4/27/2013 Southwest Regional: Sew Good

  • April 23, 2013
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Betty Matthews’ silks are worn throughout North America

by Gary McMillen

It’s a windy morning in early spring and Betty Matthews is sitting on her porch swing, sipping a cup of coffee. A deep cushion of leaves from the hickory trees that surround the property have not been disturbed by a rake for months. Squirrels scatter and scamper in all directions when she gets up to fill the bird feeders. The daily routine of country seclusion in Haughton, La., looks casual but there are few loose ends in the life of Betty Matthews.

A self-taught seamstress, Matthews makes racing silks for a living. A trainer in New Orleans with a colt entered in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and an owner from New Jersey have faxed in orders. It’s time to go to work.

Precise about everything she does, Matthews clears up the profile of her customer base.

“Of course everybody calls them jockey silks but my clients are owners and trainers,” she said. “The jockeys can change from race to race but the colors of the owner stay the same.”

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