SAYRE, Pa. (AP) — Most people buy their clothes at a store and wear them without a thought as to how they were made.
For Katherine Porter of South Waverly, however, the construction of a garment is an art form, one she's honed since childhood.
And it's a hobby in which she has found success. For the past three years, the Sayre High School senior has wowed judges at the Pennsylvania Farm Show with her skills. Earlier this month, judges awarded Porter the Youth and 4-H Best of Show prize at the annual farm show's Fashions with a Flair competition for the third consecutive year.
Porter's turquoise lace dress and matching jacket took the top prize at this year's show, which featured 21 exhibitors modeling 52 individual designs.
"It was quite a privilege to receive (Best in Show) for a third time," Porter said.
In designing the winning outfit, Porter wanted to achieve a specific goal this year. She wanted to submit a formal dress that utilized couture techniques, using detailed, hand-stitched embellishments to add to the garment's artistry.
Porter said adding details to the lace dress took "countless" hours.
"It involved a lot of hand-stitching," she said. "People take for granted how long it takes to make your clothes."
The dress features a full skirt and, as presented at the farm show, was topped with a fully lined linen jacket with cap sleeves and a Peter Pan collar. The outfit, which Porter also modeled at the show, also featured a handmade grosgrain ribbon belt with a bow in the center.
Porter designs each outfit based on her own tastes, also taking inspiration from eye-catching designs online, in magazines and in person.
She also keeps in mind what the judges look for. Judges examine each design and score it based on overall appearance, use of accessories, modeling presentations, design, style and color, construction and fit and level of difficulty. As a veteran of competitions, she enters her designs with confidence, she said.
"When I create a garment, I try to make sure all the elements the judges are looking for are the best they can be," Porter said.
The garments get use beyond their competition time — Porter said she wears a lot of her own creations in her everyday life, receiving compliments from passersby. She hasn't grown much in the past four years, she said, and the outfits are "custom-fit to me."
Porter, the daughter of Dr. Burdett and Cynthia Porter, is a member of Sayre's Navigators 4-H Club under the leadership of Linda Elsbree. She began sewing with 4-H at the age of 8 as a way to honor a family tradition. Porter's grandmother and mother also participated in 4-H sewing as children.
"The tradition was passed on to me," she said.
Porter began to enter her designs into competitions in her second year of sewing. In addition to competing at the farm show, she also participates each year at the 4-H's regional fashion revue and, a few years ago, participated in the state fashion revue. She also has taught modeling to younger 4-H participants, as modeling the garment is part of the competition.
The regional and state revues are typically held in the summer, Porter said. She plans to design one more outfit to enter into this summer's regional competition, the final stitch in her competition career.
In between enjoying her final year on the Sayre High School swim team and participating in other hobbies, including running, Porter is preparing to enter college in the fall. She'll attend Ursinus College, near Philadelphia.
Porter hasn't chosen her major yet, but doesn't plan to pursue fashion design as a career path. However, she says she'll continue to maintain sewing as a hobby.
Sewing "allows me to let out my creative side," Porter said.
Information from: The Daily Review, http://www.thedailyreview.com