Double Stitch

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Growing up, Erika and Monika Simmons thought Diana Ross secretly might be their momma, which explains a lot.

"Ooh, we're fabulous," one of them says before I figure out how to tell them apart. (Monika is the pregnant one.)

The funky twin sisters from South Shore are the divas next door who used a grandma's hobby -- crocheting -- to start a smoking hot clothing line of knitted gear sexy enough for strippers. Or suitable for teenagers when worn over a tank top.

Regardless, the 34-year-old identical entrepreneurs turned making scarves for relatives into a fashion business -- Double Stitch. And set out to accomplish their goal -- "worldwide domination."

"What that entails we don't know," Erika says. "We wouldn't be surprised if someone comes to us to make something for the World Wrestling Federation. Caribbean pageants. Theater. Anything. "

They knit and scheme in the modest, hardly decorated apartment they share. Most of their crocheted couture is put together on a cushy couch with "Golden Girls" re-runs playing in the background.

Do they ever feel like grandmas knitting their life away? Well, no.

"It's hard to feel like an old lady when you're knitting a halter top," Monika says.

The gals got their start in grade school at an after-school program that taught basic knitting and picked it up again when they were older.

"We'd make funky hats. Scarves. Simple rectangle patterns. And give them as presents," Erika says.

"But we thought about making it into a business, but we weren't about to knit old dusty crusty sweaters," Monika chimes in.

That's how they Simmons sisters talk. When they're not saying the exactly the same thing at the same time, they finish each other's thoughts.

Erika (she's the oldest) and Monika started knitting fashion accessories and now focus making tight clothes that show off the subtle curves on skinny girls.

Because during their high school years in Hyde Park, where Erika and Monika were pom-pom dancers and on the bowling team, they didn't always feel sexy around curvy neighborhood girls with "the big booties."

"People don't like to hear that you grew up skinny," Erika says. "My grandma always said skinny didn't look so good."

Now, they're knitting sultry outfits -- everything from risque swimsuit covers and sweaters to neon floor-length gowns and wedding dresses -- that run from $150 to $1,000.

And when they're not knitting, Erika and Monika get work as print models, braid hair, get booked for commercials and get gigs as dancers -- ballet, jazz and hip-hop. And they've got a pattern book, Double Stitch: Designs for the Crochet Fashionista, expected in bookstores in May.

Erika, at least her silhouette, starred in a national iPod commercial. "The one with the big hair," Erika says.

She beat out her business partner for that job.

"Yeah, you were all fabulous that day," Monika says. "But I don't care. I get half her money, and I didn't have to do any work."

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I have seen and read their story in different Chicagoland newspapers. I like the entreprenuerial attitude, but darn if their items are NOT expensive. Buying a gift for a wife/girlfriend is an investment instead of a gift.

Good Luck ladies, but give men discounts to THINK about buying something for their wives\girlfriends.

Hi Can't Afford. Crocheting is quite a time consuming handmade craft,so while we're still doing the work we have to charge for the time. But, we'll keep the men's discount thing in mind:-) In the meantime, be sure to checkout our ecommerce site ( for periodic "ready to wear" sales! Thanks for your support!

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Mark Konkol

Mark Konkol covers city neighborhoods for the Chicago Sun-Times. You can e-mail him or call (312) 321-2146.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Konkol published on November 9, 2007 8:22 AM.

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