To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3

Thursday, October 8, 2015

How To Do a Bonnet or Hat Mock-up Tutorial

Yesterday I started on my mourning bonnet for the 1840s Mourning ensemble.  I'm using a new-to-me pattern, McCall 5129.  It doesn't totally match the shape of my inspirations, I really don't want to purchase a new pattern, and I am running out of time to order a new one anyway.  In light of all this, I decided to do what I usually do when altering a hat/bonnet pattern or making a new pattern.  I made a mock-up!!

The process is very much like making a mock-up for a bodice and is relatively simple to do!

You will need tape, scissors, a sharpie (or other felt tip pen) and large sheets of Poster Board...mine was 22" x 28", purchased at Staples for $6.88 for 10 sheets.  

Let's Begin Shall We?

Nice, lovely sheets of poster board!  Good for all sorts of things!!  I used these also when I was making the pattern for my Spelling Bee Wings.

Trace your pattern out exactly on the poster board and cut out.  I cut out the Large size, as I have an enormous head!  Awesome.

For this pattern, there were only two pieces, so I joined the back pieces with tape.  I have very rarely had the great happiness of having a brim fit exactly to a crown...this is where doing a mock-up is really a good idea.  If things don't fit, you are only out the price of the poster board and not the more expensive buckram!!

Before I took the time to tape the crown to the brim, I just sat the brim on the crown.  I could tell right away that the crown was too large for the brim.

I started making the crown smaller in very small increments.  Sorry for all you math lovers, I just eyeballed this!  The whittled down crown piece ended up matching the "Small" crown piece!!  That's how "off" the pattern piece was.

Not only did I need to whittle down the crown, I had to extend the end pieces.  This I did by taking a scrap piece of paper and drawing an extended piece.

Here I have cut the extended piece out...

Next I laid the scrap extended piece under the end piece...

Finally, I taped the extended piece to the end piece!  I did this on both sides.

Now is the time to start taping the crown to the brim.  I matched up the points marked "center front" very sure to draw these marks on your pattern pieces so you have a reference point!!  Tape that down.

I like to take the tape and put it first on the crown.  (It helps me to tape on one side of the "center", then the other.  Then the one side, then the other and so on.)

With the tape on the crown already, all you have to do after you butt the crown to the brim, is press down the tape on the brim!

Now the other side.  I leave about 1" - 1.5" between tape pieces.

Cool!!  The "Center Back" line on the back of the brim almost matches the Center line on the crown.  This would be the time to trim the extended pieces if they are really too long.

Here I have crossed out the line that I assumed would be the center.  Where my index finger is pointing is where the top of the back piece will come to on the bottom of the back piece.  Mark that on your pattern so you can match that up on your final pattern piece.

I have taped the top back edge to the bottom back edge.

I like to be overly instructive to myself on my pattern pieces.  It is all nice and lovely to say, "Oh yes!  I am totally going to remember what I did here on my mock!!"  Then life happens and what you did on you mock is the furthest thing from your mind and before you know it, you have forgotten what you did!!  So MARK ALL THE THINGS!!!

Here, I have re-marked the center back of the brim and have marked where the top tab of the back will meet the bottom tab.

Side "A"

Now after the bonnet is taped together and marked, I start to re-work the pattern piece.  Where I am pointing, I didn't like the sweep of the bonnet.  It is a very lovely pattern, and from what I have seen during my research, is pretty spot on, but I want a different shape.

I cut a piece of scrap poster board and have taped it front and back to the bonnet.

Now, I drew the sweep that I thought would look better.

Then I cut it out!  You can see better on this image where I taped the scrap to the base bonnet.

Side "B"

I figured since I had a mock up already made, I would do another side in a different shape for the future!

On this one, I wanted the bonnet to be a little more shallow and the points at the chin to be more pronounced.  Using my seam gauge, I marked the front 1" and just eyeballed the sweep part. 

Here is a top view of View "A" and View "B".  Having that line smack down the middle is a handy thing to have if you are going to use the mock-up for two different bonnets, or if you have a lot of altering to do.

Side "B" has been all cut to where I want it.

Now to try the mocks on.

View "A".   I really like the "Coal Scuttle" shape of this view.  Many of the bonnets in the 1840s hid most of the face from side view.

Side "B".  I like the long and distinct chin point on this side as well!!  

Score for two views!!!

Front view.  This is also an important view as it shows what the front of the bonnet will look like!!!  You still have time to adjust and alter before you cut into the buckram at this point.

Time to make the "real" pattern!

After carefully cutting the tape between the crown and the brim so as to remove them from each other, I cut the mock-up straight down the center line.  I laid side "B" down flat on a fresh sheet of poster board.  I made very sure to carefully butt the edge of the mock-up against a line I drew on the fresh sheet.  Then I traced it out and made sure to transfer any markings I drew on the mock-up.

I flipped the mock-up and traced it on the other side.

Now, in order to make sure my markings from the mock up were added, I had to use the back tab from side "A".  I traced the lower piece, where my finger is pointing and added the notes about "center" and the arrows.

Ta-Da!!!!!  My new pattern piece!  

Here you can see where the back tabs are going to fit together.

All taped up with the "Center" line plainly visible!

Start taping the crown to the brim by putting tape where the "brim center" line is.

Tape to the "Center Front" and "Center Back" lines on the brim.  Tape the crown to the brim all the way around leaving 1" to 1.5" between the tape.

Final Fitting!!!

View "A" looks really nice!!!

View "B" looks really nice!

Now to carefully un-tape the pattern pieces and trace them on to the buckram and make an 1840s bonnet!

I hope that this helps!!  This can be used for all sorts of hats and bonnets.  Just use the paper like you would the buckram, but instead of thread to attach the pieces, use tape!  It's Oh-so easy!!!

Be Blessed my friends!!



  1. This was a helpful tutorial! I've made bonnets before but never with a mock-up. I would have saved myself some trouble! Thanks!!

    1. Thank you and you are welcome L.R.! I hope that it saves you some trouble in the future!

  2. That is a very nice pattern. I've started making some things out of the Workwoman's Guide, and your bonnet will fit right in. Thanks!

    1. Thank you Carol! And thank you for letting me know about the Workwoman's Guide! Not having an extant bonnet with me to look out, I was just taking the shape from bonnets online, so what you have said makes me feel good about my bonnet!