Please tell us a little about yourself – where you grew up and live now. Where did your interest in sewing begin and who taught you to sew? When did horses begin to play a large role in your life?
I grew up on a beef cattle farm outside of Springfield, Missouri. I was fortunate enough to be involved in all aspects of farm life and learned how to take care of cattle and horses, which established my lifelong love of agriculture. I currently live on a few acres outside of Springfield with my husband and black lab Jango. I grew up riding horses and showing in 4-H and small shows around SW Missouri, though didn’t begin rodeoing until later in life. My interest in sewing started by making “outfits” for my stuffed animals and dolls, though sometimes my creating involved more hot glue than an actual needle and thread! I have always been crafty and loved to create things. My mother and grandmother could tell this at an early age. They provided me with basic sewing knowledge and always let me pick fabric out of the bargain bin at Hobby Lobby!
You didn’t major in fashion design in college. What was your university focus and how did you think you’d use it?
I have a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science with a minor in Agricultural Business from Missouri State University. I initially was going to major in fashion design and then switched my focus to something I thought I could better use here in Missouri. I knew I wanted to work for the United States Department of Agriculture in some capacity and finally secured a job with them a few years after I graduated.
Tell us about your career at USDA? How have you moved from agriculture to fashion and costume design?
I began working for the USDA Farm Service Agency as a Farm Loan Program Technician in 2019. We provide real estate and operating loans for all types of farmers and ranchers. I love my job working for the USDA, but also needed an outlet to express my creative and crafty side, which is why Cinched Up Designs quickly turned into my other “full time job.”
When did OLFA hand tools become the ones you reach for? Which tools do you tend to reach for over and over again? How do you use them to cut out costume patterns?
Once I started taking on more costume orders, I realized I needed to invest in quality sewing tools. I added a handful of OLFA tools to my collection and I’m so glad I did! The main items I use are the OLFA 45mm RTY-2/G Straight Handle Rotary Cutter and the OLFA RM-MG 24" X 36" Green Double-Sided, Self-Healing Rotary Mat. I use them to cut out my costume bases, make my horse face masks, cut fringe, and more.
How many sewing tips do you have on your Instagram feed? Can you give us your top five (or ten!) best one? Where can we easily find them in one place.
I currently have around 30-40 sewing tips on my Instagram page and adding more all the time! They are spread across my regular feed and video posts, as well as included in my stories and highlights on my page. My top 5 tips for costume making would be:
1. Invest in a quality rotary cutter and cutting mat, this makes it much easier to cut out pieces and achieve straight lines,
2. Always use a zigzag stitch when working with stretch fabric,
3. Don’t forget the final details and finishing! I.e. trimming threads, making sure the seams line up, etc.,
4. Sew most of your overlay pieces, such as sequins, fringe, & appliques, on before you put your base pieces together,
5. Place your pins perpendicular on the piece you’re sewing, opposed to parallel. This makes it easier to go over them as you sew.
Can you explain what trick riding is? Where can we see competitions that feature it?
Trick riding is basically gymnastics on horseback, where riders perform death defying stunts on top of a galloping horse. Some examples of tricks include the Suicide Drag (where you hang by one leg), the Hippodrome (standing up in the saddle), and vaulting (jumping on and off the side of the horse), among many others. We use a specially designed saddle with a reinforced steel horn. I have a whole highlight about our saddles on my Instagram page! Although trick riding is a sport that can be found in many different countries, it is something that very few people worldwide actually do. Due to the danger aspect, there are not many competitions taking place anymore. In the United States, trick riding is usually performed as a specialty contract act at rodeos and equine exhibitions/fairs across the country.
You were able to merge your love of horses and trick riding into a business where you design costumes for riders. How long did you do trick riding – and how did that lead into you making costumes for it. Are there many people who do this?
I began trick riding in 2010 and performed at numerous events and rodeos across the Midwest and south. I received my PRCA pro card in 2016 and qualified for the North American Trick Riding Championships in Las Vegas at the National Finals Rodeo in 2017. I began by creating horse costumes, eventually moved into making rider costumes, and soon realized I had found the perfect way to combine my love for agriculture/horses and fashion design! I am currently one of three or so people in the U.S. who make and sell trick riding costumes. As of now, I have sent costume pieces to over 20 states and 4 countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
When you make horse costumes, are they typically made to go with the costume of the rider?
Yes, I love to match the horse costume to the rider costume! My horse costumes consist of a face mask, saddle pad cover, and breast collar covers. I usually use the same fabric and colors for the horse pieces as I do the rider’s outfit. I think it creates a cohesive and professional overall look.
When you’re not making trick riding costumes, what other kinds of costumes do you make?
I absolutely LOVE Halloween and have made my Halloween costumes for the past few years! What better holiday for a costume gal, right? Some of my past designs include different variations of witches, Princess Jasmine, and “Hobbit” kids’ costumes.
We saw some fun things in your Etsy shop, Cinched Up Designs. For those of us not in the know, please explain what a tail bag is!
A tail bag is used to keep a horse’s tail protected. They keep the tail from getting knotted and tangled, protect it from dirt and debris, and prevent breakage.
What’s the hardest part of your business for you to juggle?
The hardest part of my business is definitely the time commitment. It is extremely time consuming to create a costume from scratch and fit it all in around my “real” job. Most people don’t even realize that Cinched Up Designs is not my full-time job!
You recently had a shoulder injury. How are you finding ways to adapt to the challenges while you heal? How is it impacting your work.
Yes, I had surgery to repair a torn labrum in my left shoulder back in April. I had a strict weight limit for weeks and couldn’t do basic household tasks for months. I still have trouble with some activities and am still dealing with pain on almost a daily basis. Because of this, I have had to temporarily stop taking custom orders and have done minimal sewing for the last few months.
Tell us about Butterfinger.
Butterfinger is my 27-year-old miniature donkey. I got her when I was in 4th grade and she has been part of our family ever since. She has become quite the celebrity on my Instagram page!
Please explain about Pass the Torch Leadership & Trick Riding Camp and why you’re so passionate about it.
Pass the Torch Leadership Camp is a weekend trick riding/equestrian camp designed to develop and embrace leadership skills among future equestrians. The riders participate in activities that require the use of leadership skills while learning from some of the top equine industry professionals in the country. I was fortunate to be an instructor this year and had the greatest time passing on my knowledge in both trick riding and leadership to girls of all ages. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing kids gain confidence in their horsemanship, leadership, and teamwork skills over the course of that weekend!
Do you do any kinds of travel, either for work or fun? Where is one place you love the most?
I absolutely love to travel! I love going places where you can explore and be active. My favorite place that I have been is Kauai, Hawaii, where my husband and I went for our honeymoon. Well worth the money and long flight. It’s a truly magical place!
What are your dreams for the future – new things you’d like to try – what you’d like to leave behind.
My main goal is to continue building my western clothing inventory. I currently offer graphic tees but would love to expand my business to offer more types of western clothing pieces. I would also love to collaborate on costumes with more industry professionals, as well as work on expanding my business internationally. I feel like sewing is becoming a dying art of sorts, so I hope that I can continue to inspire people to learn to sew, develop their creative side, and realize that they can do anything they set their minds to.