Find your perfect Regency Bonnet with Lydia Fast

I have been re-enacting for 20 years. I did French and Indian War through War of 1812.  I met my husband through re-enacting, and we eventually just gravitated toward the Regency era and Jane Austen events. The physical culture of the era is exquisite, it’s easier for a woman to find a “role” in the era, there is more of a civilian option for impressions, and the people involved in re-enacting the era are terrific people.

One day I was in need of a Regency bonnet and paid someone to make one for me. After a couple of years had passed I was still without a bonnet, so I set out to make my own (I had made my own hat for my 1790’s wedding and felt confident I could manage the task). I worked intuitively, first covering a straw form, and then I moved on to trying my hand at buckram.
Friends liked what I was doing and wanted to purchase bonnets from me! Holy cow! About the same time I became aware of a millinery supplier not far from me who brought in instructors from Chicago; I began taking classes. For want of one bonnet so many years ago, it became a business. I have now been selling my bonnets for 10 years. I also teach a millinery workshop, going into its ninth year. And of course, I’m still taking classes myself – I love learning and improving my skill set!
I have been teaching my Regency bonnet workshop at Ft. Miegs (Perrysburg, OH) for 8 years now. It’s a jam packed, fast paced workshop. Ladies can expect to get about half way through a bonnet, as it takes me an average of 30 hours to construct one (craftsmanship is paramount!!). Ladies get to learn all my little secrets for making a sturdy and beautiful bonnet. A basic skill set of hand and machine sewing is needed because of the pace of the class – it’s not for ladies with no sewing experience. We have a really fun time, even though it may seem intimidating. We do a pitch in of snacks and take a field trip to a ribbon store. I will be teaching my first workshop at Historic Locust Grove (Louisville, KY) this coming March – and there is still space available. Ladies get all the materials needed to build the bonnet form, in addition to needles, a bag, and a hat box (ladies provide their own fabric). There are about 20 styles from which to choose. Oh, how to narrow it down and choose?!



I have a digital catalogue of over 50 styles; I have additional styles I make but don’t take orders for (these are not included in the catalogue). Ladies choose a style, provide a head measurement in inches, and send either fabric swatches or decent photos of an outfit they wish to coordinate to their bonnet. I generally send swatches, but sometimes just send photos. To request a catalogue contact me via email 

When I am ready to start a project a non-refundable materials fee is required (this is applied to the final price, but is insurance should a lady cancel a project mid stream and I’ve no assurance that I can then sell the item). Choosing a style can be overwhelming with so many from which to choose. My styles range from simple and conservative styles, soft bonnets, military influence, and evening wear to day wear. It’s good to have a conversation with me concerning face shape (photos are good if I haven’t met you!), climate in which the bonnet will be worn, style of outfit it will accompany, and budget.

As to budget, I do payment plans to make it easier for the customer to set aside funds for the project (Most of us can save $8 or $10 a week somewhere in our budget to set aside). I ask for a full year in which to make a project because of my many varied work/gallery/teaching obligations, and because of the time required to make a bonnet (average of 30 hours, some more, some less).

A great honor I had this past year was reproducing an 1818 bonnet which is currently on display at the DAR Museum in Washington DC, as an accompaniment to an original ensemble of the era (purple bonnet below).



My bonnets can be purchased at the annual summer Jane Austen Festival in Louisville, KY, and by looking me up on Facebook: Lydia Fast LG Studio. I have been at the last two AGM’s and hope to go to more in the future (one’s within driving distance). They are all interpretations of fashion plates of the era, as well as extant museum examples. I do not claim them as “reproductions” but as interpretations, as I employ artistic license in their form and in the materials used. I use modern techniques to achieve a period look, striving to remain as true as possible.


More from Lydia Fast on:
or via email 

One thought on “Find your perfect Regency Bonnet with Lydia Fast

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  1. I have been to a couple of Lydia’s workshops at Fort Meigs and have see many of her creations. She does a fantastic job. She has done a lot of research, is extremely knowledgeable, and very friendly . I highly recommend her workshops and her products.

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