My niece has a collection of family folk costume pieces, collected by her maternal grandmother,  at her disposal. When she was putting the program of her wedding together, traditional folk style bonnet ceremony could not be omitted. In the past it was a custom to position a bonnet on the head of a bride at midnight. From that time on she was due to wear it as she was a married lady. Single girls only could have uncovered hair.

We decided to take advantage of the above mentioned folk costumes collection and to use these family treasures to show off  at a midnight performance à la such traditional old style bonnet ceremony of removing the bride´s veil and replacing it with a bonnet. However, the collection of my niece´s grandmother comprises no bonnet. We tried to procure some original old folk bonnet but could not find any.  Many a time “bonnet”  ceremonies are performed using a scarf instead of a bonnet. Well, then naming it  a bonnet ceremony is not exactly fitting and a scarf instead of a bonnet is also disappointing for an onlooker. If we should have a bonnet ceremony then definitely we have to have a real bonnet!

In the past simple people lived very modestly and ladies mostly made their bonnets themselves. If they could make them aside from their hard work, why should I not be able to make one myself. Now my sewing is limited mostly only to alterations but when I was younger,  we made many of our clothes with my mother by ourselves. Having more time available than ever before, I decided to give it a try.

I did my homework as far as folk style bonnets here in Slovakia are concerned. Basically there are two types. I liked the kind with the brim on top and on the sides of the head and with the crown piece covering the back of the head. As far as material and decorations are concerned I think there is no limit. I even found some patterns on the internet. First I had to solve the question of what material I would use. It definitely had  to be folk style, matching the folk costumes the bride, bridegroom and two more performers – my nieces friend and I –  would wear for the bonnet ceremony.

Time went on and I was also poking about in my things at home. I discovered a white ribbon with machine embroidered flowers my mother had stored for a very long time. Flowers matched the embroidery hand made by her mother – my grandmother – on her wedding petticoat.  Since her young age, appr.  from her age of 14,  she had been embroidering her wedding petticoat. I have the very original petticoat at home and I intend to make a summer dress from it. My grandmother wore it on her wedding and then it was a treasured piece, worn only on festive occasions.

Three rows of ribbon pinned together


The ribbon was long enough and I got an idea to sew several rows of it together, creating the brim of the bonnet.

After pinning them together I realized that I can not sew them together because the stitches would be seen and destroy the decorative pattern. I had to use a base material and sew the ribbons on it. I took fine and thin linen like material and gradually sewed the individual rows of ribbon on it.



As far as the the brim is concerned,  I had no pattern. Patterns I saw just served as my inspiration, brim created by me was a simple rectangle reaching its final dimensions according to constant comparing to my head, I wanted the sides to be approximately chin length. I also had to bear in mind that my niece might have some elaborate larger wedding hairstyle and in that case the bonnet must be a bit larger to fit.  Before cutting I had to calculate in the folds to finish the side edges, too. Final dimensions of the brim of the ready made bonnet are 15 cm from the seam line where it is sewn to the crown x 50 cm

The brim under preparation : three rows of ribbon are sewn onto the base. Edges on the right and the left side  are unfinished, yet.  Note the zigzag stitch.  Eventually the brim was sewn to the crown just next to this zigzag stitch on the embroidery side  and I then cut the rest of the material behind the zigzag stitch away

I folded the edges and finished them. The total length of the brim after finishing was 50 cm.

Then time came to work on the crown piece – the back part of the bonnet. What material to use? I did not want to use the same ribbons I had used for the brim.  I though that would make the bonnet too monotonous.

Here my maternal grandmother´s wedding petticoat comes in. After considering various ideas I opted for cutting into my grandmothers treasured wedding petticoat. NOT to sacrifice her petticoat. I just needed a small piece of it.  Altogether  3.5 meters of  70 cm wide white linen were used to sew the petticoat.

Original embroidery by my grandmother – flowers with leaves.  The petticoat material is still in one piece. But for not a very long time as I decided to cut just above the second pair of  tucks…







Imagine that this whole large petticoat linen is decorated by such beautiful fine embroidery – little flowers with leaves – by my grandmother. She had started decorating it as a very young girl, when she was approximately 14 years young.  And little by little she continued embroidering, until there were altogether 77 such flowers blossoming on her petticoat. Now 5 of them were cut off by me on the  26 cm  x 35 cm piece of linen to be used for the bonnet crown.

I had to speculate how to fold the material so that these lovely flowers stay visible on the top of the folds on the ready bonnet.  There were also decorative tucks I wanted to keep as they were.  Because of this I could not  use any pattern for cutting the crown.  Pattern could just serve as a guideline to have an idea, what final shape and what size the crown should approximately be.  I had to create the crown to flaunt the embroidery and the tucks the best possible way. I had to fold the crown at the top and at the bottom to show off the flowers and to gather the material on the sides as to fit within the prepared brim and thus to achieve perfect fit.







The crown pinned to the brim – inner side – working on the folds at the top, ruffles on the side – and the casing on the bottom

Then I sew a strip, cut out from petticoat waist area,  to the bottom of the crown, to make a casing for inserting an elastic band and gather it. Had I been able to cut the crown longer, it could just be folded for the purpose of creating the casing. However, the tucks were there and it would be too thick. I had to cut above them.  Commonly ribbon should be inserted in the casing and when wearing the bonnet it simply has to be gathered according to need and a bow made to keep it in place.  As I intended to use the same decorative ribbon as I had used for the sides, it would be too wide  for this casing and unpractical and so I decided to adjust exactly the needed length of elastic band into the casing and fix it permanently.  Then I made a beautiful bow of the flowered ribbon and sew it onto the crown bottom.

The crown is sewn to the brim, the casing is prepared for inserting the rubber band, back side
Seam line between the brim and the crown with the and the casing at the bottom, upper side

Following such toil lasting two weeks the bonnet was ready. And the bonnet ceremony at my niece´s wedding can start!

Showing off my own newly made bonnet combined with an original folk costume.  I am primped up in a folk costume which originated in Slovenský Grob, Slovak village in Western Slovakia.   I am wearing it by courtesy of my niece´s grandmother.  Thanks!      🙂   Note the beautifully embroidered puffed sleeves, they are appr. 100 – 120 years old.  They are trimmed with yellow bobbin lace.  The bodice is an old historic piece, too. The dirndl apron is a bit newer.