up everyday--it's unrealistic. I could make more of an effort, like for starters, getting out of yoga pants.

Starting and growing Costume Take-Out has been a great outlet and stage for my desire of 'fancy', especially precious vintage clothing...a pull that's been inside of me since I was a young child--even for hats!

I can get my fix and feel at peace with myself.

Emily Dickinson Costume Request

Recently I had a request to create an Emily Dickinson costume locally for a 5th grader's Wax Museum.


...Emily Dickinson...

Up until now--5 years into my costume business--I have not yet had a request to make that iconic, hoop-skirt, Charles Dickens, Victorian Christmas Faire style ensemble.

The Victorian dress creation itself was an amazing experience, but I had to limit the adornments. What I read up on Emily Dickinson was that she was humble, reclusive type woman, who just happened to write over 1,700 poems (pure genius).

If you are busy writing non-stop, no surprise her focus wasn't on frippery and frills, as I would be pied-pipered to.

The Christmas Gift Emily Did Not Want

Emily set the tone of the modest, yet pretty dress. I did add some ruffling to her sleeves, but I had to pump my ornamentation brakes continuously throughout the project.

Whereas I let the true Emily control my design process of her dress, I told Emily to park it when it came to creating her bonnet. (My guess is that she probably did not go out much anyway. So let's call the fru-fru bonnet a Christmas gift from her wealthy parents.)

Not Getting Slapped With A Fine This Time Around

I wanted to attach an image of Emily Dickinson, but even looking for 'labeled for re-use' image was a little daunting. I never want to go through what I once went through with a Statue of Liberty Image under which I gave credit to, but was not done exactly the way the owner wanted. So I got slapped with a fine. I have learned to really be careful. I use Picryl now--tons of Public Domain images.

Starting Emily's Bonnet

As always, I start each costume creation with perfunctory research--first with a Google Image search, and then over to Pinterest to create my own folder with Victorian bonnets.

Costume Take-Out's Pinterest Folder For Victorian Bonnets

The images below are from Picryl and 'labeled for re-use' and served as my inspiration:

Essential Victorian/Civil War Bonnet Components

While perusing through bonnets until I got creatively saturated, I learned that my bonnet needed to include the commonality of a high brim, a tying sash and a layer of fancifulness between the hair and under brim of bonnet, and then optional frivolity was left up to interpretation.

In the 5 years of costume designing, I have stumbled across many creations of this era bonnet and all were about the same--variation being in the garnish. But having a good grasp of construction in general, I left it to my intuition on creating the base of the bonnet.

My Emily Dickinson Bonnet Palette

The color of the Emily Dickinson Upcycled Costume is mushroom/purple hued. Because versatility with individual costume pieces is key in growing an inventory for my costume business, I decided to design the bonnet should be neutral enough to go with numerous costumes.

Cue Thrifting

Oh thrift stores are my playgrounds--endless amount of inexpensive textiles. The total cost of my bonnet?--maybe $2.00, not including the gas in the car.

Thrift Stores Are My Happy Place

Elements of a Victorian Bonnet

...placed my collected textiles together to see how well the colors would meld...

Propped Up Hat "Before"

Creating Bonnet Silhouette

...propped the hat up so you could see how the finished profile should look...

Creating Victorian Bonnet Base Shape from Regular Straw Hat

...then guestimated how far I needed to cut the bonnet and put scissors to work...finished the raw edges with ribbon...

Wrapping Sash Around Victorian Bonnet the weathered-looking fabric (gave the bonnet a vintage look) into a sash around the hat...

Criss-Cross Sashing to keep Victorian Bonnet on head

...had to do some engineering to keep the sash in place and maintain the high brim, so implemented a criss-cross worked!...

Me, Trying out to see what Bonnet Profile looks like so far

...just checked in to make sure I was on far so good...

Fork Pleating For Internal Fluff

Time to add the internal fluff.

Have you heard of making pleats with a fork?

I used this technique once before with much success, the fork keeping control of the pleat size so they are consistent.

Fork Pleating for Bonnet Internal Fluff

...included the image of Little Bo Peep to show you that I can make mistakes...just WAAAAY too much fabric...back to the drawing board, and un-doing work that took me 2 hours..grrrrrr....

Re-doing internal fluff pleats with inverted pleat technique

...this time tried a different kind of inverted pleat which gave me the body I wanted with half of the fabric!...

Vinegar For Pleats

Yeah, weird eh? But it works! Just spray straight Vinegar onto pleats and use a hot iron to steam out the moisture. Pleats retain like magic. Smell dissipates shortly after application. Revolutionary, right?

spray bottle full of vinegar

...ignore the janky, non-instagram image of the bottle of vinegar...I keep it real around here...

Adding Femininity

I was still not satisfied with the bonnet, deciding that femininity was lacking and could be easily remedied and bolstered with lace and flowers.