Mandi Chermak will represent Delta County when she models her grand champion 4-H clothing project later this month at the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo.
Chermak, an 18-year-old sophomore at the University of Northern Colorado and daughter of Cristen and Rick Chermak of Hotchkiss, has entered a 4-H sewing project in the Delta County Fair each of her 11 years as a 4-H member. "This is my favorite thing I've done," said Chermak.
The costume, which includes a coat, skirt, bustier and hat, was made from a Simplicity steampunk pattern. The steampunk style, inspired by 19th-century industrial-style fashions and often associated with Victorian-era fiction and literary works by the likes of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne (according to steampunk.com), is growing in popularity, said Chermak. "It's big at Comic-Con."
The project also fulfilled a long-time goal of making a costume, preferably something full-length, said Chermak, who made the costume for the 4-H clothing construction unit on creative sewing projects.
Chermak learned to sew from her mom, a sewing teacher and sewing project leader for the Crawford Pioneers 4-H club who started her children in 4-H their first year of eligibility.
The dress contains roughly 13 yards of David Tutera burgundy stretch taffeta, which was used in the coat and skirt. For the bustier, she used 100 percent white-striped cotton fabric.
"We spent an ungodly amount of time just looking for the fabric," said Cristen.
Chermak didn't know just how many hours she had invested in the project. She started it last year with the intent of entering it in the 2014 county fair, but she underestimated the time needed to complete the project, including the embellished fedora-style hat. Just making the pleats took 16 hours.
This is the final year of fair competition for Chermak, who is a self-professed life-long seamstress. Her mom sent her to school with a sewing machine, which has come in useful in her position as a manager for the UNC Bears hockey team. She said she is constantly asked to sew on buttons and make repairs to team uniforms.
Chermak has entered sewing projects in the state fair for 10 years, and has modeled clothing at state three of those years. She's hoping to repeat last year's accomplishment and make the top-15 in modeling with her project, and maybe win another blue ribbon.