The Sewist

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

Friday, March 30, 2007

What the Doctor

Not the crochet dress, the purse or even the gloves, but the hat. I went to the dermatologist yesterday to have a light brown patch on my face checked out. He gave me a couple of samples of 4 percent hydroquinone bleaching ointment called Lustra (suppose to make me Lustrous, you think?) Anyway, application of this solution makes your skin ultra-sensitive to the sun. So that means I need to wear hats when I'm outside. We're talking the big-brimmed Scarlett O'Hara variety. But honestly I'm afraid that's not going to be enough to keep the sunbeams at bay. I don't hop into a car and drive away. I spend a lot, and I mean a ton, of time walking to wherever I need to go. I'm a Public Transportation Girl. You need to go somewhere in Chicago on the El, Metra, or bus, I can tell you how to get there. Anyhow, I also don't believe wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 45 (which the doc also recommended) and the biggest baddest chapeau will be enough for the sun to stop peeking at my little 'ole patch. What do you think?

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I want to thank you all for voting in my Shall I Change My Blog's Name poll. Your vote is very important, something that I think about late at night, just before I afix my Frownies on my forehead and hit the pillow. It's likely I will change my weblog's title and the banner, but it might be a little while for I make the alteration. I need to do all this rejiggering on another computer with the proper software. So stay tuned. I know it's not quite the drama of American Idol or even Dancing with the Stars, but what can I say?
Here's a new pattern for your consideration. It's by Sally Victor, who apparently was a big-time milliner in the 1950s. I sometimes see her hats at vintage shows, but rarely in a pattern. This particular Vogue pattern reminds me of the bubble skirts that are all the rage now. It's the ripply brim, which is exactly what you're seeing in those abovementioned garments. At least that's what I see. If I were to make this hat, and you know it would be easy-peasy, I do it in silk shantung. I know that fabric fades easily, but who cares? A little swath of this material isn't going to cost you a fortune. And it will look so stunning! I could picture this hat with a sheath, or even a bubble skirt? How would wear this topper if you were so inclined?

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Much Ado
About Hats?

You know I've written so much about hats lately I'm beginning to think I should rename my blog to at least something that sounds like it's about chapeaux. The Sewist? It's kind of vague. It could be about stitching quilts, emergency-room suture techniques, even last-minute "oops, my button's fallen off! What do I do?" tips. Hence I'm talking a lot of other things than how to manage a run-away industrial sewing machine (for that by the way, just gently tap the peddle) or even to get a pouchy pocket to stick your fabric while you're hand-stitching (use a glue-stick). For what it's worth, I like talking about hats. I could chat about them all day. I rather blog about hats mostly because it's a unique topic that I don't see discussed much in the weblog world.
So now for the drum roll. And the big question. Should I rename my site to something hat-related and change the banner artwork accordingly? Weigh in please! (And if you're interested in the above 40s sewing pattern, click here.)
Should I rename my blog?
No. free polls

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

An Easter Bonnet
With All
The Frills Upon It?

Doesn't this hat just scream, "Easter?" The chartreuse, fuschia and pale pink grosgrain ribbons just make me think of that holiday, which used to be a time when ladies would get dressed up in their finest garbs, even buy a new chapeau for that special Sunday. I still wear my prettiest clothes on that day, I don't always wear a brand-new hat, but I do don a chapeau! Several years ago I wore a lime green 40s culotte dress with a purple buckle and a puffy plush pink cocktail hat by milliner Laura Whitlock. Oh yes, I had to wear a coat that year because it was cold. My cream-color princess cut coat looked smashing, the appropriate silhouette for my 40s-themed topper and my vintage beige peep-toe sandals. I'm not sure what I'll do this year. I feel, aaah, lazy. Oh, I'm terrible. What would it take to make a cute hat one night? Just lock myself in my sewing room (though that would be hard because I can unlock the door myself), cut something out and stitch away. Better yet, reserve the classroom at Vogue Fabrics where I'll be away from the distractions of home (refrigerator, computer and phone) and I'll have the support of the sewing-machine sales people when a needle breaks or the iron burns a hole in the ironing board. It's high time I put my millinery skills to use, for the most important person in the world: myself. What's more likely though is that I'll crochet or knit something since I seem to be putting a lot of time into that hobby. Shall I start an Easter hat count-down? April 8 is the big day!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A free hat

It's true. A completely complimentary hat pattern can be found at, right here. Click on the second pdf download from the top for a 1930s hat made on the weave-it loom. And yes, you can create cute little squares like the ones above for your adorable chapeau. I've known about the weave-it looms for a long time thanks to my prolific eBay trolling habits which has educated me immensely on the popular pastimes of the Depression-era generation (Anyone want to learn more about little baskets made with three billion beaded safety pins? Or child-sized handmade quilts? Email me!), but I was beyond thrilled when I found eloomanation. It was like a whole new universe opened up. Considering I just bought a hairpin lace loom from Stitch Diva, making attire and headgear on the weave-it loom seems to be up my alley and down my Wisteria Lane. After all, how many people tell me, "It's so great that you have so many hobbies?" I'm certain I can learn how to use the weave-it loom in a nanosecond since I mastered weaving on a cardboard loom shortly after I emerged from my embryonic stage. I also wove oven mitts too - I think I might have a few singed examples around somewhere. I'm going to stay away from the weave-it for now unless I find a great, unused one at a flea market at a GREAT PRICE. Then you'll see me making squares on the bus using gimp, straw, dental floss, yarn, aquarium tubing, and other unusual materials just as eloomanation web site founder Jana Trent suggests.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Keeping the Sun
At Bay...

I'm a huge, huge fan of Amy Butler, particularly her fabrics, sometimes her patterns, which seem to be mostly accessories like handbags and totes, which I don't dig. I don't make purses, I botch them. Yes, I destroy them - I stitched up a little handbag in a School of the Art Institute of Chicago class last week. I forgot to put the tab until the end. Oops. I had to cut open the seam, insert the missing piece, and resew. Now the interfacing shows. It'd be a designer touch if I liked that mistake, but I don't so that little experiment is either going to a niece or in the garbage.
So I'm glad Ms. Butler has branched into millinery. I'm thrilled to sew a chapeau; it seems fairly mistake-proof. And this one looks fairly simple, although it also resembles a pattern put out by one of the Big Four pattern companies, where you know it will cost a fraction of what Ms. Butler charges for her instructions, particulary when Jo-Ann Fabrics or Hancock's has one of its sale days. So I'd just as soon snap up a yard of Amy's pricey paisley print and make up this hat with another pattern, maybe even a vintage one from eBay. Yeah, I'm a hypocrite because I'll pay mere pennies for the how-to and pattern pieces, but then I'll spend big bucks on designer fabric? Here's my warped reasoning: it's easier to find Guinness on tap that it is discover another textile with those larger-than-life bold designs that Amy uses on her cottons. I constantly troll Vogue Fabrics and I don't find cheap Amy Butler wannabee cottons. So I'm willing to buy a yard of her stuff and transform it into a floppy hat just so I can have her aficionados come up and ask me, "Aren't you....?" And I can say, "Yes, I am. Don't I look great?"

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Deco Deluxe?
You Decide.

This hat has a certain bravado about it. I picture on it on a muscular shortish guy wearing a white cotton short-sleeve button-up shirt or t-shirt, pair of dungarees and gently worn brown leather oxfords or maybe Chuck Taylors. I just love the silky bias-cut striped trim around the crown. It reminds of the 1950s cotton Wright's bias tape I bought at a vintage show. It had that same pattern but in a grey, pink and white colorway. So pretty, so spring. I stitched it 'round and round a cotton crochet hat I made from a 1940s pattern. It looked cool, but the stitching nor the ribbon wouldn't stay put. It was so frustrating because the hat looked grand on my dressform but the trim got wiggly once I put it on my head. I think it's still on there, and I refuse to toss it, because heaven's sake the trim is more than 50 years old. They don't make stuff like this any more. I will recycle the tape if necessary on a pocket, collar or sleeve. Maybe my trim needs something more solid to adhere like this straw hat pictured above. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's A

...that no one, and I mean no one has bid on this cute topper. It's hard to resist in my opinion. It's got *REAR INTEREST* (eBay seller new-york-cameo-girl's all-caps, not mine) and it's Very *FEMININE* (again, new-york-cameo-girl's emphasis). Besides, it's got a New York-Paris label. So you know it's chic. As for that drama from behind, you can't see it here, but the seller is talking about how these straps wrap about the back of the dress form head's. And that's quite fascinating. And it's about girly-girl as you can get. It's also, at least in my mind, very bridal-looking. Something you'd wear (at least I would) on that Big Day. But I'm not getting hitched right now, otherwise I just might buy it. I've actually pondered what I would wear on my trip down the aisle. I'm thinking a cute cocktail hat with a bird's nest. Yes, a faux birdie sitting in her home. That kind of hat beats those other so-conventional wedding veils out there. I believe. Besides, if you wear a bird on your head (hopefully with no droppings), it shows you're not taking yourself too seriously. Which is the attitude I'd like to cop for at least 24 hours if I'm ever so nuts to get married. At least I know my nieces and nephews would get a kick out of this hat; they'd gossip about it for the next millennium. It's so much fun making a good impression on the next generation! Anyhow, do you think this chapeau (called a tilt hat in the auction) would be suitable for a wedding?

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Labels On
The Table

Growing up, my mom was all about "no labels on the table!" So no cartons of Morton's salt if we were having french fries or squirt bottles of ketchup either for hamburgers or more likely, hot dogs. You had to get to grandma's crystal salt and pepper shakers or pour the ketchup in a bowl. I think my mother was trying to make the everyday meal more refined, kind of like what "Shabby Chic" author Rachel Ashwell does by putting out the best china for even fast food.
Which brings me to the labels above, from an eBay hat auction that has ended. I love seeing identifying marks inside hats. It's more meaningful that way. Suddenly, the ordinary chapeau suddenly has a history, an owner, a manufacturer. I have a custom label "Made Especially For You by Mary Beth Klatt" on a leprechaun green shaggy suede hat I sewed for myself. I have this fantasy that if I lose this accessory, the finder will Google my name and return it to me. But it hasn't happened yet. I actually lost an earlier version of this same topper at a shopping mall. No one, and I mean no one, called to say, "By the way, are you missing a ...?" Probably didn't even look to see if there was a label. I'm still hopeful I'll still get that call. You read stories on all the time about people getting stuff returned to them 25-50 years later. That'll be me, I'll be living in warm and balmy Hawaii a quarter-of-a-century from with no need for winter attire when I get that email or phone call. Even so, I'd delightfully accept the return. And then put it in a place where it couldn't be lost again! How about you? Has anything you've marked with your name been lost and returned?


Friday, March 02, 2007

Remember That Purse
I Was Talking About?

Here it is, not in color, but in black and white. Stunning, right? It is, but it's all crocheted straw! Yes, straw otherwise known as raffia. Working up this extraordinarily difficult fiber on a crochet hook was so hard on my hand, I don't think I minded one bit when I accidentally tossed the whole project into a garbage on my way to catch a train. (It was in a gray grocery bag, so it was an easy mistake to make.) Speaking of plastic grocery bags, crocheting with straw feels exactly the same: you feel like you're pulling taffy! The worst part of it? The crocheted straw had a mind of its own: it would not lay flat! It refused just like a child saying no to broccoli! Spraying it with water (not the child, the straw) didn't help either.
No all was lost though. I tried the pattern again (I had too - I just fell in love with that popcorn-stitch trim) in a thin ribbon knit. It worked! It's actually nearly completed. I just need to make the purse handle and sew it on. I think I should line it too. But with what? Any ideas? If you've made this purse, I would love to hear about it and see a picture too!

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Jaguar for my

I can't seem to resist this style of hat whenever it pops up on eBay, which is often, which also means this topper must have been really popular back in the 1930s and 1940s and every woman and her sister had one of these on their heads, which also makes me think of how many animals lost their skins in the name of fashion. *Shiver.* I can't say I'm totally against wearing genuine furs today, but everything in moderation, even with things that are in plentiful supply now because you don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Of course, that means you better stock up on what you really love while you can because I don't want to hear any complaining about how you can't find Chuck Taylors in your size or price range when you really need them. But back to this hat. I think what's so appealing about it is how it's kind of a neutral you can wear with just about anything. What's more, anyone could wear it. I could see it on my mom, if she dared or my sister if she doubled-dared. It's got that trendy urban vibe, even though it's vintage. It certainly doesn't look like it dates back to World War II! While anyone with just about any type of hair could wear it, I think it would look best with ear-length hair. Other than that you could wear this with just about anything: an emerald-green suit, jean jacket or a head-to-toe black ensemble. Or how about Joan McGowan's knitted fishnet stockings? I swear I'm going to wear those stockings with leopard-print peep-toe sandals just like the model in the picture if I ever get around to using Joan's knitting recipe!

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