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Sewing seeds of friendship

  • Kelley Buchanan of Dublin has over 40 years of experience sewing for national sports teams, country and NASCAR stars. She will be teaching a sewing class at the Dublin Community Center starting in March. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Buchanan has made a number of shirts for Wade Hayes and his bandmates.  Courtesy photo

  • Buchanan made a Boston Strong banner, which raised $1,900 for the One Fund. Courtesy photo

  • Kelley Buchanan of Dublin has over 40 years of experience sewing for national sports teams, country and NASCAR stars. She will be teaching a sewing class at the Dublin Community Center starting in March. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Kelley Buchanan of Dublin has over 40 years of experience sewing for national sports teams, country and NASCAR stars. She will be teaching a sewing class at the Dublin Community Center starting in March. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Kelley Buchanan works on a dress for her sister from her sewing room at her Dublin apartment. The dress will be worn at Buchanan’s wedding on Valentine’s Day. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Kelley Buchanan works on a dress for her sister from her sewing room at her Dublin apartment. The dress will be worn at Buchanan’s wedding on Valentine’s Day. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Kelley Buchanan works on a dress for her sister from her sewing room at her Dublin apartment. The dress will be worn at Buchanan’s wedding on Valentine’s Day. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Some of Buchanan’s many shirt designs.  Courtesy photo

  • Paul Schadt, a North Carolina radio personality and friend of Buchanan’s, models one of her shirts.  Coutesy photo

  • An article written about Buchanan making a custom-made jacket for John Michael Montgomery. Courtesy photo



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, February 08, 2018

Being in the presence of a celebrity can oftentimes be a serendipitous and/or nerve-wracking experience.

While many seek some sort of memento from the celebrity in question – physical evidence of the encounter – Kelley Buchanan has always had a different approach: give them a custom-made shirt or vest. 

“There were quite a few famous people in the Charlotte area and because I had some good friends that were involved in NASCAR I had the opportunity to meet a lot of different people,” said Buchanan, who has made custom-designed clothing for musicians such as Wade Hayes, Richie McDonald, and Charlie Daniels.

“They would rather you treat them like they lived next door to you for the past 20 years than have that wow moment in front of them.”

Buchanan – who grew up in Harrisville and currently lives in Dublin – has almost 50 years of sewing experience under her belt, starting out with making clothing for herself and her dolls as a child. 

“It’s just one of those things… I’ve been making my own clothes since I was a teenager,” said Buchanan. “Even as a preteen, I think I made my first dress at 10 or 11.”

Buchanan’s run ins with celebrities began after 1990, when she made the decision to move down to Charlotte, North Carolina. While working at a costume shop and dry-cleaning place down there, Buchanan either met or did work for pro-wrestler Ric Flair, Olympic speed skater Dan Jansen, comedian Carrot Top, NASCAR team owner Rick Hendricks, and NASCAR driver Dick Trickle. 

Buchanan said working on alterations to Trickle’s fire suit was one of the biggest challenges of her career, as she had to call the company that made it to ensure that she was using the proper fabric and thread. 

She first met Rick Hendrick while working for a dry cleaner in Charlotte. Buchanan said she fixed the collar of a shirt that Hendrick had almost thrown away. 

“In the grand scheme of things, to me, it was always just another project,” said Buchanan.

During her employment at the costume shop, Buchanan said she also had the opportunity to work on mascot costumes for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, minor league hockey team Charlotte Hornets, and tobacco and food product company RJR Nabisco. 

“It was one of those things I could always fall back on,” said Buchanan, of her interest in sewing. “Even working at Walmart in Charlotte in the offseason, I worked in the fabric and craft department. I’ve always been around fabrics.”

Sewing has always been a large part of Buchanan’s life; she estimates that she has made over 300 items since 1990, including around 150 men’s shirts – her favorite thing to design and create. 

“It’s just one of those things. Some people can pick up a guitar at 5 years old and it stays with them, same with drawing... It’s something that always stayed with me,” said Buchanan. “Charlotte was a good place to let my wings expand.”

Buchanan said she began running into a lot of country musicians at Coyote Joe’s. After becoming friends with some, she began designing and making shirts as people passed through town. 

“I first met Wade Hayes at Coyote Joe’s… I made him some shirts and eventually outfits for his entire band. We have always remained friends,” said Buchanan, who said she helped get Hayes to play the Cheshire Fair a few years ago. “I would just make shirts and give them to people when they showed up.”

Buchanan said with the exception of a couple year period where she was taking care of her first husband who had been diagnosed with brain cancer, she has sewed near daily – ranging from a couple to as much as eight hours in a day. 

“I’ve gotten up at 2 a.m. and done some sewing. It’s whenever the spirit moves me,” said Buchanan. 

More recently, Buchanan has enjoyed her craft on a smaller level, working on smaller projects out of her home and teaching her craft to others. Starting in March, she will be teaching a beginners sewing class at the Dublin Community Center. 

“[I enjoy] passing the skill on to others,” said Buchanan. “I know a lot of schools don’t offer it that much anymore.”

One of her biggest undertakings at the moment is one she put on herself: sewing about her dress and other articles of clothing for her wedding on Valentine’s Day. 

“It’s actually a stress reliever,” said Buchanan. “I’m doing about 90 percent of the clothing, but it’s actually relaxing for me.”

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.