Women's Wear

LADIES find these favorites:  Sweetheart of the Rodeo  or  Western Princess jackets,  a longer Ladies Duster  or a Western Vest with or without fringe.
Variations abound in the Gallery and your imagination.
More Information

Men's Wear

MEN  select from these classics:  Western Fringe or Sports Jacket, a long  Buckskin Duster or a Western Vest.
Variations of these styles & more are found in the Gallery and your imagination.
More Information

Your Tanned Hides

YOUR TANNED deer or elk hide can possibly be turned into something you see in these galleries.  Note it's name or number.  Then  READ and/or download  FROM YOUR TANNED HIDES for details.  An assessment  by Elaine must be made to determine what is feasible & how from your hides.
Examples in the custom gallery highlights Men and Women pieces that  Elaine has done from client's tanned hides.
More Information



Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most common questions I get is how long will it take to make?
Any vest or jacket require a series of processes to create & make plus a good foundation in clothing construction & design skills.  The time for me to make a vest can be condensed into 2 days.  The time for a jacket takes four to five  work days depending style, quality if hides, and details.
It takes about 4 to 8 weeks to complete vest order.  It takes 6 weeks to 6 months to complete a jacket all depending on my work schedule.
Since 2005 my work schedule looks like this:  January thru June-new inventory is made for three Montana galleries & shows.  One or two custom orders may be done /month during this time.
July is strictly art shows & re-stocking.  Late August thru December 19 or 20th is scheduled with one custom order after another until completed.  Order in September-October for possible Christmas delivery.  Clients are notified of expected order completion dates. No rush orders.

How do I care for my new buckskin vest or jacket?
A CARE OF BUCKSKIN LEATHER hang tag & written sheet accompany each vest or jacket. You can also download the care instruction sheet here.


FAQ: Custom Fit

You are a tailor. Please explain?
I first tailored a wool jacket with a dress in high school (1968). At Ohio State University I took a tailoring class, learning more and continuing to practice it. As I began working with leather, I started transferring those principles to good leather construction.TAILORING is an advanced form of jacket & coat construction that involves these three components: FINISH- -of seams, lining, etc; FIT-there are various degrees of fit for a garment style & for a client; and SHAPING-of collar & lapels so roll and lay properly.

How do take my measurements?
First DOWNLOAD my measurement-order form for a vest or jacket.
If you do not have a tape measure then seek a friend who does. Or go to an alteration shop & have them take the measurements needed. A custom fit depends on good measurements. Leather needs to FIT, not too large or too tight. Read on.

What is Custom Fit?
All my vest & jackets are proportioned for the average height person. Many clients require a custom fit. Here is how: TAKE MEASUREMENTS TO YOUR BODY, over the blouse or shirt you will wear under your vest or jacket and the belt you typically wear. I plot some amount of ease (extra) into every vest & jacket (more). Also TELL ME any fit problems or concerns you have & expect in this custom garment. Over the years I have successfully fit the full spectrum of men’s & women’s body types, even today’s aging body types. Vests require more fit than a jacket. I have successfully fitted clients with long waist torsos, round, or missing a shoulder blade, and more. SEND ME A PICTURE of yourself front & side views. I have successfully dressed clients from pictures, good measurements & their articulations of their body type. OR COME TO MY STUDIO while on vacation to the Flathead Valley & Glacier National Park. CALL OR EMAIL for an appointment.

Why is lining a vest extra?
It is more labor & materials and needs to properly fit into any garment. When I first began, and even now many clients prefer them unlined. If you wear white shirt or blouse much, it is a good idea. Some of these hides can fleece off very badly onto your shirt. They demand lining to enjoy. As I work with a vest hide, I can tell when lining is needed.
I almost always line a jacket or duster except some of suede out ones. Lining eases slipping into; helps finish & support the finished jacket. As a tailor I am a finish, fit, and shaping leather clothing artist.



Can I supply my own hide for a jacket?
Yes, but it takes at least 3 or 4 matched medium to large deer hides or one very large elk hide in good condition to make any jacket. One deer hide might make a vest depending on its size & yours, the style, length you desire and the condition of your tanned hide. Read & download From Your Tanned Hides for more precise info. All hides are sold by the square foot & sized at the tannery.

Where do I get green hides tanned?
Centralia Fur & Hide, 2012 Gallagher Road, Centralia, WA 98531 USA
1-877-736-2525 www.furandhide.com They will explain how to prepare & ship hides to them for tanning.

Where do you buy hides?
The short answer is from various suppliers and directly from 2 tanneries. I had to learn where & how to shop. First I determine the style & look I want to make. Suppliers sell a variety of commercially tanned hides from deer, various types of cowhide, hard saddle & belt leather and supplies for making leather goods. Montana Leather in Billings is one of my suppliers. Look them up online at www.montanaleather.com.
For traditional garments like white dresses & warrior shirts, I go to Hagel’s Tannery here in Kalispell, Mt. They do a special type of Indian like hide tanning. Their hides are white and then smoked over a wood smudge to color. They are one-of-a-kind tannery in the USA. They are not online.

How do you dye these hides? How are they softened?
I do not dye hides. The commercial tanneries soften all hides with machinery. They dye all hides as part of the tanning process at a certain stage. Dyes must penetrate the hides & be set, so they do not bleed. The tanneries DO NOT re-dye hides; nor is this something someone can do successfully at home. It would probably be ugly tie-dyed.

How are hides white? Are they bleached?
There are three agents used to tan hides that yield white ones. There are: the brains used in brain tanned process; Hagel’s secret solution which are common, natural agents in the tanning industry; and white dye used by commercial tanneries. Brain tanners & Hagel’s often smoke the hides over a wood smudge to color. The shades vary depending on the type of wood used, length of time and smoking conditions.
Bleach is not used in the tanning industry to dye or even clean. It would eat hides.

How do you deal with the holes & scars in deer & elk hides?
faqimg6Scars & markings are a natural part of buckskin leather. Scars can occur from fighting, mating, rubbing trees, disease, & fences. Plus bullet holes, how the hunter skins the animal out; whether the hide is dragged out of the woods and the care taken at various stages of the tanning process all affect the final grain surface of the tanned hide. Sew, I use buckskin hides AS THEY ARE. Sometimes the suede (rough) side of the hide is best. Some holes & scars are neatly patched or stitched. Some holes are patched into a design. Sometimes I have turned lemon hides into lemonade products. SEW BE IT with tanned wild animal hides.

What are farm raised deer?
Domestic deer are wild, legally taken in the USA and turned into be tanned.
Farm raised deer are really Red Deer. Red Deer are not indigenous to this continent. They are not allowed to be raised in the USA because of cross breeding & disease concerns. They are more closely related to elk than domestic deer. There may be a few at zoos or preserves that are closely monitored. Red Deer are native to Scotland and Northern Europe. They are farm raised in New Zealand. Their green hides are brought into the USA and tanned. I first started seeing them in 2000; then started buying & making jackets & dusters. They are beautiful good grain, large hides, fairly free of scars & holes; often tanned with a wax in the finish. The two tanneries that imported & tanned these hides have gone out of business. I still have several sets of these hides in stock for custom jackets & dusters. They are premium hides.

How do I learn more about buckskin hides & tanning?
Go to a leather supply business near you and ask to see what deer hides they have in stock. You need to see & feel these hides to fully understand & appreciate them.
I recommend the following books: a) Deerskin To Buckskin by Matt Richards. Gives a history of and how-to brain tan hides. It is fun & informative. Also a video is available. It and many other books & supplies are available at Crazy Crow Trading Post.
b) Leather Apparel Design by Francesca Sterlacci.1997. This book deals with light weight garment cowhide & lamb skin apparel design. And explains with pictures the tanning process. The process is similar to commercial deerskin tanning. I know of no other books on commercial garment tanning.

Image Gallery