Dear ASDP Board

2017 ASDP Lifetime Achievement Award Winner - Carla Mathis

05/03/2017 4:18 PM | Anonymous

For her outstanding body of work in the field of design, style, and color the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals has chosen Carla Mathis as the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. 

In 1994 Carla Mathis published, The Triumph of Individual Style, co-written with Helen Villa Connor.  In this seminal text, Carla applied the universal language of art to the human body in a way that had never before been explored. For centuries works of art had been appraised using the design elements of line, shape, proportion, scale, color and texture, but for the first time, Carla and Helen identified a unique body’s design pattern for every individual. We are works of art! Carla and Helen showed us where to look on our bodies and how to appreciate how we are made in a new way. Their simple 3-step progression: 1. From art… 2. To our body… 3. To clothes and accessories transformed the image industry and introduced women and men everywhere a new level of self-acceptance and selectivity when getting dressed.

The Triumph of Individual Style is known as the "bible" of the image industry and used as a textbook at Cornell, the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, and design schools across the country. When ASDP wrote the requirements for the Design Module of the Master Sewing and Design Professional Certification Program, The Triumph of Individual Style was deemed so important the entire module was based on the text.

Carla states, “Connecting my personal history with the beauty of what makes each of us special is what I live for. We all need more encouragement than we receive from mom and dad. It’s a constant and pervasive need. We must be affirmed to become all we can be. We are relational creatures. Words of affirmation, and identifying what makes each of us unique, is a passion I carry with me everyday as a stylist, mentor, grandmother, mother, wife and friend. For God’s glory we have been made, for love we have been created.

Carla Mathis, AICI CIM, has been changing lives one body at a time for 30 years. By pioneering and teaching the use of design as a powerful therapeutic tool, Carla has helped thousands of people worldwide learn to appreciate their bodies and achieve new levels of self-acceptance. 

Note: You may learn more about Carla Mathis by visiting her website at 

Carla was nominated for this award by long standing member Joyce Simons Murphy and we are happy to share with you the reason why Joyce nominated Carla.

Before I met Carla through reading her book the Triumph of Individual Style I knew how to sew. I made most of my clothes while in high school and college, but they didn’t always please me. I just didn’t know why. I didn’t understand that knowing how to sew without knowing how to design was risky business.  This hit home when I began sewing for others!

I shed many a tear over my failed projects early on because the color was wrong, the fabric was not the best choice for the project, the garment didn’t fit properly, or the style was not flattering. The stakes became higher as I sewed more for others. There were so many ways to fail and only one way to succeed. And that way was to learn how to consider the person when designing for self or others.

“But wait a minute!” I said. “I can’t do that!!! My sister is the artist! Not me!!! I don’t know how to draw, and I know nothing about design.” I had it in my head that design talent is something you are born knowing.  If you are artistic or talented in design, you automatically know how to draw things to make them appear beautiful. If you don’t have this talent, you can’t learn it. Or so I thought back then. FALSE

It turns out I was wrong. Carla Mathis set me straight. She showed me through her Triumph of Individual Style that every woman is beautiful (beauty comes from within) and that with practice I could learn how to bring out this beauty by paying attention to design when altering garments or making garments. Carla awakened my artistic side. I found out that design is a skill that can be studied and learned. Sewing and design go together. You can’t have one without the other.

But Carla didn’t leave us there in her “Triumph of Individual Style”  book. Instead, she took us from A to Z through a 4-step process for dressmakers and sewing hobbyists from choosing the pattern to choosing the fabric to adjusting the pattern and applying the finishing touches all with our clients in mind.

Studying Triumph changed my approach to dressmaking and tailoring and gave me the confidence to practice design. So many members have told me her book empowered them by equipping them with personal design tools that they have used again and again in their businesses. Carla has truly had an impact on professionals who sew AND DESIGN for a living.

I nominated Carla because I wanted her to know that we look up to her and that we continue to use her teachings to guide us and to guide the next generation of dressmakers.

Joyce Simons Murphy

2885 Sanford Ave SW #19588, Grandville, MI 49418 ~ Toll-Free (877) 755-0303 

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