Dear ASDP Board

  • 09/04/2013 7:50 PM | Anonymous

    As we gear up for fall sewing events, I’m starting to hear more from the chapters. Here are some of the latest happenings that have been reported by the Chapter Representatives.

    The Great Plains chapter may be a small group, but these women have become friends. They plan events when they can each travel a small distance and take in an interesting exhibit while they spend time together.

    This year has offered them more opportunities than usual. Exhibits they’ve seen include: Durham Museum’s Women Who Rock - Vision, Passion and Power, organized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; Constructing History - Structures and Silhouettes exhibit in the Hillestad Textile Gallery at the University of Nebraska; Nebraska History Museum exhibit of gowns and memorabilia from Miss America 2011 (a 17-year old from Nebraska); and vintage wedding gowns sponsored by the Washington County Historical Society. Most recently, in August members attended the formal and evening wear runway show at Omaha Fashion Week, as a follow-up to the show they’d taken in during the Spring event. The chapter plans to meet in November to plan for next year, and in December they will have a lunch and gift exchange – their gifts have to be something made from “stuff we have on hand in our stash.” What a great way to show they care for one another!

    The first meeting of the program year for the Baltimore chapter was held on September 12. The focus of the meeting was to complete garments for the Dress for Success program, started in the chapter’s booth at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Baltimore last May. They meant to distribute these garments at the June gala, which had to be cancelled because of a predicted storm. Blondell Howard offered her Sassy Sewer Sewing Lounge as a workspace for the September meeting. This was a wonderful continuation of the “sew it forward” effort ASDP members have been participating in for the past several years, congratulations and thank you, Baltimore members!

    The New England chapter is kicking off its program year with two ‘open’ meetings, where non-members are welcome to attend along with chapter members. The first, Restyling Clothing for Comfort, is scheduled for September 21. During this hands-on program, attendees were guided by Pat Kane, as they learned to restyle and modify store-bought clothes for comfort and better looks. Pat is a chapter member who specializes in fit for both stage costumes and custom garments for her clients. Next up, on October 26, Maureen Egan, member of both ASDP and Silk Painters International (SPIN), will lead a lecture and demonstration on Surface Design for Fashion: Painting on Fabric. These fashion applications for fabric paint and dye may get messy, so participants are advised to bring an apron for when they try their hand at the techniques following the demonstration. 

    Written by Janee Connor, VP of Chapter Relations

    Janee Connor VP Chapter Relations, by Chuck Islander

  • 09/02/2013 7:44 PM | Anonymous

    One aspect of alteration work that I thoroughly enjoy is that each job presents a new puzzle to be solved. Some puzzles, like changing a hem, are usually pretty straightforward. Other puzzles, however, can be quite challenging – for example, when I needed to add just over 4” to the circumference of a wedding gown bodice.

    Part of solving alteration puzzles calls on my knowledge of sewing. However, a great deal of performing alterations calls on my knowledge of fitting. Not only does a better fit make the garment more flattering, it also makes the garment more comfortable. I’ve found that my customers often come to me, rather than going to a local dry cleaner, simply because of my ability to fit.

    Learning to fit different types of garments on a wide variety of bodies took a lot of practice and experimentation. Like many skills you acquire for your business, the time and effort you put in pays off in the long run. Having top-notch fitting skills certainly allows me to charge more for my alteration services.

    I also get a lot of satisfaction doing alterations. Part of my satisfaction derives simply from solving the new puzzle that has been brought to me, but it’s more than that. Because of the way the women’s clothing industry has evolved over the last 50 years, many people – perhaps most people – don’t have a clue what a good fit is. As I fit a garment, they can literally see the difference and after they’ve worn the altered garment, they feel the difference.

    Some repeat clients make an appointment saying, “I want you to work your magic on a new garment I’ve bought.” They might feel like it’s magic, but I know it’s not; it’s just employing a finely honed skill set and, for me, the biggest satisfaction of all is helping people feel better in their clothes, because everyone goes about their day with a much more positive frame of mind when they feel good in what they’re wearing.

    Written by Sarah Veblen, author of The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting

    Sarah Veblen by Bonnie V. Veblen

  • 09/01/2013 7:41 PM | Anonymous

    Alterations are a huge part of my business and I feel that with many of the alterations that I do, I learn something. As many of you know, taking a garment apart to make the changes can be an eye-opening lesson on how the industry fabricates these garments. Those of you who work a storefront alterations business have become very adept and fast at many complicated alteration projects. The phrase, “time is money” definitely pertains to alterations.

    In one of this month's blog posts, Sarah Veblen discusses creating beautiful fit using alterations, and how “magical” her work appears to her clients. This positive feedback is an amazing emotional boost in our sometimes very drama filled jobs. In doing precise fitting alterations to create a well-fitting garment, at times with a tight deadline, clients appreciate our skills and for the most part gladly pay our fees.

    Through the online discuss list, members help each other solve some of these alteration puzzles. When the question arises, “How do I do this?” there are often numerous answers from other members based on their experience. There are even, many times, some very helpful illustrations to clarify these answers! This sharing of information serves as continual education for many of us along with positive reinforcement that we are very capable sewing professionals. This reinforcement is especially important when we are dealing with a client that will never be happy, even with our very best work. “So, this is the time to focus on all the clients you make very happy and try to forget the one who makes it impossible for you to do your stuff” is a direct quote from the discuss list that is so very pertinent for our businesses.

    Learning from each other is one of the biggest perks of ASDP membership. I hope that you will find some new information in this blog to use in your business.

    Written by Teresa Nieswaag, President

    Teresa Nieswaag, President by Chuck Islander

  • 08/09/2013 7:36 PM | Anonymous

    Over-Dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion Cline, E. L. (2012) New York: Penguin

    This book should be required reading for anyone interested or working in any aspect of the apparel industry, big or small. Not since Teri Agin’s The End of Fashion does an author address, in such an easily understood manner, the “why’s” that have created what we know today as fashion. More specifically, Cline addresses “fast fashion,” the demise of American apparel manufacturing, and the attitude held by large companies that product quality should be “good enough” but shouldn’t affect making a big profit. Essentially the themes communicated throughout are that consumers today do not know good quality from bad, are easily swayed by incredibly low prices, and expect a lot for a little, usually on the backs of workers making less than a living wage in less than adequate conditions.

    What impressed me about this book is that Cline sought to communicate the big picture of what has happened, is happening, and where we can go from here in regards to the production of apparel and textile products worldwide. Although much time was spent discussing the rise of China as the world’s powerhouse in apparel manufacturing and its implications, Cline also laid out the path of countries, including the U.S., taking hold of production opportunities as the quality and cost of living raises for Chinese workers result in higher production costs. She is hopeful that production companies will seek out socially, and ecologically, responsible manufacturing facilities that pay living wages and/or “re-shore” manufacturing back to American soil. Other encouraging trends discussed include the rise, or return, of “slow fashion,” in which local designers make small runs of styles, offering them at local retail establishments, leading to exclusivity and educating consumers on quality. Given that fast fashion is for the most part uninspiring, Cline believes that more people will be seeking to restyle or repurpose what they have in their own wardrobes, leading to more demand for seamstresses and tailors as well as educational opportunities in sewing and design.

    In all, Overdressed is an easy, interesting read. In fact, I will be using it in several of my academic classes as required reading to communicate to my students the realities of the apparel industry today. Although the book is a sober reminder of how apparel quality has declined, it does offer a bright outlook for the future of fashion.

    Written by Janet Blood, Ph.D. VP of Education

    Janet Blood, Ph.D. VP of Education by Chuck Islander

  • 08/08/2013 7:34 PM | Anonymous

    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

     Lynne Vincent, by Alan Vincent

  • 08/07/2013 7:20 PM | Anonymous

    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.

    kitty’s padded head formThe 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 varaform structure for puppy’s head. marker shows cut marks for ears; all edges were taped for comfortthermoplastic 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.

    Bitty Bear Pod Foam FittingTo 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.

    Bitty Puppy Body Layers

    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.

     Rachel Kurland by Chuck Islander

  • 08/06/2013 7:12 PM | Anonymous

    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.

    Bob Hunter, Sabine David, Brenda Breitenmoser, Bev Franzega, Marion Goosen, Harrison Oswald, Sabrina Breitenmoser, and Beth Anderson

    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.

    Sway back, full seat and calf Alter for flat seat

    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.

    Marion Sabine Brenda [behind] Sabrina Harrison Bev Bob Photos by Beth Anderson

    Written by Beth Anderson

  • 08/05/2013 4:45 PM | Anonymous

    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

     Rachel Myers Photos: Audrey Myers

  • 08/04/2013 4:42 PM | Anonymous

    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

    Linda Macke by Chuck Islander

  • 08/02/2013 4:13 PM | Anonymous

    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.

    Rae Cumbie and partner Carrie Emerson

    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:

    • Starting with the patterns from the grant, graded the patterns from S - XL with two fronts and two side panels for each size 
    • Made a set of mock-ups to begin testing the pattern on real bodies 
    • Began brainstorming company names, cover art possibilities, etc 
    • Fall and Winter 2010/2011, held a couple of fitting events at stores and with sewing groups to try on samples and to test cover designs, company and product names 
    • Kept extensive notes on fit, testers’ measurements, etc 
    • Met with a lawyer to register the company name and trademark 
    • Consulted with independent pattern makers we know for advice 
    • Re-worked the pattern masters, adding sizes XS and XXL, walked masters and added markings Wrote preliminary directions 
    • Sent hand-drafted patterns and directions with hand-drawn illustrations to testers for trial and comment 
    • Worked with a graphic designer to create illustrated direction book and with another artist for the cover
    • Chose a format and a printer for the patterns 
    • Began stacking the pattern masters and preparing the hand drawn patterns with computer generated logo stickers for printing 
    • Chose a website host and began creating the website and choosing credit card services 
    • In spring of 2011, committed to our first booth at a retail show 
    • Graphic designer helped us create logo, business papers, fit prescription pads, signs, etc. that coordi nated with the pattern cover 
    • Made a new set of fitting samples for use at retail and trunk shows 
    • In the summer of 2011, tested patterns and directions again with students at a jacket class 
    • Sent finished patterns to McCall’s to print on tissue 
    • Chose a local printer to print the direction books 
    • Selected packaging materials 
    • Wrote Common Fitting Adjustments, with illustrations by the graphic designer, for website 
    • Began collecting photos of jackets for website gallery at a party to thank testers 
    • Began selling on website August 2011 
    • First retail show in September 2011 at the American Sewing Expo 
    • Mailed copies of patterns and introductory letter to magazine editors 
    • Published first online newsletter to support the pattern in Spring 2012

    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

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