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Class of 2024: Stitching dreams one thread at a time

Allie Albrecht, a senior at Porter Ridge High, is a budding fashion designer poised to make her mark on the world, armed with talent, passion and a full scholarship to North Carolina State University's Wilson College of Textiles. Allie's love for fashion isn't just a hobby – it's a calling that ignites her soul and fuels her dreams. With each design she creates, she infuses a piece of herself, weaving together innovation and self-expression. 

Growing up, Allie's love for making things was always there. Whether she was crafting jewelry pieces, diving into DIY projects or sketching her latest artistic visions, creativity coursed through her veins. It wasn't until high school, in the Apparel I course, that Allie discovered her passion for fashion. The hum of the sewing machine and the feel of fabric became her sanctuary, where her imagination soared. Surrounded by rolls of fabric and spools of thread, she not only found her love for making clothes but also her true calling.

"At a young age, I'd get chains and charms from Michael's to make jewelry. I still make them to this day," she said. "I wasn't sewing yet, but I'd look for clothes hacks, like how to tie a shirt differently to make more than one look. The design part came in when I started to learn to sew."

Allie's grandmother has been a powerful influence and fierce supporter. She's been sewing since Allie was small, making Halloween costumes for her mom and even outfits for Allie's Barbie dolls. This shared interest has brought them closer and given them an even more special connection. As Allie got more into sewing, her grandmother became her go-to person for advice and encouragement.

"When my grandmother found out I was taking apparel, she sent me a sewing machine," said Allie. "Then I would look up YouTube videos on how to make different things like shirts I liked, or I'd take things I had and would make them better. When I first started, it was a lot of experimenting."

Last year, she wowed her family and friends with her handmade junior prom dress. As she geared up for her senior prom, she was at it again, sketching and sewing her dream dress. It's not just about the final look for Allie; it's about the process – pouring her heart and creativity into every stitch. From sketches to fittings, she made her prom night truly her own.

Allie's passion for fashion didn't stop with her creations. She took it a step further by founding the first apparel club at the school. Her inspiration stemmed from noticing that after students finished Apparel I and II, there wasn't much opportunity to keep sewing and working on projects unless they had a sewing machine at home. So, she founded the club as a way for those who completed the courses to stay engaged and keep honing their skills, ensuring that their love for sewing didn't end with the school year. It was also for anyone who wanted to learn. 

"I started it my junior year. It's the most spontaneous idea I've had. It was close to the end of the year, and one of my friends was starting a cricket club, so I found out how to start one. I made a presentation to the school-based team and it was approved," she said. "I started this year with my apparel teacher, Ms. Goldberg, as my sponsor. I was shocked that during our first interest meeting her room was full. There were about 60 people."

Allie also sees the benefits of upcycling and repurposing items to give them new life. She teamed up with the school's Growing Green Club for their clothing drive to donate to shelters. Allie's club used some of the donated items and upcycled them to either be donated or sold for a fundraiser. 

"I don't like to buy new clothes. I'd find things around my house, like my mom's curtains, and make a dress out of them, hoping she wouldn't need the curtains later," she said with a smile. "She loved it, though."

Allie already has students who expressed interest in continuing the club. She's excited to leave a legacy and see how it evolves. 

Despite her undeniable talent, Allie faced doubts about pursuing fashion as a career. The practicality of other paths loomed heavy, but Allie refused to let go of her dreams. Last year, she attended North Carolina State University's STEP (Summer Textile Exploration Program) for a week, gaining insight into their programs. She knew that was where she wanted to be. When news of her scholarship broke, it was a game-changer.

"No one wants to be in debt. The fashion industry is competitive, so if my parents and I had to pay for college, we'd need to consider many factors," she said. "I'm grateful and over the moon for this scholarship. It's letting me live my dream of one day having my own brand, maybe even owning a boutique and selling my clothes."

Outside of her creative pursuits, Allie is also a big advocate for health and wellness. When she's not busy designing, you can often find her on the track, pushing herself to new limits as a member of the school's track team. She also holds the school record for the high jump. Her commitment to fitness doesn't stop there. Allie is a regular at the gym, where she loves to challenge herself. For Allie, staying active is a way to clear her mind and stay energized for her creative projects. 

"My advice to other students is if you have the resources and want to try something, do it," she said. "Starting the apparel club gave me the confidence to think and do. Balancing everything can be hard sometimes, but you find the time when you love it. Porter Ridge has really helped me reach my goals."