The Sewist

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Meet Sam

That is Sam the hat. He's made of salame felt with black leather trim and a silver airplane. Now I don't give names to my hats or to any other item of clothing in my closet, cedar chest, hanging on my bed post or reclining on a chair. Gosh, if I gave them monikers, I'd feel like I'd have a family. I'd think "Gloria's sulking in the corner. I better hang her up" and "Oh dear, Pascal really needs to be cleaned. Into the wash she goes." I'd probably take better care of my clothes if they were properly christened. I'd probably have fewer clothes too. Who wants the responsibility of remembering all the given names of the dresses, skirts, blouses and coats stuffed into your wardrobe? It'd would be worst than the most overcrowded classroom in the Chicago Public School system. Ugh! I have a hard enough time recalling all the appellations for my brother's six children, whose sobriquets begin with the letter J. Whenever I see my nephews I frequently say: "Oh hi John, I mean James, I mean Joe." They probably have a complex and really believe their proper titles are "I mean Joe." If someone were yell "I mean Jason" that child might stand up. I would hope they're not that literal, but you never know. Quite honestly, if I were to label any inanimate object in my life it would be an automobile. And I choose not to own a vehicle. It's just not practical in the city. At least for me. And the shared-vehicle I do use sometimes is known as "I don't like to drive Elements." So there.
As for Sam the hat, I believe Sam is short for Samantha because I'd wear this topper in a heartbeat even though it's intended for a guy. I especially like the little plane because just about any mechanical gadget that can fly intrigues me. This hat would be the thing to wear while waiting in security-check line at the airport. What do you think?

Monday, January 29, 2007

Match Set

This seems a like a little bit too much crochet, even by New York City standards, which is more than likely where this picture was taken. I think I could understand the breezy handcrafted attire if it was Los Angeles or somewhere else South of the Border. But this is the northern half of the continent. It gets cold there. Even when the sun is shining, it's chilly unless it was one of those weird warm days that the Big Apple has been boasting about in recent months. More than 2 hours of that would make me break out sandals, toss the long johns in the laundry, and sit on a bench near a beach soaking up the rays. Forget L.A. tan, toss me some rays from the real star!
Despite the yarn overload (which no doubt The Crochet Dude could appreciate), I'd wear the floppy hat and the matching skirt. I adore fuschia (I just finished knitting a skirt in that color). However, I know I would fret over the proper slip to wear under this ensemble. Black? Yellow? Grass green? I have no idea. But I'd probably have to sew one because where in the Macy's world or even The Gap would you find one of these things? Now, I'd skip the dog sweater because I don't own a canine at the moment, but if I did I'm certain that the necklace-like leash that the model is holding wouldn't hold for a NYC minute if her pet pooch saw a fire hydrant he or she liked...What do you think?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Details, Details

Whether you call these hues black and red, negro and vino, noire and ruby, they're all the same to me. I adore this classy combination of colors. Unlike the yellow and black top I posted the other day, I have no hesitation to wear this two-two hat. I would not feel like a ladybug wearing this topper. Although I have say I wouldn't mind attracting those insects, they're a fortunate bunch even if they do itch upon landing on my skin. There's something utterly delightful about find them flying about my living room, perching on my ceiling fan or reading lamp. Unlike flies or moths, I just watch these small spotted beetles and wonder what wonderful things they will happen me today just because they're here. Of course, I'm always favored even when the ladybirds aren't around. But I am especially reminded of my blessings when the insects that are traditionally associated with the height of summer visit during the depths of winter. If I bought this hat, I would consider it my Extra Lucky chapeau, kind of like a super-strength Tide or Oxi Clean. It does the job but even better than usual. Likewise this hat would attract a little extra special treatment - a complimentary glass of Diet Coke at lunch, a door opened at the office, a request for no more rain honored (yes, even God enjoys hats). Don't you agree?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Change It

Sometimes there is nothing so beautiful as a simple hat. No adornments, embellishments or embroidery or even lint. Just a beautiful shapely thing to rest one's eyes upon, just like the tony topper on Dita Von Teese's head (see above). I do like how dear Dita kept her look plain. No baubles in sight! I don't know how she kept her hands out of her jewelry box. She doesn't even have a pair of earrings on. Lordy, I feel naked if I walked outside without my requisite hoops. Apparently Dita is far more confident than I in her Christian Dior suit. This woman doesn't look like she owns a pair of jeans, Jack Purcells or Juicy Couture separates, which I would think would be very hard to do since Dita did model vintage garb on eBay before she made a full-time career in the world of burlesque. If I had been hawking 1930s dresses, most of them wouldn't even had made it to auction. No, they would have marched straight into my closet, where they would have kept company with my pumps, sandals, and wedgies.
Back to the 1940s-era ornaments, also pictured above. I think either would look fine on Dita's outfit. If they're suitably small they could be even clipped onto the hat. That's what I love about plain chapeaux, you can either dress them up or down depending on how you feel, the weather, the vitamins you've taken today or even the event of the day. I have a little NFL pin that you could attach come Superbowl Sunday. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Which is

I can't decide which I like better - the hat or this model's eyelashes. Up close, this woman's eyes have mesmerized me. She has these miles-long lashes, the kind that might touch Mars if given the chance. Mine, I'm afraid, are just a mere few millimeters long. I curl and adorn them with Maybelline's Great Lash Mascara. Still they look ho hum. All the more reason to wear a crocheted cap as adorable as this. Let the hat do all the work. My body, I'm afraid, can only do so much. I figure this chapeau (particularly with that saucy scarf) can flirt WAY better than I can. I think that if I took it off and parked it on a shelf it would continue to have fun with the boys (and girls). Hats do have a way of doing that, you know. Try it sometime at a fine dining establishment, particularly with a topper with lots of embellishments. Put your hat on a shelf, in a plain view. See if somebody doesn't come up and touch it within a matter of minutes. I'd bet you a ride to the former planet Pluto your head cover would have more admirers than a pet pooch! Ideally you need to park yourself at a table nearby so you can explain to all these oohing and aahing restaurant patrons the origins of your most wonderful chapeau. And take orders if you're a milliner.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Like a

Even if March starts off with a flurry of storms, it'll still be in like a lamb at least in my mind, especially since that's the month that this knitted hat pattern will be published in “Lace Style: Traditional to Innovative, 21 Inspired Designs to Knit.” I truly won't have any problem whatsover conjuring up warm summery days working up this broad-brimmed hat designed by Annie Modesitt. Yes, I'll be fantasizing about all the darling outfits I can wear with this hat: the cute crocheted dress I'm going to make from Good Housekeeping Needlecraft circa. 1971; the eyelet frock from a Simplicity pattern and the t-shirt and Seven jeans (I'm not that thin yet that I can even slip those pricey jeans over my hips, but a girl can dream!) I just can't think about snow, slippery ice or salt stains even that's the reality when I'm making something meant to be worn in June, July and August. My little head doesn't work that way. Now, I'll need lots of help making this chapeau, especially with that wired brim. The last time I crafted something like this the brim got wonky. So now I'm scared, kind of like the kid who doesn't want to be near a stove after getting burned making macaroni and cheese. Should I be afraid? (By the way thanks to Jaime Guthals for sending me these images!)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Beret Not

This hand-knitted top looks like something out of MGM's wardrobe department parked behind the costumes for the Wizard of Oz's flying monkeys, Katharine Hepburn's gowns from The Philadelphia Story and Clark Gable's Gone With the Wind suits. Doesn't it resemble a blouse Ginger Rogers or Claudette Colbert would have worn with a super-tight skirt and a tiny brown beret? My only fear in wearing this two-tone brown and yellow sweater is that it would attract bees. They'd go, "Wow! Those are our school colors! She's one of our kind." Then you'd see me on the ground surrounded by a group of insects best known producing honey. It would be an interesting way to exit this life. It's better than being attacked by an automobile, which happens every few seconds around the world. Or to be felled by a heart attack, another too common occurrence in our society. No, better to end my earthly existence fashionably attired with more than a few pricks in my body from the same critters who give me the golden liquid to sweeten my tea everyday.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My Kind

I've a soft spot for leopard prints, but I just might have to make room in my heart for a certain exotic jaguar fur beret. It's just so unusual. Of course, a living critter lost its life back in the 1940s just so this hat could be made and sold at Marshall Field's in Chicago. But that was a different time. I'm glad I didn't live then even it was more glamorous. People didn't live as long - what's the use in having all those cute chapeau if you don't have time to wear them all? It's not like you can spend your time in the coffin showing them off. Anyhow, folks live into their 90s and beyond now - plenty of time to don different headgear. Wouldn't you know Jack LaLanne (I don't think he was much of a fedora guy, but he's definitely a muscle man) is still lifting weights and drinking icky homemade vegetable drinks at the ripe younge age of 92? He's my kind of guy.
Back to the hat, which is far more affordable than the kind of Jaguar you drive. Nary a monthly payment, parking sticker or ticket to worry about! No, the Jaguar for your head is a conversation piece in a way that a vehicle would never be. Besides, the one that goes on your noggin will never rust, get a dent or stall on you. Besides, you can invite friends over to your house and say with a devious wink and a smile, "Hey, want to see my new Jag?" Then show them to your closet. Ha.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


It's rare that I like all the hats on a pattern, just like I rarely enjoy the entire song list on a record album. I also will skip purchasing a knitting or crochet magazine unless I want to make at least two or three items in the publication. But this vintage McCall's? I love each one! That's more rare than me staying up past 12:30 p.m. on a New Year's Eve! The first chapeau, just a veil, is perfect if you are dieting. You have to move the netting to get anything into your mouth, beverages included. If you really want that hummus and chips, you're going to have to lift the net each and every time. This is a fantastic way to go to bed hungry and wake up a few pounds lighter. And it's so cheap and easy to make! A yard of Russian veiling tied around your chignon with a piece of velvet ribbon and you're good to go. The gingham nightcap is cute too. I've never worn one, but it would secure a set of curlers if that's how you like to style your locks at night. And the matching handbag! Would you take this to bed too? This ensemble (including the empire-waist nightie) looks comfy, but only if you're sleeping alone in a twin bed. The topper in the lower left reminds me of those old lampshades, perhaps crafted by an arachnid hired to do some piecework by a milliner. Doesn't it have a cobweb look to it? The final hat resembles one of those 1970s hanging lamps, the kind you'd finding hanging over a pool table. Only this is black, not an opaque brown. I keep looking for a light pull, but there's none to be found on this model's head.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


My favorite topper is the one in the upper left corner with the pom-poms. I'm not even wondering about how to make this hat. Just those decorative balls of fluffed yarn. Wind the aforementioned fiber around a piece of cardboard. Just when you think you have enough yarn, wind a little more. A few more rounds. Perfect! Tie it nice and tight in the middle with leftover yarn. Snip and one, then the other. Presto. You've got a pom-pom. There are all sorts of gadgets from Clover and Lion Brand, but honestly, the best results come the old-fashioned way. They're just fluffier. Kind of like buckwheat pancakes made from scratch vs. the box. Anyhow, I'd used a multi-hue fiber for my pom-poms. Then perhaps a navy silk shantung on the chapeau itself. What do you think? What materials would you use to make this pattern?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Robin Hood's

This World War II era suede/knit top seems very formidable, almost inpenetrable, particularly with those massive square Bakelite buttons. I'm also thinking this MUST predate bullet-proof Kevlar vests. Maybe it's a prototype - the bee colors prohibited it from going into mass production. It's just missing some pockets for tear gas and other gizmos. Who knows? Maybe they're hidden inside. Anyhow, let's say you want to go for the 1940s 'look.' All you would need are a hat, skirt and shoes. I'd stay far away from a leather skirt though. That would be way too much, like you robbed a tannery. An A-line version in a muted herringbone fabric would be fine. An animal-skin hat would be ok. It wouldn't be overkill (pun not intended). A chocolate tyrolean-style chapeau with the brim tilted over one eye would be effective, not to mention that you'd get people telling you all day and night, "Oh, you look like the Andrews Sisters!" Skip matching gloves though, folk might start asking where's your bow and arrow. Now the only unanswered question in my mind is what kind of pumps do you wear with this ensemble? What do you suggest?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Crafty Spider

Yes, if you're an arachnid, especially of the variety that thrives high in the windows of the John Hancock, the Empire State, the Chrysler buildings, heck even the Sears Tower, I want to talk to you. I would like you to make this dress for me NOW. I know you're quite busy making dinner (though what exactly do you feast on during the winter? Flies and bees are off for the season.) But if you could take time out of your busy workday I would appreciate it. I'm willing to pay you in pesos, insects, dollars, or whatever currency you prefer. I will even provide you with the materials for this frock. I'm thinking a nice ribbon-type yarn will do. How many spools? I don't know. Don't make me list a desperate request on Craig's List for someone who can make hairpin lace. This type of lace-making comes to you naturally. You can do it in your sleep. Even when you're awake, you probably have daydreams about the different types of webs you can make. This is a challenge for you. I promise I'll take care of the crocheting part. You just make the 20+ strips, that's all I ask. Please, pretty please with turbinado sugar on top.

Friday, January 12, 2007

'Er Up!

Purchasing this Texaco hat for your collection might not be realistic, since bidding as of this post is already at $207.50. But I'd say go for it if you want a reminder of the gasoline industry's past, and you don't mind eating oatmeal and lentil soup daily (just not together) until your bank account recovers from this big hit. You could wear out on the town, even pretend you're a gas-station attendant, and offer to fill up autos with gasoline. Blue-haired grandmothers everywhere would get a kick out that! They might even tip you. But I'm afraid the tip would be of the "you're a good babysitter/lawn mower/snow shoveler" variety not "That was a great meal!"
Even if this hat never came never came near an air pump again, it's still a great addition to someone's collection. It's a reminder how few people in the service industry actually wear hats. (Now you do see fabric caps on the UPS delivery guys, but nothing shaped like this). Today's soft baseball-style service caps lack the authority of the stiff-crown hats you see on Metra train conductors and Chicago police officers. Hard to believe, but bus drivers once had to wear these kinds of hats. I can remember my grandfather's bus driver hat hanging on a hook down in the basement of his Westchester, Ill. house. It hung there for a long time as a reminder of his route along Chicago Avenue in Oak Park. I think my mother still has it stashed away somewhere. I hope it's just not squished next to a 1950s book! Do you have any hats like this in your family? Who do you know that wear this kind of hat today?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Who Looks
Better In
This Hat?

Madonna or Matt? It's a tough call. This navy fedora looks natty on Matt, but downright jaunty and daring on Madonna. She looks so stylish, and confident, considering all the flack she's gotten over adopting her child David. Madonna takes herself less seriously than she used to and it shows. It also takes a certain fortitude to let your roots show, even though that could be considered a fashion choice too. It'd be nice to see the Material Girl wear sharp chapeaux like this more often, but I'm not sure I see her wearing 'em while she's biking around London or even heading out to the pub with her hubby. It's just a little showy and attention-getting...which is perfectly fine when she's in front of the camera channeling Marlene Dietrich for Vanity Fair Magazine but not for real life, when she's trying to dodge the paparazzi. But for those of who don't make a living staring down a Leica, this hat is a great choice. Why not raid the men's department?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Spangles On
Your Head

It's hard not to be moved to giggles, OK, laughter by this spangled head-covering. I mean it's perfect for keeping your head warm and motorists at bay, especially late at night, when their headlights on their Zipcars and I-GO cars will glint off the shiny circles. They'll be like, "What is that thing? I've never seen that at Anthropologie!" Of course, they will stop before the pedway to get a better look at what's topping you off. I think it's much better than those neon orange or green strips that bicyclists or joggers wear at night that basically scream out, "Hit me and you're dead!" This is a much more elegant way to get your message across. I think I even have some of these little aluminum thingies in my stash. They're called Ruffles in one case, Chips in another. Both are available from Trendsetter Yarns. Get this - they're imported from Italy! Chips are a shiny purple, the Ruffles (which make me think of the potato chips) are a pewtery pink. They're so fun, I know I really need to make something with them now. A quick hat or the veil above, which would come in handy should I ever decide to attend a Latin Mass sometime in the near future. What do you think?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Youngest Hat
Model Ever?

This girl has got to be the youngest hat model I've ever seen. At least on eBay. But she's got the look down pat - the smoldering look beneath the red veil, the slightly upturned lips, and hands on the hips. Lordy! Vogue Patterns needs to bookmark this auction because there might be a time when current millinery model Carol Alt is unavailable because she's stranded at an airport in Florence. They wouldn't even need to train this young lady. I especially like how she mixed pink and red - not too many women would even try that combination. Too trashy, too Valentine's Day, just altogether just trying too hard! But I don't think so. It works here. I'll betcha this youngster insisted on wearing the cable-knit sweater for her photo shoot. I mean, she stamped her feet, pouted, and her photographer/mother relented just to get this photo uploaded. But anyhow if you're interested in this hat (and there's already one bid), I'd get thee to eBay asap, or at least line up this auction in your Esnipe crosshairs soon. Right now, the bidding's at $15, but shipping's free! You too could wear this in time for Feb. 14, whether or not
there's a special someone in your life. Tell me what you think.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Have Hat,

Will Travel. This woman has attitude from the top of her popcorn-stitch calot all the way down to her toes, which I can't see, but nevertheless she must be just as stylish there unless she's like movie stars that muck around in Reebocks, iPods, and puffer coats when they're not in front of the camera. Since the none of the abovementioned things actually existed back in the 40s, I'm guessing that this gal really did look her complete best for the photographer of this knitting booklet. She's so matchy-matchy too. The hat, those formidable gloves which could serve as oven mitts in a pinch, and that humongous bag that's only lacking a tiny pocket for a cell phone. She's so coordinated, I can't help but think that she's wearing little popcorn-stitch shoe clip-ons. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Lookin' Good
Coming and

I know I look good coming and going. The hat? I made it in a flash, with this pattern.
Easy-peasy, as my pa would say. But not fancy-schmancy as he would also remark. And - not department-store pricey either. My pa's the kind of guy who's tight with his money. Keeps all the cash in a coffee can underneath his bed. Depression-era mentality, which I guess I inherited. I'm always afraid I'm going to run out of money and end up on the streets like those bums you sometimes see lingering outside those rickety West Loop hotels. So that's why I'm handy with the needle. I'm always making something - particularly hats. I want to look lovely, and the boys seem to like 'em. I swear, I've been asked out on more dates because of my hats. I just might open a hat shop, but I wonder how I'd do. Not as many gals wear hats as they did 5-10 years ago. Sometimes not even to church, which I find particularly shocking. What would our Lord think? I've got a hat or at least a veil in my purse. As far as careers go, it's either millinery or baby-making. I'd really like get married, and live in one of those new houses they're starting to build outside of Chicago. Imagine - we could have a yard for the children to run around in! Here the little ones just play on the sidewalks and streets. I just worry about those automobiles. I know I'm going sound fuddy-duddy saying this, but young fellas are driving faster and faster in their souped-up Model Fords. All it takes for an accident is for a child to drop a ball that flies out to the road where there's an oncoming vehicle. Golly, I don't want to think about it, but they're ought to be a law! Until then I'm moving out when my honey gets home...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A Hatbox
To Love

This two-tone black and tan hatbox with a royal blue lining reminds me of my grandmother's. gathered blue satin trim. We kids had so much fun zipping and unzipping that thing. I can still the sound of that long zipper being furled and unfurled like a whip: zzzzzip! and zzzzoop. I think we managed to finally to trash this wonderful carrying case by standing on it (!). Unfortunately, unlike some of the vault-like luggage today that can take a monkey's abuse, my grandmother's hatbox collapsed under our weight (probably just one child, really; I think I'll pin the blame on my brother Doug or John).
But now that I think about it I wonder where my grandma Rose's hat box went. Did it go to Germany when she returned to visit after World War II? Or did it spend a good portion of its life in a closet before we children found it? What kind of hats lived in there?
Which brings me back to the brown/tan box above. You could never lose this at the airport baggage pick-up. No ribbons at the handles would be necessary. This baby would stand up and be noticed, even amongst those mammoth luggage suitcases. Who doesn't notice curves?
What do you think of this hatbox? Would you use it? Would you put chapeau or something else in it?