Local 4-H senior makes COVID-themed prom dress out of duct tape

By: Emily Steele, University of Illinois media communications coordinator

When Illinois 4-H member Peyton Manker of Sparta started designing a prom dress made with duct tape in January, the high school senior thought it would be a fun challenge and possibly win her a scholarship. A few months later, the coronavirus spread across the world, closing her school and canceling prom. That’s when 18 year old Manker knew it could be much more.

“I wanted my dress to be something positive that comes out of the pandemic,” said Manker.

The elaborate COVID-19 themed ballgown is a tribute to life in the time of the coronavirus and it has struck a chord with people around the world through a viral Facebook post.

Having only worked with duct tape once before (she made flowers as a Randolph County 4-H project), Manker knew her entry for the Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest would be a new challenge.

She had just finished the base design of the ballgown’s cobalt blue and gold accented corset, ruffled top and pocketed skirt when Sparta High School closed in March, leaving Manker with a lot of time on her hands and a blank canvas.

For more on this story, please see this week’s print edition.