For many years, BERNINA South Africa has run a country-wide sewing competition in schools, colleges, and universities under the title “BERNINA Fabric Fun”. With several hundred young designers and seamstresses from all age groups participating every year, the event has become an institution for sewing enthusiasts in South Africa. The competition has different categories and includes elementary school pupils as well as designers, seamstresses, and managers in training.
A special highlight of the whole event is the contest of the final year students: The best five students are selected from the participants by a jury of experts. These five finalists are invited by BERNINA South Africa to a four-day sewing competition in Johannesburg, a grand finale that will ultimately determine a national champion.
This year’s staging of the student competition was given the motto “Queen of Hearts”. The first prize consisted of studio facilities, including two BERNINA sewing machines, a steam ironing system, a cutting table, and a substantial amount of money to be put toward the establishment of the student’s own small business. The runner-up was also awarded an attractive prize package.
Last Monday, at 9 a.m., the finalists arrived at BERNINA South Africa. With them they brought their own personal basic patterns and their sewing boxes. All the other equipment was provided by BERNINA: 6 running meters of colored Shweshwe fabric, 2 running meters of a matching cotton fabric, sewing machines, an overlocker, and threads. Articles such as ribbons, zippers, etc. were made available upon request during the contest.
The five designers were given an assignment without prior notice: Design a dress/outfit for “Miss South Africa”, tailored to your own size, consisting of a maximum of three parts. And now, the work:
On Thursday at 2 o’clock in the afternoon it was time to take the foot off the gas and set down one’s scissors. And on to the judging. Here are the five finalists in the outfits they designed (two judges in the middle):
The entries were judged on overall impression, tailor work, and decoration. Pattern construction, use of materials, and the fit also influenced the score. As difficult as it was to choose the best from among the five designs that were sewn by the contestants with such motivation and enthusiasm, ultimately the jury came to the same decision.
The winner is Juanie Ferreira from the prestigious South African design school LISOF:
The runner-up is Jane Mokheti from the Vaal University of Technology:
Congratulations to both of them and best of luck to all five participants for continued success in their design careers!