Wednesday, July 30, 2014


This blog is currently resting.  The PA State 4-H Clothing and Textiles Curriculum Committee is sending out e-mail (and snail mail) newsletters to the PA 4-H Clothing and Textiles volunteers.

To get on that mailing list, use the Comments section of this blog or send your e-mail address to  You will receive our C&T Update 3-4 times per year, including info about upcoming events, the progress of the C&T sub-committees, project news, etc.   

We want to reach all PA 4-H Clothing and Textiles volunteers so help to spread the word!

Linda and Maureen
co-chairs of the PA 4-H Clothing and Textiles Program Committee

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

WELCOME TO THE PENNSYLVANIA 4-H CLOTHING AND TEXTILES PROGRAM!--plus news about the clothing and textiles workshops at the State Leader Forum
Looking for updates from us about the Pennsylvania 4-H Clothing program?  This blog is resting…..

Seriously, we are devoting our time to other ways to reach Pennsylvania Clothing and Textiles volunteers.  The blog may return in the future.  For now, we will be using e-mail and other methods to get information to (and from) textiles volunteers. 
We are excited to announce that there will be a whole day of clothing and textiles related workshops at the January 2014 State 4-H Leader Forum!  Save the date—Saturday, January 18!
There will be classes about fitting and alteration (taught by Pamela Leggett of Pamela’s Patterns) and how to teach kids good pressing skills (taught by Super Seamstresses Sharon Donahoe and Kathy Twigg).  We’ll also provide updates on the curriculum and club/meeting management idea sharing.  There’s nothing like getting off our little islands and meeting others who are doing the same things across the state.  It is invigorating.  Hope you’ll be able to join us!
You should get info about the state leader forum from your county 4-H staff later this fall, but we’ll make sure you get it if you are on our mailing list. 

Happy sewing!

~Linda and Maureen
P.S. If you are a PA 4-H clothing and Textiles volunteer (or wish to be one), forward your e-mail to us at the Lebanon County Extension Office, c/o Martha Gregory ( 

Friday, May 3, 2013

IN 2013

It has become abundantly clear that funding for Extension programs in Pennsylvania, including 4-H staffing, has become more and more scarce.  If we are going to continue to have a 4-H clothing program in Pennsylvania, 4-H volunteers must mobilize!

Plans are in the works for an organized mobilization and re-organization of the program to include volunteers at all levels of the program.  If you are a 4-H clothing and textiles leader in Pennsylvania, watch this blog and/or your e-mail for information about that in the next few months.

In the meantime, however, we must act NOW to learn the ropes of planning and carrying out Regional Fashion Revues.  It is very possible there will be little or any paid staff available to help with 2014 revues.  2013 is the year to learn. 

What should you do?

1. Contact the chair of your Region’s Fashion Revue (see list of regions and their chairs, below) and offer to help in a small or big way with the June 2013 event.  A lot of the planning has probably started, but there will likely be a way that you can help, even if you contact them now. 

2. Attend the 2013 event, in a helping way or at least as an audience member.  Pay attention!  Take notes on things that you liked, things that could be improved for next year, introduce yourself to the people who seem to be in charge. 

3. Consider attending or helping with the State 4-H Fashion Revue during State Days.  The event will be held on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 in the Eisenhower Auditorium on main campus of Penn State.  You might help as a workshop assistant, a tabulator (if you do not have a relative in the contest), a stage assistant or in another role.  To let us know you would like to help at State Days, please contact this year’s event chair, Sandy Hall(

Most Revues have a lot of volunteers working already.    A few have begun the transition to being completely volunteer led, but only two will achieve that status in 2013.  That will probably have to change, so pay attention and offer to help!

It is up to us to make sure that the PA 4-H clothing and textiles program continues, and even improves, despite the funding cutbacks.  Maureen and I are confident that we can do it if we all work together with a positive attitude and the goal of providing a positive learning environment for our 4-H youth. 

We are looking forward to working with you!
NOTE:  This information is current as of mid-February.  If you can provide more up-to-date information, please let me know in the Comments section.   I'll update as I receive the information. Thanks!
Regional Fashion Revue Dates for 2013 and chair/s                      location
Northwest        June 27                        Paula Lucas                             Mercer office
Southwest        June 27                        Pam Paletta                            Word of Life Church
Central             June 27 (tentative)       Dotty Bartek                           Church in Ebensburg
                                                          Donna Kirby                                  (tentative)
Northeast South                                   Linda Hendricks                      Health Facility
                                                          Ann Bonson  
Northeast North  June 28                      Jan Cohen       
Capital             June 24                         Martha Gregory                      Lebanon Area Free                                                                                                               Church, Jonestown

Southeast South        June 29                Patti Colby  and Nancy Stephenson
  (Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Philadelphia, and Chester counties)                       Montgomery County 4-H                                                                                                                 Center

Southeast North                                    Brad Kunsmen
  (Berks, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuylkil Counties)
Berks County 4-H Senior Fashion Revue winners are, from left, Kerissa Rohrbach, Amanda Rice, Mya Anderson, Gina Lytz, Genevieve Starke, Samantha Nye, Chaney Malick, Jacqueline Carroll, and Joy Englehart.


Friday, March 1, 2013


Every 4-H’er in Pennsylvania who sews a wearable garment will have a Regional Fashion Revue to participate in again this year.  Also, the 2013 State Fashion Revue is being planned for August 7, during State 4-H Achievement Days.  Thanks to the many volunteers (and paid staff) who are stepping up to continue this important part of our 4-H Clothing Program!
On a recent conference call, representatives of every region in Pennsylvania confirmed their plans.  Hooray!  The Fashion Revue Regions are aligned like this:

2013 Pennsylvania State Fashion Revue Organization                                     

Region name, chair and included counties                                                                         

Northwest--Paula Lucas-- Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Venango, Forest, Warren, Clarion, Lawrence, Butler

Southwest--Pam Paletta, Mary Fidler—Allegheny, Armstrong, Indiana, Westmoreland, Washington, Greene, Fayette, Beaver

Central--Dotty Bartek, Donna Kirby--McKean, Potter, Elk, Cameron, Jefferson, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Blair, Somerset, Cambria, Bedford, Huntingdon, Fulton                            

Northeast South--Linda Hendricks--Mifflin, Juniata, Union, Snyder, Montour, Northumberland, Columbia, Lycoming

 Northeast North--Jan Cohen, Karen Bracey--Bradford, Tioga, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wyoming, Carbon, Monroe, Pike, Wayne

Southeast Capital--Martha Gregory--Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry, Adams, Franklin, York, Lancaster, Lebanon

Southeast- Del/Val--Patti Colby--Berks, Lehigh, Northampton, Schuylkill, Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, Delaware, Philadelphia

There will be one regional event for each of the above, with the possible exception of the Southeast Region where they are still working out the details of one or more events so that all counties can participate.
For those of you who do not have a lot of experience with Fashion Revue, you may want to know the official objectives of the State 4-H Fashion Revue.  They are:

4-H Members Will:

  1. Select colors and silhouettes to enhance personal coloring and body type.
  2. Coordinate and accessorize an ensemble suitable to an occassion.
  3. Acquire poise, practice good grooming, and improve posture.
  4. Recognize good fit and quality construction.
  5. Enhance personal development through modeling and stage presence.
  6. Broaden interaction with youth from across the Commonwealth.
  7. Acquire new ideas and helpful suggestions and make improvements.
  8. Sharpen written application skills.
  9. Acquaint themselves with faculty, services, and facilities of The Pennsylvania State University.

Maureen and I both particpated in Fashion Revue in the 1960's and 70's (boy, we sound old!).  We proudly watched as our daughters gained experience and skills during their Fashion Revue careers.  We know that it is a strong program that benefits the participants.  We hope you'll join us in making Fashion Revue available for the current generation of 4-H boys and girls who are learning by doing in 4-H Fashion Revue!
Planning has already begun for many of the regional events plus the state event, but we can use more help.  If you are a parent or a bona fide clothing leader, please contact your regional chair (or us) and we’ll find a job that you can do. 
Fashion Revue will continue well into the future if we work together as volunteers to make it happen.  Yes, we know that there have been staff cuts, but the Clothing program in Pennsylvania has long depended on clothing leaders at the club level who do the teaching of skills, career guidance, and clothing selection advice.  Fashion Revue is a culminating activity that allows our kids to test their limits, see others’ quality work, learn from workshops about the sewing industry and techniques and so much more. 
There are some good resources for preparing your kids for Fashion Revue here and here and  here and here and here .  For help on writing commentaries, go to this site.  Maureen and I highly recommend these sites to get you more informed and help your kids before the event.
If you have any questions about Fashion Revue or any other aspect of being a 4-H clothing leader, please comment below or send us an e-mail.  We would love to hear from you!
Happy sewing!



Friday, January 25, 2013



Our community club is up and running for 2013!  Over 1/3 of our 60+ members take a sewing project.  How can we manage it?!?!  Maureen and I ask ourselves this every year!  No matter how many kids you work with, there are challenges.  This year we have a new challenge that adds a new wrinkle.

The new requirement that we ”always have at least two screened volunteers present any time a 4-H member is present” forces us to plan a bit more.  Here are some of the things we are doing:

*      Maureen works with four other screened  4-H volunteers for what I call “open sewing nights” at the Extension Office.  The kids and parents shop for their pattern and fabric with Maureen. Then, on a series of pre-announced meeting nights, the kids show up to sew, often with a parent or grandparent to guide them (often they are non-sewers who simply repeat and/or interpret what the leader has instructed when the child gets back to his/her sewing machine).  Maureen and her volunteers roam the room and sometimes become attached to a child or two who are working on a difficult task.  A variety of projects are going on, all at the same time, in the same large room.

In this situation, Maureen’s biggest new concern is the beginning and the end of the meetings.  She must be sure that there is always another screened adult there with her before any of the kids arrive because sometimes a child comes without their parent/grandparent.  She is working to schedule her volunteers to cover this before and after time.

*      I work with three advanced seamstresses, whose projects require hours and hours.  They are doing tailoring and other complicated projects with fairly expensive fabrics.  My personal temperament doesn’t fit with Maureen’s style of meeting.  I have gone to her meetings several times to help out.  I may have undiagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder, but there is just way too much going on for me to keep track of what needs to be done on these advanced projects.  I prefer to work with one or two kids at a time at my home.   It’s more time consuming, but I feel more comfortable.

Because of the new regulations, I must always have a child’s parent in the sewing room when I am helping with the project.  This has added many hours to the parents’ commitment to the project.  I worry that this will keep kids from tackling difficult projects in the future. 


To add more drama to the situation, because I sew with children from two different families, I may sew with Child Smith only under these circumstances:

a.       Child Smith is present and her screened or unscreened Parent Smith is present


b.       Child Smith is present and Parent McGillicuddy is present and a screened volunteer.

Child Smith and Child McGillicuddy may both sew at my house at the same time if:

a.       Both of their parents are there


b.      The individual parent who stays is a screened volunteer

*      My method is working with my three 4-H’ers.  My only concern is that I find that I tend to talk to the parent as well as the 4-H’er during the sewing time.  This is conversation time that I would have had with the 4-H’er only, in the past.  I feel that the bonding, group dynamic is different.  It’s not necessarily bad, but it is different.  I have encouraged the moms to bring a book or handwork to do while Child Smith and Child McGillicuddy sew with me.  That helps the parent to stay out of the teacher/student conversation, unless invited in.

*      One benefit to having the mom in the room is that she is there to hear about “homework” assignments, ways to improve, praise, etc.  Again, it has affected the teacher/student dynamic, but not necessarily in a bad or good way.  Another benefit is that the parent is there when there are fit or length decisions to be made. 

*      I like working with 4-H’ers in my home.  I can run downstairs to get something out of the dryer while the 4-H’er pins a long seam.  I can answer the phone to tend to elderly parents’ health issues.  I can pull out a sewing tool that I didn’t expect that we would need or share a small piece of interfacing rather than sending them to the store.

*      Maureen likes working with the larger group at the Extension Office.  It allows a lot of children to be introduced to sewing.  They get basic skills and more.  They create wearable garments that they are proud of.  Her loyal volunteers make the large group possible, spreading the trained seamstresses around the room to help wherever needed.

*      We 4-H Sewing Leaders must embrace the Screened Volunteer mandate.  With thoughtful planning, it is possible to continue the 4-H tradition of adults sharing their skills and talents with the next generation, continuing to Make the Best Better, while the kids Learn by Doing!

Maureen and I would love to hear of your ideas about how to implement the Screened Volunteer mandate in your 4-H sewing group.  Use the Comments section below to share with us and the other readers!


If you have questions about how to implement the Screened Volunteer mandate in your club, you may note your question in the Comments section below.  If we can’t help you, we’ll see that you get an answer from an Extension staff member.


NOTE:  Here is a suggestion from our Community Club to yours--We are encouraging at least one adult per family to sign up to be a 4-H screened volunteer.  We offer over 20 different projects in our club and we don’t want our club to suffer because of the new regulations!  Example:  The foods leader who has been opening her home to aspiring bread bakers for the past 20 years should continue!  Therefore, we are going to supply a list of screened “Project Assistants” to each project leader.  When the project meetings are scheduled, they will have a large pool of parents who can share the load to be the second adult in the room.  The Project Assistants will not have the responsibility of leading the project; their job is to ensure that the meeting may take place by being the second adult.  If they learn a little or become more comfortable and someday become a Project Leader, that will be a happy bonus!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

MY FAVORITE THINGS—or some sewing gift ideas for you

Unlike Julie Andrews/Maria VonTrapp, I do not make playclothes from the draperies in my room!  However, I do have some favorite sewing items that would make practical, personal gifts at the holidays and for birthdays. 

If you don’t sew, you might need some ideas of what to buy for a budding sewing enthusiast on your gift list.  Good sewing equipment and notions help to encourage kids (and adultsJ) to keep on sewing. 

Here are some of my favorite things: 
·        Pins—“invest” in some good pins with glass heads.  The glass heads can stand the heat of an iron in the case of accidents, plus the longer length works well on most fabrics.  Great stocking stuffer for less than $10.

·        Chalk roller pen—a great way to mark fabrics, it makes accurate and removable markings.  Marking pens can be good but sometimes their marks don’t come out, or they reappear!  Another stocking stuffer idea.

·         High quality trimming scissors—my favorites are 5” Gingher trimmers.  They have nice pointy tips which I like for snipping when I have to “unsew”.  They are easy to control when trimming seams, grading seams, and trimming threads. 

·        High quality shears—8” shears are a necessity in the sewing room.   My favorites are, again, my Ginghers.  (If you have a leftie in the family, be sure to get shears designed for a leftie.) Shears are different from scissors—shears have two different-sized holes for the fingers and thumbs and are for cutting out fabric, allowing the shears to rest flat on the cutting surface and not lift the fabric out of line; scissors have two same-sized holes and are used for trimming, not cutting out. 

If there is already a good pair of sewing shears in the family, consider purchasing a micro-serrated pair.  These have blades that grip fine or slippery fabrics better for a good accurate cut. 

·       1 yard (or more) of silk organza—Silk organza is a terrific all-purpose fabric to have on hand.  Its many uses include:

§  A see-through press cloth—serge the sides of ½ yard of ivory silk organza for a terrific sewing aid

§  A stable underlining for wool, silk, or other fibers

§  A seam stabilizer—use the selvedges of the silk organza as a low-bulk stabilizer at zippers or shoulder seams

·       Pressing equipment—a tailor’s ham is needed, and it’s not just for tailoring.  Any garment that has shape built into it by using darts or princess seams will look better if pressed on a ham.  If a ham is already available, consider a clapper, a sleeveboard, or a tailors point presser.

·       A good iron—be sure that your sewing giftee has an iron that steams well, doesn’t spit, and has good controlled heating.  There are many variations on this theme, but everyone needs a good basic iron before moving on to more elaborate options.

·       A rotary cutter and mat—Quilters love these but garment sewers can use them, too.  I use mine for cutting bindings or even cutting out an entire garment.  Buy as large a mat as you can afford and will fit in the sewing space.  You won’t regret it. 

·       A good sewing light—I got a tabletop Ott light with a nice discount coupon a few years ago.  It is terrific when I do handsewing at my sewing machine area.  It also folds up so I can fit it in a suitcase to take when I go to motels—where the lighting is notoriously poor for sewing. 

·       A good basic sewing machine—I am often asked about buying sewing machines for kids.  This is tough.  You don’t know if the sewing bug will last for a while and you don’t want to spend too much until you do know.  On the other hand, a poor sewing machine can be a reason to quit sewing!!!!  My advice is to buy the best you can afford, using my other guidelines below.  (If you don’t need the machine in a few years or want a better one, you can trade this one in for credit or cash.) 

I WOULD NOT buy a machine that is promoted by the chain stores as being great for kids or for beginners. 

You DO NOT NEED an embroidery machine or a machine that has 258 built-in stitches. 

You DO NOT NEED a brand new machine. 

You DO NEED a good basic machine that does a balanced straight stitch, a zig-zag and perhaps a blind hem or edge-finishing stitch.  It would be nice if it makes a good buttonhole, too. 

You DO NEED a used or new machine that is being sold by a reputable dealer who will back up the purchase with good service. 

Ask 4-H sewing leaders and other people who sew where they get their machines serviced and where they recommend that you shop.  Private purchase or buying from somebody on-line is much more risky.  Unless you are a qualified sewing machine mechanic, beware of deals that seem too good to be true!!!  If you don’t buy from a reputable dealer, you may get a gem, but you also have to be prepared for the possibility that it may be a clunker.

These are a few of my favorite things.  Do you have any ideas for perfect sewing gifts for kids or any age person who is learning to sew?  Please use the comments section to share your ideas with the rest of us! 
Happy gift giving!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Dealing with Disappointment

As a leader we sometimes have to help our 4-Hers  deal with disappointment. Our 4-Hers spend a lot of time, effort and money on their project and they want to be recognized for their efforts.  We encourage them to enter their sewing projects in Fashion Revue, the county fair, and the Farm Show and  the PA Make It With Wool Contest. Sometimes they receive an award or recognition and sometimes they don't. Many youngsters have not had any experience dealing with the disappointment that comes with not winning.  As leaders we are dealing not just with the disappointment, but sometimes we even feel a little guilty! We think we should have suggested this, or insisted they change that--you can drive yourself crazy thinking about all the things you should have done, could have done wish-you-would have done.

I have learned a few things in my 20 plus years of being a leader and one if the most important is to prepare the 4-Hers for disappointment. I strongly encourage my students to participate in Fashion Revue.  I talk a lot about the EXPERIENCE of Fashion Revue: how much fun it it, how much they will learn form the workshops, how nice it is to meet other 4-Hers who love to sew and are as interested in fashion as they are, how inspiring and motivating it is to see all the other outfits, how enjoyable it is to model their outfit, and how proud they will feel when someone says "I like your dress!" If they happen to win an award, that is just icing on the cake, but I encourage them not to expect it.

I repeat the words of Doris Thomas, who was the extension educator in Lancaster County when I was in   4-H. Every year at Fashion Revue she told us "another day, another set of judges, another winner". I repeat those words to my 4-Hers because I believe them.  I want my students to know that every judge has a slightly different outlook on what is stylish or fashionable, what fits well and what is too big or too tight and the exact definition of good construction. One judge will love your purple shoes and another will think they are a bit over the top. One likes the machine hem and another thinks you should have done it by hand. And just because these particular three judges did not give your outfit an award does not mean that you did not do a great job or that your outfit is not terrific. And as leaders we sometimes have to remind ourselves of this too.

Learning to "lose gracefully", deal with disappointment and to look at every experience as an opportunity to learn are important lessons, for the 4-Hers, their parents and leaders.