The Empire or Regency epoch is dated around 1795 - 1820. The name "Empire" (stress French: "om-peer") comes from the from the first French Empire under Napoleon I. The Regency era in the United Kingtom is the name of the period when King George IV ruled still as Prince Regent, from 1811 to 1820. Therefore, this era is sometimes referred to as the "Georgian Era". The time of the Regency/Empire classicistic style, however, differs from the reigns of both Napoleon and George IV. The terms "Regency" and "Empire" are often used to describe the stylistic period between the end of the Rococo and the dawning of the Victorian era.
1. Buy a woolen hat with a brim not too broad or take an old one and remove all trimming.
The beige or camel colour makes the hat appear a little like a straw hat from afar. Wool has the advantage of being weatherproof if one is caught in a drizzle.
2. Take a patch of the fabric of your choice which should be large enough to fit over the crown of the hat well. Iron / steam it into shape as well as possible. Sew it by hand to the top of the hat
The fabric I use is old-green satin, matching my Regency gown.
3. Measure the height (beginning of brim to highest point) and circumfence of your hat.
4. Take a larger piece of the same fabric as before:
In my case: 24 * 60 cm.
5. Put tucks into the fabric so that they form vertical stripes
6. Hem the bottom edge.
7. Sew the ends together that the fabric forms a tunnel with a circumfence like the hat + 1,5 cm scope
wrap the fabric around the hat and sew it in place (then go to No 9).
8. Pull the tunnel over the hat, sew the lower hem to the hat by hand.
9. Turn the upper edge of the tucked fabric down (between the left side of the fabric and the hat. Fix everything by hand.
10. Fold the brim in the neck to the inside and fix it with pins. The reason for this is that you can push the bonnet more to the back of the neck than you could do with a hat when the brim is in the way.
Take a matching thread and double it so that it is stronger. Sew along the folded brim (and take care of your fingers, wool felt is sturdy!).
11. Make a ribbon 1,5cm wide out of the same fabric.
Cut: circumfence of hat + 5cm seam allowance * 5cm ribbon width
12. Sew the ribbon to form a loop fitting around the hat. Cut away what is too long from the seam allowance and neaten the ends.
Pull the loop over the hat so that the seam is in the back, of course.
Don't stitch it down there yt.
> If you want a Regency hat and no bonnet leave out Steps 13 to 15 and sew the loop on directly. The difference between a hat and a bonnet is that the latter has bands which are tied unter the chin.
13. Cut two more ribbons (to be tied under the chin) 13cm wide and as long as you want them to be. Mine are each 45cm long. Sew along to form tubes (1,5cm seam allowance each time).
14. Neaten the ends. Fold the corners of ONE END EACH to the left side like a concertina and stitch them down.
Hem the other end of each band neatly.
15. Try your bonnet on and decide from where the ties should come down.They should begin rather more towards the back of the hat than too far in front. The ties should also be pinned slightly angular towars the front.
Pin them there UNDER the loop ribbon and stitch everything down.
My fabric is rose coloured taffeta, made of polyester.
Normally, synthetic fabrics are no very good idea for historical recreations but in this case it is quite practical:
Cut three stripes in different widths: the widest stripe about 30 cm long, the narrower about 20 cm.
As the fabric is synthetic you do not have to neaten it with your sewing machine: Just move swiftly along the edges with a firelighter.
CAUTION: Only do this out of the reach of other flammable objects and in well-ventilated areas. Synthetic fabric goes up like a match so move the lighter along the edge very swiftly. It’s best to place a bowl of water next to you or do it over a sink to extinguish flames at once.
Fold the stripes in the middle and wrap them, getting wider on the outside and not too regular, to form rose blooms. Keep the rose petals in place by sewing them together in the back:
Sew the rose embellishments to the hat wherever you would like to have them. Mine are sewn to the back of the hat as I thought it would be a nice eye-catcher there.
If you want to be able to remove the roses, e.g. to exchange them for other finery, make a brooch: Take small circle or oval of pasteboard and cover it well with a circle of the same fabric as the roses. Sew the roses on it, then. Add pearls and other embellishment if you like and add a clasp pin to the back side.
Chapeau, done! Enjoy your wonderful Regency / Empire bonnet!
> To read more about Regency fashion in detail, accessories, hair & more visit Empire / Regency
© Nina Möller