Sunday, June 9, 2019

Wear Your Quilt Show on Your Head (or Your Kids' Heads)

Last week, I taught a class in making small Jewish caps at a fabulous Canadian needlework conference. That got me thinking about a different style of hat that I haven't made in a while - quilted pillbox hats.

I originally designed them as "Bukharan"-style yarmulkes, but they turned into a canvas for fiber art creativity, including quilting and applique. Thinking about them again, a couple of weeks ago inspired me to look up my old photos on the computer. The photos were bad - cameras weren't as good and/or I had no idea what I was doing?! So then I decided to photograph them again.

Along with a better camera and more experience, I had another new advantage - my beautiful, wise, artistic, newly-adult daughter, home from college. When I asked her to be my model - rather than rolling her eyes and fleeing (which is what I would have done if my mother had made a similar request) - she cheerfully agreed! Yet she's still young enough that she let me pay her in ice cream.

I photographed her with my all-time favorite tree-of-life themed quilted hat.

I also took fresh pictures of it on a white background. 

She modeled this pomegranate hat, too, but it was too small for her, so it's perched precariously.
I didn't want to take up too much of her time - she has her own art to tend to (her awesome web comic is here), so I took tabletop photos of others. Like this, made from a gorgeous ferny batik, with a wooden button embellishing the overlap.

In keeping with the forest theme, here's a hat made from a fiery wood grain batik. It needs a bit of steaming. 

The next one was made from a shiny but strange cotton-nylon blends (aka "what was I thinking when I bought it," fabrics). 

The band has rows of decorative stitching with silver metallic thread. 

The hat below on the same design, but is entirely quilted, not appliqued, and has the Hebrew word "chai" - "life!" in the center. 

Flipped over, this hat also makes a good yarn holder! 

In fact, all these hats make nice baskets for holding soft stuff, like yarn or fabric scraps or faux flowers. Because the sides aren't rigid, I wouldn't keep wrenches or crowbars or rulers in them.

My son owns the next hat, and he's on the opposite coast, so I couldn't take a new picture. 

Below is a hat made from a gorgeous grape print. I machine quilted around the grapes, leaves, and leaf veins in shiny thread. 

One the side overlap, I set a bead-embroidered pin that I'd made long before the hat. 

Choosing the button, pin, or other embellishment is the most fun part.

Finally, a rock-and-roll hat, with flying CD's and inexplicable bubbles. I quilted stars into the bubbles. 
During my trip down memory lane, I reread the pattern I wrote back in 2011. That led me to spend last week in front of the computer, revising and simplifying it.  So - a word from our sponsor - if you want to try your hand at making a quilted pillbox-style fiber art hat/basket/yarmulke - or an unquilted one - my revised digital pattern is available for a modest price in my Etsy shop.

I love wearing these hats, and so do the people I've given or sold them to. They're uniquely cozy.  They're faster to make than a bed quilt. They let you show off gorgeous fabric. And they fit. My pattern has three sizes, and, because of the overlap on the band, can be adjusted to a custom fit. It's like wearing a quilt show on your head! 


  1. Beautiful kippot! they look like a lot more fun to decorate than the traditional "flat" versions. Your daughter is a cute model, too.


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