Always in fashion: 4-H’ers model sewing and consumer clothing projects


Every year, the senior grand champion in 4-H sewing receives a sewing machine at the end of the annual Jackson County 4-H Fashion Revue at the Jackson County Fair in Brownstown.

The award is in honor of Marie Burgess of Brownstown, who died in 2013 from cancer at the age of 65.

Burgess had shared her extensive knowledge and love of sewing and quilting with area youth for more than 35 years by serving as a 4-H club leader and the county clothing chairwoman.

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For more than 25 years, Burgess was in charge of the 4-H clothing projects, overseeing sewing workshops and organizing the annual judging and 4-H fashion show at the fair.

This year’s grand champion, Jessica Blevins, 17, of Seymour, won the sewing machine last year and reserve champion Sophie Kreis, 18, of Brownstown won it two years ago. Blevins also won grand champion model this year, and Kreis took home reserve grand champion model.

To encourage another young 4-H’er to continue her interest in sewing, judges chose the third-best overall sewing entry in this year’s competition for the award — Abby Stuckwisch, 15, of Brownstown.

“Winning the sewing machine was a once in a lifetime experience, that I was definitely not expecting at this year’s fashion revue,” Stuckwisch said. “The minute they announced my name, my hand flew to my mouth in surprise.”

All judging took place July 16 prior to the fair. During Tuesday’s fashion show, participants in grades 3 through 12 got the opportunity to walk down the catwalk at the grandstand and model their creation to the audience.

Bill Burgess, Marie’s husband, and their daughter, Debbie Burgess, attended the show to present the sewing machine.

“Marie was passionate about this project, and we carry on her legacy…” Debbie said. “We want to thank you for participating in this project, and we encourage all the young 4-H’ers out there to sew, sew, sew so that one day, you can win this wonderful (award).”

Stuckwisch said winning the sewing machine was a good reason to stay involved in 4-H sewing.

“This amazing gift has inspired me to continue sewing in the future and to help the younger seamstresses to work towards winning the machine as well,” she said. “The 4-H sewing project has taught me so many skills. From topstitching and understitching to hard work and determination, sewing has taught me many life lessons that I will carry with me forever.”

Every time she uses the sewing machine she will be reminded of all she has learned and all she can teach, just as Marie Burgess did.

Marie’s passion was passing on the skill of sewing to children, Bill said.

One 4-H’er came up to him Monday night at the fair to let him know that Marie had been her 4-H leader.

“That makes you feel good,” he said.

It also was encouraging, he said, to see how much work and effort the girls put into their projects, and it would have made Marie proud, he added.

Kreis has been sewing for the past 10 years, and this was her last year to participate in 4-H.

“I got into it because my grandma helped my mom through her 4-H career, and so they wanted to start the same tradition with me,” she said. “So I stayed with it for my grandma, and I loved modeling at the fashion revue.”

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