In an award-winning outfit of her own creation, all 10-year-old Jeena Rinehart needs is a pony and she could be Carroll County 4-H's rhinestone cowgirl.
With her rose-striped dress, straw hat and white boots, Jeena took junior grand champion honors among 18 of the youngest competitors at the annual 4-H Fashion Revue Saturday.
The diminutive Taneytown resident said the Western costume will suit future performances, too.
"My sister and I are going to sing at the Frederick County Fashion Fair," Jeena said.
Jeena said she stitched up her outfit with rhinestones and pearls to give it sparkle. Along the hem of the flared skirt, she painted roses by hand.
"Not hard," she said. "I learned by decorating cakes."
As she sashayed across the stage, she curtsied and doffed her cowgirl hat trimmed with a matching pink ribbon tied with a small cluster of roses.
From discount buys to dandy designs, 47 4-H members showed fashion sense and sewing ability as they strolled through a Fashion Garden, decorated in the latest summer greenery and flowers, on the stage at Francis Scott Key High School.
In the audience of about 100, cameras snapped and camcorders rolled as the models paraded in sheaths, suits and sportswear.
Many had turned their first attempts on sewing machines into prize-winning outfits.
Rachel Alford, 8, learned enough to stitch shorts and a tie-back top in a floral print that matched the flowers on stage.
The talent displayed by the youngest members amazed judges.
"These children are doing so well now, I can't imagine what they will do by the time they are seniors," said Danele Shipley, judge and 4-H alumna.
Creativity calls for time, effort and tenacity, 4-H'ers said.
"I started my jacket last Sunday and put the last button on at 9:09 last night," said Rachel Dyky, 13, intermediate grand champion for her three-piece red, white and blue outfit.
Rachel's gold-star earrings matched the stars on a navy jacket trimmed with military gold braid. The red skirt and white tank top gave her little difficulty, she said. The jacket kept her in stitches for hours.
"I redid it several times until I got the seams aligned," she said.
Outfits ranged from simple shirts to formal gowns, pretty enough to wear to a prom or a plantation.
"Fiddle-de-de," sighed Amy Davidson as she fanned herself while wearing a Scarlett O'Hara green satin hooped dress with a lace collar, for which she won intermediate class champion.
Challenging, unique designs
Ashley Bair, 18, learned boning, netting, lining and bustle-making as she turned yards of floral-print cotton into her senior prom gown.
"I had a pattern, but I changed it," said Ashley. "I wanted something challenging and unique, but simple and pretty."
Ashley, who wore her dress to the Westminster High prom, won senior grand champion. She hopes to return as a judge in future fashion revues, she said.
Karen Myers, a Carroll Community College student making her final appearance in 4-H competition, said the club has given her a foundation in many life skills.
"We learned by doing," said Ginger Hull, who earned senior class champion with a black and white Texas-star-patterned Western dress. With sequins glittering, the 1993 Miss Carroll County 4-H treated the audience to a few clogging steps.
Not to be outdone by seamstresses, several boys showed they can be good sports in uniforms of their own making.
Lucas Hull, 11, enlarged logos of his favorite Chicago Bulls basketball team and stitched them onto his own starter jacket, complete with quilted sleeves.
Jacques Gachot and Ross Bair are all set for games at middle school. Ross will be the envy of Oriole fans in his black sweat pants with matching hooded jacket lined in orange.
Jacques will soon be taking his All-American soccer outfit to the national games in Sweden. In red, white and blue, he said, he will be the most colorful goalie on the team.
National competition awaits
Like Jeena, many members will enter their outfits in future competitions.
Jenny Brothers, a Westminster High junior, will be modeling her cool summer outfit again at the national competition in Chicago this fall. In the county contest, her shorts, tank top and overshirt made her a reserve champion in the senior class.
Melanie Soper, 1993 Maryland Lamb and Wool Princess and senior club member, also will wear her white eyelet dress down the runway in Chicago.