threading needles, threading words

29 November 2010

Pendleton? Or, Pendelton?

Here's one of my latest creations, and it's going in my etsy shop today. With its 3" gusset, I've named it Fat Bottom (think Fat Baby boots....)

Last year, while using this retro rodeo fabric--along with Pendleton wool and Swarovski crystals--to make a commissioned handbag for friend and fellow writer Ann Terry Hill (Pendleton Round-Up at 100: Oregon's Legendary Rodeo), I noticed that Pendleton was spelled differently on this designer fabric (Alexander Henry). Being a writer and former editor, I had to get to the bottom of it: Was it a mistake on the part of the fabric manufacturer, or an early spelling? I asked Terry, and she assured me that Pendleton had never been spelled with "el" instead of "le."

Next, I e-mailed the manufacturer directly, just in case they were making plans to re-issue this fabric. I received a response (doesn't always happen), and had a lovely exchange with an Australian woman. I mention this because she pointed out her problems with the spelling of color (American) vs. colour (Australian)--a word used often in the fabric industry.

And, so that you know, no current plans for a re-issue of this fabric. More items from this great rodeo  fabric will post soon--grab 'em while you can!

06 September 2010

A Sewing Treasure

Since it's Labor Day, and our weather is definitely turning toward fall, I thought I'd share a couple of photos of a treasured piece of ephemera. Look at that date: Fall & Winter, 1882-'83.

This pattern book is large: It nearly fills the fold-out leaf of my vintage treadle sewing machine.

After looking at the complex designs included in this antique edition, you won't hear me complain about my own detailed patterns for the Thread West handbag line!

Enjoy the rest of your holiday, and these last bits of summer....

02 September 2010

Blazing Trails...

That's my new ride. New to me, anyway. A Trailblazer, which--ironically--echoes my intent a year ago this month when my first-ever blog post was titled "Blazing Trails." It's been a year since I set out on this trail--both blog and designer--and to say that I've been blazing trails is an exaggeration. Due to many, many detours, I've been more like a snail on the freeway than a cowgirl with sights set on the western horizon. Yesterday's post declared near-triumph over my injury, and a partial release to get back to work. Two hours later, the water pump in my little work building gave up the ghost. Two hours! Granted, this kind of stuff happens all the time around here. But, that water pump is only six months old. Mr.E. (aka husband) is checking warranty....
Perhaps the Trailblazer will help create some good vibes for my endeavor. I pick her up today after physical therapy.

Never give up the trail.

01 September 2010

It's Been a Long Summer...

I'm one of those people who anticipates the turning of the seasons. Always have been (and I don't always like that about myself). But--and in part as an explanation for my absence--it's been a rough summer. A back injury trumped just about everything. Finally, though, that light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train! After back specialist + injections + physical therapy + completely re-working my workstations, I've been given permission to try sewing again. And, to sit at the computer for longer stints. Still in PT for a few more weeks, which should help, sooooo... (or, in this case, sewwww....)

It's time to dust off the business plan, continue developing handbag patterns + constructing prototypes, and produce some beauties from prototypes that have proven successful!

Happy September!

10 April 2010

DE: Dale Evans and Debi Estleman

This morning, as I was writing content for a Facebook Fan Page (it'll go public when my shop is stocked), I realized that I share initials with the most powerful female presence in 20th century cowboy culture--Dale Evans! We also share the same birth month, we've both written books, and we've always loved all things western.

However, her western wardrobe leaves mine in the dust.

Many women live by these words from Dale Evans--whether they know it or not:
"Cowgirl is an attitude, really. A pioneer spirit, a special American brand of courage. The cowgirl faces life head on, lives by her own lights, and makes no excuses. Cowgirls take stands. They speak up. They defend the things they hold dear. A cowgirl might be a rancher, or a barrel racer, or a bull rider, or an actress. But she's just as likely to be a checker at the local Winn Dixie, a full-time mother, a banker, an attorney, or an astronaut."

My handbag designs are meant for that cowgirl, whether she's headed to town for supplies or heading up a board meeting. Whether she's putting on her glad rags for a fandango or the Oscars.

Long live the cowgirl attitude.

03 April 2010

Easter Memories...

I'm fortunate to have many good Easter memories, from my ranch upbringing to raising my children in a small Oklahoma town. The days leading up to Easter were filled with sewing outfits (and shopping for the perfect hats, handbags, and patent leather shoes to go with those outfits), attending choir practice, coloring eggs, and planning menus around my mom's Southern recipes. I miss all of it--even the Sunrise Service, and I am not a morning person!

Now that I have grandchildren, it's even more difficult not being down home to participate in hiding eggs, attending church, and eating too much afterward. But, with a fifteen-hour drive separating us, I must accept the fact that I can't be there for everything.

I'm making a trip soon, though, which will include Mother's Day get-togethers (there'll be four generations of us "girls" at my daughter's church brunch--Mom, Kym, Lydia, and me), time with my son and his wife, soccer and baseball with the grandkids, Silver Dollar City, and visits with friends--both old and new. Lots to do between now and then!

Here's wishing you good memories....
(The lovely vintage postcard is from The Graphics Fairy.)

25 March 2010

Thursday's Thread: The Right Tools

Who knew that something as simple as a good pincushion could make such a difference? After chasing a cheap, lightweight, contemporary version of the old tomato pincushions across my sewing table for the millionth time, I made this:

Now, I'm itching to make another one for my cutting table. It'll have to wait, though--three handbags to finish this week! More on that coming soon....

26 February 2010

February 26: Buffalo Bill's Birthday

William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917) was an American soldier, bison hunter and showman. He was one of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, and famous for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Congress, Rough Riders of the World.

Recently, Windham Fabrics collaborated with the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, to produce a line of designer-quality fabrics. (I'd like to add just for me, but I'm sure others have found and fallen in love with the gorgeous pieces!) If you ever get the chance to visit the BBHC, do not pass up the opportunity. It's first-rate. Here's a look at a few of those fabrics..... Love the words, lassos, and reproduction of Wild West show posters. I'm currently working on handbag designs to showcase these fabulous prints. Stay tuned!

09 February 2010

I'm sick ('tis the season, right?), and truly feel for those who don't have someone to make a medicine run. Look at what else my wonderful husband brought home? Magazines for when one feels too lousy to do much else. Does he know me, or what? More soon....

29 January 2010


Did it all start here, astraddle a stuffed horse at Buffalo Ranch in Afton, Oklahoma: my love of the West, my addiction to cowboy hats, turquoise jewelry, retro cowgirl couture, Pendleton wool, boots?

Did this introduction to a cowgirl's choice of transportation lead to my stint as rodeo queen? Did growing up on a ranch, which I often took for granted, pave the way for my first-ever published fiction in Louis L'Amour's Western Magazine? Or, to my becoming a member of Western Writers of America? Or, to my practice of sticking a little something western in each of my mystery novels?

I'd have to say yes. Yes to all of it.
Photo: August 1956 (with Mom behind me, as much now as she was then).


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