Sure, they might have been the only two people to compete.
Nevertheless, placing first and second in the statewide pre-teen “Make it With Wool” competition in October was still an empowering moment for Chehalis sisters Berkeley and Linden Varick.
Berkeley, 13, sewed a black, knee-length wool dress coat with a hood and a green lining to earn the gold. Her sister Linden, 12, came in a close second place after sewing a blue, plaid circle skirt with an elastic waistband. Asked to describe their wool creations, the two girls beamed with pride.
They learned to sew from their grandmothers. Berkeley started eight years ago, Linden five years ago. They honed their skills in a 4-H group hosted by Ericka Suhrbier, owner of Chehalis fabric store Billie’s Designer Fabrics.
It was Suhrbier who encouraged them to enter the competition.
The sisters spent months preparing their pieces, getting advice from their teacher and grandmothers but doing all the work themselves. They didn’t help one another, either, because they have two very different work styles — and clothing styles.
“I think it would be really hard to do stuff together,” Berkeley said. “Sewing can be really hard to do with someone else if you’re not making a quilt.”
When October finally came, they headed to Ellensburg for the competition. For the first round of judging, the duo put their clothes on mannequins. Next, they changed into the outfits and stood in front of the judges.
“I went first. And they would just ask us questions, and we would have to say how we did something or what fabric we used,” Linden said.
After the interviews, the girls did a fashion show to finish it off.
Even though they didn’t compete against anyone else, the sisters still made their mother and grandmothers extremely proud. And they were glad they did it, too.
“I like to think of stuff and be able to make it myself. If I can't ever find something that I really want to wear, I can always make it myself,” Berkeley said.
Linden chimed in: “Yeah. I always like when someone says ‘Oh where did you get that?’ and you say, ‘I made it myself.’”
Linden appreciates her sister’s artistic ability, and said she always likes to try picking up the hobbies Berkeley gets into. They both attend Chehalis Middle School, play midfielder on the soccer field, enjoy math and love doing crafts.
Berkeley is a lot more competitive than Linden, though, they said. Along with soccer, she does middle school wrestling.
Their mom Melissa Varick, proudly highlighting the diversity of her daughters’ talents said: “We were laughing because her first wrestling meet was yesterday. There were three girls on the team at the middle school and she pinned her two guys. And then she’s doing this ‘Make it With Wool.’ It’s just funny.”