Slat Bonnet

In May I decided to make a slat bonnet so that I would have something to keep the sun off my face (my straw bonnet is pretty – even if it still needs work for accuracy – but doesn’t do much against the sun).
The choice of the brown fabric was very much dependant on the fact that I don’t have many pieces of cotton in my stash that were big enough! (At least, without being plain white.)

Garment Data:
– Type: Slat Bonnet
– Date made: May 2013
– Pattern: Liz Clark’s:, specifically:
– Fabric: A basic cotton “calico” bought from JoAnn Fabrics as fat quarters. I used two. I recommend not piecing it this way, since you get odd seams and it’s not quite as long as I’d like it, though it does work. Also, cardboard was used for the slats.
– Trim: None
– Time to finish: 2 days (with breaks!!!)
– Notes: A fun and simple project! I really liked it and will be playing with variations in the future. Specifically, a lighter color so it’s not quite as hot in the sun. But also just for fun!

Bonnet in the piecing and cutting stage.

The basic bonnet shape, cut out and marked. There is a fold along the top, so the whole thing is doubled. Once assembled, the far edge (fold) runs along the top of the head, the head will face the left, and the curve on the right follows the back of the head/neck.

I had enough fabric, barely, but not in the right shape, hence the seam at the fold, plus the seam you can see vertically down the middle of the picture. This seam will end up across the bottom of the back of the bonnet.

I’m making progress. The facing is attached (this is the part that I will see on the inside, when I have the bonnet on). The bonnet is hemmed all the way around, and you can see I’ve started to sew the channels for the slats.

The facing is the white part. This is on the inside of the bonnet, around my face. Note that this means that the brown fabric you see is the back/reverse (wrong sides) of the patterned bonnet fabric. You can actually tell in this picture that my pieces were probably from different dye lots! I promise, they look the same on the right sides. Hopefully they’ll fade the same in the sun *fingers crossed*. (NOTE: It appears find in the sun!)

Starting the channels.

They are 1 inch wide, and will not go all the way down on either side of my face, rather, should stop near my chin. These channels will be filled with cardboard, and stiffen the brim of the bonnet.

Close up of one of the channels. The left is the brim edge, the right is where the bonnet goes on to cover my head. This channel will have a 1 inch x 8 inch (or so) piece of cardboard slid into it. Eventually the whole brim will just be channels like this, to create “stripes” of stiff brim.
Cutting the strips to make ties. 1.5 inches wide, and it turns out I only needed 4, each 17 inches long.

The slat channels are done!

A close-up of the slat channels. There are 21. (NOTE: I’ve now decided this was probably too many. I could take out a slat or two on each side and it would be fine. In fact, it would probably echo less without them over my ears!)

Slat channels with measuring tape for scale. 1 inch wide, approximately.
The strips ironed in quarters lengthwise, ready to sew into ties.

Some cardboard, to make the slats with (in this case, cereal boxes and some random other pieces I found – not the heavy corrugated stuff).

 It’s coming together!! I’ll just sew the channels shut with a big basting-type stitch (so the cardboard can be removed if I need to wash the bonnet), and then I’ll attach the ties.

Cardboard cut into slats to slide into the channels.

You can see how the cardboard+channels gives a nice stiff brim (inside).

Cardboard+channels giving a nice stiff brim (outside).

It’s done! Here is the finished bonnet!

The “curtain” in the back. You can see how poofing over my hair is pulling it upward, making the curtain shorter. This won’t be a problem if I’m wearing a dress with a small neckline, but I’d still like to lengthen it.

A better back shot of the bonnet as a whole.


Flat view. Again, you can see that the sides under the slats are quite long, but you can also see how the back isn’t long enough.

Silly! But it shows how deep the brim is, and how the sun stands no chance against me and my sewing skillz. Muah hah hah!

Side view. You’ll notice (as in the pic where you can see my face) that there are two sets of ties: One across the back of my head, which adjusts the fit and how far forward the brim sits, and the ties under my chin, which just keep the thing on my head.

Back view again. In this one my hair isn’t up (you can kinda see the tail of my braid peeking out), so the curtain doesn’t look as drastically short. My hair will usually be up, though.

For next time, I’d make the back (curtain) longer, and probably make the sides shorter (that hang down on either side). This is simple to do (just an adjustment of some measurements). The reason the curtain in the back looks so short is that the fabric has to puff out over the back of my head, and that uses more fabric than I expected. I followed the pattern as it was, this time, but now I know what to adjust! I fully plan to make a lighter colored bonnet in the near future – and when I do so, I won’t work with scraps and remnants, so I’ll have more flexibility to play with the pattern.

Most sincerely yours,
~ Sarah

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *