Sunday, August 25, 2013

Guest post: Ashtabula Hats - Turning Thrift Clothings Into Fabulous Cycling Wears

Ashtabula Hats are cycling caps and beanies made from hand-picked, vintage, designer (or very cool) suits, jackets and sweaters found at my favorite San Diego thrift stores. Here is one of my larger purchases at the Thrift Trader in Pacific Beach. The cashier is laughing as she fills two bags!

I carefully take apart the jacket and save the lining for the racing stripes. All seams are all surged and I have hidden an elastic piece in back to allow for a wide range of head sizes. The brim liners are also made of recycled materials – 16oz plastic containers!  Luckily, I have friends that eat a lot of cottage cheese and yogurt! Depending on the size of the jacket, I can make 2-4 caps. So, every cap is a one-of-a-kind and has its’ own history and I tell as much as I can. Sometimes it’s about the designer, the material/pattern, or even the owner of the jacket. (like the jacket I found 20 year old theater tickets in the pocket!) And, finally, only one cap out of each jacket bears the designer label. 

Fausto and my husband, Tim, work at a bicycle shop in San Diego. I gave Fausto (shown above) the first 4-panel designer label cap because he gave me the idea to make the cycling caps.  All the guys at the shop got my practice caps and really kept me motivated! Btw, Tim’s other girl friend is a Surly Disc Trucker.  He has asked for cycling cap and a matching top-tube cover for it. I guess that will be my next project!
This Bill Blass suit (above) became a couple of caps like this (below),
The Claiborne suit (under Howie, my supervisor) became the group of caps:

Oh, I also make beanies out of beautiful vintage or thrifted sweaters. Especially cashmere wool, nylon, acrylic/spandex blends from top sweater brands such as Old Navy, Gap and even Oscar de La Renta. I make slouch and fitted beanies for adults and youth.

I am an avid cyclist, experienced seamstress and creative thrifter! I put all my hobbies together to make these cycling caps and beanies. Most of my materials are recycled including my price tags and business cards. I cut up and hand-stamp recycled scrapbook paper from thrift stores.  

I also take custom orders. Some folks need a smaller or larger cap. Some folks have a favorite jacket or sweater that doesn’t fit them, but they just don’t want to get rid of it. They just send it to me and I make a hat out of it!  In addition, all sweater and wool scraps are saved, cut and sewn into quilts or other cool things like wallets.

My other passion is helping people who need it. I strongly support the fight against Parkinson’s Disease and I volunteer to help the elderly who want to remain independent in their homes. I donate hats or quilts to raise funds for these and other charities when I can.

Here's the link to my Etsy shop

For cycling and upcycling "blogformation", please visit my facebook page at
So, why the name Ashtabula? 
We’ll save that for next time!

Sue McDonnell
Owner/Designer Ashtabula Hats

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Thanks for stopping by. Be safe on the roads!