Christine Chappell: Sewing Something to Smile About

Christine Chappell has turned an ordinary fiberglass gas station mascot into a corner craze. Heber’s herbivore, aptly named Octane, delights young and old with each wardrobe change. From seasonal to promotional outfits, this talented and creative seamstress has brought many smiles and laughs to residents’ routine drive-bys and visitors passing through.

The owner of Mountainland One Stop, Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed, placed the Sinclair green dinosaur on the corner of his lot at the prominent intersection of 1200 South and Main Street in summer 2017. That fall, Christine was looking for ways to promote “Mary Poppins,” the upcoming musical at Wasatch High School. Not knowing Mohamed, Christine approached him about dressing the new miniature giant as a chimney sweep. Mohamed was a little surprised, but curious to see what it would look like.

Christine masterfully turned a queen size black sheet into a vest and the costume swept the community off its feet!

And just like that, a Heber legend was born.

Next, the Heber Valley Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering dressed him up to advertise their annual gathering and buckaroo fair. Wasatch Dance Company also took notice and the statue  became a “Nutcracker” ballerina. Christine then dressed him up as a festive elf to finish out the year. 

After a New Year’s Eve party animal outfit was followed by workout gear resembling 1980s fitness guru Richard Simmons, Christine felt that the public really began to anticipate the outfit changes. Around this time, Mohamed offered to pay Christine for her time and materials.

As the Sinclair dino gained fame, a dialogue about naming the brontosaurus popped up on the Ask (Heber, UT) Facebook page in January 2018. Around 160 suggestions were narrowed to seven, and “Octane” received nearly half of the 223 votes. “Hi Octane” quickly became a witty salutation for the friendly petroleum-promoting neighbor.

Award-Winning Designs

Nationally, Sinclair Corporation sponsors various dinosaur costume contests throughout the year. Last summer, Mohamed made his only request of Christine: design an outfit for the Fourth of July contest.

Christine’s patriotic attire won first place! In October, her Halloween Viking landed in third.

Dressing a dinosaur can be tricky. Christine uses 2 ½ yards of fabric for each shirt and 2 ½ yards for every pair of pants. She doesn’t use patterns, so her creations are completely free-hand. She’s tried Velcro and ties but has found that holding the costumes on with safety pins is easiest. She uses regular fabric, so most costumes are not re-used and the oversized hats are usually store-bought.

“The dinosaur is a fun outlet for my creativity and it has become a topic of conversation with friends and family,” says Christine.

One of her favorite outfits so far has been a holiday ugly
sweater made
from an old crocheted blanket that was donated by a fan in Francis, Utah. One of her most recent costumes is near the top of her favorites list, as well. She was extremely excited to partner with the Wasatch County School District for the New Year’s Resolution ensemble promoting the district’s literacy campaign — a costume aptly topped off with a large pencil and oversized books.

Octane has also helped promote fundraisers for both Rocky Mountain and Timpanogos Middle Schools, the Wasatch High School swim team, Heber Valley Soccer Club and the Wasatch County Library Summer Reading Program. Over the years, Octane has modeled many more wardrobe changes celebrating holidays and seasons.

The Woman Behind It All

Christine is a mom of five, ranging from college-aged to fourth grade, and is pursuing a teaching degree in Secondary English. She learned to sew in third grade and quickly started making money with her skills. She made her own book covers — the private school she attended required them — and ended up selling some to fellow students. She also makes and sells denim quilts, and does all the sewing and hemming for the Junior ROTC uniforms at Wasatch High School.

“Christine’s dedication is amazing,” compliments Mohamed. “I couldn’t find anyone to do it if I had to ask. She has a lot of passion and it brings lots of smiles. I love how it affects the community in a positive way and entertains. It’s become a fixture in the community and is sort of an adopted pet.”

Wasatch County is blessed by Christine’s willingness to share her many creative talents and skills. A silly green gas station dinosaur, dressed in costumes created by an artistic genius, is just one more reason to smile about living in this beautiful valley. 

Christine is open to ideas and suggestions for future costumes. You can contact her on Instagram @heber_dino.