Dear ASDP Board

How was the Master of Sewing and Design Professional (MSDP) Certification Program Established?

02/26/2019 6:00 AM | Anonymous

Today we welcome Linda Macke, Director for the MSDP Board, as a guest writer. Linda is here to tell us how the MSDP certification program came into being and why it is a valuable addition to the sewing and design industry.


The Master Sewing and Design Professional (MSDP) Certification Program has become an important part of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP) but it has not always been so. Back in 1990 when ASDP (then called the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers (PACC)) was created, it was only a whisper of a dream for many members of our organization.

During the beginning years of the national organization, Catherine Stephenson, a national board member at that time, began to research how to establish a national certification program for PACC members that would validate their professional skills.

As a result of her research, the board decided to take the first step of establishing a set of Standards of Quality for Custom Clothing that would become an important benefit for members. The process of writing the Standards took two years of research conducted by a committee of six professionals from the founding Oregon Chapter, chaired by Catherine. An opportunity to participate in the review process was made available to all members, and with the addition of educational advisers, a total of 27 professionals were involved in the writing of the Standards. In 1997, the PACC national board adopted the Standards as a benefit to our members and eventually to the general public.

Around 2005 ,the idea of a national certification program was brought before PACC’s executive board. At that time, President Sally Silvers asked Linda Stewart to take over the project and see that a master certification program be established. She researched the past attempts to establish the program and found the following “bumps” that seemed to be stumbling blocks.

Certification cannot be done internally; an outside group would have to perform the evaluations.

  • In order to be an unbiased program, the MSDP board was established. This board operates independently from ASDP and this separation assures neutrality.
  • It was determined that just as mechanics would have to evaluate the work of mechanics, only sewers could evaluate sewers, therefore we chose evaluators from the very best sewing professionals in the field, whether in our organization or not. These sewing and design professionals had such impeccable reputations that their qualifications could not be challenged.

Should Certification be mandatory?

It was determined that certification should be encouraged but not be made mandatory. Education via conference classes and eventually on-line classes would be made available to all to encourage members to increase their skill level and prepare them for certification, if that be their goal.

What subjects would be covered in certification?

  • It was determined that the following modules would constitute a well-rounded certification program: Design, Fashion Illustration, Fabrics, Fit, Garment Construction, Pattern Development, and Professional Practices.
  • After determining the subjects, modules were given to experts so that the individual skills and requirements could be developed. This was a long process that involved many re-writes, conference calls, and much editing. 
  • When the modules were completed, evaluators were recruited and vetted. Extensive research was then done concerning the cost of the program, the timeline for completing a certification, and for the continuing education requirements to maintain certification.

Later, Linda Stewart asked Catherine Stephenson to begin writing the curriculum for each of the modules. The already developed Standards for Quality was used as the basis for the curriculum and testing. Having this document was a huge leap forward for the MSDP program. Catherine then formed committees of various other educators such as Clair Shaeffer, Rhonda Cheney, Mirjana Freilich, Leslie Littell, as well as others to help write the curriculum for each of the modules. From this curriculum, tests were written for each module.

Around this time PACC changed its name to the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP) to better reflect the members of the organization. Linda Stewart was the main force in getting MSDP off the ground. She dealt with all of the everyday requirements to get the program launched in October 2008.

In April, 2009 a national board was formed and Catherine Stephenson was elected to be the Chair, along with Marjana Freilich, Susan Khalje, Kenneth King, Kathleen Rowold, and Janie Stidham.

In October 2009, Linda Macke took over the day to day running of the program. MSDP was officially incorporated in the State of Illinois as the Master Sewing and Design Professional Certification Program in October 2012. By March 2013 we were managing our own finances, work which was formerly done by the ASDP Treasurer. We continue to be part of ASDP’s group exemption for the IRS and use ASDP’s website for promoting the program. In September 2013 Linda launched the Master Alteration Specialist (MAS) Certification Program, and later launched a Grandfather program for both MSDP and MAS.

In October 2014, the ASDP Board decided to remove the board position of VP of Certification Programs and instead have a representative from MSDP report monthly to the VP of Education to continue clear lines of communication between these two groups. The person managing the day to day operations of MSDP was then given the title of MSDP Director of Operations. This position is currently held by Vandarra Robbins. The separation of MSDP from ASDP was part of the original vision, that MSDP would become its own entity under the umbrella of ASDP.

MSDP actively promotes membership in ASDP to people inquiring into our program and encourages our participants to be active members of the Association. The MSDP Board of Directors has been entrusted with the responsibility to maintain and improve upon the legacy we have been given—to provide the opportunity for those in the sewing industry to be certified, should that be their desire. We are grateful to all the sewing professionals who generously gave their time and talent to create this program and hope to honor them by making sure that the MSDP Certification Program stays viable and meaningful long into the future.


  • 03/01/2019 12:40 PM | Janee Connor
    How many participants does the program have currently? And how many have completed the program and attained their certification? I'd love to see this information posted somewhere to help promote both the program and those who've been awarded their certification.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 04/04/2019 5:04 AM | Laura McCracken
    Informative and interesting Blog! Beautifully written, as usual, I like the post. Thank you so much for nice sharing with us. Keep posting!
    Link  •  Reply

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