Budding designers model original creations

Designing a skirt made entirely out of ties is what Kyndra Johnson is most proud of this Chaffee County 4-H season. Johnson, 10, said the skirt was the most challenging piece of clothing she undertook. It took three months because she sewed half of it by hand. “I’m proud of myself for accomplishing such a big task,” she said.

Johnson and seven other budding fashion designers will model their creations during the 4-H Fashion Review at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 20. There are three categories, Clothing Construction, Decorate My Duds and Clothing Repurposing.

This is Johnson’s third year to participate in the event. Last year her repurposed outfit, a men’s shirt turned into a dress, took Grand Champion at the Colorado State Fair and Rodeo. It was her first attempt in the category.

Adrienne Weber is the organizational leader for the “Imagine That” 4-H Club, and she also oversees the Fashion Review. Weber helps the 4-Hers with modeling skills and writing scripts that describe their outfits. Weber said she got involved after two of her daughters went through the program. Her daughter McKenzie Everett is studying apparel design at Rhode Island School of Design and will be the master of ceremonies at the 4-H event. Weber credits the 4-H fashion program for giving Everett the foundation for her passion and chosen career path. “She works hard and loves what she does,” Weber said.

The other 4-H designers are third-graders through high school juniors. Each of the budding designers had to declare their project in December and has been working on them independently ever since.

Some will model more than one outfit. Johnson, for example, will model three, one in each category. Johnson is making a hat out of ties to compliment her skirt. She said she received the ties from community members after she put a request on Facebook.

Weber said that Johnson “reminds me of my daughter. She has a strong passion for (design) and she’s even an entrepreneur.” Johnson makes towel wraps, her inspiration coming from swim team and the constant struggle to keep towels from falling down. She described them as towels with Velcro, and she has sold some at the Holiday Sampler at the fairgrounds.

Instead of pursuing a career in fashion, Johnson said she wants to be a professional golfer who designs her own clothes.

During the review, community members will judge the designers on posture, composition and how well the garment fits. The judging process continues with interviews on July 22. A different set of judges will look at construction and assembly of the pieces. All of the designers have been keeping a record book about their projects, detailing the hours of work they’ve performed, cost of supplies, time spent working on community service projects and so on. The record book also includes a story and photos. These will be submitted to the judges for review, Weber explained.

Aside from Weber’s overseeing of the final event, the fashion program doesn’t have an instructor. Weber said it would be great to have someone to teach sewing skills and hold monthly classes. Anyone willing to lend a hand to budding fashion designers should contact the CSU Extension office at 719-539-6447.