“Hands-On 4-H History” – Clothing and Fashion

Clothing and fashion projects have been a part of practically all of 4-H history. From the early 4-H uniforms for boys and girls to the Fashion revues that are still common today, thousands of 4-H members learned skills in sewing and fashion design and proudly wore the 4-H name and emblem.

The first story in the November 1919 edition of Boys’ and Girls’ Farm Leader tells of a team of 4-H girls from Wisconsin. Through competitions with sewing demonstration teams from other states, they had been selected to present their demonstration at the interstate fair in Sioux City, Iowa. Their demonstration showed how dyeing fabric is a practical and economical way to make old clothes look new.

Wisconsin 4-H girls in 1919 demonstrate that dyeing is a practical and economical way to make old clothes look like new.

The Wisconsin girls even had a dyeing song which was a hit at the Sioux City banquet and was sung at every demonstration: Here it is:


Dyeing! Dyeing! Everybody’s dyeing now!
Dyeing! Dyeing! We are going to show you how.
The object now is to make thing new; Colors that will appeal to you,
Dyeing! Dying! Everybody’s dyeing now!

An article in the November-December, 1938 issue of National 4-H News heralds the awards to be given in the wool dress class at National 4-H Congress. It was the second year for this award category sponsored by the Associated Wool Industries. Two sterling silver trays would be awarded to the best wool school outfits, and two for the best tailored or semi-tailored wool outfits. In addition, $4.00 cash awards would be presented for each exhibit entered, with additional money awarded for blue and red ribbon outfits.

Are there members of your 4-H club in the sewing project? Ask them to share what they’ve done. Consider how you can add some 4-H History to your county or state Fashion Revue or other clothing activities. In the “Hands-On History” section of the 4-H History website you’ll find ideas about presenting a 4-H History Fashion Show.

Visit: http://4-HHistoryPreservation.com/Hands-On/

Sue Benedetti

History Preservation Newsletter
November 2013

November 2013 4-H History Newsletter

After the rush of fairs, summer activities and achievement programs, now is a good time to focus on 4-H History (contemporary and past), documenting memories and making plans for history-related activities for next year. This month we feature:

  • “Voices of 4-H History” activities in several states and examples of how others are preparing to start History Clubs and/or film alumni, leaders, staff and supporters to capture their stories for posterity.
  • “Hands-On History” focuses on early clothing project demonstrations and fashion reviews as far back as 1919; you can add a historical note to current clothing and fashion-related work by digging into the history of these projects in your area.
  • “VIP Support” introduces you to some of the thousands of noted personalities who have lent their name and prestige to 4-H over the past 100+ years. Celebrities of all sorts – entertainers, sports stars, Presidents and public officials, authors, astronauts and others – provided valuable public awareness to the relevance and impact of the 4-H educational program across the country.

Use the Thanksgiving and Holiday breaks to re-group and plan your history activities for 2014. Pumpkin pie and history planning go well together!