Updated: Sep 25
Join me as I make the first project venture while I relax after wash day listening to some songs on this ICONIC album A Seat at the Table by Solange on #DIYwithDami: how to make a silk bonnet!
Looking after your hair is important regardless if you partake in wearing protective styles such as wigs or braids and we've all used a silk scarf at some point and woken up with it having slipped off. Using a bonnet is really a great option to protect your hair from the elements while indoors (or outdoors if you like it like that). You can opt to buy one online, visit your local hair shop or you can make one – as you can see, I chose the latter – and I hope you enjoy watching as I make this slightly slap-dash bonnet!
a measuring tool;
fabric marker, chalk or pencil, something washable;
yarn or string to create a curved line since I don’t have a French curve ruler;
I have these left-handed fabric scissors that I bought when I did GCSE textiles but they’re so bad and not sharp I end up using these other scissors I got in my singer sewing kit;
pins to secure the fabric;
for easier recreation in the future you can use newspaper;
and of course silk fabric, I just got a normal silk scarf from the hair shop, the outside can also be silk for a reversible bonnet I am using this African fabric that my sister was going to throw away but I’m a hoarder so I took it but nonetheless I have actually made use of it now as well as constructing a last minute top for Wireless last year
To start, fold the silk scarf twice so you have four layers in even proportion, wrap the yarn around the chalk (and make sure to use a colour that is visible on the fabric) hold the yarn at the centre point of the circle so the corner with all the folds is held down with your finger at the bottom right with the chalk at the top and create a semi-circle line along the fabric.
Cut along the line you made with a marker, I probably definitely should’ve used pins before I cut it, because I didn’t is probably why it ended up so painfully uneven, this is my first time working with silk and I obviously underestimated it, one of the reasons why I should’ve made a pattern piece.
To cut the outside fabric, since I didn’t use a pattern, I unfolded the silk circle and measured how much fabric I needed that way, cut off what I required and folded it twice like before.
I pinned the silk to the other fabric in order to cut the same size for the outside fabric. I decided to recut the silk since it was so uneven, try and do it right the first time so you cut back on wastage, it came out a bit more even the second time.
You can see that I’m truly relaxing, it was my wash day on the date of recording so I’m just trying to retain moisture with this twist out, don’t mind my very badly dyed hair please.
Pin right sides of both fabrics together so the shiny silk side is inside as well as the more vibrant side of the cotton, you can tell with African prints by the text on the selvedge, the wrong side of this fabric is also slightly fainter.
Next up is to grab your sewing machine, you can also do all these stitches by hand if you don’t have a sewing machine available, sew around the perimeter of the fabrics. I wasn’t too bothered about seam allowance because the circles were a bit unevenly matched, the more I talk through the process the more haphazard this sounds especially since I messed up and got some of the inner circle fabric caught up in thread so much so that I had to detach the presser foot. I should probably get some small embroidery scissors for silly situations like this, but this stitch doesn’t matter too much since I’ll be turning this inside out. To do this make sure you leave a gap about 3 inches and reverse when ending a stitch to keep it secure. From my mistake you can learn that nothing is too bad that you can’t come back from, after carefully undoing the mess I rethread the bobbin and carried on with the stitch.
As you may have noticed I took the time to look a bit presentable and I painted my nails especially for you, the nail polish I used is the Maybelline Superstay 7 Days City Nudes Nail Polish 888 Brick Tan if you’re interested.
Now’s the time to turn the bonnet out, make sure that all the pins have been removed and reverse the bonnet through the hole, so that the right sides are showing outwardly.
After turning the bonnet out, you’ll need to get an iron. This is definitely the first time I have brought out my iron this school year, but it is important to press the seam flat on a medium to low heat if you’re ironing on the silk side – I probably could’ve gotten away with using a high heat since I was ironing on the cotton side. Make sure that the edges are pressed helps to make further sewing easier, so it doesn’t get bunched up like mine did previously, it also helps for when you’ll be sewing that hole shut.
This is an extra step, but I decided to do a topstitch around the circumference making sure to again leave the gap I made beforehand. I placed a pin where the hole was to help alert me when I had reached it. For the seam allowance I used the right edge of the presser foot to guide how wide the topstitch was. The reason why I did a topstitch is I think it looks nice and when I end up sewing the hole closed for the elastic closed it blends in seamlessly.
Measure the width of the elastic in relation to the topstitch then sew another stitch in order to accommodate the elastic for when we push it through this time not leaving space for the hole. I used this non-roll elastic from Korbond that I got from Wilko for £2 which I’m sure they sell this brand of sewing supplies in a lot of supermarkets too.
This stitch is a bit uneven too, I should definitely work on making my work neater. When you reach the full circle, overlap the stitches and/or reverse to secure.
Push a safety pin through the end of the elastic to navigate it through the hole around the bonnet. I used a paper clip since I didn’t have a safety pin. You could also use another one on the other side of the elastic and attach it to the fabric to keep the end from going into hole and losing your progress – a safety pin isn’t essential for this I just used a regular pin. This definitely would’ve been a much easier process if I had a large sized safety pin to push the elastic through though.
When you finish directing the elastic through the hole, you’ll finally see the bonnet taking shape! But there are just a couple steps left until you have a fully-fledged product. Sew the ends of the elastic together using a zig-zag stitch to retain the stretch and in a box shape for steadiness. Make sure that when you are turning a corner you lift the presser foot up, confirming the needle is in the fabric, then turn your work at an angle to where you’re satisfied then push the presser foot back down.
To sew the hole shut, I made sure to pin the elastic out of the way to safeguard that I don’t accidentally sew over it. This was a tad fiddly since I didn’t press the fabric properly in the beginning, but everything blends together if you follow along the topstitch line. In the video, I accidentally forgot to change back to a straight stitch but luckily, I realised just in time!
Distribute the elastic around the bonnet for your comfort and it’s ready to wear!
It has definitely been a learning curve, this being my first time sewing in a many many months, but I know now to take more care in my future projects. As you can see, even though I made it kind of scruffily, it looks good! Definitely big enough for braids or to maintain your frontal installation, your afro, twists or canerows. Check out my Instagram for some images of me wearing the bonnet.
I may not have believed what Tina said on Tina Taught Me when I was younger which is unfortunate, but I do now and I hope that we can teach our fellows to feel as empowered as this album made me feel.