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.

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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.