Teens to Set Prom Trends in Stitch This! 4-H Design Challenge at State Fair

Contest Theme Is ‘America the Beautiful’

AMES, Iowa -- Armed with an all-American theme and 200 prom dresses to tear apart for material, teams of Iowa teens will design original gowns during the third annual Stitch This! 4-H Design Challenge Aug. 19-20 at the Iowa State Fair.

The winning team’s design will be professionally prototyped, mass produced and made available at 65 stores nationwide as part of Stacey’s Prom and Formalwear 2012 Prom Line. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the dress will benefit the Iowa State University Extension 4-H Youth Development clothing project area.

All of the dresses created in the 2011 Stitch This! 4-H Design Challenge will be featured at Stacey’s Prom and Formalwear in Urbandale for a least one month after the event.

“So far there is no distinct style trend for 2012,” said Stacey Fox, president of Stacey’s Prom and Formalwear. “Through Stitch This, Iowa teens can help set the prom trends for next year.”

Stitch This team during 2010 challengeCreativity from chaos

“Imagine 13 teams of teenagers tearing apart prom dresses for the chance to design an original gown for the national prom scene. It will be exciting, yet organized, chaos,” said Shelly Greving, marketing director for ISU Extension 4-H Youth Development.

Stacey’s Prom and Formalwear is donating 100 to 200 prom dresses for Stitch This, Greving explained. This year, four-member teams have 16 hours to design new prom dresses based on the theme “America the Beautiful.” Each team must select at least three donated dresses to use as material for creating a completely new garment. The new dress may incorporate design elements from the existing dresses, but the final product must look significantly different from the original dresses.

The challenge culminates in a runway-style fashion show on the 4-H Exhibits Building’s main stage. Teams are judged upon creativity, concept, teamwork, workmanship and presentation.

Fox said, “I am really excited to be a part of this event. I look forward to the creativity of the teams. Who better to go to for design ideas than the people wearing the dresses?”

“We see Stitch This as an opportunity to unite the fashion industry with our youth,” Greving added. All Iowa high school-aged youth who have completed the equivalent of grades 9, 10, 11 or 12 are eligible to participate. The Stitch This application is available online and the deadline is June 1. Selected applicants will be announced July 1.

“Youth do not have to be 4-H members to apply for Stitch This. However, at least one member of each team must be a 4-H’er,” Greving said. “It’s easy to join. Information about how to join 4-H is online.”

Theme gives challenge a new direction

“The theme ‘America the Beautiful’ offers participants the opportunity to think about the elements of design as they relate to landscapes, nature and the beauty of America,” said Kenzie Besch, an Iowa State University student and Stitch This intern. “Whether through texture, fabrics or colors, the teams will have a variety of ways to show their creativity.”

Besch, an apparel, merchandising and design major at Iowa State, finds it encouraging that someone from Iowa will be designing a prom dress that will be available nationwide. She hopes the experience will encourage more would-be designers to consider attending Iowa State.

“Iowa State’s fashion program is top notch, and high-end fashion companies do look to Iowa State when recruiting for jobs,” Besch said.

Fashionably GreenAnother win for the 2010 team

The winning team from the 2010 challenge, Fashionably Green from Sioux County, also has the opportunity to design a dress for Stacey’s 2012 Prom Line, Greving explained. “Each of the team’s four members will create design sketches for a potential 2012 prom dress. They will provide as much detail as possible and a name for their garment to Stacey by May 15. Stacey’s designers will choose the best design from the four options, and have a prototype made. Fashionably Green will get to see the prototype and offer suggestions. Later this fall, the garment will be mass produced as part of Stacey’s 2012 Prom Line as well.”

Members of Fashionably Green are Kaitlyn Huisman, Jade Moret, Autumn Pottebaum and Jessi Stander from Sioux County.