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Heads or Tails Hats Made To Fit

(Photo by Joy Bonala) Rick Phemister, owner of Heads or Tails Hats, sews a custom band onto a hat Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at the Taylor County Expo Center.
(Photo by Joy Bonala) Rick Phemister, owner of Heads or Tails Hats, sews a custom band onto a hat Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at the Taylor County Expo Center.

http://youtu.be/Z8iirYHnkzM

It can be straw, felt or even leather, plain or decorated, with a tall crown and a wide brim, a cowboy hat is the fundamental piece of attire for cowboys and cowgirls.

“Hats are more than just fashion, like some people think,” Rick Phemister said. “They never were a fashion statement from the beginning; they were a protection from the elements.”

Rick Phemister is the owner of Heads or Tails Hats out of Haskell, Texas. Workingmen and women stand in line at rodeos all over the country for this type of hat service. This week he was set up at the Youth Bull Riders World Finals at the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene.

The sewing machine hummed as he sewed colorful ribbons around the brims of cowboy hats.

“I’ve been doing the one of a kind hats for 35 years, the ribbons probably 8 or 9 years now,”

On Wednesday other vendors were nearby selling handmade jewelry and western attire, young bull riders browsed through the collection of hats on display, then gave their pick to Phemister, who sewed on a band and passed the hat to a creaser.

Phemister worked on about 100 hats by the days end.

“The more variety and more options I can offer, the more we sell and the more money I make,”Phemister said.

Suddenly a seven-year-old girl showed up and nuzzled her chin on Phemister’s shoulder.

"He’s my daddy,” Callie Phemister said.  

She giggled as she described her favorite type of ribbon for hats- rainbow zebra.

Wallet-sized photographs are taped up just behind Phemister’s sewing machine. Three pretty little girls smile out of the pictures.

His oldest daughter, Chambray Jean Phemister,13, said she likes tagging along with her dad because she enjoys the seeing rodeos. 

“He is always busy and he loves what he does and he is very skilled at it,” Chambray said.

She opened her phone and showed off pictures of her dad’s craftsmanship. He burns designs and cutouts into hats or adds crystals. Phemister designed hats for Miss Rodeo Texas and Miss Rodeo America.

His daughter Cassidy hurried over to join her sisters.

Cassidy said her father works to make each hat as perfect as he can. Summertime is his busy season, and customers keep coming. More than three hundred riders are competing in this event and they all want a good hat.