Connecting the Dots

Over the years I have created many polka dot hats for customers – big dots, little dots, black on white dots, pink on brown dots, white on navy dots, black on red dots – every combination and size that you can possibly imagine!  There’s just something about polka dots that always makes me smile.

The "Shirley" Derby Hat Design



Perhaps my passion for polka dots is related to a puzzle I used to play as a child. Do you remember Connect the Dots? When I was a little girl I would sit for hours sprawled on the floor with my box of crayons and connect those tiny numbered dots. I was captivated, as a picture of a dog, flower, kitten, Old Mother Hubbard or a horse would begin to emerge.  I have been fond of polka dots ever since.

Connect the Dots
Connect the Dots

As fate would have it, polka dots took center stage in the creation of my February auction hat for “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby,” the annual six month fundraising project I created with Old Friends Equine of Kentucky to benefit their retired racehorses. This month I was creating a hat to honor a horse named Popcorn Deelites, a low-level claimer and one of the eight horses who played the part of Seabiscuit in the Oscar-nominated movie of the same name.

My original idea for the hat ended up on the cutting room floor. Afterwards, in frustration, I was cutting out circles from scrap fabric when the idea of POLKA DOTS came into my head! After all, what could be more perfect for a horse named Popcorn Deelites than a playful white-dot-on-black print? I was off and running and thrilled to be creating a hat with some real pizzazz!


As I worked on the hat for Popcorn Deelites I recalled that in a 2001 CBS interview, Michael Blowen of Old Friends was asked why he wanted to help Thoroughbred racehorses and not some other worthy cause. He replied, “Everyone has a little spot in the world. One tiny little dot. This is my dot.” Michael’s love and respect for the horses in his care are evident in his every word and action; his dream for Dream Chase Farm as a safe haven for retired racehorses has come true.

Michael Blowen, President of Old Friends

In 2009 when I asked Old Friends to join me in a Derby hat fundraiser to honor their retired racehorses, I understood that MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® had a dot as well. By creating and donating custom Derby hats to Old Friends I could help connect the dots by bringing the world of hat couture and racehorse aftercare together. Instead of two separate dots, our online Derby hat auction would create a connection between us – a powerful Derby hat vehicle to help Michael with his dream and at the same time spread the word about the needs of retired racehorses. Indeed, connecting the dots goes beyond coloring books.

The “Popcorn Deelites” MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® hat for Old Friends is now up for bid on EBay. And perhaps unlike any of the hats before it, this hat is a symbol to me of the kind of collaboration that is possible when two individual “dots” get connected. And just like the Connect the Dots puzzle of my childhood, I am captivated as I watch the picture unfold as MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and Old Friends come together each year for this fundraiser with a common goal of caring for the horses we know and love. The polka dots remind me that even hard work can be fun – if we reach out and connect the dots in life together.

Please enjoy this slideshow of the “Popcorn Deelites” chapeau now on EBay! And a special thank you to Rick Capone for his wonderful images of Popcorn Deelites!

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10 Replies to “Connecting the Dots”

    1. It brought back the best memories of vacation trips to NH for me, too, Sue, and endless hours and hours of playing Connect the Dots during rainy summer days… Good memories, and SO much fun, glad you enjoyed the blog! 🙂


  1. I had never connected the dots until today… Your blog jogged memories of my early years, and I’m now convinced that my love of polka dots stems from that very child’s play! Lovely pictures were created from connecting dots as a child, but the dots I’ve connected these past few months have opened up a new world to me; a world of beautiful chapeaux, magnificent horses and, most of all, inspiring people! 🙂


    1. Oh Céline, YOU TOO??? I couldn’t believe it as I read your comment just now that you think your own polka dot passion stems for those childhood dot-to-dot games as well. I find it amazing, as I am writing again in my life, how many things are literally “getting connected” like dots on a page. I am so glad that I joined Facebook and started this blog now, for they have opened up a similar new world to me of wonderful, inspiring, and supportive people – like YOU! xo


  2. Good morning, Sally!!!!

    Hope you have a GREAT TGIF!!! and a wonderful weekend…didn’t want anything…just to say HELLO…….connie


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