The Sewist

I sew, knit and crochet hats. (Not all at the same time. Whaddaya think I am - a machine?)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Hat
In Montreal

It's been a looong while since I've been in Montreal. So long I've forgotten what it looks like. But if this where hats like this grow, then I want to go back there NOW. So beam me up, somebody ASAP. What I really like about this particular hat is how sculptural it is. Those feathers reaching heavenward? They make me think of a massive bonfire, the red flames curling above the hot yellow embers beneath. 'Tis a smoky fire, see the big black plumes in the background? The haze that surrounds the Kelly green grassy knoll? This is the hat I'd wear on New Year's Eve. I might even wear blue eye shadow just like the mannequin above. It would be a little difficult to get her slate blue eyes - mine are brown and I'm not about to shell out major cash for tinted contacts just to have matching eyes and shadow. What do you think of this hat? Do you know anything about its maker - Creations Rose St. Jacques 419 St. Catherine E. Montreal? If you need to know more, click here.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Flop Hat #1

This is the first in a occasional series about disastrous hats I've sewn, crocheted, knitted or just plain cobbled together. The topper you see above? (I'm referring to the color photo) That's supposed to look like the Sport Hat. As you can see, the only resemblance the two share is the color. Both are white. Oh yes, they are both crocheted. Other than that, they look like fraternal twins. You see, my brim zings where it should zang. The Sport Hat's brim? Nice and neat, so you can actually see underneath it. It keeps away the sun's harmful rays like a hat should. Mine blocks my vision horribly, making me more than likely to walk in front of a moving vehicle. This chapeau looks like it belongs on a cartoon character - after it's been hit by an automobile manned by Bugs Bunny. Can't you just see it now? After being smashed by a Model Ford, 'toon walks in circles, #@$%! flashing in its eyes and the hat tittering on its dented head.
If you're still interested in creating this pattern after hearing my sad, sad story, you can buy it here on eBay. If you actually make it, please send me a picture!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Not Included

But you can get a 1940s turban and matching handbag for $158, a real steal considering that a hat alone could sell for that price. I like this two-piece (where are the two-tone gloves, by the way? You really need those to pull this look off) but I have a problem with it. Your forehead needs to be perfectly smooth because everyone will be staring at it you wear this hat. No craters, potholes, crevices of any sort and most certainly no blemishes or lines. Skin as smooth as baby's behind. Maybe then I'm just taking this hat too seriously, thinking that I need to look like Rita Hayworth in her 20s before I put this thing on. Unless I'm in a 1940s period movie, who cares? Even if I wore the hat and carried around the bag, you wouldn't catch me carrying a cigarette holder to recreate a head-to-multiple-toes look. Not even as prop. I don't smoke, so pretend? It would be funny to see what people would say if you wore this with a Juicy Couture hoodie and yoga pants. Or a t-shirt and a bubble skirt. I don't know. I'm not buying this, so why I am obsessing? Would you buy this hat and purse? How would you wear it? I forgot to mention that if I were going to do the retro look with this set, I'd make Vogue 2858
in a plush purple velvet and try to find matching platform wedgies.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Men's Hats

What is about a fedora that's so beguiling? I mean even if you don't wear hats at all, I'd bet you'd stare at this hat for a long while and think of all the men, movie stars and people you know, who wear them and look great in them. Then you think of how you and your friends might look in 'em. That just might invite laughter, but that's the whole point. I love how a topper as simple as this is about the past, present and future all at once. It's kind of god-like in that respect. I don't think it's everlasting though, as hardy as it might appear. Hats do get old, they die, but hardly ever get buried. They get dismantled. First, they get handed down to the kids for playtime activities so they can wear them in shows they put on. Then they are smashed in a box with some other woolen items, where they get munched on by moths. Depressing, I know. Finally, they might be resurrected again for sale in a thrift store. Holes, bent bent and all, someone just might buy them or start anew at Optimo Hats or Linda Campisano Millinery.
What would you do if you had the chance to buy a cute, but mishaped old fedora?

Monday, December 18, 2006

of the

I could just stare at this picture forever or I could hit the Buy It Now button. Then these gorgeous German leaves could be in my hands, not before Christmas but at least by New Year's Eve, giving me enough time to trim a hat to celebrate the arrival of 2007. At $7.50 these leaves - which look unlike anything I've ever seen in my real life - are a steal. You couldn't do better at an antique store. That said, I've tried making my millinery flowers - using old panty house, floral wiring, stamens and instructions from a 1950s-era dressmaking book. I cut a square of pantyhose (generally unused) on the bias, twist a bit of the wire into a petal shape, stretch the fabric over the wire, anchor the fabric to the stem with a twist of green floral tape. I gather three 'petals' together, plop a few stamens (the kind from Michaels works fine - I embellish mine with a little nail polish) in the middle. Tighten more tape around the petal trio. Voila! I've got a flower. A few of these hand-crafted flowers make a pretty corsage when you hot glue a pin on the back.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


This is still yet another hat from the oft-mentioned (as least as of late) Sculptural Headwear class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This hat is made of pheasant feathers gathered. The milliner (not the aforementioned Hugo) asked his father, who digs hunting, to save some plumes for him. Hence the 40s-style hat that he crafted for his final class project. I like this head covering because it makes me think of late-night martinis, smoke-filled bars and slow dances. While this chapeau is different, at least it's not frightful but rather delightful (hey it rhymes!). Heading into the last week before Christmas, I'm wondering if this is something Mrs. Claus would wear during her downtime (you know she's got a red-stocking cap on during store hours). I'm trying to picture this hard-working, cheery woman with a grey bun of hair with this feathery thing atop her head. I think she'd like it. It gets her mind off of toys, and stops parents who would ask about the latter in their tracks. I mean, the Mrs. has a life! What do you think of this particular topper?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Another Hugo

Here's another hat created by the aforementioned Hugo of School of the Art of Chicago fame. Instead of straw, he's got this fiery red felt which he has molded into this tiered, almost cake-like topper. If it had one more layer, I'd think I was looking at a wedding cake intended for Valentines' Day or a party to celebrate the opening of the next Spiderman flick. (Don't you think this chapeau has definite Spidey tendencies? I mean the colors! The beaded web pattern! MJ would love it. Hugo says he was actually thinking of Tim Burton when made this sculptural headpiece. I'm not sure I see the connection. But nevertheless.) In any event, this hat is not for the faint of heart. You can't get lost in a crowd with this on. No way. It's better than a GPS system any day. A bold personality like Diane Von Furstenburg or Betsey Johnson would adore this hat. On second thought, I don't DVF would wear this...she's got all that hair she loves to show off. What do you think?

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hugo's Hats

Hugo. That's all I really know about him. He was also a student in Eia's Sculptural Headwear class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There was something delightful about looking at a straw hat intended for summer (or at least warmer climates) while I was clad head to toenail in wintergear. I even had the shaggy suede hat that I sewed perched on my head to keep me warm. Just for a moment I got to think about those humid, sunny days when something lightweight as Hugo's creation would feel wonderful. But I thought it was even more more interesting to see him wearing it. And he says he'll don it outside when the weather's right. This particular topper is a whimsical thing, and it looks like something Jim Carrey would have worn in the movie Mask. Hugo even seems to have the latter's Grinch-like, slightly maniacal grin. I was especially impressed with Hugo's hand-stitching. He did a masterful job folding over this fabric, and stitching it evenly. Very couture. I always had a tough time hand-sewing straw, even after spraying it repeatedly with water to make this textile pliable. And it was very scratchy - making it hard on the hands! What do you think of this man's chapeau? Is it something the male in your life would wear?

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Etsy seller PierogiPrincess describes this topper as a "NEO cowgirl hat," but to me this red, white and blue chapeau has Nancy Drew, girl detective written all over it (in invisible ink, of course). It just looks like something that the teen-aged busybody would wear speeding through downtown village centers and dusty farm roads in her 1930s-era roadster. Of course, she'd have to hold onto her hat careening around street corners, but I'd like she'd do well especially with her galpal George in the adjoining seat. George could hold onto her friend's precious headcovering for her. Of course, the hat would go flying the moment Nancy's vehicle would hit a pothole. Then this patriotic-themed masterpiece would snag onto a tree branch. Nancy and George would have to fork over some major cash to a nimble youngster to scamper up the tree to retrieve the hat. But it would be worth it. I think this hat would have more lives than a feline, although it might get a little faded spending so much time in the sun. Here's the part where I get stuck. What is Nancy wearing with this hat? A culotte dress? A strappy two-tone playsuit that was popular back in the Depression era? Is it also red, white and blue, or is that too Hollywood for our lady P.I.? You tell me.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Like a Snowball
On Your

If you want your head to blend into the snowy scenery, this is the hat to wear. If someone snaps a photo of you, it will appear that you have no brain, just ears, nose, mouth and maybe eyes. People will look at the photo, puzzled. They'll wonder: "What tool did you use in Photoshop to achieve this brainless effect?"
And your photographer will have to tell them there were no special effects. No computer whiz at the helm. Even if there's no photog in sight, this is still quite the zany hat. Walking down the street, motorists will think you got gobsmacked by a giant snowball. Or that you're wearing a polar bear pelt or heaven forbid - Santa Claus' beard. No matter what people think, the bottomline is that this lambskin fur hat from Italy (the best winter chapeaux come from this lovely country, I've found) will keep you wonderfully warm. So that if you slip on the ice, your pretty head will have a cushion to break the fall. And if the temperature drops, your ears will not redden.
Do you have any hats like this in your warm wardrobe? What did folk say wear you wear 'em? I want to know!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

On Your

Note to dressform head: don't look so down. After all you've got a Christmas hat
on your crown which you means you'll have DOUBLE the fun at all those holiday parties around. You'll be offered twice as much egg nog, holiday dip, and cherry-red grog. You'll be feated and nothing you say or do will be deleted! Yes, yes, you'll be the belle of the faire. Young swains will eye you from afar, and angle for a chance to see you up close at the bar. Is Rose you want? No. Cabernet? Shiraz? Oh, is it Pinot Grigio what you desire along with a slice of pizza from Riggio's? Most certainly - anything you want is most certainly possible when you've got the world's delightful felt and poinsettia cap on your noggin. Si, Si, now go dance - waltz, rhumba, and lindy-hop your way across the dance floor, and make the crystal clear night go out not with a BANG but with a roar!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

One Head
For Sale

She's not going cheap - bidding at this very moment is at $112.50. It's hard to believe, but this vintage faux's name is Poison Ivy. It almost has a Bond Girl ring to it, but at least the writers for those movies did a play on words when they named their chicks. Poison Ivy would be Poisun Ivee or Poi Sun Ive, or some other clever moniker. If I won the eBay auction, I'd rename her. I don't want to be reminded of nasty rashes on my arm when I look at her for heaven's sake. I don't know what I'd call her, I'd have to meet her and get to know her. Or I could give her one appellation and change it later as actress Meg Ryan did with her adopted daughter.
I'd put her (not Meg Ryan's little one, I'm talking about the dress form head) on one of those free-standing shelfs with dentil edging from Pottery Barn, and change her hat every day. I've got a nice little collection of 30s and 40s hats that she'd look fabulous in, but I would not hesitate to dress her up in beautiful hats from the 21st century. I could see her in a nice summer cotton number from Eugenia Kim, even a knitted earflap hat. What do you think? By the way, I want to know what you'd name this repro mannequin if you were lucky enough to have her in your family? I've created a one-question survey on this important topic. I'll close it in a few days. Click here to take the poll. Thank you!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Bond Girls
In Hats?

All the girls on the cover of this 1940s Simplicity pattern look possessed. I wish I could give you a close-up of their glassy, hyper-dilated eyes, but I cannot. It's unfortunate because these cover girls must be the predecessors for The Stepford Wives. See how the bereted woman with the white gloves is pulling something out of her massive bag? She's not even looking down to see what she's get in her hand. It could be a wallet, a baby bottle or a squirt gun. You just don't know what to expect in this day and age! I know this picture was drawn during the World War II era, so you have no idea what the illustrator was thinking when he (or she) sketched out the pictures for this pattern. Or what about the girl in the nurse-style cap pulling the strings on her handbag taut? She's got a determined look on her face. Again, not even remotely engaged in what her begloved digits are doing. Is she thinking of her guy overseas, the infant squawling at home or the pile of laundry awaiting her at home? We'll never know. What do you think of this pattern? Would you wear a beret?