Monday, April 18, 2011

18th Century Calash Bonnet

Today I'm going to review my Calash bonnet project from the Burnley & Trowbridge workshop. These somewhat goofy looking bonnets served a fairly practical purpose - to protect a lady's hairstyle from the elements. I found a few period illustrations of a Calash showing enormous examples, most likely from the 1770's:

Here a smaller portrayal of a Calash bonnet, also from the 1770's (the portrait is titled "Miss Crewe"):
This is most likely a satire portrayal of a calash, but I like that it's a more rounded shape consistent with the hairstyles of the 1780s. It also shows off the lead string or ribbon that's sewn onto the calash. The bonnets are very lightweight, and a lady could hold onto the ribbon to keep the calash from blowing off. Janea told us that contemporary lady magazines frowned upon young ladies who snapped their calash ribbons in order to be noticed by passing gentlemen. Shocking!
Here's Emma modeling the milliner shop's calash that's based off the Spruce Sportsman. The reeds in that sucker are 40 inches long!

Here's my calash in progress. I chose a green silk with pink lining, similar to this calash at the MET. I worked all the channels by hand with silk thread. This is one of the few projects I've made that is 100% hand-sewn.Here's the finished product from the side:Here's a nice shot of the contrasting lining. I can't find the reference, but apparently this color combination was compared to a blushing rose. Although they appear slightly cumbersome to the modern eye, apparently calashes could be very romantic (or coquetish...if you go around snapping your ribbons) accessories.And here's the back, finished off with a small ruffle and bow.And here I am with the obligatory mirror shot. Don't I look period correct with my shorn hair, glasses, and red t-shirt? I just didn't have the energy to dig out my wig. But, you can see that I have plenty of room for a towering coiffure.


Anonymous said...

Melissa! It looks wonderful! What a great job! Angela

Rebecca said...

Very, very cool! Lovely job, and I love the color combinations. How does the calash stay up? Is it just by the string alone? That would mean you'd have to hold on the entire time you're wearing it, which might get tiring! Though I love that story about snapping the strings!

Costume Diva said...

The Calash is supported by sturdy reed boning(that's what gives it the rounded shape). I should have taken a photo from the side, but the front reed can be pulled forward, which helps it stay up (it shifts the weight of the Calash forward instead of backward). I was surpised an how nicely it perched on my shoulders and stayed put. The string is mainly there in case a strong gust of wind comes along.

Elizabeth said...

so I'm finally getting around to finishing my Calash from a 2013 conference workshop at CW. Unfortunately some of the pages are missing from my directions. How long is the piece of cane you used to tie the canes in the bonnet to? I'm referring to the piece that sits around your neck.