Pa. 4-H’ers Showcase Style at Annual Make It With Wool Contest

It’s wool

The event Make It With Wolle is open to youth and adults

Seven Pennsylvania 4-H’ers showcased their sewing projects recently in the annual Pennsylvania Make It With Wool competition at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. Photo by Penn State University

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Seven Pennsylvania 4-H’ers showcased their sewing projects recently in the annual Pennsylvania Make It With Wool competition at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.

In the youth division, there were 4-H members Madison Copenhaver (Lebanon County), Hope Wagner (Olivia Morrissey) and Mackenzie Stellmach (Dauphin County), as well Elliott Snyder and Evelyn Snyder. Rachel Siegel of Lebanon County competed in adult division as a 4-H club leader and volunteer.

The event Make It With Woo is for both youth and adults that create with animal fibers or wool. The contest aims to highlight the versatility and beauty of wool yarns and fabrics, to encourage creativity and innovation in knitting and crocheting using wool yarns and fabrics, to identify creative skills and to help participants develop their life skills.

“The Make It with Wool contest gives our 4-H youth another opportunity for recognition, constructive criticism and interview skills development beyond the club and county level,” organizer Linda Siegel said. “Wool is a remarkably easy fiber to work with, so it is friendly to youth who are ready to make a skirt or pants with a simple jacket with their first ever set in sleeves.”

The contestants were asked to make at least one woolen or wool-blend garment using their knitting, crocheting and sewing skills. The 4-H’ers who participated presented garments that they had made as part of their 4-H projects this year. Each entrant’s ensemble was flat-judged and then judged while being modeled by the entrant. The judging is based on poise and construction of garments. Fit and wearability are also considered.

In the senior division, Wagner won first place. Copenhaver won the junior division.

Morrissey came in second, and Stellmach was third. Rachel Siegel won the Adult Division. Morrissey was also recognized as the contestant who demonstrated the best needle felting, beading, or handwork.

Sandi, a Lackawanna County 4-H educator, said that the purpose of 4-H was to help members develop confidence and mastery within their chosen project area.

“When members participate in events that are not 4-H sponsored, it is a sign that our goals are being met,” she said. “Our 4-H leaders who also participate in the Make It With Wool contest help pave the way for member success.”

Wagner created a charcoal gray pencil dress lined with leopard print and a caramel colored wool blazer. For added style, she added cuffed and frilled sleeves to the dress. She made her own jacket with lapels. She also learned how to make bound buttons and sew princess seams.

“My time at the contest this year was well spent,” Wagner said. “I enjoyed hearing a presentation from two well-established sewers in our state. I was able to learn a number of new sewing techniques that I plan to apply in future projects. I enjoy meeting new people and talking with friends. This was a wonderful experience, and I hope to encourage more 4-H’ers to participate in future years!”

Copenhaver created a wool dress and jacket. She made it because she couldn’t find dresses that were stylish and appropriate for dancing. The jacket is creamy white and has in-seam pocketing, a jump hem, and covered buttons. She used silk lining that matched her jacket. The teal merino knit dress is made from a combination of Simplicity and Marfy patterns, and finished with a baby-hem. She is particularly proud of the circular ruffle and pleats on the dress, and the covered buttons in her coat.

“I always look forward to competing with my most recent outfit at the Pennsylvania Make It With Wool Contest,” Copenhaver said. “I enjoy participating in the workshop at the contest and interacting with other sewists and seeing their beautiful outfits. It was a great honor and reward to win first place after countless hours spent on my garment. I look forward to representing Pennsylvania at the national competition in Denver, Colorado.”

Morrissey always wanted to wear a Chanel suit. She created hers using an old 1960s pattern. The mint-green jacket is made from 100% wool, as are the skirt and bottom. The tailored jacket features a floral lining with fringed edges, handmade piping and hundreds of beads and pearls that were individually sewn. It took hours to complete. The skirt has Hong Kong hems as well as bound seams and an invisible zipper. The suit is complemented by the self-lined cream knit ribbed tank.

Stellmach created an anorak using the Closet Core pattern. She chose a soft denim-blue wool fabric and used contrasting yellow thread to topstitch. Her jacket features a hood and drawstring waist as well as cuffed sleeves. It also has snap buttons, a zipper, and flap pockets.

Rachel Siegel has created a 3-piece ensemble which proves that wool garments are ready-to-wear. Her anorak jacket features a hood with cargo pockets, a placket zip, metal hardware such as snaps, grommets or cordlocks, and a placket zip. The jacket’s inside is tidy, with entirely flat fell, faux bound and French seams. She chose a cotton lining that 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. The ensemble is completed with a pair slim-fit, washable wool ponte trousers.

Copenhaver will attend the Make It With Wool competition in Denver in Colorado. Siegel’s garment will be sent to the national judges with photographs and videos.

Penn State Extension is the Pennsylvania 4-H program. It is an educational nonformal youth-development program of U.S. Department of Agriculture. The purpose of this program in Pennsylvania, which is administered by Penn State Extension to help young people become responsible, caring citizens, helps them develop their knowledge and skills. To find your local program, visit the Pennsylvania 4-H website at

–Alexandra McLaughlin, Penn State University

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