BRIDGEWATER, NJ — It’s now official: Somerset County 4-H is the world’s record holder for stitching together the longest textile braid as certified by the Guinness Book of World’s Record and has the official certificate to prove it.

But this was no easy feat.

Long before the large fabric ball was unrolled and measured at 5,217 feet — just 63 feet short of one mile, and nearly double the record of 2,625 feet Guinness asked for and log before the months it took 200 Somerset County 4-H members and volunteers to donate and collect strips of fabric and braid them into sections, there was Sue MacCombie, who conceived of the idea back in 2011. 

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MacCombie has been a 4-H leader for the past 21 years. She is the club leader of the Upcycle Club and Garden & Bee Club. The members of the Garden & Bee Club learn all about bee keeping, the importance of key pollinators, honey and bee behavior and maintaining the 4-H garden. Members of the Upcycle Club turn old or unwanted items into works of art or practical items by reusing and recycling. 

MacCombie wanted to come up with a project that would bring the 4-H community together; an activity in which she knew most members would want to participate. That is when she came up with trying to set a world record, but what kind of record could they possible set?

MacCombie contacted Guinness World’s Records in 2011.  She worked with them for the next six years to come up a unique record to set, the best plan of action and how they could achieve it.  "I have a fiber and an upcycling club and we work a lot with recycled materials," MacCombie said. "We had all this material in bedsheets, shirtdresses, and I thought it would be great to do something with it.”

MacCombie and Guinness World’s Records agreed upon the idea to create the longest textile braid.  “The kids love to braid, so it was a natural progression. And I thought it could help promote 4-H too, because it is such a great organization and I am proud to be a part of it," said MacCombie.

In late 2017, the paperwork was approved and Somerset County 4-H had one year to pursue the record.  MacCombie started asking all 4-H members and volunteers for donations and within several months she knew that they had set the world record; it now needed to be recorded.

The official measurement was held in May 2018 at the Bridgewater Commons Mall, with the help of 4-H members and some generous volunteers. Guinness required a licensed surveyor, so Jeff Baldwin of the Somerset County Engineering Division measured the braid, and a textile expert, Bridgett Artise of Born Again Vintage and adjunct professor at the Fashion of Institute of NY inspected it.

To accurately count the braid’s length, Frank Marusiak of the Somerset County Facilities and Services Department created a special device, which was tweaked according to Baldwin’s specifications. Somerset County Videographer, Christopher Busch tracked the activity to send in as an official record to Guinness and Kala Sivasubramanian and Reid Kirby were the outside official witnesses.

Now that it has been certified, the longest textile braid will be going on “tour”. Its first stop will be inside the Information Tent at the Somerset County 4-H Fair on August 8, 9 and 10. After the fair, it can be seen at the County Administrative Building in Somerville. On September 8 and 9, it will be at the Garden State Sheep Breeders Annual Sheep & Fiber Festival at the Hunterdon County Fair Grounds and the Bridgewater Mall in October.