Sketch to stage

Heather Evers spent her senior year creating a line of snowboarding apparel. On Saturday, her models displayed the results.

Emily Ayshford

Heather Evers had never been this nervous before a show. Backstage she paced, rubbed her hands together and fiddled with her line of clothing – the culmination of her college career.

Evers is one of 10 clothing design seniors whose work was featured in the “10 LaFemme” senior fashion show Saturday at the Ted Mann Concert Hall.

Her line, titled “Lizzard,” featured a combination of snowboarding and street apparel designed for men and women.

As a child, Evers did not think she would end up a clothing designer. Her mother wanted her to learn how to sew, but Evers was not into “girl stuff.”

“The only thing I ever did with my Barbies was cut off their hair,” she said. She did not consider herself the “designer-type,” but rather the “creative-type,” and after a year of studying communication disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, she decided to try clothing design at the University.

As part of the major, every senior must create a “senior line” and present it at the annual show. For her line, Evers designed snowboarding apparel, something she would like to do as a career.

“You cater your line to a direction you want to go in life,” she said.

She wanted to mix street wear with snowboarding wear. Her designs include Gortex jackets as well as feminine T-shirts and skirts.

She used her friends as models because, she said, she wanted to keep her designs “as close to my customer as possible.” While most of the designers only used female models, Evers used three male models and three female models because most snowboarding customers are men, she said.

The preparation

Most people do not realize how much work goes into the line, Evers said. Beginning in September, she first made patterns, then sewed test garments out of cotton and finally sewed the actual apparel itself. The total process took more than 300 hours.

She has sacrificed many parts of her life to work on the line. Last semester, she withdrew from a class to spend more time preparing, and when she tried to go snowboarding with her boyfriend, she made him turn the car around so she could go work on her line.

“The senior line is jinxed,” she said of the line that is graded and required for graduation. “There’s so much pressure to get it done.”

Evers also paid for the fabric she used in her line. Although she would not say how much she spent, it was more than she expected. Designers can spend anywhere from $300 to thousands of dollars creating their line, she said.

Despite her hard work, Evers had not finished her line a week before the show. She said she had about 20 hours of work left sewing in linings and making alterations. In the end, she spent more time on this line than her three previous ones, and plans to “stick (the line) in the closet for a while when I’m done with it and not look at it.”

Evers said she’ll wear some of the clothes and give others to Devin Grdinic, her boyfriend and a model in the show.

The show

The night before the show, Evers slept for three hours. She had to set in a lining, hem jacket sleeves and make other alterations late into the night.

Despite lacking sleep, Evers appeared calm the day of the show.

“I feel good right now,” she said. “It’s going to work.”

But Grdinic said otherwise.

“She hasn’t slept in a while,” he said. “She seems kind of spaced out.”

Three hours before the show, one of Evers’ models accidentally ripped his snaps through his coat. Evers safety-pinned them and gave him a quick lesson on how to unsnap the coat. But that was the only last-minute problem.

“I’m lucky,” she said.

Backstage before the show, Evers’ models waited for their turn to walk the runway. Although the models were told to be quiet, whispers of last-minute instructions filled the room. Even their anxiety began to show.

“I just realized I’ve only been in front of a crowd while snowboarding,” Grdinic said.

Evers’ composure disappeared as she checked her designs one last time.

“Put on your jacket,” she said to Grdinic. “Put it on. Make me feel better. How are the buttons? Do you guys remember the timing?”

Then she became quiet.

“It has been a long process,” she said.

When it was time for Evers’ line, the models danced to Modest Mouse on the runway while the crowd cheered.

Model Andy Murphy, a 22-year-old salesman, came offstage still shaking.

“It was fun as hell,” he said.

After Evers went out on the runway with her models, she came backstage, threw her hands up in the air and jumped around in silent delight.