A couple of years back, Patricia Zanger was selling hats in Bonnet, her shop nine floors below my apartment, while I was writing Blue Thread. We were both working on revisions. I was polishing the story of Miriam and her involvement with the Osborne sisters, two milliners from Chicago who rented a tiny hat shop in northwest Portland in 1912. Downstairs in her real live shop, Patricia was taking a bolder step. Eager to provide her customers with hats they liked, Patrica decided to make her own.

Unlike the Osborne sisters, Patricia does not use toxic dyes in her hats. She buys the best materials and imports ribbon from France. She hails from New York City, not Chicago, and has owned shops for about 20 years. It takes several days to steam, shape, and stitch a hat, and then to add the finishing touches. Like the Osbornes, Patricia will sell you a ready made hat or personalize one.

The hats at Bonnet would even appeal to Miriam, a no-frills gal who thought that the hats in fashion in 1912 looked ridiculous. She preferred a simple ribbon to keep her hair out of the way. And she tolerated the elegant hats that Florrie Steinbacher wore because you forgive best friends their foibles. At the start of my story, Miriam misses Florrie fiercely.

Florrie. How odd. Florrie is such a minor character in the story, but here she has crept into this post about Patricia and her handmade hats. For some strange reason, Florrie Steinbacher is on my mind.


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