4-H has come a long way from its rural roots – now encompassing projects that range from mathematics to mindfulness, robotics to rock climbing. But it's not about to toss out the projects that have built character and confidence in 4-H members since the program's inception more than 100 years ago.
Most people don't sew their own clothing these days, but fashion and textiles are not dying art forms. That was clear at the March 4-H Fashion Review in Fresno County. Dozens of 4-H members modeled their creations, which represented their sewing skills, financial smarts and creativity.
“The Fashion Revue project gives kids the opportunity to gain skills and also to show and compete with their final products,” said Tracy Newton, 4-H Youth Development program representative in Fresno County. “It brings a sense of pride and accomplishment.”
Many 4-H members enjoy traditional sewing projects, in which they showcase sewing skills and the ability to coordinate an outfit. Participants can take on additional challenges, including the “box challenge,” which this year involved sewing one or more garments that contain three colors – red, white and blue – and items in the box, such as buttons, zippers and trim. Other challenges are the “make it mine challenge,” in which the 4-H participants alter a commercial pattern or make their own pattern; and the “retro/historical challenge,” in which the outfits they make are inspired by a pre-2000 design.
Twelve-year-old Atianna Marquez of Fairmont 4-H made a red, white and blue romper with buttons, buttonholes and bias tape from the “box.”
“This romper is special to Atianna because it is the first piece of clothing she has ever made,” Newton said. “She had fun learning how to make button holes, especially learning to cut the fabric with a seam ripper.”
Gabbie Hall of Fairmont 4-H, who has been sewing for three years, wanted a challenge. She selected a skirt pattern with box pleats in order to learn something new. The skirt is fully lined and has deep hidden pockets within the pleats.
“Gabbie complimented the skirt she made with her copper tank top to give her outfit a charming mix,” Newton said. “She plans on wearing this to dinner with her family or to special occasions.”
The most popular challenge at the Fresno County Fashion Revue in March was the consumer science challenge. The participants each put together outfits with the total cost not to exceed $40.
“This part of our fashion review teaches the participants they can be thrifty and stylish,” Newton said. “I like that many of them shop in consignment stores or thrift stores and see value in that. They are learning to appreciate the value of a dollar.”
Ella Hood of Fairmont 4-H started her search for an outfit at the Hinds Hospice Thrift Store. She found a white lace dress in her size for just $4.20. She splurged on a pair of fancy light pink dress shoes for $16.20, and found a necklace and earring set in light pink to complete the look.
“She will wear this proudly to church and dressy events,” Newton said.
Emmalee Balch of Fairmont 4-H modeled a trendy spring outfit she put together for $36.97. Balch purchased a new off-the-shoulder jumpsuit for $14.99 and natural brown high heel sandals for $17.99 at Ross. The outfit came together with a rose gold bangle bracelet and matching stud earrings that cost just $3.99.
Lone Star 4-H member Diana Flores used her great eye for yard sale bargains to put together a designer outfit for under $40. She modeled an Abercrombie and Fitch beige turtleneck paired with light blue Lucky Brand jeans. She completed the look with Lucky Brand riding boots and a pearl necklace with matching earrings to highlight the colors of the shirt.
“She loves wearing this outfit to school because it's within dress code and stylish,” Newton said.
Six-year-old Ashley McCann paired a black and white checkered sundress with white sandals. She accessorized her ensemble with a jeweled cat ear head band, dangle heart earrings, glittery silver choker and, to add a pop of color, lemon yellow sunglasses. The total came in at $33.66.
Following the fashion show, Newton handed out awards. Winners at the county level will have the opportunity to compete in the 2019 State 4-H Fashion Review June 1 in Olson Hall in Davis.