A trio of Lebanon countians sheared the competition at this year’s Make It With Wool contest held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show complex earlier this month.
Madison Copenhaver from Lebanon and Hope Wagner from Annville who won the senior category will represent Pennsylvania during the competition at Denver, Colorado.
The categories of judging are divided according to age: Preteens (12 years and under), Juniors (13-16), Seniors (17-24), and Adults (25+).
“I feel really excited, it’s a big opportunity that I get to represent my own county at the national level,” said Wagner. “I’m really excited to meet new people that also have the same sewing interests as me to see what they’ve been working on the past year.”
“It’s definitely an honor, I’m so excited and I’ve competed in this competition in the past and have had the opportunity to go to other states to compete,” said Copenhaver. “To go to Denver, Colorado, is so rewarding because I put so much time and effort into my outfit, and so it is very rewarding to win this trip.”
Rachel Seigel from Lebanon will send in her winning garment with photos and video for judging at the national level. This will be done before Christmas. Rachel Seigel told LebTown she entered the national competition without expecting to win top national honors.
The top adult winner at national judging is invited to Colorado to participate in the fashion show and be an ambassador for and provide mentorship to the younger participants, according to Linda Siegel, contest coodinator and Rachel’s mother.
Linda stated that it is not necessary to have raised your own animals in order to submit a design to the judging event.
“It’s an interesting contest, especially when you get to the national level and you get people who live on ranches and raise their own animals. But it is not a requirement to enter our contest,” said Linda.
Linda said that although none of the young ladies raised their own animals to use in their entries, they were talented designers and sewers whose creativity helped them win in their respective categories.
Wagner designed a pencil dress lined in charcoal gray and a carmel wool jacket with lining featuring leopard print. Linda said that Linda’s first jacket had lapels was a challenge. Wagner learned to make princess seams, as well as a facing for the collar of her coat. To add flair to her dress, she added ruffled and cuffed sleeves. Linda also said that this was the first year she had made bound buttonholes.
“I think for Hope’s, she took traditional choices of fabrics but in unusual color schemes,” said Linda. “Although it is not wool, she has this really fun animal lining, animal print lining that’s a silk fabric that she purchased on line. It gave it a creative spark for her.”
Copenhaver made a teal Merino Wool knit dress by combining Simplicity and Marfy pattern and finishing it with a Baby hem. She added pleats, a circular ruffle and covered buttons to her coat. These choices, Linda said, make Copenhaver’s design unique and versatile.
“The unusual use of wool in Madison’s is that she used hers to make her homecoming dress as a one-shoulder (strap) homecoming dress from Merino knit wool,” said Linda. “And there aren’t a whole lot out there, and at the national contest there probably won’t be any. There’s been gowns and whatever made from wool at the national contest, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything like what she did.”
Adding to Copenhaver’s design was her color coordination.
“She was really kind of set on a white coat, much to my and her mother’s chagrin. And then she found a lining that pulls together the teal from her dress with the creamy background of the silk that goes with the wool,” added Linda.
Linda said Rachel created a wool spring jacket that is whimsical and fun.
“She knew she could make it with a lightweight wool,” said Linda. “She has a pretty good stash of fabric that she likes but doesn’t have any definite plans for. All of sudden she’ll become inspired to use one of them. She has this black and white polka-dot (pattern) that she thought would make for a fun coat.”
This three-piece set includes an anorak jacket with a hood, cargo pocket, placket zipper and metal hardware such as snaps, grommets or cordlocks. The jacket’s inside is tidy, with entirely flat fell, faux bound, and French seams.
She chose a fun cotton lining which echoes the wool’s tiny polka-dot design and inspired the fabric choice for her kelly green Merino wool knit top. The knit top features a band with nail-head studs at one shoulder. Rachel finished the ensemble with a pair slim-fit, washable wool ponte trousers she copied from an old pair in her wardrobe.
Linda told LebTown each entrant’s ensemble was flat-judged and then judged while being modeled by the entrant. Judging is based on poise, construction of the garment(s), fit and wearability, and promotion of the wool’s versatilty.
One of wool’s major benefits is its versatility, added Linda.
Rachel says she’ll wear her work outfit and use the jacket that comes with the pants, top and coat as a spring or fall jacket.
“My mantra has become not to make anything I won’t actually wear, I’m too busy to make things that I won’t wear,” said Rachel. “The coat, it is a workhorse coat. The lightweight material will make it my spring/fall coat. This is not a coat for winter. It is for those coldish, rainish days in spring and fall, and it has all of the bells and whistles of a good outdoor coat: It has a hood and pockets.”
Copenhaver said she wore her dress to this year’s homecoming festivities at Cedar Crest High School and plans to at other events as Lebanon Area Fair Queen next year after the competition is over.
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“My dress is made out of a knit wool and so it was really cool to see their reaction when I told them I had made my outfit and it was made out of wool,” said Copenhaver. “Sometimes, wool has a stereotype of being uncomfortable or not really like fitting the profile that it could be made into a cute dress for homecoming, so they were definitely surprised.”
Wagner claimed that the majority of people would not guess her dress was made from wool.
“For my blazer, I would say the main type of wool that people would normally think of is a little scratchy, but not too, and it’s thicker. And the dress is a thin crape-like material and you would never guess that it is wool,” said Wagner. “I plan to wear it to future job interviews or future professional internships while I am in college and to church and other professional functions.”
The Make It program, sponsored by several statewide associations as well as other industry-based organisations, aims to achieve a number of objectives.
It’s designed to market the beauty and versatility of wool fabrics and yarns, encourage personal creativity in sewing, knitting, and crocheting with wool fabrics and yarns, recognize creative skills and promote the development of life skills, including personal responsibility, sportsmanship, and learning about and appreciating diversity.
A second goal, which is not part the judging competition but serves a practical purpose, is also included.
“I encourage the kids to make something they love, that they’ll love wearing and while they’re at it, they may as well make it out of wool so they can enter it into the wool contest,” said Linda. “When you’re spending that much time to create and learn new skills — really high-level skills — I really believe using that same garment as many places as you can to get the most mileage out of your work.”
Those other possible “uses” include the fashion review program at 4-H and the Fashion with a Flair contest at the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg.
“But the first goal is to create something they will really love,” emphasized Linda.
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