Work it, work it!
    Smile. And don’t fall.
    That’s some of what Allyson Leach, an Early High School sophomore, thinks when she enters the runway to model her creations at the Brown County Youth Fair fashion show.
    Allyson sat with three friends and co-exhibitors on a platform near the runway Monday morning in the Brown County Youth Fair Home Economics Building. They were among 24 young tailors who had just finished modeling the garments they created with a sewing machine in the appearance judging, a precursor to Tuesday night’s fashion show.
    Monday’s modeling consisted of standing on a small platform in front of a judge’s table, answering questions and facing different directions.
    Tuesday night, they will model their garments once again — this time, on a runway at the fashion show, where they will learn the results of Monday’s appearance and construction judging.

‘Having fun, answering some questions’
    Peyton Cockerham, 11, is a fifth-grader at Early Elementary School and one of the friends sitting near Allyson. Showing no signs of ever being nervous, Peyton flashed a big, quick smile as she explained she’s been competing in the home economics division for three years.
    Peyton admitted, though, that “sometimes” she gets nervous when her creations are judged. “They asked me what was the hardest, what was the easiest, and if you wanted to change something, what would it be?” Peyton said of the appearance judging she’d just experienced.
    “Most of the time I’m just relaxed, having fun, answering some questions.”
    She’s a three-year veteran of the fashion show, and she likes modeling because “you can show off your personality.”

First-timer
    Hannah Hull, an Early High School senior, said a young girl standing near her wanted to give an interview. The girl is also 11 and attends Early Elementary School.
    “Taylor Simpson,” the girl said, giving her name. “I am the daughter of Brad and Lisa Simpson. This is my first year to do the fashion show, but I have been showing for three years.”
    Taylor said she made a skirt and an apron for the show.
    “I was a little nervous, but not too much,” Taylor said.

‘A way to express myself’
    Hannah took her turn to speak, saying she’s in her ninth year of the fashion show.
    “I really love doing the fashion show,” Hannah said. Referring to Peyton and Taylor, the senior continued, “These two girls, I basically raised — teaching them how to sew. I’m also on the Texas State Fashion Advisory Board. … So the fashion show is like my own little child.”
    Hannah said she’s probably made more than 50 garments throughout her years entering the fashion show. “I love it … especially teaching the girls to sew,” Hannah said. “Sewing’s becoming a lost art. It means a lot to me.
    “It warms my heart just seeing these girls have fun answering the questions. They’re like my own little kid.”
    Hannah, continued, “Sewing is just a way to express myself. I design my own clothing and I hope in the future to become my own fashion designer and start up my own business for girls.”

An unbreakable bond
    Allyson said she got into sewing “because my nana used to sew our clothes for us. I wanted to carry on her legacy … Hannah is one of the people that got me into it. I've got a love for sewing. It’s like (Hannah) said — it’s a way to express your feelings and press who you are in your clothing, and be able to show people what you can do.”
    Allyson said she and her tailor friends have spent many hours together. “It kind of makes it worthwhile because you know that you’re going to have your lifelong friends forever,” Allyson said. “I think one reason I got into sewing was to make bonds and friendships, and we honestly, truly have.
    “Back there in the dressing rooms we just have fun, and we talk about our clothing. It’s like a bond we’ve made, and it’s kind of unbreakable. When we’re sewing and we’re talking, we don’t really talk about the competition. We talk about our friendships.”
    But once each exhibitor steps onto the runway for the fashion show, Allyson said, “it’s different because you’ve got to put on your smile and you’ve got to work it. I think about how happy I’m making my family and especially my nana, and I think about what all she’s done through her life, and I think about what I’m showing other people that she taught us.
    “One other thing that’s also going through my head is, don’t fall, don’t fall, just smile and have fun.”