Thursday, December 31, 2009

gearing up for the eve

Dust off those party hats, its New Year's Eve!

I hope that everyone is getting ready for a festive evening. I had grand aspirations of hand making cool party hats for tonight but it didn't get done. We'll have to settle for the classic glitter tiaras and paper cones. There is something to be said for the oldies. Wishing everyone a safe and joy-filled eve. See you in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

hand-made from the heart

It feels good to sit down at my computer after a nice week long vacation. After much eating, traveling, and merry making today is back to the schedule (blogging, emailing, yoga, cleaning). It was a wonderful year for hand-made gifts, and I'm proud to share the latest emilliner design- a men's felt fedora (soon to be on etsy). My first men's hat in over a year went to my wonderful dad who is one of my biggest supporters. Nathan also received one along with a custom pillow (made from a great tee-shirt from isotope on etsy).

On the receiving end, I was lucky to get three very special homemade gifts. My father (who went to design school in Chicago) drew a very sweet picture of our new home.

Nathan (inspired I think by my snow blog) created a lovely print commemorating our Chicago days.

My mother, one of my earliest crafty teachers, made me two sets of winter hats and mittens. Check out the especially warm felted mittens and vintage inspired knit kerchief. She's so talented!

Nathan and I have been wondering what our special Christmas tradition will be and I think we've come up with a good one.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Etsy Spotlight: tiny toadstool

Today's fantastic etsy seller dadaya is sure to bring a bit of cheer into your life. With her line tiny toadstool she magically combines four of my loves: hats, felt, embroidery and color! Her tiny berets are pieces of art- soft and organic with wonderful patterns and texture. She also offers fabulous mittens and has an online vintage clothing store. I love the way that she styles her photos, and one can feel the joy of creative fashion in her shots. I just can't say enough about her work so please check it out for yourself!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Projects

I'm frantically finishing up a few little Christmas sewing projects. Love this old advertisement, and it fits perfectly for today's inspirational pic. Wish I had time to make a few more hats between now and the big day!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Milliner Monday: Bes-Ben

Today's milliner duo holds a special place in my heart. A couple of years back I stumbled upon millinery gold at the Chicago History Museum. On display was a little hat topped with miniature pillows. It was love at first sight.

Dubbed “Chicago's Mad Hatter” Benjamin Green-Field paired with his sister Bess to create the millinery label Bes-Ben and opened a store in 1919. Bes-Ben's whimsical creations were worn by the wealthy and famous including such ladies as Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor and Marlene Dietrich. The hats would often feature multiple “miniatures” of things including dogs, owls, cigarettes, palm trees and lobsters to name a few. He created a hat topped with real razor blades for Heda Hopper to wear to the film premiere of “The Razor's Edge.” In deference to WWII and rationing, hats were created from kitchen utensils, napkin rings and sponges.

The exclusive hats were priced from $37- $1000 and sold well even during the depression. Famously every summer Bes-Ben would clean house of old inventory with a special $5 sale. Starting at 2am Mr. Green-Field would toss the sale hats out to a waiting crowd. In the 1960s demand for the hats declined, but today they remain highly collectible. In recent times one Bes-Ben hat sold to a collector for over $18,000.

I was delighted to find that my very own Indianapolis is home to many special Bes-Ben pieces. The Indianapolis Museum or Art houses the following treasures:

"horses" hat

"bullfighters" hat

"hats" hat

"dogs" hat

"swans" hat

and one of my personal favorites: "corn" hat

Bes-Ben hats are sure to put a smile on my face and remind me why I love hats. I hope you love them too!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Etsy Spotlight: spinthread

Today's Etsy Spotlight is one of my favorite sellers. Since my first cross-stitch lesson as a child, I've always loved to embroider. It runs in the family, and my grandmother's house always had those pictures or pillows of fruit and flowers made from heavy wool stitches. The technical term is "crewel work"- to create a slightly raised stitched design using wool thread or yarn. Spinthread's collection Maranon is evocative of this traditional technique but her perspective is so fresh and modern. The geometric patterns of her designs are graphic and clean yet soft from the cotton thread. They invite you to run your fingers over the surface. The colors are fantastic, and I especially enjoy the process photos of the work on flickr.

She also makes a mean pom pom and has a few headpieces as well.

Cheers to Spinthread for creating such unique fashion with traditional methods.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dreaming of a White Christmas

While I can't complain about its effect on the heating bill, this warmer December weather has left me feeling a little snow deprived. I've also been missing my Chicago gang so I've pulled out an oldie for today's hat inspiration pics of the day. Way back to 2007. Fun in Hyde Park with Soule, Fraser and Nathan (sporting his new Philip Treacy cap). Here's to more snowy adventures in 2010!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Milliner Monday: Its all about the shoe

Today's Milliner Monday pick is a short one. Where has the day gone!? I promise more coverage on this wonderful milliner in future posts. I was lucky enough to come across a wonderful post featuring an Elsa Schiaparelli hat (check out Iggy. Frankie&Cab).

“In difficult times fashion is always outrageous.”- Elsa Schiaparelli

Elsa Schiaparelli was an Italian fashion designer prominent between the World Wars. Heavily influenced by the Surrealists, she collaborated with Salvador Dali and Alberto Giacometti.

In her Fall/Winter Collection 1937-38 Elsa created the famous “shoe hat”. In the shape of a woman's high heel, the hat was worn by many stylish women including Gala Dali. A much talked about piece, it has inspired many a hat in the same vein.

Even 2009 welcomed hats that hearkened back to Elsa. Take a look at Isaac Mizrahi's purse hats.

Elle Italy also showcased a shoe hat in a spread shot by Karl Lagerfeld featuring Iekeliene Stange.

Gotta love a milliner that still inspires.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keep Warm

I certainly hope this hat will keep him warm!

I came across this French milliner, Emilie Zanon, while doing a google search for emilliner. I love her unusual take on winter hats. Hat inspirational pics of the day:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Etsy Spotlight: twoknit

Today's Etsy Spotlight follows my knitting preoccupation. While venturing away from the trusty scarves into patterned territory, I'm appreciating the time and talent it takes to make all those pretty pieces I see everyday on Etsy.
And there is none more talented than to seller twoknit. I first fell in love with the Romantic Crochet Cuffs. With a slight nod to victorian aesthetics, the knit spats and fingerless gloves are lovely and feminine. The knit hats are sweet and look warm as well.
What I also really love about this shop is the family crafting tradition. The shop was opened by Eve Neuhart and her grandmother Martha Villa. Originally from Argentina, Martha began knitting at an early age. She began to knit professionally in the 1960s, moved to the United States and worked for a boutique in Beverly Hills. There she created the crochet hats for Ali MacGraw in Love Story and even taught Natalie Wood to crochet baby clothes

Eve was an early knitter as well, her first projects being knit animals. Now at sixteen (she's still in highschool) Eve and Martha sell their lovely wares on Etsy. Eve's mom Roxana started with Etsy first with her store Illuminated Perfume. What a talented family! Read the full story here and see lots of cute pics (my personal fav is Martha knitting on the beach with her cousins).

Again I am amazed at the importance of passing down knowledge to the next generation. So much can be lost without that personal teaching connection. I feel lucky to have had great teachers both in knitting and in millinery. Here's to keeping the crafting traditions alive!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Milliner Monday: Dache did it from bed!

Milliner Monday highlights the famous Lilly Dache. This special lady will need more than one post, but today I'm inspired by one of the wild and over-the-top stories about her millinery lifestyle.

I could give you her bio break-down: Born in France (of course), immigrated to New York in the 1920s, millinery sales clerk at Macy's 1924, opened her own millinery shop, conquered the world of hats etc. (See bio for more complete info)

What most delights me about this lady is the wonderful aura of glamour, luxe lifestyle, and millinery confidence that Dache gives us through her book "Talking Through My Hats". In it we see life through Lilly's eyes- and she isn't shy:
"I like beautiful shoes in gay colors, with thick platforms and high heels. I like splashy jewellery that clinks when I walk, and I like my earrings big. I am... Lilly Dache, milliner de luxe."

On this cold and snowy winter morning I couldn't help but think about taking a clue from how Lilly did business. Never the early riser Dache would conduct her morning business from bed (think 18th century madames and their levees). She would buy supplies, dictate letters, delegate and design, all while swathed in her leopard-skin rug. The legend says that some mornings even a bubble bath didn't get in the way of the millinery schedule. Yep, that's the life of a "milliner de luxe". Until I get there I'll settle for my cozy chair by the fire, comfy afghan and laptop. Besides there are too many pins involved to make hats in bed.

But hold on, there is so much more Lilly to come! Look for part 2 somewhere around New Year's when I'll talk about Lilly's time capsule and penchant for toads!