project – leather caps

when i was over in ireland this spring for my sister’s wedding, i expressed great envy toward this little cap and mittens set, and so she tossed them down the hall at me as she was leaving, and i brought them home.
sheepskin with the fuzz inside, a bucket hat with a roll-up brim. the mittens keep coming off but they’re wam. the cap is wonderful. everyone who sees it wants one. but it’s mine. mine. MINEHAHAHAHAHA.


my friend santa brought me two deerskins dyed black. at first i thought i’d make a little cape thingie out of the both of them, but when my daughter tried to steel my sheepskin cap, i got another idea.

i thought i might could get a half dozen caps out of two deerskins. they’re about as bit as my hide would be if you took it off and tanned it. and that’s surprisingly little usable area.

i made a paper muslin tracing of the cap, which was hard because it’s all thick skin and fur. wool. it doesn’t smooth out onto a flat surface very well, because it’s round.

i’m certain that solid geometry is fun, but it’s a hell of a lot harder than plane geometry. dividing up a pie into slices is easy. dividing an oblong hemisphere into slices is something else. with my head the way it is now that i’m old (okay, past 50), i couldn’t tell you how to figure circumference without a tape measure.

i made a muslin cap. it was big. but i kind of wanted them big.

one layer of deerskin, no matter how nice to touch, won’t keep your head seriously warm the way a sheepskin will. and i just so happened to have, dry-rotting away in my fabric stash, a real actual mink coat that my mom cast off as i was leaving for college. i’ve used it as a blanket on cold nights, but the cats are too fond of it, and i’ve never worn it out lest i get red paint on it, the reference being to animal rights people who wouldn’t want to see me wearing something dead. i’m one of them myself. but damn is it warm. so it’s been sitting in my stash drawer for over 20 years because i’m not stupid enough to throw away a bunch of minks’ lives just on political principles. if they serve some purpose then they can go to mink heaven.

so i want to line my leateher caps.

but the fur is now dry-rotted, and useless for anything. no sooner would i sew it up than it would start ripping around the stitches.

but if i make it an inner lining – a batting, if you want – then i don’t really care if it falls apart inside the backing, because it can’t go anywhere, and if i quilt it small enough, it won’t be able to bunch up any.


cool idea. but i’ve never worked with leather before.

and i can’t make as many caps as i wanted to. i’ve got a list a mile long of people to give these things to, even some that i think might wear them. jim’s already sporting the first one, mainly because it was an abject failure. my kid, my sister who gave me the original, my mom whose fur coat it was, never mind my sister in brazil where it never gets cold. i’ve got cousins in the frozen north.

progress pictures to come.


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