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W.Va. family thinks sewing is a stitch

August 09, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Far from Los Angeles, Joseph "Joey" Connelly seized an opportunity Tuesday evening at the Berkeley County Youth Fair's 4-H Style Revue to exhibit a little support for his favorite professional basketball team - the Los Angeles Lakers.

Dressed in a sleeveless yellow and purple shirt and matching shorts that he made himself, the 13-year-old Hedgesville, W.Va., boy strutted his stuff.

"Kobe's my favorite," Connelly said of the team's star, Kobe Bryant, before modeling his workmanship for a crowd gathered in the show arena.

To the delight of his grandmother, Elaine Miller, Connelly was joined by his brother, Bobby, 15, and their sister, Samantha, 16.


All of them said Miller, 58, was their inspiration

"She's been sewing for years," Bobby Connelly said.

As each of her grandchildren were recognized for their projects, Miller recalled her first entry years ago - a triangle-shaped pincushion with an elastic strap to put on the wrist.

"My mother was an excellent seamstress," said Miller, who sews nursing blouses for her daughter, Lyn.

Her daughter claims to be "the worst sewer in the world."

"I think it instills a little bit of pride in themselves to do this," Miller said of her grandchildren's efforts. "I learned a lot of patience."

She also has sewn a lot of clothes, including an Easter suit for her son. She still has the jacket.

Dressed in a black formal gown for the revue, Samantha Connelly said her interest in sewing was sparked by a former Miss Berkeley County Youth Fair Queen who modeled a T-shirt nine years ago.

Her first entry was a pair of matching hunter-green shorts and shirt, accented with butterflies.

"It was a bit tacky, just a tiny bit," she said.

Her dress this year, made from Halloween costume-like material, cost $65, including the pattern, she said.

In his fourth year of entering sewing projects as a member of the Hedgesville Superchargers 4-H Club, Connelly's older brother, Bobby, said he wanted to be able to make something that he could wear to church services.

After about a week of work, he fashioned tan khaki cargo pants and a black nylon shirt.

But don't make any mistake about the Connelly brothers; neither said they have a real interest in fashion.

"We're basically into sports," Joey Connelly said.

The Connellys were among at least 40 young people to enter the revue, a staple of the fair for years, according to Barbara Frankenberry, who chaired the committee for the event.

"Now, many people can't sew a straight line with a sewing machine," Frankenberry said. "It's a life skill we're teaching here. We're hoping it's a skill that doesn't die."

The Connelly family arguably is doing its part to make sure that doesn't happen.

"I just love it," Miller said.

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