Dear ASDP Board

  • 07/03/2014 5:33 PM | Anonymous

    Congratulations, Barbie McCormick!

    Barbie started sewing her freshman year in high school, and found she had inherited a knack for dressmaking from her mother and grandmother. After sewing for herself, her family, and her friends for several years, she started a job doing alterations on an army post, then moved to doing alterations for Macy’s in California.

    Barbie moved to Idaho and officially opened her business, aptly named “Sew Good” in January of 1994, and in 1996 she became a member of the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers (now called The Association of Sewing and Design Professionals).

    She has attended the yearly ASDP conferences to learn different and the latest techniques in her field and takes classes whenever she can to further her sewing abilities. She studied with Kenneth King of San Francisco/New York to learn European pattern drafting and fitting, with Sandra Ericson to learn Madeleine Vionnet methods, as well as designing techniques, with Claire Shaeffer for couture techniques, Susan Khalje of Baltimore to further enhance her couture clothing construction knowledge.

    She even attended Susan’s “Couture Tour” of Paris, where she spent 11 days in Paris learning pattern draping and couture embroidery techniques.

    While Barbie does all sorts of sewing, she specializes in formal, bridal, and couture clothing for both men and women. She loves all aspects of the process- from design, to pattern work, to fitting, construction, and the final details. She is truly a Jack-Of-All-Trades in sewing, and is now officially a Master of All!

    Barbie also is at the beck and call of Sew Boise to teach any advanced sewing classes that they wish to offer, including French designer jackets, tailored jackets, pattern drafting, pants fitting/construction, and corsets!

    Barbie lives in Nampa, Idaho with her two daughters, Jessica and Alyssa, and their two dogs, Sam and Jack.

    Written  by Linda Macke, VP of Certification Programs

    Linda Macke, Photo by Chuck Islander

  • 07/02/2014 5:19 PM | Anonymous

    Terrible fabric, roller coaster seam lines, heavy nylon underlining, uneven hemlines, gowns that look nothing like the picture, and it doesn’t come even remotely close to fitting. Sound familiar? Those of us who do alterations have no doubt seen dozens of these “custom made” online-order dresses. Everything from prom dresses to bridesmaid’s dresses and even wedding gowns. The online, overseas companies who specialize in these scams have created an epidemic of cheap, ill-fitting formal-wear and they are preying on our unsuspecting clientele, who think they’re getting a great deal on a dress. Weddings and other formal events, such as proms, are expensive and in our price-slashing society, “She who saves the most on her dress, wins.” 

    With the rise of online commerce, more often than not, consumers are turning to the internet to try and save money for their big day. Girls surf Etsy, Ebay, and similar sites looking for an affordable dream dress. They are lured in by high quality runway and model images from companies that appear legitimate. Unfortunately, many of these overseas companies, predominantly in China, have picked up on the e-commerce trend and have jumped on the formalwear bandwagon. They often steal images from designer and custom clothier’s websites, such as what happened to ASDP member Tina Columbo. Much to her dismay, Tina discovered that an online company had stolen an image of a custom christening gown from her website, claimed it as its own work, and created a listing to sell the gown. The listing is still up even though Tina posted a comment on the business’s page to let consumers know that it was a stolen design, though she wasn’t able to do so without first making a purchase. Tina purchased the replica gown (the purple backgrounds are of the copy).

    What do consumers get for their “deal”? Measurements (usually only bust, waist, and hip) are sent in with color and details selected. Then the waiting begins. Typically arriving several weeks after the promised shipping date, the gown (if you can call it that) arrives wadded up in a small plastic shipping bag, wrinkled beyond belief and often smelling so strongly of plastic that it must be aired out before being approached. The materials used can usually be described as feeling and looking like garbage bags, bed sheets, nylon backpacks, or dirty sponges. These dresses often weigh far more than a dress of the style has any right to weigh. No matter how perfect (or at least passable) a seamstress can get the fit, there is no changing the cheapness of the materials routinely used by these companies. In the best scenarios, the straps don’t fit or the wavy bagged hem isn’t the right length. More often than not, the dress will require more in alterations than the original purchase price, assuming it was the right color and style to begin with.

    Sadly, it may not even be salvageable and these companies certainly don’t accept returns, give refunds, correct ill fit, or replace damaged or incorrect orders.

    Although the rise of these atrocities guarantees alterationists job security, there is a real danger to the field and the reputation of legitimate custom clothiers, such as many of our members. If the only experience a girl ever had with a custom gown was a hack job of a prom dress that looked nothing like what she ordered and felt like a chiffon straight jacket lined in Kevlar, what is the likelihood that she would be willing to trust her local seamstress or tailor to make her a custom wedding gown? Probably not particularly high. She’s far more likely to go to a big box bridal store where she can try on a physical dress and (at least she thinks) get a guarantee that she will be getting exactly what she sees and knows it will fit.

    One of the most widely known scam companies is IZIDRESS, which has been the topic of multiple news reports on CBS, the Today Show and Good Morning, America and others. Companies like have created Facebook pages such as IZIDRESS Victims to help spread the word about copyright infringement and counterfeit dresses and to help shut down these companies. As word gets out, the scammers change tactics. Many consumers now know to avoid websites from China. Unfortunately, these dress websites simply put up a new page listing a US address, typically in Washington or Oregon and then route the dress through that address. This is so the customer sees a US shipping label and feels more confident in their purchase, new address, and same problems.

    The American Bridal and Prom Industry Association (ABPIA) has successfully helped shut down thousands of these websites. While they’ve made great progress, uninformed consumers are still at risk.

    That’s where the ASDP membership comes in. Talk to your customers, post to your Facebook page, and refer the public to the ASDP website for the standards of quality that our members follow. Consumers continue to fall victim to these scams because they don’t know any better and are simply trying to find a deal. It’s the ASDP’s obligation to help educate the consumer on the importance of knowing where their purchases come from and the value of the work that our members do

    Written by Cisa Kubley, ASDP member

  • 07/01/2014 5:15 PM | Anonymous

    This year my summer kicked off with a mid May trip to South Dakota for my niece’s high school graduation. My husband and I decided to stay at a nearby state park and take a few extra days enjoying the solitude of the early camping season. I enjoyed my first cooked-over-the-fire hot dog chased with a s’more, took leisurely walks with the dogs, went bike riding, and did a bit of fishing from shore.

    Although the fact there was no WiFi in the state park was at first frustrating for me, I quickly found peace in the inability to be constantly checking emails and the internet. Looking out over a serene lake at sunset made me slow my thoughts and recharge my too busy brain. The isolation was as much mental as physical, and the warming rays and lapping waves were so relaxing that I forgot about every one of my concerns, that I hadn’t yet come up with a topic for my next president’s message, laundry to fold, meals to plan, bills to pay, or even the Thread’s Challenge to work on.

    Bridal and prom season can be a very hectic time of year for many in our membership. Dealing with the highly charged emotions of the bridal party with all of the time constraints placed, along with challenging fitting issues, can bring the most experienced professional to their knees! Via the ASDP discuss list, our members have helped one another through many of these challenges. I often find myself making mental notes from the discuss list for future client requests that I know I will encounter.

    By the time you read this, you will have had the opportunity to read the ASDP’s 21st Annual Educational Conference “Stitched Together Through Time” registration brochure. As usual, choices in classes and activities are varied, and will keep you very busy when you attend. “Brain overload” is a term often heard in members’ conversations by the end of conference, but this too is a type of recharging relaxation from the normal routine.

    I hope that you’ve carved out a little time during this fast-fleeting summer to enjoy the season’s meditative bliss. A couple more camping trips are in my plans; perhaps I will find the time for the luxury of reading a book. Although business is often on my mind, I know that Mother Nature will serve me well with relaxation and inspiration! Sit back, relax, and enjoy what our members have written in this issue of Perspectives.

    Written by Teresa Nieswaag, President

    Teresa Nieswaa by Chuck Islander

  • 05/06/2014 3:11 PM | Anonymous

    On March 13, 2014 the Baltimore Chapter of ASDP learned a technique called Shibori. Guest facilitator, Mika Eubanks conducted this session. Mika demonstrated 4 different techniques of shibori: Below is a brief description of what Shibori is and a description of two out of the 4 techniques learned.

    Shibori is a Japanese term for methods of dyeing cloth by binding, stitching, folding, twisting, and compressing. In Japan, the earliest known example of cloth dyed with the Shibori technique dates back to the 8th century where indigo was the main dye used.

    Below are two of the techniques we learned along with some other various Shibori techniques.

    1. Arashi (Japanese for “storm”) Shibori is a pole-wrapping technique. The cloth is wrapped on a diagonal around a pole or cylindrical object (we used old PVC and copper piping) and then tightly bound by wrapping thread or wire up and down the pole. Next, the cloth is scrunched down on the pole.

    2. Itajime Shibori is a shape-resist technique. The cloth is folded like an accordion and sandwiched between two pieces of wood or any flat objects, which are held in place with string or rubber bands. The objects prevent the dye from penetrating the fabric they cover and give an endless variety of patterns depending on the fold, binding object and placement of rubber bands.

    As you can see from the photos it was a bit messy but a fun evening of Shibori. This technique can be used in dyeing lining fabric to add interest to a garment inside and out. You can also dye the whole garment using this technique.. Overall, the Baltimore Chapter had lots of fun with this session and left feeling inspired … take a look at the photos for yourself!


    Written by Debby Spence, VP of Chapter Relations

  • 05/05/2014 3:04 PM | Anonymous

    I am a member of the MSDP Board, and owner of the Shop the Garment District Blog in New York City. Over the years, I have been at the helm of a few different creative blogs, but the one that holds my focus, attention, and purpose at this point is the one that helps customers and vendors alike to find each other. I don’t keep myself to a schedule. I am generally inspired to write all at once, and generally do 5 or more posts at one sitting, which I then space out to post at various intervals over a few weeks or so. My reader count doesn’t fluctuate drastically, so the non-schedule has worked well for me so far. My reader is interesting to both home and professional creative fiber artists, as well as the vendors who supply them with goods. The site has opened many vendors up to building better online presences, once they have come to understand the ravenous appetite for supplies outside of New York City.

    When it comes to the blogs I visit, my personal favorites change depending on my mood. They range from the very practical DIY blogs that provide details on not only what to make, but how to make it, and where the supplies to make it are found, any relevant historical references, and finally, GREAT photos. I also love a healthy dose of humor and bloggers who post their failures and challenges in comedic ways. Great photography is a wonderful bonus, since the eye craves beauty, and the words then only help to enhance the visitor’s experience that much more. After all, the creative appetite for good ideas is never satiated, and ideas with accessible resources are always the best ones!

    My favorite blogs:

    Male Pattern Boldness(humor)

    A Little Sewing (just fun and interesting)

    Fit for a Queen (humor!!!!)

    Dress a Day (humor and eclectic taste)

    Communing with Fabric (fun and creativity)

    Mimi G Style (fun, happy, and always sorta glamourous, in her own way)

    Five Muses (lots of fun!)

    Erica Bunker (takes sewing VERY seriously!)

    Written by Mimi Jackson

     Mimi Jackson family photo

  • 05/04/2014 2:58 PM | Anonymous

    When I started my blog Originations (http://originationsbyj. in September of 2012, it was because of my admiration of the many sewing blogs I’d been following. There are few enough who are passionate about this craft of ours: the painstaking work of cutting cloth to the correct drape, stitching pieces together impeccably, pressing seams with care, and proudly wearing or seeing others wear the beautifully finished garments. If we don’t find a way to pass the passion along to the next generation of sewists, I fear that sewing for the love of it will disappear. My generation grew up playing under the sewing tables of mothers, aunts and grandmothers, learning from our elders to create and to love the process. Sometimes it skipped a generation - my instruction came from my aunt rather than my mother. We have memories of button tins and sewing baskets full of strange and wonderful notions collected over the years, of wearing particular garments sewn for occasions long forgotten, and scraps of cloth from dresses long-ago relegated to the rag pile. Young fashionistas in the 2010’s know more about where to buy cheap fashion than they do about what goes into creating a quality garment (or how it should fit - but that’s another story), and this fast consumerism has done more to threaten the garment industry than anything else. As I wrote in my first blog post, I decided it was high time to collect those “thoughts that have been writing themselves in my head for months - years, maybe - and get them down, not on paper, but out there for the world to read.”

    I chose a blog name that reflects my business name - Janee’s Originals. The format was not difficult to set up, using the Blogger templates, and modeling different areas of the page after some of my favorite bloggers was the easy way out. I can and do make changes to the layout as they make sense to me. I wasn’t terribly surprised that writing flowed out of me for the first post, and I learned how to add photos as I went along. They are the spice to break up the mass of text and add color and appeal to the blog page. What proved harder was to remember to take photos while I sewed, to have them available to include in a post it might take weeks or months (or longer) to get around to writing. Because that was - and is - the inherent difficulty in writing a blog: finding or making the time to actually write it. Because my sewing time is heavily skewed to client work (I am running a business, after all) most of my day-to-day work is very mundane as I complete common alterations. People won’t want to read about those basic techniques. I don’t want to be a person who just posts for the sake of having something appear on the blog; I want my posts to matter to me and whoever takes the time to read them. I have picked up a couple of clients with projects based on what they read on the blog - just this past week I contracted with a young mother to use her wedding gown to make her daughter’s christening gown, because she’d seen a post on my blog from a few months back.

    My first post of 2014 in January included the commitment to post more often this year - I’m already woefully behind! I don’t have many followers, probably because I post so infrequently, and most of those are fellow ASDP members, all blog-writers themselves. We follow each other in mutual support. But that doesn’t matter to me. When I find a reason to write a post, I am able to create it quickly and get it published immediately with minimal editing. It might be about a book I’ve read, a consultation I just had with a new client or a technique I figured out for a project that worked especially well. I will probably never be someone who shows the world a brand-new technique that no one else has ever thought of, but I truly enjoy being able to use my blog to let me be a teacher. My hope is that in some small way, I can be one of those passionate sewists who manage to spread the joy of sewing, and inspire just one young person to devote just a part of her/his waking hours to the pursuit of fine garment construction.

    Janee Connor by Chuck Islander

  • 05/03/2014 2:52 PM | Anonymous

    I was a relatively early adopter of blogging. I started my blog almost a year before I started my business. When I started blogging, I was teaching classes, and I wanted to have some place to publish tips, show off things that I made, and show off my students’ work.

    In 2007, I started Gorgeous Fabrics. The way it started was through my blog. I made a dress and announced that I was selling the fabric I used for it. The rest, as they say, is history.

    I realized quickly that, as a retailer, blogging is an efficient and cost effective marketing tool. It gives me the opportunity to get my message out and control the way it is disseminated. One of the beauties of blogging is that I own the work I do. I don’t have to give any tacit or explicit license to someone in exchange for publishing. Since I host my blog on the same server that runs my website, I also integrated it with my online store. It’s been a great tool for teaching people how to work with the fabrics I sell. I link to relevant blog posts directly from within fabric pages, adding value to my customers. It’s fabric and tutorials on how to sew with them – a win-win for everyone!

    Blogging has also proven to be a fun way to engage with my customer base. I get lots of great feedback from customers. I get them to interact with me both in comments and through occasional contests that I run through the blog (everyone loves a giveaway!). Many of them tell me that they are inspired by projects that I have posted. The blog helps establish my bona fides as a sewing professional and it is a great tool for marketing. Blogging can give you an outlet for showing your abilities and creations, as well as an easy and inexpensive marketing tool. I heartily recommend creating a blog if you don’t already have one. By adding it to your business tool chest, you can get your message out there easily, expediently and inexpensively!

    Written by Ann Steeves

  • 05/02/2014 2:33 PM | Anonymous

    Two years ago I created the blog to supplement and expand the course content I teach as an instructor in the fashion department at College of DuPage. Through the blog, I built a professional network that is valuable for business contacts, product sales, my custom dressmaking business, and friendships. The blog features tutorials, discussions, trend analysis, resources for designers, and news about the fashion industry. In two years over 60,000 readers have visited the blog. I have exchanged information and made friends with people located in the United States, Canada, Africa, Europe, and Australia. While writing articles for the blog is time-consuming, the benefits to readers and me make the effort worthwhile, rewarding and fun.

    My audience is design students and people interested in couture sewing. My strength is teaching all levels of clothing construction, and my passion is couture construction. The blog content is professional; I seldom reference my family or personal life. Strangers all over the world have access to the blog, so I don’t want my private life, family, and home exposed.

    The blog benefits my business because I do receive regular inquiries about my custom dressmaking services, and an occasional new client. The biggest professional benefit is the creation of an audience to whom I can market books, patterns, sewing CDs, supplies etc. If you have something you want to sell, a blog is a low cost way to build a customer base. The key is to offer relevant, interesting content that establishes you as an expert in your area. If your blog is not interesting or not aimed at a target market, traffic will not build.

    I try to post two or three articles per month. If you have visited the blog this year, you know I am posting less frequently due to the demands of attending graduate school. When your blog is new, it is optimal to write three or four articles per month to build interesting content and show readers what you will be writing about. Some popular blogs post several times per week, but my experience is that readers are busy and many will not want to visit a blog more often than weekly.

    Blogging can be easy and free. I recommend you obtain the books Blogging for Dummies and Google Blogger for Dummies. I borrowed them from my local public library. These books are great resources because they explain the simple details of creating a blog and give you ideas for future growth such as podcasts and advertising. Google’s Blogger is free and is the easiest service to work with. If you decide you enjoy blogging but are limited by Blogger, consider WordPress or Tumblr.

    Many vendors have blogs to feature their products. Mood Fabrics in New York features their products in several blogs. At Mood's blog you can follow twelve fashion sewing bloggers representing all levels of skill. As mentioned in the March 2014 ASDP newsletter, University of Fashion offers a great blog. I recently reviewed the leather articles and they were excellent. A third favorite blog of mine is The Burda blog projects are modern, and the blog features professional photographs.

    You can spend a few hours or days per week blogging. Reading blogs is educational and fun. If you decide to create a blog, you will have fun, make friends, and establish a new professional network.

    Written by Ann Vidovic

    Ann Vidovic, NLU Photo

  • 05/01/2014 2:27 PM | Anonymous

    As we sat around a conference table at our ASDP annual board of trustees strategic planning meeting in early March I took note of all of our computers. I tried to remember what things were like before laptop technology, and I fear that I sometimes yearn for those simpler days. Having said this, I still think technology has helped us in many ways.

    When I looked up “first computer” on the internet, I found this definition: The word “computer” was first recorded as being used in 1613 and was originally used to describe a human who performed calculations or computations. The definition of a computer remained the same until the end of the 19th century when people began to realize machines never get tired and can perform calculations much faster and more accurately than any team of human computers ever could.

    There were many machines considered to be computers starting as early as 1822, so I narrowed my search down to the first portable computer. This is what I found:

    The IBM 5100 was the first portable computer, which was released on September 1975. The computer weighed 55 pounds and had a five-inch CRT display, tape drive, 1.9MHz PALM processor, and 64 KB of RAM. The current-day laptops and tablets weigh much less and also have huge amounts of memory compared to the originals! This is definitely an improvement in technology.

    Information I found about the start of the internet states; “The Internet, then known as ARPANET, was brought online in 1969 under a contract let by the renamed Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), which initially connected four major computers at universities in the southwestern United States.”

    From this humble beginning, we now have the capability to communicate in various ways via our computers. ASDP board members communicate a lot in the management of our organization, and much of this is done via emails and online conferencing. If there were no computers or internet, we would be playing a lot more telephone tag with each other. Because of technology, ASDP files and documents are stored online and on computer drives. This makes for streamlined storage and a smaller paper trail. Our new webmaster, Rhonda Brown, began working for ASDP at the beginning of April. ASDP’s presence on the web is a very important member and marketing tool, and I look forward to seeing changes that Rhonda will recommend.

    So, although I will still look back fondly on the simpler life before computers, I know there are many tasks in my life that have been improved and streamlined by their technology.

    Our strategic planning meeting involved lots of talk and planning for this year’s conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and long-range planning for ASDP. One of our tasks was to make a selection from the excellent nominations our members submitted for this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award. I am excited and honored to announce that Judith Neukam, senior editor of THREADS magazine, was chosen! Judy’s involvement with the annual THREADS Challenge and her hard work and compassion in furthering our industry are just a of couple reasons she was nominated. Help us to honor her as she receives this award in Philadelphia!

     Teresa Nieswaag by Chuck Islander

  • 03/09/2014 7:37 PM | Anonymous

    I just got a new seat for sewing and really like it. It’s called the Executive Kore Hi-Rise Chair.

    When I sent them some feedback to say that I really like this chair, Jon from Korestool told me that they’ve been hearing that a lot of people are using it for sewing.  One of my fitness goals for the year is to work on my lousy upper body posture, and this chair makes me much more aware of when I’m slouching.

    I first saw this product in a Skymall catalog. Ended up ordering it from Amazon and it was a lot cheaper that way.

    Here’s a link to their website:

    Tina Colombo, C2 Photography

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