BLOOMINGTON — Nicole Megles is your typical 16-year-old student, says her mother, Stephanie. She will be a junior at Normal Community High School and is on the varsity girls soccer team.
“But she’s also creative,” she said Sunday prior to her daughter’s debut in the Elegant Designs N Decor fashion show at the Parke Regency Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington. “Sewing allows her to bring out her creative side.”
Dressed in a bright yellow dress inspired by Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” Nicole Megles modeled the outfit she made herself through the help of Lydia Pinto’s sewing class. She has been a student since the fourth grade.
“I really like exploring my creative side,” she said. “And when you make it yourself, you know it’s going to be something you like.”
Sewing has long been a passion for Lydia Pinto, owner of Elegant Designs N Decor in Bloomington. A native of Mumbai, India, she and her husband, Rufus, moved to Bloomington 16 years ago. But the desire to sew never left.
“It’s a lost art and I don’t want to see it go,” she said. “I have been doing this all of my life. As a kid, I used to watch my mom sew.
“When I finished high school, I did my diploma in dressmaking and got a degree in fashion designing in India. When I came here, I still wanted to teach and I still wanted to sew, and I am so grateful for the opportunity because not a lot of people do it anymore.”
More than a dozen students presented clothes they made in Pinto’s classes during Sunday’s show. The girls chose a pattern, selected the fabric, sewed the outfit, picked accessories, selected the music and practiced the runway walk. About 100 people attended the show.
“This gives them a chance to show off the hard work they have put into this,” Pinto said.
Not only is sewing a way to make new or save old clothing, but there also are other advantages, too, Pinto said.
“Kids are under a lot of stress these days,” she said. “They have sports practices and schoolwork. It’s tough just growing up.
“Our classes are two hours long and when their mothers show to pick them up, I hear them complaining about having to go back home,” she said. “That tells me they really love it and it’s a rewarding experience.”
Annie Blair, a 10-year-old from Bloomington, plays soccer, softball and basketball and dances. But Sunday was the chance for her to show off her 1950s poodle skirt made from scratch with Pinto’s help.
“I like how I feel in it and it makes me feel good,” she said. “My great-grandmother was really interested in sewing and so my mom just talked about that a lot and that is how I got interested in it.
“I really like it because I can make anything I want.”