Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Hat..Some Tips for Royal Wedding Atttendees

My Easter bonnet, minus the chick's head.
First let me say Chicago is not a hat-wearing town in the sense that New York is. We're the tops when it comes to making hats. In fact, the Windy City is the only place in the U.S. where you can get a degree in millinery (the School of the Art Institute of Chicago), but wearing hats, if the wind doesn't blow it away,  is a trend that has yet to catch on.

That said, I was hoping that a severe recession would at least prompt more women to wear hats on Easter. No such luck! This is what I wore last year at Easter, just one of few women wearing hats. I attended a more traditional church on Sunday...while there was many lace head coverings, not too many hats. Darn.

Here's the back-story on mine. I just took my navy vintage hat and embellished it on Sunday morning. I bought the pipe cleaners at a 5&10 in St. Joseph, Michigan (a fun store if you're ever in the area). Cut those into 1/2 inch sections, and twisted them around the little panes on my matching netting. I put a bunch in the front, then more in the back for symmetry. I also wired a little yellow chick in the front.

Well, wouldn't you know that while I was putting the embellished hat on the display head, the hat fell to the floor and the chick's head snapped off? I tried using "glue pins" (a sewing type of glue) to put it back on. No dice. Even tried a bit of wire. No way, Jose.

But I wasn't about to undo what was done. So I just ended up wearing the hat even though the chick was headless. I hope children weren't traumatized looking at the chick. Actually, no one noticed until I told them. I got lots of compliments on my hat. Amazing, which led me to think about what lessons could be learned from the experience, especially for those attending the Royal Wedding on Friday. And they will be wearing lots of hats:
  • Don't sweat the small stuff. And it's all small stuff. If you've done your best to look your best, how can you help it if Mother Nature suddenly unleashes a shower and you don't even have an umbrella with you? Nothing you can do but laugh. Oh, on that note, I would suggest carrying a small plastic bag, the grocery store variety, in your purse. Something you can put your hat into if necessary. You don't want the rain to ruin your expensive hat!
  • Carry pins and safety pins with you. Stuff them in your little purse if you must, but they will come in handy for yourself and perhaps a friend.
  • If you wear a hat, make sure your make-up looks great. Some milliners think you don't have to worry about your hair as much since your wearing a hat, but I disagree. Fuss about your hair too. Make sure it looks pretty too.
  • Have fun. This falls in the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" category.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cool Links Friday - Amy Butler umbrella pattern, Liberty of London Prints

I forgot the European yarn I used for this one. Pretty but scratchy. Both are improvised crochet patterns
The scarf is a Missoni like fabric from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL. They don't have this colorway anymore (to my knowledge), but they have other colorways, particularly black and white. Call the warehouse to learn more!
It's a rainy day Friday and I'm finishing up work tasks so I can relax and enjoy Good Friday. I'll like go to CloseKnit to buy more yarn to finish up my Go Go Granny Square Tunic and I'll definitely cruise into Vogue Fabrics to get my fabric fix. Here are some good links to check out while it's drizzling outside:
That's it, folks. With a bit of luck, I might trick out an existing cocktail hat with a toy yellow 'chick' and a crocheted nest made from paper yarn. If I do, I'll take pics. If not, enjoy the weekend. Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This and That: Vintage Sewing Machines in Third-World Countries

Ad at my local commuter train stop. A powerful message about how sewing machines empower women.
A close-up of the machine, a vintage New Butterfly. Does anybody know anything about this manufacturer?
I  felt compelled to post these pictures after reading about Cidell and her newest acquisition to her sewing machine collection. I only have two machines, my grandmother's vintage 1950s grey-green Singer machine which now resides in my storage unit. I also have a Viking Husqvarna, acquired in 2004-2005 that I've sewed many tops, skirts, blouses, even hats on. I'm sort of afraid now that I have two that somehow I'll be acquiring a third sometime soon. I did ask a friend in water aerobics class if I could buy her Featherweight. No go. But I'm not giving up. 

So it was interesting to see this ad on my way, to where else, but a warehouse sale for Vogue Fabrics. I love the confident expression on this woman's face. She clearly feels proud of her sewing machine, and her dress, which you know she sewed. She didn't need a fancy-schmancy computerized machine to make that! There's probably not a serged seam on that dress, maybe not even zig-zag stitches. Depends on whether she has (or even needs) the zig-zag attachment. It probably just sews a whiz-bang straight stitch, that's it..but oh my, the $$ that straight-stitch when it's unleashed on fabric for dresses that are made to be bought. And this is in a third-world country. Given the heightened level of discussion on entitlements in this country, I wonder what this very feisty young lady would prefer: a government check or a sewing machine? Methinks a sewing machine would bring my standard of living up much quicker than any government payment. 

I find it interesting that so many vintage sewing machines are available here in the U.S. Somehow they survived the World I, World II scrap drives (maybe because they were seen as necessities, not luxuries.) It's even more amazing how old ones can be restored to their former glory.

For some more discussion on old sewing machines, check out Cidell rationalizing her latest acquisition point here. For some really good reading on the old Singers, see Heather Ross wax poetic here. Finally, here's a Burdastyle blog post on the topic. For those of who are experts on vintage machines, can anyone out there tell me where the New Butterfly machine (there's one in the ad above) were manufactured? Ok, I just found a link. It's made in China! Who would have thought? Is it still an old machine? The link isn't clear. I'm fascinated. I need to found out more. One inquiring mind wants to know more...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hats: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall....Annie Modesitt High Society Hat, McCall Hat Pattern 3985

My favorite winter hat...goes with anything that's green. I'd be better off with an off-white or even black hat.
A close-up of the green sueded shearling hat, which was trimmed with pinking shears.
Another hat, this was knitted using the High Society hat pattern in Romantic Hand Knits. I need some more yarn in this exact hue to finish. Know anybody with a stash of Gedifra Wellness (now discontinued, of course).
A side view of the High Society Hat in progress.

High Society Hat in progress, needs more yarn, some blocking and wire in the brim. Potentially smashing, don't you think?
I'm a bit of a hat freak. I love making 'em but I'm a bit lazy about wearing them. Somehow there's more excitement in making them. I cut up the fabric, sew, tada, I've got a hat. Sometimes, I've got something in afternoon, which is the case with the suede shearling hat above. I probably spent more time picking off the fizz off my clothes and my head then actually cutting and sewing. I've made precisely three versions of the green hat....all in the green you see above. I think two got lost, but I always scraped up more money (this was probably about $18 a yard when I made it, now it's closer to $22/yard) to sew another. It's so soft, just the thing to stuff in a large jacket packet or in a tote. Here's a link to the sueded shearling on the Vogue Fabrics web site (it's called sueded cuddle there. Here's a link to it in camel, olive, ivory and red.). This particular pattern is McCall 3985, now out-of-print.

I'm fairly certain it's the same fabric that Gap and other stores to make their faux shearling coats. It's hard to believe the stuff is machine-washable, but it is. This is a short list about what makes this fabric so amazing:
  • a little goes a long way. In the case of the hat, I probably used a 1/4 yard. Another 1/4 strip, trimmed with pinking shears, makes any insty, matching scarf.
  • use a teflon foot while sewing so the foot glides over the foot. 
  • skip pattern notches, they only get in the way of your finishing touches with the pinking shears. Figure out another way to mark your fabric, perhaps use invisible markers which disappear after several days.
  • consider embroidery, ribbon and applique for embellishment just like the Gap does.
  • while the fabric looks like suede, you don't need a special needle for this fabric. I used a metallic stretch needle which worked fine. 
  • save your scraps. Even a circle or 4-inch square can be used as a coaster
Now for the High Society Hat, I wrote about it initially on my other blog, The Lazy Milliner. It hasn't gotten any further since I wrote about it but I can't bring myself to toss it. It just needs a little more yarn. Specifically, Gedifra Wellness 2115, lot 9100. Even a half-a-hank would work. Have some?