Feather Stitched Bows

t bonnet

There are so many projects and ideas I want to share with you, but time is just too short right now.  Vivian Rose is the proud owner of a sweet little  smocked popover that I will share with you later and another major project is underway.  For now, this re-run~fro, 2010 will have to do.

This T-bonnet is a great little project with some interesting techniques, especially for those who do not use an embroidery machine.  I hope new readers will find something of value and those of you who have already seen this post will not mind it the second time around.


Enchanting as I find this T-bonnet to be, the techniques used in its creation hold even greater interest. At an Elna Convention outside Minneapolis, Melissa Stone, daughter of renown Sarah Howard Stone,  taught this project to an eager group of students, including me.

Mind you, this was before the advent of the home embroidery machines. So for anyone who does not have an embroidery machine, this technique is gold. For those who do, the technique has applications beyond this project.

The T-bonnet is de rigueur, standard heirloom sewing. For directions and measurements for a basic t-bonnet, refer to my earlier post, unimaginatively entitled “T-Bonnet.”


bonnet side


In the class with Melissa Stone, we used the pattern measurements  from her mother’s book, French Hand Sewing.   But Melissa’s innovative idea for embroidering the bow, without the use of a water-soluble marking pen, was very creative.

After a practice session, familiarizing ourselves with the sequence of the feather stitch, the best point in time in which to pivot, the ideal tension, etc. we traced the design onto a piece of tissue paper using a #2 lead pencil. This was then pinned beneath an oversized square of Swiss batiste, sheer enough through which to see the bow design.

With the machines set at low speed, the bow was stitched over the tissue paper, taking care to pivot at the proper time.  The tissue was left in place to serve as a stabilizer as the lace insertion was pin stitched to the bow square. At the end of construction, the tissue was carefully torn away.  There was no need to wash out the blue lines , air dry, re-starch and repress the piece.


bonnet back


Another interesting technique was the machine fagoting, which joined the ribbon to the lace.  The secret to success was to use double sided tape to hold the ribbon in place  on another piece of tissue paper.  At that time, Stitch ‘N Ditch stabilizer was either not yet on the market or unknown to Melissa or any of her students.

First, we  carefully drew two lines precisely 5mm apart–the widest width capability of the Elna 9000, the top-of-the-line machine at that time.  The two pieces of ribbon were secured to the tissue paper with double sided tape, with the edges of the ribbon parallel to one another and on the drawn lines.  The ribbon should extend beyond the tape, so the tape does not get caught up in the stitches.

I have but one useful tip for you with regard to this project and others where you use tissue paper or Stitch ‘N Ditch stabilizer.  If the stitching is delicate, such as the feather stitched bows or delicate embroidery motifs, I like to wad up the stabilizer or tissue paper  into a tight, tiny ball, after which I iron it flat.  This does reduce the stabilization factor, but for delicate stitching, not so much is needed.  This breaking down of the stiffness makes gentle removal of the paper much less stressful on the stitching.

The T-bonnets I have shown in  this post and others have all been very lacy and feminine.  But this same style can be very tailored.  Simply making the sections of solid fabric trimmed with tatting renders a very boy-friendly model.

To make it even more masculine, eliminate the ribbon ties that join the back to the sides and add a crocheted or buttonhole stitched loop on one corner and a button on the other.  By making these modifications, you will have transformed the T-bonnet into a T-cap.  Dads cannot object to that.

8 responses to “Feather Stitched Bows

  1. Gorgeous! You have made me want to make one of these bonnets and I have never felt so inclined before! Now it is on the ‘to do’ list. Thank you for all the extra tips. You are a wonderful teacher! I wish I lived near you. I’d take classes in a heartbeat!

  2. The bonnet is simply gorgeous! Do you have photos of either of your granddaughters wearing it? I echo the Karen above: I’d take classes, too!

  3. Oops! The “Karen above” is me three years apart! LOL

  4. I’m going to make things like that for my grandchildren! 🙂

    Hey, I just received Martha Pullen’s newsletter regarding the Sewing for Royal Baby book………. What do you think? I look exciting!

  5. You would really enjoy making this, Connie, and you would just grin ear to ear looking at a grandchild wearing it. I just read the newsletter about this book and it sounds fabulous. I am definitely going to order one—maybe a few for the blog store.

  6. June Mellinger

    Wow I feel so privileged to have made this in a class that all of the Brother educators took from you and Suzanne many years ago. I also have the privilege owning a signed edition of that book that Ms. Stone gave me when I did a presentation at Melissa’s store. At any rate the bonnet was fun to make.

  7. June, Suzanne and I often reminisce about what fun that week was. Lucky you to have been to Melissa’s store. I know she is an enthusiastic Brother dealer. The T-bonnet you made was on the Brother project page. Is it still there? When are you coming to Florida again? I miss you!

  8. Jan, this bonnet is positively gorgeous. Thanks for sharing it all with us.

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