If you are sewing for a living, or are hoping to start a sewing business, you probably have a bookshelf full of how-to books and a sketchbook full of ideas. I know I do. Well, do not worry about finding room in the bookshelf for one more book because Angela Wolf’s How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Design Business (2012 Globe Pequot Press) is the book you will be leaving open to refer to often. Whether you are just getting started or really on your way, you will find something valuable inside. Angela’s book covers the basics of starting and maintaining a sewing/design business including writing a business plan, self-examination about the realities of self-employment, and practical necessities such as setting up a workspace.
Where Angela’s book really shines is her emphasis on using technology and marketing. It is full of information on what worked and what did not work for her. In fact, each chapter is peppered with “true story” anecdotes of her real experiences in business (both good and bad), that will keep you laughing at and sympathizing with her situations.
Despite all the publications and online information available to home-based sewing and design professionals, there seems to be a real lack of practical advice on how to market and sell for the independent designer in all of us. This guide addresses issues with up-to-date information on transitioning from dressmaker to designer (break out those sketchbooks!). From organizing your inspirational ideas to finding wholesale supplies and making a production schedule that fits a micro designer’s needs, the information is there.
If you’ve been in business for a time, you may find the advice for beginners a little bit boring, but keep reading. There is plenty of advanced information in this book. Beware, though; this isn’t a book for the faint of heart. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level be prepared for some hard work and disappointment while putting Angela’s advice to work. In the end you will reap the benefits. I know I am ready!
Written by Lynne Vincent
For many years, I worked as a costume designer in regional theatre. Occasionally I would do a modern dress show, but my preference and my skill set both led me towards period plays. Shaw, Ibsen, Chekhov – these were my dessert, as well as my bread and butter. Therefore, it was quite a stretch when I got a call from a friend at American Girl Place in Chicago. American Girl was about to release a series of small stuffed animals along with coordinating books. A script had been written, and they wanted to mount a show for three to five year olds that would tell the story of Bitty Bear, Bitty Puppy, and Bitty Kitty. We were to assume that the young audience had never seen live theatre before and it was important for the children to make the connection to the toys (this was a commercial venture) and not to be scared by the size of the “animals,” who they would meet after the show. It seemed like an interesting digression from my usual work, and they promised they did not want pod costumes, something I had never tackled.
Of course, two weeks after I signed the contract the decision was made to put the actors in pod costumes. Theatre doesn’t teach you how to say no, so I researched mascots belonging to sport teams and adjusted and adapted. Most mascot uniforms are a furry jumpsuit with a huge head. My animals needed to be proportioned like the dolls, needed to be able to speak and hear each other, needed to be able to dress and undress themselves onstage, and they needed to do a forty-minute song and dance under stage lights without fainting. We didn’t have the budget to install fans like Walt Disney’s parks use, but the animals wouldn’t be able to flop on their bellies onstage if they wore fans, so it was a moot point.
The three animals each had a distinctive head shape and a distinctive body shape. Bitty Puppy’s head was tall, Bitty Kitty had wide cheeks, and Bitty Bear’s head was squarer. I purchased sturdy head blocks and padded them out with clay to mimic the shapes of the dolls’ heads. After covering the expanded heads with foil, I assumed I could use Celastic to shape the heads, but Celastic, the go-to theatre product in the 70’s, was taken off the market due to the toxicity of its solvents. Research led me to Varaform, a thermoplastic mesh which, when heated, becomes soft; it retains its new shape when cooled. A few layers, overlapping, made a good stable base and I reasoned that the open property of the mesh would keep the actors from overheating. This was true for the most part. We did have one particularly active puppy who sweated so much he softened the Varaform each performance. The theatre bought a small freezer to stock with cooling packs, which we inserted in the pod bodies. I also bought a keep cool hard hat liner for Puppy’s costume head and he had a healthy run.
To pad out the actors’ hips curves and shoulders to mimic the dolls, I made baskets from the Varaform, as shown on the rendering. We discarded them as impractical when the director incorporated somersaults and rolling on the floor into the Bitties’ actions onstage.
For comfort, the layer closest to the actors’ skin was a wicking unitard that could be laundered after each performance. Each toy animal had a different body type, but their arms and legs were similar, so they all wore a similar jumpsuit, feet, and hands under their pods. The fur of the jumpsuits needed to hold up to lots of wear and frequent washing, it needed to dry as quickly as possible, the color and texture needed to look like the dolls, enlarged to scale. Most imitation fur was too loosely woven to stand the abuse. I found a supplier of fur for teddy bears, Edinburgh Imports. Their alpaca was the perfect color for Bitty Bear; it wore well and was soft enough for a three year old to hug. A curly longer synthetic was perfect for Bitty Puppy’s ears, and a ginger colored synthetic was washable and sturdy enough for his body. Kitty was made of a grey ¼” synthetic with guard hairs and a plush curly white for her tummy, inner ears, and paws.
Doing all I could to keep the actors from overheating, I bought stretch mesh from Spandex House for the chest and back of the jumpsuit, areas that would be covered by the pod. The fur sections of the jumpsuits were flat-lined with washed cotton chintz to help them to keep their shape.
The characters had many additional costume pieces. For instance, Kitty played a princess, two grandmothers, Bitty bear’s cousin, a ballerina, a flapper, a mother, and a clown. She had to dress herself onstage while wearing her paws. We went through a few paw designs, settling on mittens with opposing thumbs.
The actors needed to wait until they had their makeup on to snap on their hands, so the hands were attached with hidden snaps on 3-inch elastic straps, allowing the actors to do gymnastics without discomfort or ripping the costumes. The soles of the feet, which attached to the jumpsuits with Velcro, could be replaced with new dance rubber as needed.
It was time to tackle the dreaded pods. I used 2-inch foam, with a tightly woven chintz liner for stability. Puppy’s belly was low slung, elongating his body. Kitty stands like a toddler, and Bitty Bear has the most solid build of the three. I draped the pods on my dress forms and herringboned pieces together, patching where necessary. Subsequent fittings with the actors determined how high the hips cut in. Kitty had a ballet routine that required her to do a grand battement and Puppy put his foot up on a box, so their pods had to be cut high at the hip. Bitty Bear flopped on her belly and her stomach needed reinforcement to bounce back. Three cold packs were strategically placed to keep the actors cool. They stepped into the costumes and snapped one shoulder closed with whopper poppers.
This show was definitely outside my comfort zone, but it was a lot of fun and it led to jobs, including a seven-foot tall dinosaur mascot for a children’s hospital. I’m not sure what the moral to this story is. Maybe it’s just… Don’t be afraid to say yes.
ln May, ASDP’s BC Chapter hosted Sabine David’s Perfect Pants drafting workshop. What a great time the seven of us had drafting our own perfect pants pattern. Four members and three non-members arrived excited to begin. We introduced ourselves, then Sabine began by explaining the important measurements needed for a well-fitted pair of pants. We paired off to measure each other and complete our measurement charts. Sabine explained the calculations to establish the proper pitch Beth Anderson file photo and we were ready to start. She guided us professionally step-by-step using the M. Mueller & Sohn system. Soon we each had our first pattern drafted and were sewing up our muslin.
We all gathered to watch Sabine analyze each figure type. This was my favorite part because I love fitting and pattern drafting. The group was made up of an excellent variety of fitting problems and desired styles. We appreciated the participants wearing proper under garments that allowed us all to watch the fitting process, which involved slashing and taping the muslin to improve the crotch length, waist slope, etc. We had a wonderful selection of alterations to learn from: a full tummy, muscular thigh, sway back, flat seat, full seat, muscular calf with bowed leg, forward stance…it was my kind of fun.
The two men were great sports: Harrison wanted a slim cut to fit over bowed muscular calves and Bob wanted a scoop waistband to fit under his belly. Brenda wanted her pants to hang like stove pipes from her hipline.
Next, we transferred the alterations to our patterns under Sabine’s watchful eyes and sewed our second and final muslin. Seeing everyone’s pants fit and hang so well was well worth the effort. Sabine checked for any final tweaks or tucks and we added them to our final basic pattern. I know a few will be purchasing the textbook Sabine has for pants and skirts. There was even a bit of time left to look at the CAD Program called GRAFIS that Sabine uses for her pattern design company. We all left happy.
Written by Beth Anderson
The launching of the Home Décor Learning Center, an upholstery and home décor sewing school, was fifteen years in the making. I have been sewing, like many of the ASDP members, all my life. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to sew and am constantly seeking knowledge in the areas of sewing and upholstery. Sewing is a skill where you can never know it all – there is always a new or different way of doing something and more than one way to do a particular task. Since upholstery and home décor sewing utilize many of the same skills, putting them together made good sense.
About fifteen years ago, I decided I wanted nice furniture in my home, but didn’t want to spend a lot of money buying new furniture. The idea of taking upholstery classes had been eating away at me for some time. So, I finally enrolled in an upholstery class at Mt. Diablo Adult Education. The first couple of classes were spent helping a classmate remove the old upholstery on her set of 8 dining room chairs. After a couple of weeks, I found that my first project – a channel-back chair - had a difficulty of 9 on a 1-10 scale. It turned out great and convinced my skeptical husband that “used” furniture can be great.
When I ran out of projects of my own to do, people started hiring me to do theirs. This went on for several years while I continued to take upholstery classes. Mt. Diablo Adult Education had two upholstery teachers at the time. One of them had wanted to retire and the school was having trouble finding someone to replace him. The administrator finally approached me about the possibility of teaching upholstery. I gave it some serious thought, discussed it with my husband, and decided to go for it. I started teaching upholstery on a part-time basis while continuing my home-based custom clothing and alterations business. As time went on, I found myself spending more time on upholstery projects and less time on garment sewing.
In the fall of 2009, Mt. Diablo Adult Education announced they were going to discontinue the upholstery program. The students were shocked and there was an outcry, which sparked the idea of an upholstery school and workroom. It took about two and a half years of intermittent attempts to perfect the business plan and collect the necessary equipment to establish the Home Décor Learning Center.
In June of 2012, the Home Décor Learning Center was opened in a four thousand square foot warehouse and the summer was spent setting it up. We have everything needed to do upholstery, industrial and home sewing: upholstery machines, a large compressor to handle the staplers and nail guns, table, miter, and band saws, household sewing machines, a long-arm quilting machine with a 14-foot table, and great work tables.
The Home Décor Learning Center offers many classes with subjects as varied as upholstery, quilting, window treatments, fabric painting, slipcovers, build-your-own ottomans or headboards, auto upholstery, and sewing classes for the beginner, as well as for the more advanced student. We take in jobs on a limited basis. We also have the hard-to-find products needed for students to complete their projects available for purchase. For those who want to look and get an idea of what we are all about you can visit our website.
The people who come here are thrilled to find such a workspace. There is no other business quite like this anywhere in the greater Bay Area, which makes us unique. I had a call from a woman recently asking about what is possible to do here. As I explained things to her, she kept gasping in delight and then said, “Where were you 10 years ago?”
The prospect of launching a business, especially one like this, can be very scary. There are many things to consider – money, the impact on your life and family, money, your social life, money, legal considerations, and more money. As with any business venture, make sure you are protected legally. The business entity should be something like a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) or a Corporation that separates your personal assets from the business. Another important thing to have is a good and signed,Waiver and Release form. Insurance does not cover students; they are considered to be engaging voluntarily in an inherently dangerous activity. However, once in a while a person can come along who turns out to be a major risk and you need to be protected. Students who come to a facility like the Home Décor Learning Center have no problem signing a waiver – they understand the reason for it.
Fifteen years ago, I would never have dreamed that I would be doing something like this. Getting up in front of a group of people was something I shied away from. I discovered that if the subject is something I know well, there is no problem with standing in front of a group people. The satisfaction of helping others achieve their goals is immeasurable when you see students walk out the door with a finished project in hand and big smiles on their faces.
The skills being taught can help launch a career. One of our students is in the process of taking over an upholstery business. Though he has much more to learn, he credits me with giving him the confidence to go for it. I am so happy for him and hope he does well. Another student is so enthusiastic about learning the business, he shows up almost daily bringing something new he found at a garage sale, antique shop, or along the side of the road. He has a “good eye” for projects that will teach him the skills needed for a future career in the business.
The creative atmosphere in the workshop is infectious. Most students, as I did in the beginning, find the process therapeutic and they want to keep on going. Another student recently told me about her fight with cancer and the effect it had on her thinking processes. She finds working through a task is forcing her to concentrate and therefore has a healing effect. I’ve heard similar stories from others, which makes me feel I’ve made the right decision in creating this business. Here’s hoping my company can go on long after I’m gone!
Written by Rachel Myers
I am a charter member of PACC /ASDP, attending every national Educational Conference since PACC was founded in 1990. I have held every chapter office in two different chapters, the Phoenix Chapter (now known as the Arizona Chapter) and the New Jersey Chapter. I also have participated on several committees on the National level and currently am on the National Board of Directors as VP of Certification Programs. Because of these experiences, I know a lot about the history of our organization and how things came to be the way they are.
The MSDP Certification Program was born out of the request from very experienced sewing professionals who wanted the opportunity to have their skills recognized, especially if their skills developed without the benefit of a college degree. This program took over ten years to create and involved multiple professionals in our industry who volunteered their time and expertise throughout the entire process. The first few years were spent developing our “Standards of Quality” which define how the various sewing techniques were done and what one should expect in a quality garment. This had never been done before in our industry and was a necessary first step before creating a certification program. This 48-page document can be found on the ASDP website. It lists over 35 professionals who participated in creating and reviewing the document throughout its creation including Claire Shaeffer, Roberta Carr, Kathleen Spike, Catherine Stephenson, Clara Dittli, Marcy Tilton and Sally Silvers, to name a few.
Linda Stewart was tapped to get the Certification Program off the ground and running. She made sure that the same care and attention to detail that went into the Standards of Quality were maintained for the actual Certification Program, utilizing many of these same professionals in the process. MSDP enlists the help of some of the best professionals, whose specialties are in each of the seven modules, to be the evaluators and holds its evaluators to its highest standards.
The MSDP Certification Program was created under the vision of ASDP, but has since been spun off as a separate entity. MSDP is a non-profit organization incorporated under its own name and is managed separately from ASDP. It has its own board of directors, half of whom are not ASDP members and they all participate in a volunteer capacity. Susan Khalje and Kenneth King were on the MSDP Board for a number of years and Catherine Stephenson is the current Chairperson for the board. The program does not require anyone to be an ASDP member, but believes that it is valuable to be one to have access to all the resources that ASDP offers.
The MSDP program is designed for the sewing professional who has achieved a high level of skill and would like to be recognized for the hours and dedication they have put forth in learning their craft. I am proud to manage such a well-designed program, created by so many talented individuals in the sewing industry and from our organization.
Written by Linda Macke
Let’s start by saying that I never imagined myself as a pattern maker. I was a skilled pattern manipulator. It began with my favorite art jackets. Over a period of years, I had developed a favorite well-fitted jacket pattern with a square armhole and side panel. It was perfect for surface design or mixing fabrics, two of my favorite techniques.
When I began teaching art jacket classes and retreats to weavers and other surface designers, it was a painful realization that each student was beginning with a (different) pattern that required several mockups and so much fitting work that there was little time left for art jacket inspiration. However, no sense creating a complex art jacket if it is not comfortable and well fitting.
Where was the basic jacket pattern with easy fitting solutions included in the tissue pattern? I thought a good pattern would save each student hours of tracing off patterns and laboring through adjustments. Plus, if the instructor had made the jacket as a mock up in each size, even more time would be saved and a good fit easily attained.
As a member of the DC-based Potomac Fiber Arts Guild, I was eligible to apply for a grant to further an area of interest. I applied to collaborate with weavers and quilters using my pattern concept. I was fortunate to receive the grant; the experience allowed me to create patterns in four sizes to fit my weaving and quilting collaborators. Between us, we made eight jackets and I learned a lot about the limited sewing skills, but creative energy, of fiber artists who want to transfer their craft to jackets.
The pattern idea began to take a more developed shape in the summer of 2010 as I was compiling my results. Carrie Emerson, my friend and studio assistant, and I decided to explore the business issues involved in pattern making and ultimately became partners in the business. We both agreed to invest money and time towards the development of the pattern. Our jacket pattern was ready for sale within a year.
Here is an abbreviated list of the long process from concept to establishing the company to publishing and marketing our first pattern:
Since then, we have introduced several new patterns (jacket variations and pants), all of which require a similar process of drafting and grading the pattern, testing, revising, writing and illustrating instructions, and getting it all printed and packaged for sale. We continue to improve our original products based on feedback from wearable artists, customers, fabric makers, and others in the field and by digitizing the tissue patterns for printing. We continue to teach wherever we are invited, expand our repertoire of trade and retail shows, and seek opportunities to publish so sewers can make great art jackets.
We are so appreciative of all the friends of our company who have supported and helped us along the way, especially the entire Baltimore Chapter of ASDP, the pattern makers, artists and other ASDP members willing to share their expertise, and vendors who have promoted our patterns in their stores and booths.
Written by Rae Cumbie, Fit for Art Patterns
Many of our members are professional clothiers. ASDP was originally PACC (Professional Association of Custom Clothiers). The decision to change the name in 2008 was due to the fact that some of our members don’t exactly fit into this niche of custom clothiers. If you take a look on the ASDP website under “Find a Sewing Pro” and search by specialty, you will find an alphabetical list of 52 sewing and design specialties!
This month the blog focuses on alternative careers in our industry. While these business owners may do some custom clothing construction, it is not the main focus of their business. Pattern development, selling fabric online, sportswear, and an upholstery business are interesting directions some of our members have taken in their businesses.
Recently, there has been some talk on our discuss list about first conference experiences. Any new endeavor can be quite intimidating and challenging to take on, but the feeling of accomplishment from going a little beyond a personal comfort zone combined with the inspiration received from like-thinking business owners is well worth the nervous moments. It is very exciting to speak face-to-face with other members and find out about their focus in business.
Written by Teresa Nieswaag, President
I’m a museum junkie, I confess. When I know I’m going to be traveling, the first thing I check is where there are costume collections, and my fondest memory of Chicago conference is of going with other ASDP members to the exquisite couture exhibit at the Chicago History Museum. We spent hours debating what was under those dresses and how they were put together, as we did gymnastics to see as much as we could without setting off alarms.
I try to include notice of exhibits in all parts of the country, but many of us are too far away or don’t have the time or the money to attend. For this technology issue here are a few online exhibits. These are available to anyone with an internet connection. Some are repeats from last year because they have to be included in any list. Others are new.Enjoy!!
Manchester Art Galleries
Click on a letter to search the artist collection and choose between all the painters, sculptors, and designers in the museum’s collection. Or check the “costume” box and “list works with images only.” Clicking on Givenchy revealed thumbnails of 6 garments, a pair of glasses, and 2 perfume bottles. Click on an individual thumbnail for date, designer, country of origin, and a description of the garment including some measurements (in centimeters) and functional information (like where the closure is). You can also search by theme or date. Photos are not huge. Descriptions are geared towards members of the public who are interested in fashion history rather than fashion professionals
Virtual Museum of Valentino (new)
Go to this site and download the tour of a virtual museum dedicated to Valentino. This man knew how to self-promote, was aware of his place in fashion history, and hired masters to mount this site. Make a cup of expresso with a hint of grappa and enjoy.
Kyoto Costume Institute Digital Archives (new)
Click on a date on the timeline (I clicked on 1850s to 1860s) and thumbnails will give you choices of garments to explore. Click on one garment and see a high resolution photograph with a description that includes a style’s place in history as well as the materials of the individual garment. Click on the garment and a zoom window opens that shows spectacular detail.
Victoria and Albert Collections
The mother of online costume collections. Pick a century or a designer to search. (There were 45 entries for Givenchy). Many garments have multiple views. Descriptions include who wore the gown, when , where, materials, labels, techniques. Clicking on a photo enlarges it, but not like on the Kyoto site, where you can see individual threads. You can print from the V & A site and can also order high resolution prints.
The V & A catalogue has 140,000 images, so it’s a great place to look for an overview of a designer or fashion house’s work. The museum is currently using crowdsourcing to choose the best images, to eliminate repetition, and to crop images most effectively.
Choose from a period or search by date, material, date, category, and/or name. Some garments have a photo and list material, technique, and date. Others have a more complete description of the garment or its period.
The Museum at FIT Search the Collection (new)
So far FIT has 850 items in their online collection. Search within a decade or a century and click on lightbox, list or single view to choose how many garments you browse at once. Click on your choice to see the garment on a form with a description. There is information as to designer, brand, medium, date, and country. Clicking on the photo brings up an enlargement. Some garments also have a detail photo.
Kent State University Museum Online catalogue
Do a “random search” for a surprise or click on object name, creator, culture, medium, date, etc. and click a letter in the alphabet. Click “V” under “creator”, then click a dropdown menu. Scroll to Vionnet (or dozens of other designers under V) and a thumbnail comes up.
Click on the thumbnail to enlarge it, then on “full data.” You have to click more times to get to a photo, but you can also print photos from the site. Amount of information varies from one garment to the next, but some have multiple views and nice historical information along with full descriptions.
Metropolitan Museum of New York
Search by who, what, where, or when, or “in the museum.” A search of the Costume Institute yields 27,623 results with an additional 6,234 from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection.
Within the Costume Institute, choose from the top 100 designers or enter in your own request.
Some garments have front and back views, some have detail photos. Some garments have more detailed descriptions and some have dimensions listed.
There is a bar below the entry which will suggest other garments you might be interested in. Set up a MyMet account and you can go back to your favorites at will.
This is one of my favorite sites.
Our new chapter in British Columbia is up and running! At their meeting on April 28th the board of officers was elected. They sponsored a seminar in May on drafting perfect pants taught by Sabine David of Pacific Design Academy. They made their presence known at the Creative Stitches and Crafting Alive Show in Abbotsford and Victoria BC.
Their demonstration table was well received, Diana showed how to apply crystals to competitive dance gowns, Marion showed how her class can teach you to double yourself as a dress form, Brenda demonstrated some of the hand stitching used in creating a Chanel jacket, and Trish used her expertise speaking with people about home decorating.
The response let them know that people with the desire for creativity and quality classes is growing and they look forward to welcoming more new members in the coming months.
The New England chapter hosted a program meeting on April 27th on Fabrics and Fibers, open to the public. It was very well attended. The presentation by member Kate Shaffer was informative and thorough. As a weaver and spinner as well as a sewer, Kate had samples of yarns in both worsted and woolen varieties, along with fabric samples and a collection of swatches for purchase to demonstrate the qualities of fabrics and fibers. It was great to see so many guests at the meeting – they outnumbered the chapter members by about 3 to 1!
Weather has been a deterrent for members of the Great Plains chapter this winter, who have had to make the decision several times to cancel a planned meeting. They have opportunities coming up to visit an exhibit or two, and will be glad when the snow finally stops flying in the midwest!
New Jersey chapter members’ April meeting was a seminar with Pamela Leggett on fitting pants and skirts. This was part two on fitting, focusing on what correct fit should look like on the lower half of the body. Part I on bodices, with Sharon Butler, was held in March. The chapter will hold meetings in May and June, and an annual sewing retreat on July 1921st. Details will be on the ASDP website calendar as they are passed along to me.
Last but not least, the Baltimore chapter sewed garments for Dress for Success at the Original Quilt and Sewing Expo in May. Thanks to all the chapter members participating in this great endeavor – I hope to have a recap of the event to report on for the next issue.
Written by Janee Connor, VP of Chapter Relations
Why would anyone ever want to write a blog? It can be time consuming, frustrating and a very humbling experience. Thankfully, ignorance is bliss, and with no idea of the negatives, I began my own blog experience in the late fall of 2009.
There are a number of internet hosts for blogs. Blogger and WordPress seem to be the two most popular. I chose Blogger and have been quite happy with my choice. As with anything, there are pros and cons to the various hosts; so I advise you to read all you can about the different hosts and then make your decision. I found Blogger to be extremely user friendly. Within just a few minutes, I had my page set up.
Now that my blog has been set up for some time, this is the advice that I would offer before you set up your own blog.
1. Think about what you would like your blog to convey about you.
2. Are you looking to promote your business or just
find friendship with like-minded people?
3. If you are looking to promote your business, creating a brand is important.
4. Also, if you are looking to promote your business, read this book, The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin. Only one chapter is devoted to blogging, but I found it quite useful and informative. The book can be found on Amazon.
5. Research other blogs and take note of their layout and what they write about.
6. Start following blogs that you find interesting and take note of why you find them interesting. Most bloggers make it quite easy for you to follow them. Usually a button says ‘followers’ or ‘follow me’. Simply click on that button and you will be instructed about how to follow that blog.
Initially, a friend encouraged me to share my work. She didn’t offer how, but just gave me the encouragement to do it. I knew about blogs and decided that this just might be for me. At first, my blog was about my personal journey. With no idea of what I wanted to say, or where I wanted my blog to go, I wrote my first post about a rescue flight that I had just completed. I had flown to Kentucky and rescued a boat load of puppies. Maybe I should say, a plane load of puppies!!
That post was written in October of 2009 and I did not write another post until the end of March, 2010. I got off to a very slow start. During my first full year of blogging, I only wrote twenty-six posts.
It really wasn’t until August of 2011 that I finally realized my blog could be a vehicle to a dream that I have had for many years. That is when one of my weekly features was born: Fabulous Free Pattern Friday. Almost every Friday I post a simple garment made from rectangles, circles, squares, and or triangles. Since that first post in August of 2011, I have posted sixty-nine different garments made with simple shapes. My goal had been to post fifty-two pieces, one for each week of the year, but once I reached my goal, many followers wanted me to continue. Since I still had so many more ideas, Fabulous Free Pattern Friday continues. The most popular FFPF posts have been the posts I did on drafting the circular skirt and the 8-gored skirt.
Pattern drafting is a passion; and, since Fabulous Free Pattern Friday had garnered a following, I decided to start Sleeves On Saturdays. With these posts, I show the readers how to take a basic sleeve pattern and draft what seem to be complicated sleeves. I believe that drafting is not at all complicated; it’s just a matter of knowing what to do. It has been exciting to see people who have never drafted anything draft a sleeve, and share their excitement with me through their pictures. Another weekly feature that I write is called The Wednesday Showcase.
The old saying, “you must be a friend to have friends” holds true in the blog world. As I said in the beginning, my blogging experience has been extremely frustrating at times. In fact, so frustrating that I have contemplated closing the blog. However, on the positive side, one day a fellow blogger who has a very popular blog included my blog in her post. That day, the hits on my blog rose to an all-time high and the number of my followers grew by leaps and bounds. I am so grateful and to pass along my gratitude, I choose two bloggers every Wednesday who are following my blog, and
I write about their blog. I especially love finding the blogs that are fairly new or who have very few followers. I know first-hand how exciting it is to have your blog recognized.
Another of my regular posts is Monday Morning Inspiration. I love to start my week with something inspiring and I thought that others may as well. Some of the most popular past posts have been about the vintage Modes Royale pattern catalogues that I shared. At the moment, I am doing a series on haute couture.
I began this article with the negatives of writing a blog, but there are also many positives. The best things about writing a blog are the friendships that you will make. I have had the opportunity to meet a few of the people who follow my blog and whose blogs I follow in return. Upon meeting, it’s as if we’ve known each other for years; and in a way, we have. They write about their lives and I about mine. Over time, you grow to know them through their words. When we meet with friends in our everyday lives, we so often talk over each other’s words; but with a blog, each person has a chance to talk and be listened to.
More positives are the opportunities that have come to me. Most recently, I won a contest to be a guest on the television show “Sew It All.” In October, I will be flown to Denver where the show will be taped and then sometime after the first of the year the program will air. Starting the first of May, I will have a weekly feature on the Sew News blog. I am very excited about this. These posts will be about manipulating darts and drafting collars. Beginning in January of 2014, I will be writing for Sew News magazine.
A blog can be time consuming and frustrating, but it can also be a most rewarding experience. By sticking with it, I have found, it can also be the vehicle that will take you to places you never thought possible.
You can find my blog at www.rhondabuss.blogspot.com
2885 Sanford Ave SW #19588, Grandville, MI 49418 ~ Toll-Free (877) 755-0303