The Cele Peterson Collection

One of my favorite things about running A Thrifty Notion is that I’m never bored. There’s always something new to research, someone new to meet, and sometimes, a bit of adventure! 

Earlier this year we were contacted about purchasing the fabric estate of Cele Peterson, a local legend in Tucson, Arizona. Generally, a fabric lot needs to be fairly large or fairly rare for us to travel such a long way to pick it up. 

This fabric was both.  



The highlight of the trip was learning about Cele Peterson from those who knew her best. Cele’s family were lovely to work with and shared many stories from her life and career with me. As we spent the day loading up the trailer together, the family reminisced about Cele and her life in Tucson. I was touched by how tight-knit the family was and how much they honored the woman behind the legacy. 

Cele did amazing work, both in the textile world and in the local community, but it struck me that she also managed to raise some truly incredible people.  Her children and grandchildren continue her legacy of community-building, artistic expression and generally being lovely humans.



Not being from Tucson, we had no idea prior to agreeing to take on the collection what a pillar she was in community and what an impact she had on fashion in the Southwest. This trip was an opportunity to learn about a woman who not only influenced fashion in a big way, but also sought to make Tucson a better city through promoting its industries and arts and taking care of its children. 


Cele's life was one for the history books and much has been written about her by people who knew her during her lifetime. I’ll link to those writings at the bottom of the post rather than attempt to summarize such a remarkable woman myself. Trust me when I say if a biography is ever released on her extraordinary life, I’ll be first in line for a copy!

Many of Cele's high quality fabrics have been sitting in protected storage for over 70 years. Big rolls of cotton corduroy, denim, and chambray from the 1950’s in the gorgeous desert palette for which Cele was well known. After traveling to Arizona and meeting the family, I was honored that they had chosen Thrifty to carry on Cele's work and re-home her considerable collection.

The reason Thrifty grew into a business is because there is so much wonderful fabric out in the world and we can't stand the idea of it ending up in landfills. We are so grateful that in helping carry on Cele's legacy, she is helping us build ours.

Happy Sewing,


More on Cele Peterson:


Full Obituary

Women’s Plaza of Honor

Cele Peterson Rose Garden

Casa de los Niños

Cele Peterson’s Shop Fire News Article


Shop news

1 comment

Rob Serface

Rob Serface

Hello. I was just in the process of trying to sell a beautiful vintage dress that I purchased in the 1980s from a dress maker who worked for Cele Peterson. While I purchased many dresses from her, this is one that I have kept until now. I wondered if you would be interested in seeing it and perhaps you have the material that it was made with. It has beautiful glitter flowers. Truly a one of a kind piece! RS

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