Keeping him in Stitches
Volunteer tailors are the House of CAM
By Kristen Browning-Blas | Photo by John Eisele
Ever since his unofficial debut in 1946, our ram mascot has worn jaunty outfits at public appearances.
But CAM the Ram can’t exactly shop at the CSU Bookstore for Game Day garments. Instead, this Rambouillet gets his sartorial sense from dedicated sewing partners, Marci Stille and Jenny Harding. For seven years, the Colorado State staffers have set aside the demands of their day jobs to volunteer as the House of CAM: They design and create “hot” couture for the woolly guy who represents the University and its Ram pride.
With help from Stille and Harding, CAM is a clotheshorse. He has a custom-made blanket for every occasion.
“He’s got his orange for the Orange Out, his travel jerseys, and his fashion wear. He has some blankets to wear in his trailer and some for out on the field. He’s got a lab coat. He’s got multiple looks,” Stille says.
When she isn’t dressing the beloved ram, Stille manages livestock medical care at CSU’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, which provides CAM with health care services. Harding, meanwhile, administers research proposals and awards in the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Those are important jobs at a top-tier research university. But their work with CAM started more like an episode of Project Runway. The eager seamstresses stepped up to improvise when they heard the mascot needed a better-fitting blanket.
“It’s not like we could go to Butterick or McCall’s and get a pattern for him,” Harding notes.
The two have created their own patterns for CAM’s runway-ready collections. And they’ve learned as they’ve sewed. For instance, CAM’s travel
jerseys are made of unlined canvas duck cloth “because it drapes just right,” and each jersey requires about 3 yards of fabric, complete with a “butt flap to hide the family jewels,” Stille explains.
The volunteers work 12 to 15 hours on each outfit, with Stille cutting and pinning, and Harding stitching on a Bernina Virtuosa machine in their shared sewing studio.
“We are very proud to have been asked to make something that is iconic to the University,” Harding, who graduated from CSU in 1993, says. “As an alumna, it is one more thing that ties me very closely to the University.”
With the approach of CSU’s 150th anniversary in 2020, the tailors anticipate a need for formalwear.
“We still have to make him a tuxedo,” Stille says.
“Yes,” Harding agrees. “Maybe with a dark-green cummerbund and bow tie.”