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I Can't Buy One, So I Made One!

Desperate times breed creativity.

Ya girl has been desperately trying to maintain during quarantine. I admit that I'm not one of those who gets up and gets dressed every day. I was never one with a strong grasp of days & times, and now it's even worse. However, my laundry is done, I'm doing my best to keep my spaces clean, I managed to butcher my manicure off myself (that was bad), and I did my hair for no one to see. It's an odd time and I think we have to be in tune with ways we can maintain our wellness as best we can. I'm no mental health professional, but I do recognize how much variance is in human coping and attention to self is necessary. Be mindful of how much you consume as we work through this. (Work being the operative word, because it will take our collective effort as a community to get to the other side.) Sending everyone good vibes!

I usually feel better when my hair is done and my fave loc style is curls. They take FOREVER but they're worth it. They last much longer when I sleep in a bonnet to prevent them from being smushed. My old bonnet had been hanging by a thread for a while now, literally -- elastic stretched out and separating. I had to tie it in a knot if I wore it. I was inspired to make my own to replace it by Nailah (Hey, girl!), a friend from college who I trade sewing, style, and sherpa love with. If I wasn't going to make one, I said I'd just run out and buy one before my next hair style session.... and then, the stores closed.

gross old bonnet

Ok, universe, I'm listening.

I knew I could make something much more quality and stylish with supplies I had laying around anyway. So I gathered items to make a reversible satin bonnet.

The DIY was fairly simple, something a beginning could even do. Here's how it went!

First, I grabbed materials. I wanted my bonnet to be darker and maybe patterned (less vulnerable to hair oils). I couldn't find a good black remnant or darker color combo that would keep me from cutting into a quality piece of yardage. Since it's a small project, I didn't think cutting into valuable material was worth it, so I settled on a burgundy satin + printed satin combination. Ironically, I've had the print since college, so Nailah's presence came full circle. I had an oddly shaped yard or so of each.

Supply list:

  • 2 coordinating fabrics (1 yard each is safe)*

  • coordinating thread

  • scissors

  • ruler

  • chalk

  • elastic, I used 3/4" but it can be 1/2" or 1/4" (3/4 yard is safe)

  • large safety pin

  • straight pins

*One of your coordinating fabrics can be cotton or something else, but satin is best for your hair, so swapping may affect reversibility.

After collecting my things, I folded one fabric in quarters (folds on grain line) that would be big enough to allow me make my full circle. (I have *a lot* of sewing hacks. If you're less comfortable, leaving the fabric unfolded for full view is okay!) I then measured 12.5"* from the corner up each folded edge and spun my ruler, marking an arc as I went. My 12.5" measurement was just a guess, I didn't want my bonnet too small because my hair wouldn't fit inside, but my last bonnet was jumbo and too big. Much of my sewing is intuitive nowadays, so I went with the flow. I figured it wouldn't be the worst if it wasn't perfect. It could be a mock-up and I'd use it as basis for adjustment.

*12.5" was the circle's radius. If you're measuring a full circle with the fabric flat, find a center point and measure out from it. Mark until you make a circle.

If you're wary of working straight on fabric, mark the circle on paper first, cut it out, and use this as a pattern.

I then cut at my marks (not the fold!) and unfolded to see what size I had. It looked good as I imagined it gathered into the final bonnet, so I okayed it and then used this as a template to cut my coordinating piece. I placed the right side down on top the print so that they'd be sandwiched properly and I could skip the step of having to flip them to sew. It will be sewn right sides together! (The sides you want to show face themselves so they will be on the outer once flipped around.)

After cutting the next piece, I swapped my pins to sewing position. (I pin parallel to the edge to cut and perpendicular to the edge with the ball out to sew.)

Next, I stitched around the edge, leaving ~1.5-2" opening. I used the edge of the presser foot as my guide so that I wouldn't have to trim the excess bulk later. If that's scary, you can use 3/8-1/2" seam allowance, but I would recommend trimming it down to 1/4" before the next step.

After stitching, I reached into the hole to flip the circle right side out. Press around the edge to get the seam nice and flat. It makes the next task easier.

My elastic is 3/4" so I decided to make its tunnel 7/8" because I like my gathering to be flat and tight. You can give yourself more margin if it's tougher to stay straight & accurate. Once gathered, minor imperfections will be hidden. This stitchline is a full, closed circle. (A few pins can help keep the fabrics flat while you go around.)

I also topstitched the very edge.... because I like topstitching. Ha! I don't know. It makes the edge crisper. I wanted a really clean-looking bonnet. You can skip this part, but if you decide to do it, be sure not to stitch over your opening!

Once your tunnel is complete, measure the elastic to the length needed to reach around your head. I literally just pulled the elastic around my noggin -- snug, but not tight. I gave an extra 1/4" to snip, because I knew I would overlap it to sew. My overlap would be closer to 3/4" to make sure the bonnet was secure and because elastic sometimes stretches out over time (like my old bonnet did).

Feed the safety pin onto one end and begin tunneling your elastic through. Before losing my back end, I like to pin the it so I don't accidentally pull it all the way in. (If you do, you must go alllllll the way around and start over.)

After making it to the other side, I pull some length from both ends, so they don't pop back inside, make sure there are no twists in the tunnel that would prevent the elastic from laying flat, overlap the end, and pin. I then stitch a small square/X situation to secure. You may also use a zig-zag stitch, but I don't suggest one simple line of straight stitches. You want this connection to be strong and not pop as you use it.

Once secure, you can let the elastic vanish into it's tunnel and close your opening. If you topstitched, you can simply fold the cut edges in and connect the ends of stitching. If not, you can do this anyway (if your hole is small, it won't be very visible) or you may close it by hand with a slip-stitch to be discreet.

Tada!! You have a bonnet now!

I tried mine on and my intuitive measurement were perfect. I shouldn't have waited so long to make one. It was super quick (organizing this blog post may be taking me longer...) and turned out cute! It's much higher quality than my old one (if you look closely, you can see how sheer the old one is).

out with the old, in with the new

I'll definitely be making more. I gave my friends and followers a chance to guess what I was working on in IG stories and offered a free one to whomever got it right. Let's see who wins.

Note: I also did not take this bonnet off for more than 12 hours. Because... quarantine. This turned into a true act of self-care.


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