Learning to Sew With 4-H

Rosie Johnson uses 4-H experience to excel at fashion design
Rosie Johnson wears a red dress that she designed

“If you can drive a car, you can learn to sew,” explains 4-H alum Rosemary “Rosie” Johnson. “Think about it—you need to change the angle with your hands and need to change speed with your feet. You must stay between the lines. Your bobbin is like your gas tank,” she says.

Rosie began sewing at eight years-old and hasn’t looked back. Throughout her elementary, middle and high school years she learned practical techniques while honing her own creativity.

Rosie’s mother, Sarah, created a family 4-H club for Rosie and Rosie’s younger brother, Wesley. “I wouldn’t have learned how to sew as quickly or met people with similar interests if it wasn’t for 4-H,” Rosie says.

A Creative Approach

Sewing requires thoughtful attention to detail and Rosie isn’t one to back down from a challenge. She’s created a wide array of garments for 4-H competitions over the years including an A-line dress, tiered skirt, rainbow-striped apron and colonial period dress. “I love coming up with the design,” she says.

One of the most exciting aspects of sewing with 4-H is presenting pieces at shows. Rosie has garnered many awards over the years including at the famed Eastern States Exposition (also known as The Big E) in Springfield, Massachusetts. She modeled her designs on stage, provided commentary about her creations and was judged on the degree of difficulty and craftsmanship of her work.


Four of Rosie's dresses she created for 4-H competitions

Beyond competitions, Rosie has created clothes just for fun. For example, young adults convene on the UNH Durham campus in the summer for a 4-H Teen Conference. This year’s conference theme was country-western so Rosie dressed up as the character Bo Peep from the Toy Story movie series—wearing a light aqua-colored dress, hoop skirt and bonnet.

Rosie graduated from Lebanon High School in June of 2019 and is now pursuing a technical theatre degree. Her dream job is to design costumes for a movie studio. UNH Extension can’t wait to see how Rosie continues to share these talents with the world.

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