Looking good and having fun doing it

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 25, 2003

Growing up, Toni Pettis was so thin that &uot;even the slim, slim sizes didn’t fit.&uot;

So she began making her own clothes. &uot;I wanted to wear pants,&uot; she says, &uot;and I couldn’t find any that fit me.&uot;

She got her first sewing machine when she was 8 years old. She cut out patterns using old newspapers.

Soon she was sewing for friends and family members.

Her growing expertise with needle and thread helped to compensate for the gnawing insecurities she felt as a child.

What she has, she says now, is a talent &045;&045; a talent she believes comes from God.

She also has a talent for attracting young people &045;&045; Pettis is 38 &045;&045; and helping them to discover new talents within themselves.

Pettis will combine those two talents when she unveils &uot;It’s Toni!&uot; &045;&045; a fashion and modeling show at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Performing Arts Center.The show will provide 11 young models from the Selma area with exposure to the world of modeling and a chance to practice their budding runway skills.

It will offer audience-goers with a chance to view cutting-edge fashions from a clothing artist who has been designing and creating clothes for 30 years. It will also double as a fund-raising event for a sewing-slash-fashion design-slash-modeling center Pettis hopes to launch in Selma.

Crenshaw emphasizes that the center will adopt a holistic approach to working with young people. It will teach not only a marketable job skill &045;&045; sewing &045;&045; but also &uot;everyday living skills,&uot; as well as building poise and self-esteem.

Explains Pettis, &uot;We want to address the whole person.&uot;

Pettis is no stranger to the runway. She produced a similar fashion show in 2001. &uot;The whole show was mine,&uot; she says. &uot;I choreographed the show and did all the sewing myself.&uot;

Saturday’s show is being sponsored by the Selma Housing Authority and the Love in Action and Amelia Boynton community development centers.