Regency Velvet Capote


To go with my fur-trimmed wrap I needed a hat to wear outside. Unlike all of my other bonnets, however (which are made of straw), this one needed to be winter-appropriate, so I took out my extra velvet fabric and got started.

I picked up a basic cloth-covered sun-hat at Goodwill (brand new, tags still on!), mostly to use its nice, wide brim.


I wanted the brim to frame my face without being too sunbonnet-y, and I wanted to have a nice big crown with room for a nice hairstyle that wouldn’t get squished. Something like this (apparently it’s called a capote):

I also really like the ruching on this bonnet from the 1995 Pride and Prejudice:

Image result for scottish beret female 1820

Once I cut away the crown of the hat I just had the brim with a narrow strip of fabric on top and an elastic back– however, the elastic made the hat too tight to wear comfortably without messing up my hair, so I cut it right down the center and added a section of doubled fabric to give myself some extra room (but keeping bits of the original elastic on each side for some stretch). I made it a good bit larger than I thought I needed, figuring that extra layers of fabric would fill in the extra room, and that it would be easier to take something in than to let it out later. This turned out to be a good idea, as the hat ended up fitting perfectly.

To cover the top of the brim I brushed a very thin coat of Tacky Glue to adhere a layer of velvet to it, trimming away the edge so it extended about 3/4″ past the brim itself. I think Tacky Glue is the best glue for adhering fabric in situations like this, because it’s thick enough that it doesn’t soak through the fabric as long as you spread it thin and wait a few seconds before sticking things down.


To cover the underside of the brim, I cut a strip of satin a few inches wider than the widest portion of the brim and stitched it, right-sides together, to the overhanging edge of the velvet so the stitching line was just to the inside of the bottom edge of the brim. This gave me a clean-finished edge once the fabric was turned to the correct side.


Then I ran a line of gathering stitches by hand through the satin along the inner curve of the brim and pulled the fabric up to gather attractively. To keep everything in place I did some regular stitching through all layers along the gathering line– the gathered layer, the strip of cloth still attached to the original brim, and the velvet covering the outside. Once it was securely stitched I trimmed the satin to about 1.5″ past the stitching line.


I did a mockup of the crown in plain cotton, just to ensure it wasn’t too puffy– I cut a circle 24″ in diameter and ran gathering stitches across it in three lines, and all around the edge. I pulled the edge stitches up and pinned the crown to the hatband, then pulled the lines of gathering in to control the puffy crown. It looked pretty good.


I noted at this point that the brim of my hat was far too big– it looked like a huge duck bill and I didn’t like it at all. I ended up removing all of my previous stitching (sigh), trimming the brim down by about 1 1/4″, and re-doing it all with the new, smaller brim. No pics because it was so annoying.

Anyway, as I was satisfied with the size of the crown I cut out two 24″ circles from my velvet and satin. I ran gathering stitches around the circumference of each circle separately, and then turned to the three straight lines of gathering. I did want the stitching to go through both layers for a little extra structure, but I needed the edges to stay separate so I could do a clean finish on the inside with the satin lining. I hand-stitched through only the velvet layer for the first and last two inches of each line, but caught both layers for the rest of it. This left the lining layer free around the circumference, but the layers were gathered together for most of the hat.

Sorry I’ve got no photos of this next process, but I got caught up in the project and it didn’t lend itself well to explanatory shots anyway.

So, I pulled the gathering stitches around the circumference of the velvet layer only and stitched it (right sides together) to the inner edge of the hat. Then I pulled up the straight gathering lines to make the ruching on the crown, tying the threads off on the inside to keep them stable. I tried it on to make sure I liked the look, but it was kind of flat– to give it a little lift I tacked a gathered strip of tulle to the inside of the crown, right in front, which worked well. Finally, I pulled the gathering stitches around the circumference of the satin lining and whipped it to the inside of the velvet layer for a clean finish.


If I were to do this again I might pleat the circumference of the satin lining, rather than gathering it– this would have allowed for a flatter lining, which would also have been easier to stitch down evenly. Oh, well.

For extra decoration, I added a line of matching gimp braid across the front and made a gathered rosette of more velvet, wrapped in more gimp and centered with a large self-fabric button (size 60).



I’d intended to have ribbon ties but didn’t like the way they looked. Besides, the hat fit well enough that I didn’t need them to keep it on my head.



2 thoughts on “Regency Velvet Capote

  1. Pingback: Vermont Regency Weekend | It's All Frosting...

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