TWIN FALLS — Evelyn Moreno grew up hearing stories about how her grandmother sewed clothing for her family.
When she was younger, Evelyn begged her mother to let her sew. But she wasn’t allowed to because she was too young.
Now, the 12-year-old is getting a chance to learn more about fashion. She’s among about 15 students in South Hills Middle School’s new fashion and design club, which launched this fall.
It’s the only club of its kind in the Twin Falls School District — and likely, in the Magic Valley. South Hills Middle School is a brand new campus in south Twin Falls and opened in August.
Students meet after school a few days a week. They’re working on dress designs for a Scholastic Books Club contest. The winning artwork will appear on the cover of a young adult novel series, “The Selection.”
“They’re working their tails off to get this done by next week,” art teacher and club adviser Jay Bryan said Wednesday.
It’s a nationwide contest and there’s stiff competition. But Bryan said, “We’re hoping we might snag this one.” He encouraged his students to draw a "foofy" dress because it’s likely what the judges are looking for.
The winner’s dress will be created in real life by a professional designer and the student artist will also get an autographed set of “The Selection” books.
About 25 years ago, Bryan organized a similar fashion and design club after girls in his art class expressed interest in learning how to design clothing.
This school year, a flier appeared in his teacher mailbox about the Scholastic contest. He doesn’t know who put it there. It sparked the idea for a fashion and design club at South Hills Middle School.
The vast majority of the club members are girls, but one sixth-grade boy is participating. Bryan said he tried to encourage more boys to get involved, but they claimed to be too macho or that it wouldn’t be cool to join.
He told them many of the top fashion designers are men. But they’re middle school boys, so it was a tough sell.
On Wednesday, the last bell of the school day rang at 3:50 p.m. to dismiss advisory classes. Students flooded the hallways, clustering in groups with friends near their lockers.
A few students began filtering into Bryan’s art classroom. The classroom was eerily silent, with an occasional scuffing noise as bar stools with tennis ball as feet moved on the cement floor.
Students sketched in pencil and used paint to create their final design on thick white paper. They dipped their paintbrushes in water in old Dr. Pepper plastic soda bottles.
Some students held their sketch up to a glass door in the classroom. As natural light filtered in, they traced their design onto a different piece of paper.
Morgan Campbell, 12, was painting a picture of her dress, which includes shades of blue and gray. She asked Bryan for help.
He showed her how to paint light gray onto the dress' pleats. “You don’t want to make it look like fur,” he said. “That’s not what we’re doing here.”
Nearby, Evelyn was sketching her design in pencil for a short cupcake dress with a cape in the back. She’d been working on it for about a week.
She had a mental picture of what she wanted to design, but didn’t look at any pictures for reference.
When she was little, her mother told her stories about how her grandmother used to make clothes because the family couldn’t afford to buy them.
As Evelyn got older, she started sewing. On Wednesday, a yellow emoji smiley face pillow she’d made was sitting out on her desk.
She said about sewing and design: “I just really liked it and I wanted to do it when I grow up.”
Evelyn isn’t taking an art class this semester at South Hills Middle School. But she loves to draw on her own at home.
Fashion and design club is a way to refine her artistic abilities and gives her an outlet to express her creativity.