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Western Pleasure Rail Shirts

js7385's picture

My daughter shows quarter horses in the western pleasure riding class. She wants me to make the fancy shirts with the ultrasuede or leather appliques and lots of bling. I have some suitability patterns...any ideas or help would be appreciated. What is a good weight interfacing for the collars using suiting gabardine material?

Brynn714's picture

I have tons of info to pass on to you (post #34131, reply #1 of 72)

I had my own business of making horse show clothing for about 10 years, family emergency, and my business folded about 5 years ag9o.  I have a wealth of inifo I can pass on to you such as what to use, fabric-wide; leather-wise; crystals, how to prepare you machine, threads to use, patterns (that are so much better fitting than suitability, you name it, I can help.

I just registered on this board (because I just found it last night) and would really like to help you with all your show-clothing questions!

If you are still posting, please reply to this link and we can start changing all kinds of info that I would like to share.  I'm out of the business and don't plan on getting back in, it took me too long to make a name and I'm just too worn out to build a business again.  I'd like to know that my experience could help someone out, especially sincea couple showclothes cost about as much as a good used car!  - I never could justify how people could buy from STSC when there were so many more unique sellers out there!

Please reply, I look forward to hearing from you, b

alotofstitches's picture

fancy Western shirts (post #34131, reply #2 of 72)

I have a 9 y/o sewing student that  does the barrel-racing and wears the fancy shirts.  She wants to add the bling to a purchased shirt until her sewing skills improve to making a shirt. I'll need your help as well if you'd be willing to share.

Re:  the first posting about shirt interfacing.  My favorite collar, cuff front band interfacng for a crisp look is the Medium weight sew-in Shirtmaker interfacing.  I had purchased a bolt of it when I was sewing for 4 sons & hubby.  I do not know where to get it now!  It made the collars, etc. feel just like RTW!


js7385's picture

Western Pleasure Rail Shirts (post #34131, reply #3 of 72)

I am so happy to see a reply to my post. My daughter wants the fancy, fancy shirts with tons of bling. I am looking forward to hearing and getting all the help I can (she really likes those from BerryFit!).  I am open to any and all suggestions. I have made rail shirts from suitability, but my biggest challenge are the appliques. I will check back to see if you posted. Thanks again.

LisaNelleShowClothing's picture

Bling is a girls best friend (post #34131, reply #61 of 72)

I hope you are able to find the right appliques for your daughters jacket. I design horsemanship clothing myself and I know it can be diffucult but well worth it in the end. 

js7385's picture

Western rail shirts (post #34131, reply #4 of 72)

I am still hoping that I will get some information from some of you experienced sewers that have made rail shirts with appliques....

cherylstitches's picture

Western rail shirts (post #34131, reply #5 of 72)

I designed and made shirts for a lady that sold horse show clothing for 10 years. The trick is a lot of fusible web and a very good zig-zag stitch. I made the shirts and did the applique, she would do all of the stones and glitz...

Hope this helps...

js7385's picture

Western Rail Shirts (post #34131, reply #6 of 72)

Thanks for the tip. When you cut the appliques did you use a pattern or did you draw them by hand? Where did you get the patterns? My daughter would rather have the thinner appliques than what suitability has. Also, did you layer the appliques, for example the same applique on top of each other in black and the one on top white..How idd you make the size change and what did you use to layer. How did you place on garment so that they were exactly the same on the front and both sleeves. Any tips would e helpful. I just want to sew for my business here. I am a Registered Nurse that works full time!  Thanks again!

cherylstitches's picture

Western Rail Shirts (post #34131, reply #7 of 72)

Most of the designs were original or copied from a magazine, then drawn by hand on a sturdy pattern paper...the designs were traced to the fusible web, (you need to pay a lot of attention to reversing the designs).  The web was fused to the applique fabric and then cut out...Peel the paper off and fuse to the garment fabric, then zigzagged...Depending on the garment fabric, I tried not to use too many layers of applique on top of each other...I used a ruler to line up the designs on opposite sides so it would match...

A copy machine will help in reducing or expanding designs, so they don't have to be re-drawn...

Anything else??? Just let me know...I am glad to help...

alotofstitches's picture

western rail shirts (post #34131, reply #8 of 72)

Cheryl, my student has a shirt with intricate ultra suede designs like "horse and barrel racer", etc.  Do you know where to get die-cut designs?  They are so perfect I can't believe they were hand cut!


cherylstitches's picture

Western rail shirts (post #34131, reply #11 of 72)


All of our designs were handmade...You might try searching on the web for ready made appliques..


js7385's picture

Western Rail Shirts (post #34131, reply #9 of 72)

I guess my daughter is more interested in showmanship jackets. Do you have any suggestions for a jacket pattern with front zipper other than Suitability?

cherylstitches's picture

Western Rail Shirts (post #34131, reply #10 of 72)

We used Suitability and regular patterns (like McCalls, Butterick, etc)...Just go through the pattern books and see what is comparable...most jacket patterns can be converted so you can use a zipper...

mmoose's picture

western pleasure shirts for daughter (post #34131, reply #12 of 72)

Brynn714, you appear to be the source I've been searching for.  I love to sew my dauthers show clothing.   I would greatly appreciate any information or guidance.  

 What type of interfacing or material did you use for the collars of rail shirts when using a lightweight to med spandex material.?

Do you have any good sources for your fabric purchases (ie...metallic leather for appliques or leather for collar/cuffs)?

What patterns do you suggest other than suitablity? 

Would love to hear your suggestions...look forward to your reply.  thanks, mmoose

shmom's picture

Interested in what patterns you used. (post #34131, reply #13 of 72)

I also find that Suitability patterns suck, I am wondering what patterns that you used.  Also, did you have a good place to order rhinestones from?

user-934589's picture

Western Pleasure Rail Shirts - Patterns (post #34131, reply #14 of 72)



I'm also a "show mom" that is starting her own business doing show clothing. If you haven't already received all the information you need from Brynn714 you might want to check out ShowClothesUnlimited - Pegg Johnson / easy to google. She has a couple of great little books out; one is Starting Your Own Show Clothing Business and the other is A Beginners Guide to Sewing Show Clothes. She also has a book with Applique designs and sells Jean Hardy Patterns as well as Suitability. You can also check out some of the old Lola Gentry patterns (can't remember the website but easy to google)

As for patterns an excellent idea is to go through the pattern books and identify the "princess seamed" jackets; keeping in mind whether you want to sew them in a woven or a lycra/spandex blend or a combination of both.

There are tons of sources of good quality rhinestones out there, you need to decide how you want to attach them - glue / hot affix / rimset / or stitch them down. All have pros and cons.

There are also some great sources of leather out there D'Anton is one that comes to mind, also keep in mind that there are some lovely ultra-suedes out there.

Take a peek on Facebook;  there are some AMAZING designers/show clothing business people on line and they are great about checking out your pictures and giving feedback. I really appreciate and value the feedback and wisdom of those people who have been in the "biz" for a while; just like Brynn714. I'm sure she has lots of good advice and suggestions for you to consider.

Take care and good luck with this!


patternfreak's picture

Lola Gentry Originals (post #34131, reply #27 of 72)

I used Lola Gentry Originals patterns years ago, they fit very well. I checked out their website a couple of years ago; they still have some cute patterns, although they are more western than show clothing. You might find something you could use for show clothes. Back in the seventies, you sent her your measurements and they made the patterns for you. I made jeans as well as shirts and they fit like a glove!

Aeriel's picture

Western pleasure show clothing (post #34131, reply #15 of 72)

Hi  Brynn714,

I know this post is kind of old, but I would like to make my own show clothes for western pleasure classes ( i can't afford the nice looking ones otherwise!) and I need some help with good patterns, what kind of fabric, thread, machines, and what is the best method for applying Austrian crystals. I have not ever sewn show clothes but I have sewn fall festival costumes to re-doing the seats to our kitchen table chairs. Any advice & tips would be very appreciated. Thank you! -Stephanie


gacres's picture

showmanship clothes (post #34131, reply #17 of 72)

Hopfuly you are still able to pass on any information that you may give me on Rail shirts or sms sets.

My daughter has started our local 4h here and she wants to show in the  Special Olympics ( she is disabled). I am going to try to sell some rail shirts so we can lease a horse for her. She also like helping with all the "bling and disign".

I do sew, I have been in a drapery business for 20 years, I have started on a jacket but understanding the ins and outs of the appliques and were to get ultra suede, and leathers! WOW it is taking up so much time!!! This is out of my teritorie!

Any advise on how to hold the appilues down>\? You cant really apply heat to leather for fusible webbing. Then i tried glue..but that gummed my needle up. Also what source for the coloerful lightweight 4 way stretch rail shirts

any help, is help for me. I dont work with patterns in my everyday sewing. i did purchase a suitabiliy pattern and i thought to start it works ok.

Thank you in advance


Rockin01's picture

Hi Georgia Your post is so (post #34131, reply #29 of 72)

Hi Georgia

Your post is so old, I don't know if you'll see this or not, but hopefully someone can make use of the info.

I have Glue-Baste-It by Roxanne (comes in handy for quilters who applique).  The top has 2 screw-in needlelike applicators for dabbing tiny amounts of glue to applique pieces.  If you ran a thin line just inside your sewing line, then you'll have it secured to the fabric, but not gumming up your needle.  It is water soluble, so after a washing or light rinse, the glue dissolves.


I am hoping to find some time to make my daughter a show shirt - never done it before.   I found an XL womens shirt from the goodwill store - funky, stretch poly blend fabric - have it all ripped apart to re-sew into a rail shirt.  Will buy some ultrasuede to make cuffs/collar.  We'll see how this goes.......

Witchwith3's picture

Western Pleasure - DIY clothing (post #34131, reply #21 of 72)

I'm new here, and I'm hoping that I can jump start this thread again.

I have 2 girls that ride. One is English and the other is Western (along with myself) and I'd like to start making my daughters Western Pleasure clothing. I've been sewing for years, but not too long ago, I "hung up the sewing machine" so to speak to try other things. As I started looking into purchasing clothing for my daughter - I got "sticker shocked" big time!  WOW! I'm draggin the sewing machine out again I think.

Anyway, if anyone has any info they'd like to share in regards to this, I would gladly read and pay attention! I have NO idea where to look for fabric, patterns, designs, etc. I've been out of the loop for a while (fabric in general).

I would also be interested in finding out where I can purchase english blankets and western pads/blankets at wholesale cost.

Thanks in advance ladies :)


woodywoodpecker598's picture

rail shirts (post #34131, reply #23 of 72)

The patterns I have are Suitability(4160,6100,5029) and Jean Hardy(1030) . Did do a trial run on view 2 to see how they fit together. It was pretty easy but when I do it again I will put a slippery linning in it. Haven't done the closure yet but I was thinking about fake buttons and doing big snaps so I wouldn't have to do buttonholes as they really are not my best thing. Should practise, practise, practise them. The local fabric shops here carry the shinney lycra and we also have a Michaels for the bling. I pick up fabric at garage sales, goodwill stores as well as long as it has some good stretch. Haven't tried the Pleather for jackets yet(can't afford real leather). I'm sure this will be a learn as you go thing for me.

MaryDee53's picture

Rail Shirts (post #34131, reply #24 of 72)


I read your response to someone who wanted to make a rail shirt back in 2011.  Are you still available for some advice?  I am looking for a woman's rail shirt pattern. 

sandrakue's picture

Western pleasure rail shirt (post #34131, reply #25 of 72)


I just registered on this board because I saw your message.

I life in the dessert of nice show shirts "GERMANY". Most of the people here order the shirts in the US or buy not very nice ones for a lot of money in Germany. A simple Hobby Horse shirt comes 250 or more. I sew a lot of my clothes in the past by myself and that is why I thougt that I could sew my own show shirt. I have suitability pattern but I am not  very happy with this. I have no expirence with elastic fabrics. It would be great to get some tips and tricks.

Thank you,


PS Apologize for my bad english skills

elffriend's picture

I have tons of info to pass on (post #34131, reply #28 of 72)

I am hoping you are still following this.  I am also hoping I can be included in the loop of information.  I sew and I made my child a rail-type jacket but want to glitz it up a bit.  Any ideas for patterns for adding crystals?  I can sew. . .but am design challenged.  I agree with you on the prices.  There is no way I can afford hundreds of dollars for a shirt she will grow out of in 6 months. 

Thanks!  j

Chihiro's picture

Just stumbled across this post ! (post #34131, reply #30 of 72)

Hi, was just researching how to make a western pleasure or showmanship outfit , then came across this forum and post : ) I am in the UK and new to Western, but I am a long time acomplished seamstress so making clothing is no problem. Sourcing an authentic shirt and vest pattern is a problem however !! I would like to make one with the pronounced collar/cuff combo, any help would be sincerely appreciated 

Thanks in advance Linni : )

user-934589's picture

Show Clothing information source (post #34131, reply #31 of 72)

Hi All,


Here is another source of information for those home sewists looking to source fabrics / applique patterns etc. - this site has TONS of information


Hope it helps,


tlevings's picture

I'm also new to the western shirt search (post #34131, reply #33 of 72)

I'm really glad I found this forum.  My daughter is in college and riding for the team this year and I also suffer from "sticker shock" while looking for show clothing.  I would like to tag along with your post to learn about patterns , materials, and all the bling.  I have 5 different sewing machines but not a clue as to which one to use, needle size, thread, stitches or anything else.  My daughter said I should go into the business and I think she may be right.  If I can get the hang of making these shirts and jackets there's a lot of request for them.  I'd appreciate any help I can get.



cowgirl24's picture

Show clothing sewing info (post #34131, reply #35 of 72)

I just stumbled across this post and would love some sewing tips!  I have made quite a few rail shirts and one slinky for my daughter.  She has been showing for 8 years.  She started in 4-H and I could not afford the retail show shirts.  Some came out nicely, others....eeeehh.  The last one I made is on my blog and it turned out well.  Now I am ready to tackle a showmanship outfit, I am nervous about the fabric, interfacing and scroll work.  Any tips would be greatly appreciated.  She really needs a new outfit as she's had the same one for about 6 years (bought second hand, but nice).  She lost her showing mare in Oct. and now is iffy about showing our gelding (not as push button as our mare was) and she is still hurting over the loss.  I think if I can make her a nice showmanship outfit, it may help ease her back into showing.  Thanks for any tips you are willing to share.  Oh!  Here's some pics of the rail shirt..

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cowgirl24's picture

see it on my blog (post #34131, reply #36 of 72)

celewis's picture

New to applique (post #34131, reply #41 of 72)

I hope you are still keeping up with the post. I am new to this website but so excited to find it. I have been sewing my daughter's show clothes (vests, rail shirts, and chaps) for a little over a year now. I am ready to try a few new things and have a few questions about applique on 4 way stretch lycra. Ok...a lot of questions. Can I applique a non-stretch fabric on a stretchy fabric? what is the best process to use if it is possible. Any help and info you send would be much apprieciated!