Dear ASDP Board

Explore the possibilities of Threads Four Elements Challenge - A note from Carol Fresia

02/17/2020 4:00 PM | Jennifer Phillips (Administrator)

We are hoping for a very large number of entries for the Threads Challenge this year. 

The Intent to Enter will be due at 12:59pm EST on April 10, 2020. Those who are members in good standing for one year prior to April 10 are eligible to enter. 

The content of the Challenge can be found on the Association website.

Below is an article by Threads editor, Carol Fresia, expanding on the ideas found in the Challenge.

If you are even the slightest interested in entering the Challenge this year you should plan to tune in to ASDP voices next Tuesday February 18th for a discussion on the Challenge. If you are not able to listen live, a recording will be be available shortly after.

If you have any questions please contact Helen Haughey, the Threads Challenge coordinator at


Threads Magazine

Threads ASDP Challenge 2020

The Four Elements Challenge

Threads challenges the members of the Association of Design and Sewing Professionals to create a garment or two-piece ensemble inspired by one of the four classical elements: earth, air, water, or fire. These elements figure in many areas of Western culture, including literature, medicine, astrology, and alchemy. They have been linked to notions of temperament, character, colors, shapes, the humors, the seasons, the cardinal directions, even various gemstones and animals.

Select one of the four elements, and interpret it through your choice of fabrics, embellishment, and sewing techniques. Each aspect of your design should be meaningful and well-rendered, as we’ll be judging based on aspects of construction and your overall concept. We’re looking for a garment or cohesive ensemble suited for the occasion of your choice. Your look can be a dress, jumpsuit, or any combination of two garments intended to be worn together as a complete outfit.

In your artist’s statement, please indicate which element you have chosen and explain how you have represented it in your work. We encourage you to engage your imagination and your best sewing skills—and because you’re members of ASDP, we know you’ll be in your element.

Dear ASDP Members,

It’s a new year, and Threads has offered you a new challenge. We hope you’ve been pondering the possibilities of our Four Elements theme, and look forward to seeing your creations.

As noted in the challenge description, the classical elements inform many aspects of Western culture, from ancient times to the present. They are also central to many non-Western belief systems, and we invite you to explore those as well, if you wish. You’ll find numerous explanations and descriptions of the elements online. There are also extant examples of depictions of the elements in art from the Middle Ages onward; I’ve included a few for your reference.

In your research, you will discover that certain colors are linked to the elements, as are personality types, zodiac signs, medical conditions, and more. We ask that you explain your concept in your artist’s statement so the judges can evaluate how you’ve interpreted the element you choose. Our hope is that you find some personal meaning in the elements and express it in a single look. Please be sure to limit your design to a single element.

Because this topic is broad, you will need to dig up some information, then let it stew on the back burner until your inspiration bubbles up to the surface. (I hope you caught the earth, water, fire, and air references!)

At the risk of boring you, I would like to repeat something I wrote last year:

We know that participating in the challenge is a significant investment in time and money. We don’t want you to think you must use rare and expensive materials, and we urge you to decide what budget works for you. Also, while some designers create pieces in model sizes, that is never a requirement for this challenge. (When we do our first round of judging, we don’t even know what size the entries are.) So if you are putting time into designing and constructing something amazing that you love, feel free to make it to fit yourself! If, on the other hand, you’d like to go wild and try something you’d never wear in your real life, that’s fine, too.

Good luck, and enjoy the challenge!

Best regards,

Carol Fresia, Threads Senior Technical Editor

IMAGES: Chelsea Porcelain figurines, 1760s, Indianapolis Museum of Art

Manuscript leaf: About 1000 AD by Byrhtferth. Copy in MS Oxford St John's College 17, fol. 7v in 1110 or 1111

Alphonse Mucha, lithograph, ca. 1900

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