Hi Everyone - Wanted to take a moment today to introduce myself to the group.
I'm Megan Avery, your new VP Of communications. I'm excited to take on this position and I'm really excited to dive a bit deeper into my ASDP membership. I was asked to consider taking on a board position and figured there would be no better way to get to know all of you! And I'm always happy to be of service.
I joined ASDP in January of this year after I attended my local chapters weekend retreat. I loved hanging with all the ladies of my NJ Chapter so I decided to make it official.
My sewing school in Hoboken NJ is currently called M Avery Designs (I will be changing names in December - if anyone has an advice about changing your business name after being in business for 20+ years, please give me a shout!)
My studio teaches classes to anyone over the age of 5 how to sew. We have many sewing classes for kids, adults and anyone wanting to learn how to sew. (Even Elsa - see above :)
Up until March, we taught mobile sewing classes to almost every school in Hudson Country as part of their after school enrichment programs. We also host sewing birthday and bachelorette parties.
Since COVID, we've been trying to get by teaching small kids and adult classes in our 650 square foot studio on the third floor of an old Levelor blind factory in Hoboken NJ.
We've also been ramping up our virtual sewing class offerings and have been enjoying having new sewing students as far away as Israel.
I also have another side business called Hipstitch Academy where I coach other people wanting to get started teaching sewing classes. I teach marketing and business strategies for starting, growing and scaling your sewing school. I also create all the curriculum we teach in the studio and sell it to other people teaching sewing classes.
I'm excited to get to know you all better. Drop a comment below and tell me about what YOU do!
M Avery Designs Sewing Studio - www.maverydesigns.com
Hipstitch Academy - www.hipstitch.co
I was doing to some reading this morning and came across this really interesting report put out by the Strategic Sewing & Quilting Summit about the state of the sewing industry during Covid -19.
Here is the interesting overview of the study. It's actually a follow up of a previous report put out mid April.
Here's the original report.
Since our last report, the uncertainty of the future remains, but the pandemic has had a positive impact on our industry. Sales are up. Our industry is being forced to innovate in the digital sales space, and it is expected that it will help all of us. The global pandemic has had a significant impact on global sewing supply chains.
Brick and Mortar retailers have rebounded a bit since the start of the pandemic. They have adapted with curbside, social distance shopping, and improving and optimizing their digital presence. Yet, they are still hurting without retailer events. Keeping everyone safe with social distancing often requires a higher labor cost. Retailers have reported moving workshops online, through workshops.
In our industry, event-based companies are bearing the brunt of the impact in the pandemic economy. With in-person events on hold for the foreseeable future, they have to adapt to the virtual world or they will go out of business. The virtual event has its successes and challenges. It’s great for learning and education, but harder to execute successfully for closing sales.
In the broader world, businesses reported over and over that a vaccine and/or effective treatment is essential to returning fully to business. There are also comments about the broader impact of the elections and increasing polarization
Sewing is a bright spot in a dark world. Our biggest challenge is an uncertain future. Our current dedicated consumers are sewing more and many new sewists have arrived with the mask movement. How we keep them sewing is up to us.
Many of our members are using some of this social-distancing time to work on their Four Elements garment for the 2020 Threads Challenge. One of the biggest hurdles when submitting a garment for a show, contest, or exhibit can be making sure that you have the best quality photographs of your work that show the garment to advantage. Today on the blog, we've got a wonderful article from the Senior Technical Editor at Threads Magazine that we're pulling from our archives to help you learn more about how to accomplish this task!
In a time that many of us are unable to carry out our traditional business due to social distancing guidelines, this article can also be a great help as you try to move your portfolio online. While your business may not be suited to being solely online in nature, having a professional presence on the web to showcase your work can help you stay relevant and be visible for new and existing clients.
Log in to your ASDP member account and check out this fantastic advice today!
VP of Communications
As you may have seen, this article about Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, IN has been making the rounds online in the last few days with a call for those with sewing knowledge to help fill the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of homemade face masks for use in case of supply shortages during the Covid-19 outbreak. There are dozens of other patterns, instructions, and articles going around as well. We're passing this information on to you for in case you are interested.
We have not been able to independently verify whether the masks are effective. Medical devices are not my area of expertise and in this time of need, different medical facilities may have different needs and requirements for these last resort masks. I am working with the information that I have to try to help you make sense of the information out there.
If you find yourself with free time, as many of us currently do as we practice social distancing to keep our communities safe, consider making masks for your local hospitals, cancer treatment centers, and other medical offices.
Contact offices in your area for details on if and how to make and deliver masks. These masks are for last resort use only, so be sure to ensure your local providers are accepting them before investing your time and materials.
CDC guidelines regarding PPE
Deaconess video on how to make a mask
Pattern for mask
Information regarding mask materials
Additional information regarding effectiveness
This afternoon I logged on to a conference call along with many other small business owners across the country to hear from the Small Business Administration and a number of White House Advisory staff.
On this call we heard from a number of government agency leaders on the kinds of help available to small businesses, employers, and employees during this national emergency.
First up was Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. She stressed that every single citizen needs to do their part to help slow the spread of this virus. It is our civic duty to do everything in our power to practice social distancing in the hopes of keeping our hospitals and medical professionals from being overwhelmed as they do their part to treat those who become critically ill. Please remember that 80% of people infected with Covid-19 will only suffer minor to moderate symptoms. Most people will not need to seek medical care. It is our responsibility to make sure that the small percentage of people who will need medical intervention or critical care are able to get it. Take this seriously. Be calm, be kind, and do what your local, state, and federal administrations ask of you in this difficult time.
Dr. Trent-Adams discussed the ongoing development of drive-through testing initiatives nationwide. These sites will be run by the states and private offices in partnership with the federal government. Eligibility currently varies by location, but they are actively working towards sides in every state.
As we all go through this together, please follow the March 16th guidelines and recommendations from the White House in addition to those issued by your state and local offices.
Next we heard from Dan Kowalski, Counselor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury about assistance for employers. If you have employees, there is assistance for you to pay wages, health insurance, and payroll taxes. These programs are still being finalized, but will allow for two weeks of paid sick leave for your employee(s). If the employee themselves is sick, this assistance will reimburse employers for 100% of that employee's wages. If someone in the employee's house is ill and the household must self-isolate, 2/3 of the employee's wages can be reimbursed up to $200 per day for 80 hours (two weeks). If the employee must stay home on family leave due to school or other closures, again, 2/3 of the employee's wages are reimbursable up to $200 per day for a maximum of$10,000 for six weeks up to 12 weeks of paid family leave time. This assistance will be reimbursed as tax credits. If you pre-pay taxes, such as on a quarterly basis, employers can use accrued payments to pay for the sick leave. This procedure would require employers to pay out the employee wages and then file a claim with the federal government. The plan is for employers to receive immediate reimbursement, hopefully through a direct deposit, in order to streamline the process as much as possible. This is a temporary benefit and expires on 12/31/2021. Even if your company of under 500 employees already has paid sick leave, you can still be reimbursed through this program.
Federal Business Interruption loans are also being made available for companies who have been mandated to shut down or are unable to remain open during this crisis. These loans are 100% guaranteed by the federal government and available to qualified business under 500 employees. Loans are capped at a maximum of approximately $10 million per loan. In an effort to keep people employed and not overwhelm the unemployment offices, there is a loan forgiveness component available to companies who keep their employees on payroll through this crisis. If your company retains all workers through this, loan forgiveness is available for the full cost of those workers' payroll expenses.
After a brief moment of technical difficulty, Jovita Carranza, administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA) joined the call as just one of her many outreach calls today. She stressed that nationwide, staff from the Disaster Assistance offices, as well as district offices of the Women's Business Center, Small Business Development Center, and SCORE were all on board and doing everything they could to help small businesses through this very difficult time. They are working quickly to set up webinars, conference calls, and online classes to help businesses answer their many questions. The SBA is working to expedite disaster relief loans for small businesses affected by this economic disaster. Many states have already been approved for loan programs and the SBA expects all 50 US states to be approved to accept applications. They are actively working to cut out much of the red tape that is normally a part of this process given the absolutely unprecedented situation we find ourselves in across the globe. In the event that a qualified business receives a notice that their loan application has been denied, Ms. Carranza assured us that all district offices are being set up to execute follow-up calls within a day or two to help the applicant get approved or to match them with an alternative lender. All states are being encouraged to coordinate with the SBA to make this process as easy to navigate as possible.
Ms. Carranza also stressed that we should not let this situation crush people's dreams of starting a business. Business counselling is still available throughout this time. For this, as well as disaster relief related information, the SBA is constantly updating their website on a daily basis. They are currently averaging 400,000+ calls a day and approximately 20,000 loan applications have already been submitted. In the event that there is some kind of website crash or service breakdown due to volume, the SBA has already partnered with FEMA who has sourced an additional 5,000 workers to help with calls and assistance.
After Ms. Carranza headed off for another call we heard from an assistant to the Secretary of the Labor Department (DOL) named Nick (apologies for not being able to catch his last name), who talked about what comes next. He urges small business owners to contact their local and state Workforce Development office. They can help you understand the unemployment insurance program. This is a state and federal partnership. On March 11, the DOL issued guidelines to the states for this program. While eligibility varies by state, the DOL is working hard to make sure states understand the flexibility they have in interpreting the written eligibility guidelines during this emergency. Employees are eligible if their employer is prevented from operating during this time, if the employee is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after, or is caring for a family member who is quarantined. Federal law does NOT require the employee to quit in order to apply for benefits. Given the scale of this situation, lines are often full and wait times can be long. Nick encourages people to continue to apply. Don't be discouraged.
We also heard from Alejandro Contreras, Director of Preparedness, Communications and Coordination at the SBA's Office of Disaster Assistance. He discussed the up to $2 million, low interest, long term Disaster Relief loans available to small businesses that can be used for working capital to cover their normal operating expenses in the event of lost revenue, anticipated lost revenue, lost workforce, or supply chain disruption due to Covid-19. Businesses qualify based on their eligibility (being a small business or privately held 501c3), credit (these loans are backed by the federal government and are much more flexible than a traditional lender), and repayment ability (calculated based on the business's pre-disaster conditions). One major concern that has been voiced by a number of business owners I have talked to about this loan program is in regard to repayment of the loan. How are businesses expected to afford monthly payments while they are shut down due to the coronavirus emergency? Director Contreras assured those of us on the call that these loans come with a one year deferment, meaning that your first loan payment isn't due until 12 months after your loan is issued.
After each of our speakers had presented their information and resources, the call was opened up for a brief question and answer session. Some of the information covered dealt with clarifying who was eligible for disaster relief loans. Loans are available for eligible small businesses under 500 employees, including franchises, and privately held 501c3s, although as this is an economic disaster and not a natural disaster of some kind, churches and religious groups are not eligible. If you already have an SBA loan, you can still apply for a disaster relief loan, however you are not able to use the disaster loan to refinance a preexisting loan.
Approximately 22 states have already been approved to accept Disaster Relief loan applications and SBA officials expect all 50 states to be approved by the end of the week.
Other questions revolved around how to have conversations with landlords during this time of economic stress. One caller wanted to use what money he had to be able to continue paying his employees, but that would mean he was unable to pay his rent. Speakers from the SBA were quick to reinforce that funds from Disaster Relief loans can be used for all kinds of regular expenses including paying rent. Loan funds are not instant, so it is the responsibility of individual business owners to negotiate with their landlords in order to temporarily defer payment if necessary.
There are multiple loan options available to businesses during this time. In addition to the SBA Disaster Relief loan, businesses can also apply for Business Interruption loans, which are the up to $10 million loans that Dan Kowalski from the Treasury Department had mentioned.
There were approximately 2000 people on today's call and we have all been encouraged to help get this information out to our business communities. Please help spread the word and provide these links to other businesses that you know who have been impacted.
Before we wrapped up today's call, which we were assured was the first of many of these that will take place, we also heard from Chris Wilkerson, the Executive Director of Opportunity Now, who wants to work with businesses engaged in workforce development, economic empowerment, and local and national non-profits to support small businesses with workforce growth and employee retention. He encouraged us to keep fighting for our businesses. We will get through this.
Small businesses are beacons of hope in this country. When we do well, the country does well.
Below you will find a summary of the resources provided on this call. Please check in regularly if your business has suffered during this pandemic.
Center for Disease Control (CDC)
www.sba.gov/disaster - Apply for a Disaster Assistance Loan
Women's Business Center
Small Business Development Center
Department of Labor
www.careeronestop.org - Search by state for instructions on filing for unemployment benefits.
This is a strange time that we're living in and it's changing hour by hour. The Covid 19 pandemic is having radical, immediate effects on small businesses all across the world and will likely impact our economies for years to come. This is the time for us as human beings, as colleagues, as business owners and educators to band together. We will get through this together.
This blog post will continue to be updated as I find relevant information and resources for our members to use in navigating what all this means for their businesses. Believe me when I say I know how painful this can be. Shutting our doors means shutting off our income in many cases, but we need to do this. We all, every single one of us, need to do our part to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our community, and people we may never even meet. We are all in the same boat. There is not a single business or industry or family that is not being impacted by this pandemic. We all need to do what we can to be calm, be responsible, be kind, and help each other through this.
It is with that in mind that I have spent the last few days compiling resources to help you find the assistance that you need for your business during all of this. If you know of any programs that are available to you on a local or state level where you live, please forward them to me at email@example.com so that I can include them in the list. Things are changing rapidly and not all states and provinces are moving as quickly as others. Keep an eye on your inbox. Every time this list is updated I will be sending you an e-blast notification.
To get us started, our secretary, Terri Tipps brought this to my attention and I encourage all of you to participate if you are able:
STAKEHOLDER CONFERENCE CALL
There will be a stakeholder conference call from the White House TOMORROW, March 19 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time for information on disaster assistance resources for small businesses and Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines. This conference call will include updates from Senior Administration officials.
To attend the conference call, please fill out the link below. You will receive dial-in information upon registration.
• Date: Thursday, March 19, 2020
• Time: 2:00 PM Eastern Time
• Call-In Registration: RSVP Link
Check back here regularly as more resources are added. Feel free to contact me with any questions, suggestions, or concerns.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
ThreadsASDP 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!
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
Today we welcome retired Threads Executive Editor Judith Neukam to talk about the Threads Challenge, its origins, and the changes it has undergone over the last 20 years.
The 2019 Threads/Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP) design challenge has begun, and in response, sewing rooms all over the country are humming with new invention, sparked style, and brilliant skills. I was part of the first design challenge 20 years ago, and have a warm place in my heart for the efforts made since then to keep this event flourishing in the sewing community.
2009: Seam Challenge, Issue #148 Page 37,Monique Saviano’s hemstitched seams in an organza, chiffon, and brocade strapless dress won the Best Implied Seams and Audience Choice awards. Photos by Jack Deutsch.
Originally, the challenge was cosponsored by the fabric industry; the first challenge called for garments made of mohair. In those early days, designers sent their garments to the Threads offices, where they were judged and then returned to the designer to take to the ASDP’s annual fashion show. That first year, the magazine’s administrative assistant coordinated receiving the deliveries, unwrapping them, hanging them, and keeping all the related paperwork with the garment for preliminary and final judging. She was allergic to the mohair and had to limit her exposure to 15-minute periods—when unwrapping and then re-wrapping the entries.
2009: Seam Challenge, Issue #148 Page 36. Ruth Ciemnoczolowski's interlocking and topstitched seams in a felted wool jersey dress won the Unexpected Seam Award. Photos by Jack Deutsch
Each challenge has been conceived to offer the designers an opportunity to stretch their design and technical skills. We have covered numerous design areas, including creative seams, no-waste design, embellishment techniques, specialty fabrics such as lace, and iconic silhouettes—all cutting-edge topics within the fashion industry. Many designers have professional practices that don’t allow them to test their creativity regularly. We try to invent design problems they may not have faced before and encourage them to come up with original solutions and showstopping looks.
2003: Reversible garment, Issue #109, Pg. 86 Lena Stepanenko’s silk taffeta coat and cut-silk velvet dress combination won her the Most Surprising Transformation Award. Photos by Scott Phillips
We’ve learned lessons with each challenge ourselves. One example was the “Reversible Garment” challenge (2003), which required each garment to appear on the runway twice to display both sides. This doubled the length of the fashion show. The challenge authors learned how important it is that every facet of the challenge suits the entire production. Another instance of inadvertent problems arose with the first “Inspired by Art” challenge (2007), when we ran into copyright restrictions that prevented us from reproducing all the inspiration pieces in the magazine.
2011: No-Waste designs, Issue 160, Pg. 42 Joyce Hittesdorf’s two-piece mother of the bride or groom ensemble won the Best and Most Original Jacket Award. Photos by Jack Deutsch.
We have always used a judging formula followed by art shows. An important aspect of our judging is that it is done blind: The designers’ identities are never revealed to the judges until the winners have been selected. The first step is for each judge, including any guest judges, to categorize each entry as a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” Then the judges debate the maybes, keeping the yeses and nos isolated in their respective groups. Our goal is to move the maybes into one of the other categories. The final yes selections become the finalists. As we assess the garments, we pay attention to how well each entry satisfies the challenge brief and the contest requirements. This is when every little element is taken into consideration. We also read the artists’ statements, and the ASDP challenge coordinator verifies that the entry abides by the organization’s rules (including meeting all deadlines, providing the required photographs, and providing a title).
As the annual challenge became more popular and the demands on the Threads staff became overwhelming, we decided to do the first round of judging by photographs. This eliminated all the shipping, and gave the finalists more time to fine-tune their entries even after the first judging round. The final judging now is at the ASDP conference the morning of the fashion show. The only garments sent to Threads today are the winners, which are photographed on models by our fashion photographer in New York City. We love how this fashion shoot brings the pieces to life!
2011: No-Waste designs, Issue 160, Pg. 44 Debby Spence's layered dress with asymmetrical tucks won the award for Best Column Made from a Tube in the 2011 No-Waste Designs Challenge. Photos by Jack Deutsch
What’s in it for you, if you decide to take on the challenge? First, you declare your intention to create an original design, following the challenge brief that is issued immediately after the fashion show. You’ll deliver photographs of your finished garment by the stated deadline, for preliminary judging. You’ll also need to include an artist’s statement describing your design inspiration, the techniques used, and fabrics and embellishments. The process of preparing the garment and the entry documents can help designers learn how best to market their work, for greater professional success.
2013: Lace Challenge, Issue 166, Joi Mahon’s fur-infused lace bolero and full-skirted dress won the Audience Choice Award. Photo by Jack Deutsch.
Some of the designers enter almost every year. Over the years, they develop a deep collection of their own designs to show their style and talent. The entries also show the member’s growth in design and construction. If the garments are made in model sizes, they’re ideal for the designers to display in fashion or trunk shows. If they are made in the designer’s own size, they gets to wear the garment(s) themselves, and that’s a priceless bonus.
This challenge is always inspiring because it features the best work of professional seamstresses, tailoring experts, bridal designers, and custom clothiers. The winners are chosen for their application of cutting-edge and complex sewing techniques on a stunning garment that will make an inspiring magazine article. So, whether you compete or appreciate, following this challenge will benefit your work as a designer.
Recently, ASDP member Bonny Carmicino (New Jersey) was invited to be the keynote speaker at a local Mother's Day tea. Sewing runs deep in Bonny's soul and she knew from an incredibly young age that she wanted to grow up to be a sewing professional.
Listen to Bonny's story and her insights into nourishing creativity in herself and others.
One of the benefits of being a member of the ASDP is your ability to connect directly with other sewing professionals. If you have a product, service, or event that you would like to market to your colleagues, the monthly Member to Member E-Blast is the way to do that!
Once a month, members are welcomed to send in short ads for their products, services or classes that they would like to offer to other ASDP members. If you have an offer that you would like to share, please send it along with a relevant picture or your logo and your contact information to email@example.com
Submissions are due by the third Monday of each month. The e-blast will be sent to all members on the fourth Monday of the month.
If you would like your offer to be ongoing, you must re-submit each month that you would like your offer to appear in the E-blast.
Remember that this opportunity is only open to members of the ASDP.
To become a member so that you can take advantage of this and the many other fantastic member benefits, visit the Join page on the website.
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