Dear ASDP Board
When I started my blog Originations (http://originationsbyj. blogspot.com/) 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.
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
Two years ago I created the blog http://didyoureallysewthat.com/ 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 burdastyle.com/blog. 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
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!
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: http://www.korestool.com/
Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers, by Julie Cole and Sharon Czachor (published by Fairchild Books, Inc.) is an excellent textbook. There is also a workbook available. The book is expensive, but it costs less than a weekend workshop and it’s the equivalent of a full semester’s course.
The book has 18 chapters: The Design Process, Getting Prepared (extensive discussion of grain, pattern matching, seam allowances, sewing notions) Stabilizers, Darts, Pockets, Seams, Tucks and pleats, Zippers, Waistbands, Rufﬂes and ﬂounces, Collars, Facings, Cuffs, Sleeves, Hems, Linings, Closures, and Finishing touches.
Illustrations are 2-color line drawings and are exceptionally easy to understand - when to use stay stitching and which direction to sew in, where to use a small piece of stabilizer at a point, 4 waistband ﬁnishes. The basics are covered in charts - what size needle to use for which fabric, what type of stabilizer to use where, when to use a full lining and when to use a half lining.
The book is written in a user-friendly voice. Don’t be put off by the dos and don’ts format. Among the suggestions for satin seams: a reminder to maintain a clean and oil-free environment and to clean your hands often, to use a silk organza press cloth, to use ﬁne needles, and to stitch directionally. For faux fur: Trim fur from seam allowances before stitching, turn scissors at an angle to trim the fur, and don’t trim fur off the hem allowance.
To give an idea of the breadth of the material, the tuck chapter teaches dart tucks, blind tucks, pin tucks, corded tucks, cross tucks, shell tucks, and overhand tucks. Only then does it move on to pleats. If you need help ﬁguring out the most accurate way to do simple tucks, this book will help you. If you are looking for something more convoluted this book is still able to help. The pocket chapter includes inseam pockets and how to draft them, patch pockets (topstitched, sewn invisibly, lined, with or without ﬂaps,) shaped pockets, welt pockets, pleated or gathered pockets, piped pockets and zipped pockets.
There are four pages of illustrations showing how to clip where seams join. I like a book that reminds you that in a sheer dress you can sew the zipper to the lining.
This is not a book of industrial sewing techniques and it is not a book on embellishment, but if you want to choose a single book that illustrates construction techniques for high end clothing, your go-to when you can’t remember the steps in a welt pocket or how to stitch jersey without stretching it, I recommend Professional Sewing Techniques for Designers by Julie Cole and Sharon Czachor.
Written by Rachel Kurland
As your new VP of Chapter Relations, I am seeing ﬁrsthand how much time, creativity and energy goes into maintaining all our vibrant Chapters. Kudos to all who are involved in your Chapter’s activities!
It sounds like the New England Chapter held a fun, educational and inspiring event recently. Here is Patricia Kane’s account:
“Five of us intrepid ASDP New England members braved the snow predictions to meet at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell. Rebecca, Cathie, Janee, Pat, and Penny were inspired and entertained by the exhibits on the evolution of the textile industry in the US and speciﬁcally in Lowell. Looms, carders, spinning jennys, fullers, and a cotton gin were on view, along with clothing and textiles from the 1700’s to a special exhibit on the 1960’s. This 60’s exhibit made some of us feel old, (or maybe special?), to see the styles we wore in the day now a museum exhibit...
There was much discussion among us as we toured, with everyone adding a bit of information to the mix-- always fun when we are together and sewing is somewhere in the conversation!
The snow started in earnest as we adjourned to lunch at Cobblestones, in a lovely old building just up the street. Conversation continued about gardening, the costumes of Downton Abbey, the Patriots, food allergies, and food. Off we went to home, in the now snowy and slippery streets, carefully negotiating our way. Everyone arrived home safely, though the trips were slow.
The Textile Museum deserves another visit to read the wall information in depth and to observe the looms in action when someone is there to operate them. A nice gathering to begin the year for the New England chapter of ASDP.”
Their March program: Sketching for your Fashion and Sewing Business Get inspired to start and learn how to progress in your skills so your presentation is professional and beautiful for clients.
The San Francisco Chapter is planning a sewing retreat in May and 8 members have signed up. They are happy that their Chapter is being revitalized!
For their February meeting, the Baltimore Chapter had scheduled Carey Puomo to do a presentation on the CAD design software workshop that she took recently (see her article, Page 9). Unfortunately, the meeting had to be canceled because of yet another snowstorm. So, hopefully, they will be able to hear about this some other time! The March program will be on Surface Design, in particular Shibori, presented by a guest speaker. Some future programs will be on online classes and how to do pattern alterations.
They held their annual Christmas Gala in December. One of the highlights of the evening was handing out door prizes, some of which were won at Conference because their Chapter acquired the most new members last year!
The Colorado Chapter will be having a sewing retreat from February 28 – March 3 at Peaceful Valley Ranch.
A number of Chapters held elections recently. New ofﬁcers include:
Baltimore – Program Chair – Valencia James Secretary – Pat Jackson Director-at-Large (Friend) – Elaine Shire
Chicago – President – Denise Liss VPs of Education – Gini Lloyd and Susan Gerbosi Secretary – Karen Gay
Great Plains – added a new position: Vice President – Sharon VanFleet
New England – Treasurer – Cathie Ryan Secretary – Pat Kane
New Jersey – President – Jil Konopacki (will start her tenure in May)
Oregon – 1st VP (Programs) – Marsha McClintock 2nd VP (Website/Communications) – Jennifer Phillips Treasurer – Judi McKamey Secretary – Michelle Davis Education Committee Chair – Janet Walker Membership Committee Chair – Alice Knox Library – Michelle Davis
San Francisco – President – Dale Webdale
Written by Debby Spence
Since this is the ﬁrst ASDP newsletter of the year, I wish all of our members a very happy and prosperous new year. A new year always brings with it the opportunity to evaluate the previous year and plan for any future changes or reﬁned goals. I was recently reading a local periodical, “Twin Cities Business” March 2014 edition, when a highlighted quote caught my attention. Dan Ferrise, CEO of Eagan, Minnesota-based Miller Manufacturing Co., says that to stay focused his company has a straightforward, one-page business plan. “The more goals you have, the less likely you are to accomplish any of them.”
Diversity in focus of business may seem like ﬁnding a larger market, but perhaps focusing on a smaller, singular goal will work much better. Ten or more years ago my business was much more diverse until I decided I was spreading myself too thin and decided to focus on a smaller aspect of my business. The interesting thing about this was that it was not the part of my business that I was trying to market the most. I was getting more calls for custom sewing and embroidery rather than the quilting product that I was certiﬁed to teach and sell at trade shows. Since it gave me more time to commit to a smaller set of goals, I have never regretted my change in focus of my business.
ASDP has some very good help for re-evaluating a business plan, or writing up a formal business plan on the website. Take a look under the Member Center, for this information. Again, have a good new year and have fun in your businesses!
Written by Teresa Nieswaag
Five ladies walked into a bar. The bartender asked, “What may I get for you?” The ﬁrst lady asked, “What drink does my dress inspire you to make?”
The Chicago Chapter held their Annual Meeting and Garment Challenge on January 12, 2014 at Gibson’s Steakhouse in Rosemont. This year’s theme was to create a “Cocktail Inspired” garment. Members Gini Lloyd, Karen Gay, Sue Gerbosi, Ann Vidovic and Denise Liss were in attendance. Barb Lloyd also joined us for the festivities. Gini, Karen and Denise wore their garments to the lunch.
Since Gini wore a black short sleeve sheath on which she beaded the symbols for “Man,” “Hat,” and “Ten,” she ordered a Manhattan from the bartender.
Karen created an amazing skirt from a faux fur fabric she discovered while we were at conference in Nashville. Her original name for her creation was a “Hairy Buffalo,” but since this drink is a creation made by college students, using whatever alcohol they have with them and pouring it into a large vat at a party, the bartender wasn’t really willing to make such a drink, so Karen settled for titling her creation a “Reverse Guinness.”
Denise also used fabric that she purchased while at conference. She discovered this luscious white fabric with strips of bias sewn on to form beautiful ﬂowers and she had to have it. She also found yellow silk chiffon for the bottom of the dress. Denise knew what she was going to do when she saw these fabrics. She asked the bartender for a Harvey Wallbanger when she entered. (Do I have to admit that her son said it looked more like a lemon chiffon pie? No. That is NOT a cocktail.)
We do have to mention that Sue did send in a photo of her dress which was also inspired by the Manhattan. Sue purchased her fabrics while she was visiting in Manhattan which gave her the inspiration. The swash of red is representative of the cherry on top.
With three entries, The Golden Dress Form went to Denise and the Harvey Wallbanger.
We enjoyed a lovely meal and delightful company. Of course, we held our annual meeting and our ofﬁcers were elected for the next year.
Can’t wait until we get together for our next meeting. We always have a great time.
Written by Denise Liss
A few things you have to keep in mind before you start planning your fashion show.
It is important to decide how much you are able to spend for your fashion show. It can be organized on either a small or large budget. But if you have a small budget you need to focus on the most important areas for your show.
One option is to pair with another complimentary designer, like shoe or jewelry designers. Another option is to approach your local businesses and ask them if they would like to sponsor your fashion show in exchange for some advertising. Be ready to offer an attractive package to your prospective sponsors. I would even design two or three packages at different cost levels, giving them an option to choose the package and how much they are willing to spend.
Recruit as many friends and family members as you can to help on the day of the show.
Your fashion show can be held in various places, and venue will be determined by how many people will attend. You can host a fashion show in a banquet hall, school, or gallery. If you plan to have an elevated runway, spend the money and go all the way. Otherwise, use your creativity as you don’t need to spend a lot of money when setting up a runway. Some of the fanciest fashion shows are set up on a ground level runway.
To give the feeling of a runway, place chairs on each side of the runway. If the venue does not have good lighting, you need to rent or invest in some lighting.
Decide your theme, hire a DJ, and make sure he or she has good music for a fashion show catwalk. The best music is without lyrics (which can distract the audience). You can get almost any instrumental music online these days.
If you are planning to have a cash bar, you may ask one of your local caterers or bars if they want to set up their own cash bar (reasonably priced).
Check with your venue to inquire whether they have liability insurance for your event. If they don’t, you should contact your insurance agent and ask to purchase “event insurance.”
Of course, you need models. If paying for professional models is not on your budget, check college campuses, as students might be willing to do it for a small fee or for clothing.
It is important to hold rehearsals with your models prior to the show. If you are not hiring professional models, you will need to work with them on how to walk on the runway and how to highlight what they are modeling. If you don’t have enough models, get an entertainer to ﬁll in between the changes (3 minutes minimum to change).
Hair and makeup artists: Check with your local salon, to see if they are willing to do the hair and make up for free in exchange for advertising.
Promote your Event
It is an important day for your business, so create a buzz! Start promoting your event at least one month prior to the fashion show. Call your local paper and ask if they would write an article about your show; sometimes they will do it for free. Call your local TV channels, create ﬂyers, send attractive post cards to businesses, use Facebook and other free media to promote your fashion show.
Hire a professional photographer, or call a school of photography where students are willing to do it for free or for less than half of what a professional photographer would charge you. Students need to get assignments to count towards their grades. You may contact the school directly and the teachers will provide names of students.
Create an Event Program - it is chic and your guests will appreciate that. It is a perfect place for all the garment details, plus everyone involved, including photographers, and the DJ will most likely display their business cards. Nowadays it’s all about showing the clothing with good music.
Have a table with business cards, look book, and anything else you can think of to make your show shine. If you want to have a good time after the show, extend the DJ for an after-party so your guests can enjoy some dancing, and a chance to chat and mingle with people.
Remember: there is always room for creativity when planning your fashion show!
Written by Sonia Santos, Passion ♥ Women’s Designer Clothing
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