Homemade high fashion

July 28, 2003 11:00 pm
Judging for Style Revue depicts the varied interests of contestants at the Baker County Fair Monday. Trista Wendt's attire appears appropriate for the heat that has most everyone heading for shade or an air-conditioned room. Wendt competes in the senior division. A public Style Revue was presented Monday night at the Extension Office. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).
Judging for Style Revue depicts the varied interests of contestants at the Baker County Fair Monday. Trista Wendt's attire appears appropriate for the heat that has most everyone heading for shade or an air-conditioned room. Wendt competes in the senior division. A public Style Revue was presented Monday night at the Extension Office. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).

By MIKE FERGUSON

Of the Baker City Herald

Decked out in everything from bathing suits to prom dresses — almost every stitch sewn by the wearer — 23 youth made the annual runway promenade Monday evening during the Baker County Fair 4-H Public Style Revue.

And they weren't all girls. Three boys took the runway walk, too, modeling jackets, shirts or shorts they'd sewn themselves.

The three boys — Richard Kezerle, John Stalder and Aaron Walker — are the most ever to participate in a Style Revue, said Superintendent Bonnie Stalder.

The revue is really two shows in one. Half focuses on how well the clothes are constructed. The other half judges how comfortable the models are on stage.

"It's gutsy to have someone critique how well you did and how you look," Stalder said. "But it enhances their self-esteem. It gives them the chance to say, "I did it!'"

Many of the outfits — especially the prom dresses modeled by the more experienced sewers — have been in the works since last fall.

But some were clearly seasonal. Jill Nielsen modeled a purple two-piece bathing suit with cover-up that she said she'd wear to the pool.

"I had a hard time sewing swimming suit fabric at first, but the more I kept sewing, the easier it got," she said.

A reserve champion in the modeling portion of the style revue, Nielsen earned the right to model her clothing at the Oregon State Fair for the second straight year.

Sixteen-year-old B.J. Stalder was named grand champion both for her dress — a teal black formal — and for her runway prowess.

For her, the hardest part of making the dress was that first cut into material that cost more than $100.

"It was a little scary," she said, noting that her retro 1950s-look frock required about 60 hours in front of her sewing machine. "I've always wanted a dress like this. It was just a matter of convincing Mom and Dad to go strapless."

Cassie Nielsen, reserve champion for the senior division in sewing construction, modeled a black suit with a shiny silver blouse. She laughingly referred to the stylish long jacket as "my Matrix coat."

"I liked the black, because it matches everything," said the 18-year-old, who's set to study art this fall at Treasure Valley Community College. "It'll be easy to find places to wear it to."

Sporting a blue fleece warm-up with navy stretch pants and carrying a basketball, seventh-grader Nicole Markgraf left little doubt where she'll be this winter — on the hardwood at Baker Middle School playing basketball.

While sewing the jacket was straightforward, the pants presented a problem because "they kept puckering," Markgraf said. She solved the problem by borrowing her aunt's computerized sewing machine, which had brains enough to solve the tension dilemma.

Nicole Desimini won grand champion in two categories in the intermediate division for her burgundy formal. With the bodice pieced together and the dress in three layers — outside, lining and interfacing — the dress represented about 50 hours of work, she said.

"It was tedious," she said. "I started it in October, but I pretty much sewed it all myself."

By investing $83 in material, Desimini now owns a gown that would retail for more than $200 in a clothing store, she said.

"It's fun to sew, because you can make all kinds of things," she said.

That's the idea, Bonnie Stalder said.

"It's a life skill you can use professionally or personally," she said. "You can accentuate your home, enhance your wardrobe, or gift your family and friends."

Not to mention the fact that people who can sew get to wear clothes that fit them like a glove.

"You alter the pattern as you go so it will fit just right," she said. "You also try it on as you go and you keep doing it until you get it right, rather than saying, ‘That's good enough.'

"The result is they're tailor-made for their bodies."

The clothes will be on display during the Baker County Fair, beginning Wednesday.

Sewing Construction results:

Junior Grand Champion — Nicole Markgraf

Intermediate Grand Champion — Nicole Desimini

Reserve Grand Champion — Lily Raabe

Senior Grand Champion — B.J. Stalder

Reserve Grand Champion — Cassie Nielsen

Style Revue Modeling results:

Junior Grand Champion — Brooke Shurtleff

Reserve Grand Champion — Aaron Walker, Nicole Markgraf

Intermediate Grand Champion — Nicole Desimini

Reserve Grand Champion — Ashley Radle

Senior Grand Champion — B.J. Stalder

Reserve Grand Champion — Jill Nielsen