Gravel - Cycle Oregon

A visit to Misia Pitkin’s Double Darn cap-making studio

Posted by on April 12th, 2018 at 11:05 am

Double Darn’s creative and quality caps have found a strong following in Portland and beyond.
(Photos: James Buckroyd)

Story by our resident “Product Geek” James Buckroyd, who approaches products with an eye for how they solve problems. He previously shared how to maintain your waterproof gear.

If you’ve been cycling for a while you probably already know some of the functional benefits of an under-the-helmet cap. You have probably also tried a few and found that not all of them are the same. There’s a huge variety of fits, brims, shapes and sizes, not to mention all the different materials, prints and colours.

Named after a common hand stitch, Portland-based Double Darn was started 12 years ago by local artist Misia Pitkin. Misia, who grew up with artist parents and started sewing at an early age, graduated from Pacific Northwest College of Art with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and an interest in clothing. She translates her art skills into fabrics, adding structure and shape to create a form of soft sculpture. She started repairing clothes and dabbling in creating rain jackets, but she found her passion was in caps.

Misia Pitkin in her studio.

“When choosing fabrics, there’s a lot of bad, but then you find a little gem of sushi or hot pink and navy stripe that is so fun and energetic.”
— Misia Pitkin

Immersed in bike culture, and with a boyfriend in the messenger scene, Misia traveled to messenger races and met people from all over the world. She swapped her caps with others and evolved her product design through in-person feedback. At every meet, people would tell her how she could improve the design, what tweaks and re-works she could make to the product. She found that by working for herself she could do two things that she loved: solve existing problems and hand-craft items that people really cherished.

Misia’s small batch production lends itself to constant improvement. It complements her pursuit of making caps better and finding stronger, quicker and more efficient ways of producing them and solving issues on-the-fly. “Every year I have an epiphany — oh if I do this that way and if I fold this like that – moments,” she shared during my recent visit to her studio near NE 22nd and Burnside. Her carefully crafted, small batch production means she can have fun and bring some joy to the category with an ever-changing assortment of styles and prints.

“When choosing fabrics, there’s a lot of bad,” she said, “but then you find a little gem of sushi or hot pink and navy stripe that is so fun and energetic.” Misia’s inspiration comes from looking at high-end design like Dior and Gucci on Instagram for trends, then combining it with in-store materials, wading through the granny fodder of local fabric stores, a diverse scale that seems to be working well.

Advertisement

Selling caps via her website, direct-to-consumers, is part of the business but Misia also makes caps for local teams and retail stores. This is a large share of Misia’s work and she enjoys the process — and sometimes challenge — of working with clients to solve their problems, providing them with the designs and styles they need.

In her studio she crafts the whole process: silk-screening custom logos, material specification and the sewing and finishing. Doing a job well is something that encourages her to stay small and nimble. Misia takes pride in her work, “I get excited when I make things I like, and being in control of everything, things like quality and schedule — if something is not right or fails, I can fix it.”

If you compare a Double Darn cap with a cap made overseas, you can see the difference: quality of stitch, inside finish and materials are of a higher grade. Misia says she doesn’t use plastic or card in the cap bills. She found a way to solve the problem of failing bills tearing at the edges where they join the body of the cap or becoming warped and cracked in the dryer.

Cassie Buckroyd and the 4-panel sushi cap that retails for $32.

Some of the local Portland stores and teams that have caps from Double Darn include: Sugar Wheel Works, Velo Cult, Gladys Bikes, Community Cycling Center and Sellwood Cycle Repair.

If you need to keep the sun or rain out of your eyes, something to absorb the sweat on a hot day, or some beer-drinking apres-cycle wear, check out Double Darn’s collection of local — and handmade with love — cycling caps.

DoubleDarn.com

— James Buckroyd – buckyrides.com or on instagram @jbucky1

Get this post delivered to your inbox.

BikePortland needs your support.

Harvest Century is September 23rd
Please support BikePortland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

13 Comments
  • CaptainKarma April 12, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Nice caps, but perhaps there’s a more friendly term instead of “granny fodder”.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • John Lascurettes April 12, 2018 at 11:56 am

    If you’ve been cycling for a while you probably already know some of the functional benefits of an under-the-helmet cap.

    Oh man, I wish I could. Even being bald, I ride without anything under my helmet all year. My head is the first thing to get hot and adding anything makes me way too hot. I would especially love to use them to extend the brim of my helmet for sun shading. But these would be great apres-cycling caps as you say.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • rainbike April 12, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      Salamander Beak Helmet Visors attach to bike helmets.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • resopmok April 12, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Ever since Deller stopped making and selling caps, I have been at a loss to find a design I like. I find the bills of most cycling caps either too narrow or too short, and I’d love another wool cap that looks and feels good. I’m excited to check out Misia’s offerings, and barring copyright infringement, I’m curious if she would consider remaking some Deller patterns. Also, love that there is some work on the brim-fray problem as I’ve lost all my favorite hats to this. I wear many hats (literally), and cycling caps are my favorite all-purpose gear by far. I want to support local!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Drew April 12, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Misias caps are so nice and well made. I know they are a lot of work to make, having made many caps for myself. Putting them together is much more complex than it seems. The simple 3 panel caps I make take me up to 2 hours to cut and sew, and that’s after a few years of doing it as a hobby. I put up a blog post about it here:

    drewdevereux.wordpress.com

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Dan A April 13, 2018 at 7:59 am

    I have a bunch of Double Darn caps, and I generally love them. The style is great and they are very well made. But….IMO they start off on the small side and then they shrink with use, so that after a while they are too tight for even my small bald head. I hand wash and hang to dry. I’ve been trying to figure out whether I can somehow loosen up the elastic in the back so that I can wear them again.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • James Buckroyd (Contributor) April 13, 2018 at 8:15 am

      Dan, I think thats a very good point. I have a 59cm head and I noticed Im sat right between a small and a medium size. I also noticed that the 4 panel caps seem to fit me better than the classic design which is constructed differently. I own 2 double darn caps and have also experienced a little shrink on washing. Normally the shrink is created by the washing machine and the way fibres work, so hand-wash might be the way to go as it will create less shrink.

      james – http://www.buckyrides.com

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Dan A April 13, 2018 at 12:30 pm

        I think it would help if the elastic in back was was a little less ‘aggressive’. The shape of the hats is pretty much perfect, but when they shrinks a little bit (which I do think is normal, and happens as a result of the hat getting wet), the elastic in the back pulls the hat in too tightly.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • aaron April 13, 2018 at 8:10 am

    Please make bigger caps! One size does not fit all, or at least my big noggin!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Mtnbikeskillworms April 13, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    Best caps in town. Still miss Shawn D.,though… Double Darn rocks.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Andy K April 17, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    jbucky1 is one of the biggest strava bad@sses in the portland metro area. I’m checking out these caps for sure.

    Recommended Thumb up 0