Elvis Tribute Artists Radio

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This month’s guest columnist is ETA Mike Powell, founder of the Texas Elvis Explosion, who writes about his experiences making a jumpsuit..he also tells us about other ETA’s who have tried their hands at this too.. and he shares some good pics with us. Thanks, Mike!

Oh……I AM done making suits FOR ME……but my DOG just won first place in a costume contest at the Houston K-9 fun run, and got us in the paper and local TV news. Well, I HAD to do something with all of those leftover gems!



I would like to hear about YOUR experiences making suits……and see pictures. I’ll do a Part II to this article and share what you guys send to me. Contact me at:

Mike Powell
eb_elvis@yahoo.com
www.texaselvisexplosion.com

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We all know that professionally made jumpsuits are VERY expensive……and that suits advertised at a cheap price are mainly for Halloween. I’m sure many guys have at least considered trying to make their own suit. I’ve tried it and, for me, it’s too tedious, time-consuming, and my results were a far cry from those made by the major suit makers.....however, a few guys I know do a great job on their own.

I made a serious attempt to accurately re-create an Aloha suit. First , let me tell you that the kind of fabric you select is very important. I blindly picked a nice looking white fabric at the fabric store, and it ended up snagging and wrinkling very easily. Secondly, if you don’’t have any sewing experience, and have watched your wife, mom or girlfriend sew, I’ll warn you: sewing takes practice to become good at. It’s much harder than it looks.

I bought a jumpsuit pattern on Ebay (they don’t sell them at fabric stores any more) and with my wife’s help, cut out and sewed together a suit. I assumed a pattern would show in great detail what to do……in reality, they are more a GUIDE used by experienced seamstresses. If you aren’t experienced, you will sit there at times like I did, wondering how the heck you are supposed to get from point A to B in some parts of the pattern.

When I finished sewing it, I found the suit hung on me like a pair of pajamas. The second talent needed in making a suit is TAILORING. The suit I made just looked very poorly fit (which it was)……the suit I had professionally made FIT ME LIKE A GLOVE. I will suggest to you that there is NO WAY you will get a great fitting suit unless you really know how to measure and tailor them. No way!

After the sewing was done, I spent many hours putting on gold nailheads, gems and stars. Getting the right materials was difficult and expensive; I spent hours online looking for suppliers. I actually pinned my suit to the wall and projected a pic of Elvis onto it to trace the Aloha eagle patterns. My gems were glued rather than held on with metal brackets and that was a mistake.

The result of many hours of work and several hundred dollars of materials was a suit that looked amateurish. For me, there is no way I’’ll be making any more suits. You all know that how you look is VITALLY important for an ETA, more important than how you sound almost! I sold this suit on Ebay for about $300 and put the money towards a Rightstitch suit, which is wonderful.

I do know some guys in the area that make their own suits and do a great job.

My friend Steve Boado’s mom sews his suits, and he does all the studwork. He deliberately does not try to re-create Elvis’ suits, but makes suits that are ““inspired by”” Elvis’ suits. Steve was an art major and that definitely is a plus.

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Doug Olvey, in the Dallas area, makes his suits, with his lovely wife’s help. Check out the horseshoes on the belt of this suit, pretty cool, especially in Texas!

Don Tharrett in Austin decorated this Burning Love suit……a great job.

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The most outstanding homemade suits I've seen are made by Billy Wayde, an ETA that I know in the Houston area. Check out his Aloha and his black leather ’68 Special suits……I have seen both in person and they are as good as any professional suit I’ve seen! Just a great job. He told me he is working on a peacock suit……can’t wait to see it.

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