Cheyenne Ruhnke, 11, of Lindsay, stands next to a dress she made out of plastic bottle caps for a 4-H project. The dress has been featured in The Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery in Lincoln and will be modeled by Ruhnke during Omaha Fashion Week in March.

Courtesy photo

LINDSAY — Cheyenne Ruhnke wasn’t able to take a seat while wearing the dress she made for the 4-H fashion show at last year's Platte County Fair.

Plastic bottle caps — the material used to make the dress — are a bit uncomfortable to move around in, let alone sit on.

The 11-year-old girl from Lindsay, with help from her mom, Lynn, spent days making the unique and colorful design after saving all the caps from pop, water, milk and Gatorade bottles she could. The pair put the dress together over several months starting last February for the 2014 county fair held in the summer.

The effort earned Ruhnke a purple ribbon at the fair, but that wasn't the only accolade bestowed upon her and the dress.

After the Platte County Fair, the dress was shown at the Nebraska State Fair. After that, it was selected to be displayed at The Robert Hillestad Textile Gallery in Lincoln. Soon, Cheyenne will be modeling the dress during Omaha Fashion Week.

She was selected for that event through an application process. Only items displayed at the state fair were considered. Ten 4-H’ers will show off their designs at the event in March.

“I’m excited,” Ruhnke said about the idea of modeling her dress, though she admits to being a little nervous.

She has been a member of the Lindsay Leaders 4-H group for about five years and done a few clothing projects in the past, like making a skirt out of jeans and a T-shirt into a dress.

Lynn said her daughter doesn’t have much patience for sewing. This year’s project required no thread or needle. All that was used were strips of ribbon, hot glue, a little Velcro and hundreds of plastic bottle caps.

“We had to buy a lot of hot glue and a lot of ribbons,” Ruhnke said, adding that the most difficult part was sometimes burning herself with the glue.

The concept for the dress started after mom and daughter saw some 4-H environmental projects made from bottle caps at the Platte County Fair the previous year. Ruhnke started collecting the caps from plastic containers her family used, not knowing exactly what she would be using them for.

With the pair’s enjoyment of watching the fashion design show “Project Runway,” the dress idea was born.

Lynn admits to having to “wing it” when creating the design. They didn’t have a pattern and getting it to fit her daughter was a challenge.

Ruhnke started by gluing caps onto ribbons in a colorful arrangement. The sleeveless dress has straps and flowers near the shoulders. Rows of silver, green, white, red, pink and orange caps of different sizes make up the dress, which slips over the 11-year-old's head and has a Velcro backing.

Almost all of the caps were collected just from what the family of six uses regularly. Lynn said it was helpful that her husband, Kurt, likes to drink a lot of pop.

Only a six pack of root beer was purchased specifically for the dress because Ruhnke wanted to make the straps a certain color.


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