Thursday, March 10, 2011

Show Grace

My sister-in-law, Janet, and I have a little business making show clothes for horse show exhibitors. Although some of these photos are a few years old, I thought I would post them to show a little bit of what we do every day. Or at least some days. One of the best things about having a home based business is the flexibility.

We make custom designed jackets and shirts for exhibitors all over the country. For Trail and Western Pleasure classes, the jackets are often leather, sometimes with fringe, always with stones. At horse shows, it's all about the stones.

We have seamstresses who cut out the shirt, vest, or jacket, then return the pieces to us for applique. We cut and stitch pieces to the shirt (Janet does this), then return it to the seamstress for final construction.

We also coordinate the chaps (usually made by Sue in California) and the pants (made by Mary in Texas), so that everything is a perfect match. Some exhibitors get a saddle pad from Lori in Texas, and she also matches color and design in her awesome custom pads.

Sometimes, the exhibitor has a signature color or design preference. Other times, they give us free rein (no pun intended) to come up with a design ourselves.

We started this little venture working at my dining room table, and soon moved to the room over our garage. It was Adam's bedroom at the time, so we shared for a while, until he decided he would find another place to sleep. He's been sleeping in the basement (by choice) ever since.

For Showmanship classes, the exhibitors are leading their horses, and are judged on their ability to execute a pattern. Both the horse and the exhibitor must be meticulously groomed. The exhibitors wear jackets for this class, and everything is carefully coordinated, from the hat to the dyed-to-match boots.

And remember, it's all about the stones. Hundreds of stones, thousands of stones, millions and billions and trillions of stones. (Name that book.)

The outfits often reflect the personality of the exhibitor.

They also select colors based on what will look best with their horse. I apologize that I cropped some of the horses in these photos, but we're focusing on the clothes here. :)

That's Janet's daughter, my niece Caroline, giving her horse a good-job-pat.

The Horsemanship class is similar to the Showmanship, in that the exhibitor is the one being judged, and there is a pattern required. In Horsemanship, the exhibitor is riding. Body position is important, and the shirts must be well-fitting and again, match perfectly.

The design at the top of this shirt is done completely in stones. See what I mean?

This rider wanted to include crosses in the design of her shirt.

The picture below is Caroline again, after she WON the Horsemanship class. That shirt had a few (thousand) stones on it. And the turquoise and white pieces were each cut and (lovingly) sewn on. The story on this shirt is, that when Caroline left for the show in Texas, it was still on my table in pieces. I started stoning, ordered more stones, kept stoning, and hand carried it on the airplane to deliver in time for the show.

I thought this was a fitting post today, in honor of Caroline's 24th birthday!

This is a close-up of a more recent shirt, showing the stoning and the applique. Since I do most of the stoning, I am often referred to as a stoner. What can I say?

The stones are glued on, one by one. A dot of glue on the fabric, pick up the stone with the wax tip, and put it in the glue. Repeat. 'Til you get to 3000. Or more. Horse show girls like their bling.

When we started our business, we wanted to come up with a clever name. We did some brainstorming and even asked the kids for suggestions. There were some pretty creative ideas, but we settled on Show Grace Designs. We liked the parallel meanings of being graceful in the show ring, and showing grace to others as we give thanks for the grace of God given to each of us. My brother likes the logo so much, that he recently had hats made for his kitchen crew at the Great Banquet. 

I guess it's a good thing we didn't go with Pimped Out Patterns! :)


Jill aka Mommacita said...

I love this post! I've always heard about Show Grace Designs but hand't seen much. You both are very talented! And I'm glad you didn't go with Pimped Out Patterns!

Sarah said...

Wow! you are talented! Thanks for sharing!