I have a very adorable friend named Helen.  She’s actually a former grad student of mine, but really more like a sister. If I had to use one word to describe Helen, it would be sunny. She is smiles, whereas the Selfish Seamstress is scowls. She is blue skies, while Selfish is drizzles and gloom. She is genuine and lovable, while Selfish is all deception and malice. She is violet and turquoise and emerald and daffodil, while Selfish is charcoal and black and navy. She makes people feel good about themselves, while the Selfish Seamstress cuts them down. It is nearly impossible to be anything but happy around Helen, and much like an impish singing and dancing orphan with a heart of gold who wins over the grumpy old loner against all odds, she can even tug the barest hint of affection from your crochety old Selfish Seamstress.

Helen and I have two things in common: 1) we are both rather obsessive about recycling and avoiding waste and 2) we are both quite small. A few months ago, Helen brought me a gift of a pair of very cute glen plaid pants that no longer fit her:

The manufacturer is Garage, and the fabric is cotton with a smidge of spandex. Unfortunately the pants were also much too small for the Selfish Seamstress, but Helen did not want them back, so they sat on the shelf for quite a long time.

Last night I pulled them out again and like the Grinch, post-epiphany, decided that environmentally passionate Helen would probably appreciate a little refashion job. I’ll call it a S.W.A.G. project for the sake of convenience, but it wasn’t really.  After all, only for sunny Helen would the Selfish Seamstress cheerfully and willingly match plaids and topstitch with painstaking precision:

The pattern is from the Japanese hat pattern book I got from Kinokuniya some months ago. I added on the button band and reused some of the buttons from the pants as embellishments. The fabric covered button on top is new though. I was going to line the whole thing in pale pink Bemberg rayon, but after I started cutting the pieces, it occurred to me that what Helen would probably appreciate more is knowing that there is a rainbow inside her hat. So I went digging through my lining collection, which admittedly has a lot more burgundy and black than sunny yellow or indigo. I briefly considered cutting up the rainbow fabric from a broken umbrella that I salvaged from the trash a while ago, but then thought the better of it- umbrella nylon is probably not the most comfortable fabric to have on your head. What I came up with isn’t exactly a rainbow (unless your idea of a rainbow includes tan), but is perhaps motley enough to convey the feeling of a rainbow in one’s hat:

Clockwise from top- pale pink Bemberg rayon, leaf green cotton lawn, forest green (though it looks turquoise here) poly satin lining, silver blue rayon, tan jacquard rayon, and burgundy rayon (though it looks brown here.)

I have not given it to Helen yet, so you get grumpy old Selfish as your model for now. (When I give it to her, I will try to convince her to let me show you a photo. She is far more adorable and photogenic than I. It’s amazing that I show up in photos at all.) Wow, it is hard to a take set of close up pictures that both show the hat properly at different angles, and don’t make my face look way scary. These are the best I could do and they are intentionally small.

I pulled out my straightening iron and tried to make my hair look like the Japanese models’ hair in the book, with sort of mediocre results. (Did you know you can curl hair with a straightening iron?  You can.) I do like the hat though, and it would break my selfish little heart to part with it for anyone but Helen. Current and prospective grad students take note- no handmade hats for you!

I may make one for myself, but it will have to be out of different fabric. With the plaid matching and long bands, the hat consumed a surprising amount of pant. All that’s left now is a bunch of oddly shaped scraps and strips, as well as a bizzarro plaid thong/holster/garter belt artifact:

No, I did not try the holster thingy on. I told you, the pants are too small for me.

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