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DIY Little House on the Prairie Costume and Bonnet Tutorial

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I’ve got a great bonnet tutorial for a Little House on the Prairie Pioneer costume to share today.  I made this costume as part of my daughter’s Laura Ingalls Wilder costume for her biography fair last year, but it’s also perfect as a pioneer costume or even a Halloween costume!

Little House on the Prairie Costume

Biography Fair / Laura Ingalls Wilder Costume 

I put together this Pioneer/ Little House on the Prairie costume for my lil’ missy’s biography fair last spring.

Since I’d already put so much effort into the Pioneer Costume, I told her she was wearing it for Halloween too, lol.  

She was in agreement, but as of late – she has changed her mind and now wants to be a zombie.  (What?  Zombie!!  Where did that come from?)

I suggested she should be a zombie from the 1800’s, that way she could still wear the Little House on the Prairie outfit, but after a bit more thought I decided to not zombify this costume and just donate it to the school instead.

She still fits into the angel costume from a previous year, so I will reuse the dress and she’ll be a zombie bride instead.  *update: Here she is as a zombie bride. (makeup courtesy of dad.)

diy Little House on the Prairie Costume

The Accessories Absolutely Make the Pioneer Costume!

So, definitely don’t skimp on the rest of the costume!

This is what I used or how I made the rest of her pioneer costume:

Skirt:

For the skirt of the costume, I used my flat front skirt tutorial

Since I wanted the skirt slightly fuller, I added  6 inches to the width on the front and back skirt panel, then made it ankle length and added an apron.

Apron:

I don’t have an apron tutorial for the skirt yet, but you can easily DIY one following the instructions on my free Knot Dress Pattern and Tutorial. (The apron is added the same way.)

Shirt:

We got lucky and I already had this button down from H&M in her closet, but almost any (not too modern) white or off white button down would work.

Bolo Tie:

If you do end up using a button down as the top of your costume, a bolo tie is a must have. Plus it is so easy to make!

I took a 2.25 by about 20 inch strip of fabric, folded and pressed like bias tape. I tried it on my missy, then trimmed for a perfect fit.

Once properly fitted, I sewed around the edges. I secured it together with a safety, but you could also use a glue on hook and loop patch.

pioneer costume

Fabric for a Pioneer Costume 

The fabric I used for our pioneer costume came from Hobby Lobby,.  (They have a great selection of rustic looking fabric. Although if you really want your Pioneer Costume to be authentic looking, turns out there is an actual Little House on the Prairie fabric line!

The Little House on the Prairie Costume

The pioneer costume really turned out well. You totally knew she was Laura Ingalls Wilder, don’t you think?

diy pioneer costume

I love how the apron looks on the skirt, the eyelet lace trim adds the perfect old-timey pop.

Be sure to keep your eye out for a tutorial on a toned down version of the flat front skirt with attached apron! (Looks so cute, I have to make one now!)

Ready to make the bonnet?  Keep reading!

Little House on the Prairie Bonnet Tutorial

Materials needed to make a Pioneer Bonnet:

  • Fabric
  • Interfacing (I was out and just used a stiff white fabric instead)
  • Fabric marker
  • Iron
  • ruler/measuring tape
  • basic sewing supplies

Products used and recommended in this post

  1. My favorite fabric shops are: Etsy Funkalicious FabricsFabric.com and Girl Charlee.
  2. My Sewing Machine: SINGER 9960 Quantum Stylist, my coverstitch: Janome Cover Pro 1000cpx
  3. My Serger: Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger or you can just use Pinking Shears
  4. Rotary Cutter
  5. I love my large ruler and large cutting mat, but you may prefer to start of with a smaller Cutting set
  6. Dritz Dual Purpose Marking Pen and Fray Check
  7. Cordless Iron
  8. Interfacing
  9. Wonder clips (I didn’t use these in the post, but they are just awesome!

Step 1: Get your measurements for the bonnet.

Decide where you want the edge of the bonnet to fall.  (I went with right below the chin.)  Add .5 inches to that measurement for seam allowances.

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(My measurement with the seam allowances added was 19.75.  My guess is this will fit a 7 to 11 year old just fine.)

Step 2:  Creating the bonnet pattern and cutting fabric.

Bonnet brim:

Fold bonnet fabric in half and lay the fabric out flat on work space.  Using a fabric marker and ruler, draw a rectangle the width of your measurement by 5 inches.

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Using the fabric marker (and the edge of a plate – if needed) draw a curve on both edges of the fabric.

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Cut out the bonnet brim.  (your fabric should still be folded in half – so you are cutting out 2 bonnet brims. (top and bottom.)

Use one of the brims as a pattern to cut out a piece of interfacing.  TIP: If you are using fusible interfacing, you could fuse the interfacing first- then just cut out the 2 pieces.

Back bonnet piece:

Use the brim measurement from above and multiply that number by 1.5 (we’ll call this number X).  Cut out a rectangle of fabric that is X wide by 9.25.

Bonnet ties:

Cut 2 fabric strips 1 inch by 21 inches.

Cut 1 fabric strip 1 inch by 37 inches

Step 3:  Putting bonnet together.

Line up bonnet brim pieces in this order:

1st layer: Bonnet brim fabric right side up.

2nd layer: Bonnet brim fabric right side down.

3rd layer: interfacing.

how to make a pioneer bonnet

Sew all the way around the curved side of the brim, 1/4 inch from edge.  Trim seam allowance.

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Fold brim right side out and press seam.  Fold the bottom edge of the brim in 1/4th inch and press (both sides.)

diy pioneer costume

Grab the back bonnet piece and fold side edges over 1/4 inch and press, fold another 1/4 inch and press.  Stitch along pressed edge.

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Fold bottom edge 1/4 inch press, fold over another 1/2 inch and press again.  Stitch right along folded edge.  (as close as you can to the edge- this creates the casing for the back bonnet tie.)

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Sew a gathering stitch along the top of the back bonnet piece.

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Pull on the bobbin thread ad gather this piece until it is the same width as the bottom of the bonnet brim.

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Line the gathered edge along the folded edge of the bonnet brim.  Pin in place and sew along the folded edge.

sew a pioneer costume

Bonnet ties:

Fold ties chin ties in half, right sides together and sew along the side and one short edge.

Fold back bonnet tie in half and sew along the long side only.

Use a turning tool, flip ties right sides out and press.

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Sew chin straps to edge of bonnet brim. (Both sides.)

how to make a pioneer bonnet

Step 4. Add the Back Tie to the Bonnet.

Pull back bonnet tie through casing, tieing a small knot at the ends of the tie.

making a bonnet for a pioneer costume

That’s it – you are done!

DIY Little House on the Prairie Costume

Do you have your costume planned yet?

Don’t forget – if you sew something from one of my tutorials or patterns, be sure to come back and share a picture on facebook or tag me on instagram!

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42 Comments

  1. This pioneer outfit was perfect for my granddaughter’s Little House birthday party! It all came together beautifully and she loved it!
    Thank you for the pattern and links!

  2. Lorrie McCullough McCullough says:

    I found these instructions simple and easy. So easy I could actually make this bonnet! Trust me I didn’t know what interfacing was but I wanted to make this bonnet for my granddaughter as we are going to be celebrating the 225 year celebration of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution.
    The only thing that was time consuming was trying to turn the bonnet ties right side out. I didn’t have a tool to do that with. 😄 I’m so thrilled you showed me to how to sew this bonnet. You made it so much fun and so easy. Thank you.

    1. In junior high home economics class we were taught to use the eraser end of an unsharpened pencil to turn ties right side out.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I am 12 and i was making a movie with my friends and needed to make a bonnet this was very helpful!

  4. This turned out GREAT! My mom was an excellent seamstress, but I haven’t done much creating even after inheriting her Singer. This was well explained and illustrated. Thank you so much!! My daughter’s costume is complete.

  5. About how much fabric and interfacing did this end up taking?

  6. Is there a way to have the ties go in the front, under the chin, instead of in the back?

  7. MIMI L GRIFFITH says:

    How much should i add to make an adult one. I made one for my granddaughter now my daughter wants one.

    1. not sure, you will need to get measurements for your daughters head and then follow the instructions.

  8. I just made this bonnet for my daughter and it turned out great. She loves it. I am going to make the skirt next (like in your photo). Question- I want to add the apron to my skirt- would I gather the apron, gather the skirt and then attach the apron and the skirt right sides together, sewing just under the gathered part? I’m not sure if that’s right- doing it right sides together?

  9. Wonderful tutorial! I shared a link on my blog. I know my readers will love this!

  10. Thanks for this easy tutorial! I made a bonnet out of muslin for my daughters school project, I plan to make your skirt as well!

  11. Thanks for a great tutorial. I sewed a sun bonnet for my granddaughter. Her class is visiting a one room school house.

  12. I made this bonnet for my daughter’s 11th birthday today. She loves it. I’ll be making another for her almost 7 year old sister too, I just didn’t get it done for today. They love them and are so excited. Thanks for sharing the plans!

    Blessings,
    Babychaser

  13. Your chin straps look wider than 1 inch folded in half which comes to around 1/4 inch once sewn and turned.

    1. I used a smaller seam allowance, but make your chin straps however wide you want.

    2. I tried and tried and tried to make the chin straps as shown here but they came out SO skinny I couldn’t turn them right side out (I made several and re-stitched a few trying so hard) and my turning tool actually ripped some seams ruining a few straps. So I gave up and used 7/8 of an inch grosgrain ribbon for straps and back bonnet ties and it turned out beautifully. I’m not a pro but definitely would try cutting 2-inch strips for chin straps and ties, or else go straight to using ribbon. I ended up making 4 bonnets (about to make a 5th) and 4 aprons and 3 rag dolls (total of 3 yards of fabric) for my nieces and my daughter as Christmas gifts. Thank you so much for the tutorial, I have read it soooooo many times now and am totally hooked on this blog. 🙂

      1. Thanks I had tried using a different turner, it’s a bodkin…it’s a little wider than the one in your link, and it’s shorter. It clamps down on the fabric and has a little thing that slides up and down on the Turner. My porr little thin cotton was basically shredded by the time I gave up, I still have some ties turned inside out, maybe I will try the new turner and use the ties for a different project!

  14. How fun! I’m trying to make this because our newspaper is having a contest for people to make something wearable out of newspaper. The gathering aspect is pretty tough, but I think it can be done. Thanks for your careful and specific directions!

  15. We are planning a trip to visit Laura Ingalls home in DeSmet, SD soon and thought it would be fun if my 4yo daughter and I wore matching sunbonnets! hee hee! Thanks for the tute!

  16. Dawn M McIntyre says:

    Jamie,
    Thanks so much for your great instructions which helped a somewhat novice like me make a cute outfit for my daughter’s fieldtrip!

  17. This is a very well laid out pattern. The measurements above worked perfectly for my 9 year old. Easy to make, very authentic. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Thanks for the ideas of how to do this. My daughter is Laura Ingalls Wilder in a wax museum and this will be perfect. I’m having a hard time, though, determining how much fabric I need to make the apron in relationship to the waist band. Thanks for your help!

  19. For the gathering step, did you sew two rows of stitches or just one?

    1. I typically sew only one row for gathering, but lots of people like to sew 2 rows of gathering stitches. It’s a personal preference.

  20. I made your bonnet an I wanted to thank you for the tutorial. It was easy to follow and the bonnet turned out great! I’m going to check out your skirt tutorial next.

  21. Awesome tutorial with excellent pictures and descriptions. Thank you for helping us have a fun time making the bonnets with 2 grandchildren. They were so pleased with their bonnets.

  22. How much fabric did you start with? I would like to make a bonnet, but don’t know how much fabric to buy.

    1. I’m sorry, I don’t really remember the exact amount needed. The amount of fabric is based on your measurements, but I’m sure I bought a yard of fabric for the bonnet.

      1. I just made 2 bonnets and 2 small simple aprons for 2 size 4T children out of ONE $5 yard of fabric! With scraps leftover for little rag dolls! 🙂 Cut carefully and don’t waste anything. The heads measure about 15 inches the way the blogger measured, at the jawline. I cut the bonnets for 16 inches to allow for seams.

  23. Where is your skirt pattern, how did you attach the apron

  24. Rebecca Smith says:

    I’m making this for my girls. We’re going to do a pioneer unit for homeschool, and I am sewing them bonnets and aprons so they can pretend play. Thanks for the tutorial.

  25. HI I made a adult size of the bonet it was easy and fun. Thank you.

  26. That bonnet is adorable! I read all the Little House books once a year when I was younger and loved them.

  27. I love this project, my girls when they were young would have loved this. I am going to keep this in mind as our family grows to the next generation.
    Your pictures are beautiful.

  28. what timing! My daughter will be Little Bo Peep this Halloween and we needed a bonnet or something. This came at the perfect time. YEAH!

  29. I’m in love!!! I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie when I was a kid! I’d pretend I was Laura somehow transported to the modern day. I was a weird child, I know. Anyway, I wanted to let you know I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later today that features your bonnet tutorial: http://sewing.craftgossip.com/?p=90003 –Anne