A Needlepoint Birthday

Earlier in April I officially turned the page on another year.  I prefer to take the stiff upper lip approach to birthdays.  ”It’s just another day” is a phrase that I have uttered over the years much to the chagrin of those that care about me.  If Don Draper doesn’t care about his birthday, why should I?  But I digress, I’m actually writing to talk about the wonderful gift I received from Jess, a needlepoint belt.
Mallard Duck Belt

Mallard Duck Detail

Tucker Blair

My belt is the Mallard Blue by Tucker Blair.  Tucker Blair was started by a Colgate grad that sometime in 2007 grew tired of the corporate world and decided to start making needlepoint belts (ref).  Needlepoint is type of embroidery.  It’s unique because rather than modifing an existing fabric, needlepoint creates a new fabric.

Needlepoint stitch example

In the case of belts, cotton yarn is stitched through an existing canvas weave to create the pattern (ducks, flags, monograms, whatever your heart may desire).  On its own this new fabric is not very stiff so leather is attached to back to provide the structure and durability necessary in a belt.

Belt detail

Needlepoint has a special place in the preppy world.  Preps tend to love a motif (ducks and flags especially) and needlepoints historically were hand stitched by a loved one.  The Trad has a great post on needlepoints that includes a funny anecdote about his wife finding the belt stitched by an old college flame.  While my belt was not hand stitched by a loved one, it was hand stitched and then purchased by a loved one.  That’s more than good enough for me.

duck detail

One last note, why are ducks so special?  Because The Official Preppy Handbook says so.  Wait, you don’t have a copy?  Fear not, I’ve copied the relevant passage below.
Excerpt from Official Preppy Handbook

Hopefully Ms. Birnbach won’t mind.  The handbook has long since been out of print.  If you’re interested in her work I recommend reading True Prep.  It’s something of a sequel or updated version of the original handbook.