Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)…

Q:   I'm interested in ordering a coat or vest, but not sure how to make a selection and unsure how to go about measuring myself. What do I do?

A:    Contact us for help! Use telephone or email… We'll ascertain what climate you live in (to determine suitable weight of fabric) and whether you can wear wool or need another type of fabric. We'll find out which articles or patterns first caught your eye. We'll ask about your physical characteristics (hair & eye colors, skin tone), your color preferences, etc. After we've narrowed down whether you want a long coat, jacket, or vest, along with the type/weight of fabric, we'll make a few suggestions for you to look at in the Fabric Room. We' take as many steps as necessary until you are confident in your choice(s). We'll ask you questions to get a good idea of size and proportion, until we have what we need to do the job. And don't forget Our Promise - you will never be "stuck" if the delivered article is not what you envisioned - we'll cheerfully fix it, refund it, or replace it!

Q:  What is the significance of the fabric names, and who names them?

A:    We name each of the fabrics we offer as a means of identifying them for potential orders and as a useful reference in discussion. You can pick a fabric you like from the Fabric Room and then contact us to order it in a vest (etc.) or ask further questions about it. We also get frequent inquiries such as, "I met this person who was wearing a coat you'd made and I'd like one something like it. The card said it was a Southwester and was made from Chief Joseph Pendleton fabric" - which gives both parties a clear picture for further discussion. Most of the fabrics are named by us. (Some of the Pendletons are named by Pendleton, and in those cases we generally preserve the Pendleton name; but many of them are merely identified by number/type, such as Menswear #106. In those cases, we give it a more descriptive name.) Selecting fabrics and working with them is somewhat personal; Judy says the fabrics "speak" to her as she creates the custom designs. So we typically use names that we can visually associate with the fabric pattern, or names of places and things which have meaning to us…

For example, the "Warrior Son" name for a classic Pendleton fabric pattern came from a personal history tidbit: Shortly after we were married, Don was sent to Korea to command an aviation battalion. He wrote letters regularly to both his and Judy's parents. The ones to his parents, he signed with a J symbol as he had done since childhood; but since Judy's parents already had two sons, he signed their letters "Your Warrior Son". The nickname stuck. Years later, when we went to the Pendleton woolen mill store to select fabrics, he was particularly drawn to that particular one, and Judy dubbed it "Warrior Son".

Another nameless Pendleton fabric became "Black Canyon": We live fairly near the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. In 1988 when we were building Solarado, our log home, we took a break one weekend afternoon and drove out to the north rim of the Black Canyon (the less public side, all gravel roads and "undeveloped" viewpoints). We reached this one area about sunset, where the canyon is so-o-o-o deep, with rock spires and great fissures and patterns of pink quartz infused into the black-varnished granite and sheer igneous rock walls. We sat there together having a picnic supper as the sunset turned the clouds to flame, then magenta, then deep smoky colors, and the sighing wind arose from the canyon deeps, bringing the sound of the river rapids up close to surround us, and then finally, to the east, the skies became dark velvet, and peace descended like a soft blanket. We had to tear ourselves away to go home… When we first saw this Pendleton fabric with beautiful patterns of black on one side and deep magenta-burgundy on the other, we looked at each other and said, "That's Black Canyon!"

Q:   You show 3 types of Pendleton fabrics - what are the differences?

A:   The blanket wools are actually Pendleton blankets that we cut up to make into vests or coats; they have a thick loft with a soft and fluffy feel, and are very warm. The upholstery wools are also coat-weight, and have the same content and weave as the blankets; but instead of being picked and fluffed, they are finished by steaming and pressing for a dense, smooth, non-bulky fabric that is ideal for a wide range of climates. The lightweight wools are a tropical suit-weight and are ideal for warmer climates. All three types are reversible.

Q:   Where do you find your fabrics?

A:   The Pendleton wools we get from Pendleton, in Oregon; the tapestries come mainly from the Carolinas, and the rest we find through fabric distributors throughout the USA. Wherever we travel for whatever reasons, we keep an eye out for distinctive fabrics.

Q:   Who does all your sewing?

A:   Judy does. The design and sewing are the creative acts that she finds rewarding, and we're not about to turn over that process - or the quality craftsmanship - to third parties.

Interestingly, the frequency of this question led us to make the booth-entry rug we now use at arts and crafts shows… We had tried hanging wood-burned signs in the booth which said "Handcrafted in Colorado", but people did not really see or read them. And lots of times they seemed unable to believe that we really don't import or have teams of factory workers, etc. So we finally decided to hand-make a large rug which says, "Handcrafted by Judy & Don Fite" - which automatically sets the stage for awareness that we really do make what we offer!

Q:   If the Pendleton coats are reversible, why aren't there buttons on both sides of the coats?

A:   We don't put buttons on the reverse side unless you request them. The majority of our clients have said they don't really need them, and the two sets of buttons back-to-back are a bit bulky. (Also, many women have commented that the buttons on the inside of the coat tend to catch on a necklace.) Most clients say that they wear the coat with primary fabric side out at least 75% of the time, and when they do reverse it, they simply leave it unbuttoned. However, if you particularly want two sets of buttons, we will add them.

Q:   Why are there no buttons on the Jacket-Vests?

A:   They generally don't need them! The design of the vest causes it to hang properly, and with your hands in the pockets, it stays closed. The no-button style keeps it versatile and comfortable for both indoor and outdoor wear. However, some clients like to use a decorative "swag" chain-and-clip fastener with the vests; and if you particularly want one or more buttons to fasten the vest, we will add them for you.



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