Joy Jordan (352) 846-1000, ext. 259
TAMPA, Fla. — It’s a fashion show with a twist — one where the judges care about how the garment is put together and not just how it looks.
And then there’s the models. No waif-thin size zero models strut the runway here, these are just all American kids of all sizes modeling clothing that they have made themselves — from leather jackets to prom dresses, sports outfits and college interview clothes.
Eighty-seven youth from 13 counties participated in the annual 4-H Fashion Show at the Florida State Fair last weekend. Categories within the contest’s three age divisions ranged from special occasion to active sports. Youth must be at least eight years old to compete. Contestants are judged on the construction of the garment, their responses to questions from the judges and the appearance of the costume on the contestant.
Dressed in a pink flannel nightgown, complete with a cap that made her look like a cherub, nine-year-old Victoria Bintemire of Titusville, said, “I like sewing things.” She placed first in her category and marched down the runway clutching a teddy bear with her chin held high. Like many of the contestants, she also enjoyed modeling her garment for the judges.
In an age of high-tech marketing and ready-made clothes, the high numbers of youth, both boys and girls, who participate in the show might surprise a few people. Five of this year’s 87 contestants were boys.
Not every kid wants to go to the mall for the latest fashions, say organizers. “Sewing can provide an outlet for creativity and allows youth to interpret fashion for themselves,” said Joy Jordan, organizer of the show and 4-H youth development specialist at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. “They also feel a sense of accomplishment when they complete a sewing project and wear the garment.”
"I like sewing because it makes me feel proud,” said Brandi Pangborn, 11, of Titusville. Pangborn modeled a purple dress with white lace edging and a heart pocket.
If you think sewing is for old fuddy-duddies, talk to Megan Murowski, 15, of St. Cloud. She made a leather skirt with a matching vest. “I like making the outfits and modeling,” said Murowski. This is her seventh year strutting down the catwalk, and she captured the title of best overall competitor in her age division.
Is sewing old fashioned? “We have taught sewing for nearly a century in 4-H clubs, but the reasons we teach it have changed,” said Damon Miller, assistant dean for 4-H at UF. "We used to teach sewing so youth could learn a trade skill or make their own clothes. Now we teach it because young people enjoy doing it and it gives them a sense of pride. Plus knowing quality clothing construction can make them smarter consumers at the store.”
Sewing remains a popular project. Miller said that more than 2,600 4-H sewing projects were done by youth in Florida last year. The 4-H program enrolls more than 240,000 youth annually who explore topics like rocketry, citizenship, animal science and the environment.
So is the next Calvin Klein waiting in the wings? “Most of them will not grow up to be fashion designers,” said Jordan, as she coordinated the chaos backstage before the young models hit the runway. “Sewing may become a hobby for many of them. But the confidence and poise they learn here and the pride they take in making a garment last a lifetime.”
Having fun while learning is what the 4-H program is all about. To get your child involved in 4-H, call your county extension office. Visit Florida 4-H online at http://4h.ifas.ufl.edu/
RESULTS FOR THE 2001 4-H FASHION SHOW AT THE FLORIDA STATE FAIR
OVERALL BEST OF SHOW: Mackenzie LaRoe (Lake County)
YOUNG AT HEART DIVISION (ages 8-10)
Active Play Category – First Place: Kara Herron (Brevard County), Second Place: Sarah Hardy (Osceola County), Third Place: Karly Vojner (Palm Beach County)
School Wear Category – First Place: Krista Hord (Osceola County), Second Place: Erica Hord (Osceola County), Third Place: Hannah Masterson (Baker County)
Best Wear Category – First Place: Bethany Pate (St. Johns County), Second Place: Jennifer Bintemire (Brevard County), Third Place: Rachel Miller (Osceola County)
My Choice Category – First Place: Victoria Bintemire (Brevard County), Second Place: Jordann Dierickx (Osceola County), Third Place: Andrea Schultz (Brevard County)
Best Overall for Age Division – Bethany Pate (St. Johns County)
SAVVY SEWERS (ages 11-13)
Active Play Category – First Place: Danielle Munno (Charlotte County), Second Place: Ashley Campbell (Osceola County), Third Place: Franshawn Frazier (Hernando County)
School Wear Category – First Place: Martha Yates (Osceola County), Second Place: Christy Mahoney (Polk County), Third Place: Sarah Adair (Brevard County)
Best Wear Category – First Place: Mackenzie LaRoe (Lake County), Second Place: Kelly Sarria (Brevard County), Third Place: Amanda Clark (Alachua County)
My Choice Category – First Place: Hannah Schmidt (Osceola County), Second Place: Christine Fuller (Pinellas County), Third Place: Matthew Detweiler (Alachua County)
Best Overall for Age Division – Mackenzie LaRoe (Lake County)
TIMELY TEENS (ages 14-18)
Active Sports Wear Category –
School/Informal Wear Category – First Place: Lisbeth Langaigne (Charlotte County), Second Place: Jennifer Andress (Osceola County). Dress for Work Category – First Place: Megan Murowski (Osceola County), Second Place: Karleena Ahrens (Hernando County), Third Place: Susan Boudreau (Osceola County)
Special Occasion Category – First Place: Briana Mahoney (Polk County), Second Place: Ashley Conley (Osceola County), Third Place: Melinda Koleini (Brevard County)
My Choice Category – First Place: Jennifer Boudreau (Osceola County), Second Place: Melinda Reno (Osceola County)
Best Overall for Age Division – Megan Murowski (Osceola County)