- Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

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.

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