Fashion Diva - Paint Horse Connection 2014
Fashion Diva - you can do it yourself. . .Show Clothes Unlimited empowers exhibitors in a new way

Reprinted and re-typed from the article - Fashion Diva - Paint Horse Connection
February 2014
Written by Delores Kuhlwein

Admit it - the racks of clothes for sale at a horse show draw you in like a moth to the flame, and on the spot, you are willing to give up life's necessities just to have one garment. When reality often hits, as it does for many of use, those very garments seem to whisper secretly that they are untouchable, dashing your hopes of having one yourself

Never fear, because there's really no secret to having more show clothes on a limited budget - you can create your own pieces and fulfill your dream, and it's just a matter of education, according to Pegg Johnson of Show clothes UnlimitedYour'e probably thinking that when you purchased your show horse, your plans didn't exactly include learning to sew your own show clothes. But for you, a rider who is used to setting goals and always striving to improve, opeing up to the idea of leaning to make your own clothing is just one of the concepts gaining huge momentum across the country, and Showclothes Unlimited ha been a pioneer of this movement. The company actually offers hands-on sewing classes and sinstructoin, sewing reteats, and educational materials incuding books and DVDs, show clothes patterns and more, all designed specifically for those in the horse show world.

"Somehow there's a perception that there's something special about this, and only people with the highest skill can do this. If we're talking a $6K outfit, hes, but if we're talking a rail shirt, that's different," explains Pegg Johnson, founder of Show clothes Unlimited. "There is nothing secret about learning to measure correctly and apply those measurements to a pattern so they get a good fit, and there's nothing secret about inserting a zipper or applying applique and crystals."

To Pegg, it's simple. "All I am doing is providing the instruction and experience in taking people who already have sewing skills and filling in their sewing knowledge gaps". The phenomenon Pegg has created has become so widespread, she now offers sewing retreats upon request by clubs and 4-H groups. although she started in Michigan, her outreach is quickly expanding to Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and more.

The sewing retreats encompass a weekend, and when complete, the participants have created a show shirt in its entirety. "The clients spend two days at this retreat where we work on one project from start to finish The first day is longer and more detailed. The second day is spent finish up the project followed by any demos they have requested and a good question and answer session. The students have to know how to operate their sewing machines, but I teach them how to measure, transfer the measurements to a pattern, layout, cut and assemble their garment," tells Pegg.

Still not convinced you are ready to take this on? There are plenty of options from Show Clothes Unlimited you may not have considered, hence the idea of being Unlimited. "my newest product offering is a partially completed shirt or jacket,' reveals Pegg. "my customers often want to embellish the shirt/jacket themselves but do not want to create the basic item. I create the shirt/jacket to their measurements but leave the underarm and side seams open. They apply their own embellishments and sew up those seams to complete the shirt/jacket. I also offer patterns customized to the person's measurements. This service if most often used by someone who can sew but cannot alter a standard patter to fit themselves."

In addition to facilitating more possibilities than you can count, Pegg has crated a on-stop shop for her customers. "not only do I have SuitAbility and Jean Hardy patterns, I am an ultra suede distributor, and I offer for sale the fabric, zippers, rhinestones, and more for people to create their own show clothing."

The sage advice she gives to all of her customers also inspired her choice to offer fabric and supplies, as well as fabric-buying assistance. "My number one piece of advice to customers is to purchase quality fabric. Even people on strict budgets should make the commitment to purchase quality fabric. If you start with junk, you will end up with junk. Plain shirts/jackets take 3 -5 hours to crate, and something that is embellished with applique and rhinestones can take 20-30 hour. If you are going to devote tht much time to crating something, you owe it to yourself to create a quality product that you can be proud of and will last through the show season. It always saddens me when people ask me to trouble shoot their sewing problems - and it all could have been avoided if they had started with quality fabric," she says.
If you are still hesitant about your sewing ability, or too busy to commit the time, Show clothes Unlimited has met your needs, too, offering a ready-wear line view-able on their website or Facebook, and custom clothing service. Not surprisingly, the custom clothing experience is as thoughtful as all of Pegg's other services.

"Custom clothing starts with an extensive conversation about what the client is looking for - in colors, style, fabrics, embellishments, etc. I need to know what color horse they are showing and at what level of showing they compete. I'm a very visual person, so I encourage customers to bring me color swatches and pictures so that we are both on the same page design wise. Based on their input, I will sketch out a couple designs for their approval," explains Pegg. Close attention is also paid to budget and fit, says Pegg. "I expect my customers to be totally hones with me abut their budget. In return, I am totally honest abut what I can and cannot do within that budget. If my quote is outside of their budge,t I will suggest alternative fabrics and crystals to cut their cost without sacrificing the look or quality I will take the time to explain how each embellishment affects the cost of the finished garment and allow them to make their own decisions. For my long distance customers, I have measurement charts that show exactly how/where I want measurements taken.

Customers new to Show Clothes Unlimited might be surprised to hear that the read to wear and custom clothing portion of the business came first. A former exhibitor and show mom who started out by sewing her own clothing, Pegg was marketing her creations years ago, and she found the same need everywhere she went. As I attended trade shows and horse shows, I kept being asked the same questions at every venue. Where do I find pattern? Where do I find fabric? Where do I find rhinestones? How do I learn to crate my own show clothing? As I attended the different events, I encountered so many people who had sewing skills bu ere either afraid to sew show clothing or simply did knot know where to being. There was mystique - an aura if you will - that only certain people had the skill to create equestrian wear. I wanted to debunk the myth that you needed special equipment or special skills to create a quality shirt of jacket."

The idea for the expanded business began with group sessions for 4-H "I had people call me from several other states wanting to learn - but I did not know how to reach them long distance for a training session. That is how the first book came to be written. If I couldn't teach them in person, this was the next best thing."

Pegg sums up the reason for her business in a poignant way, "These people WERE me and where I had been. I was the single mom who worked a second job so that my kids could show. I was the mom who spent sleepless nights in order to get their clothing done. I was the om who took designs and ideas and crated something special for my children. And, because I understood where these moms a(and some dads) were in their lives, I believed that creating your own show clothing didn't need to be so hard. The basic sewing techniques, fabric, patterns and how to procure then didn't need to be a secret. My customers convinced me that they were willing to learn if someone would just show them the way"

Now with customers all over the world, a thriving education business, and as a highly respected vendor at equine events and sewing events alike, Pegg Johnson is grateful and inspired because she's able to help others. And like every great entrepreneur, she is always adding ways to assist her customers in creating their very own look for the show ring and learning new techniques.

To find out more about Show clothes Unlimited, whether for ready-wear, custom design, or to start your own sewing education, you an find the company online at and on Facbook by searching Show Clothes Unlimited. You can also contact Pegg directly by email at [email protected], or by calling Pegg at 810-3462305.

For custom clothing, Show clothes Unlimited is booked a minimum of 4 - 6 weeks in advance, and it is recommended that customers book a time slot as soon as they know they want something made. After becoming a Show Clothes Unlimited follower, fan, or customer, you'll soon realize the sky is the limit for you too.