Dear ASDP Board
The American Canvas Back Button End of an Era... and New Options for the American Custom Bridal Industry
For thirty years, the last canvas back assembly machine left in the United States sat broken and unused in a dusty corner of a New Jersey button factory. For decades, this hulking collection of gears and springs supplied the nation’s factories and bridal shops with canvas button backs – backs for covered buttons with a cloth “pouch” or tuft that could be sewn nearly flat against a garment. The machine inserted a small cotton canvas wad that served as the shank for finished covered buttons. Hand-operated button presses cranked out millions of these buttons in dressmaking shops all over the country.
Clothing production started moving overseas, and domestic demand for canvas backs fell. When the assembly machine broke down in the late 1970’s, factory owners decided to wait. The machine was old and repairs were expensive. What if the market never rebounded? They waited. Vendors like Steinlauf and Stoller emptied the factory shelves, hoping for the best, but bracing for the worst. They waited. Custom dressmakers started to feel the pinch. Some switched to hopper backs, or even wire eyes, but disliked the higher shanks. Vendors quietly raised prices on dwindling stock, still hoping, but realistic. Desperate, they looked to Europe and Asia for new suppliers, but their customers owned American presses and the buttons weren’t compatible. One by one, vendors removed canvas back buttons from their websites and catalogs.
In November 2012, the last canvas back assembly machine left in the United States was sold for scrap. My name is Dede O’Hair, and I own Workroom Buttons. We distribute and manufacture professional covered buttons and button-making equipment to a variety of industries, including custom dressmaking and tailoring. As an American company, we are deeply committed to purchasing inventory and materials directly from American mills and factories. We do stock some foreign-made products, but only if they are unavailable domestically. And canvas backs are no longer available domestically.
Workroom Buttons is committed to providing the custom sewing industry with the most complete selection of covered button components available. To that end, we have made arrangements with a European button manufacturer to re-size their canvas backs to fit American button presses. We will be the exclusive distributor of these new backs, stocking sizes 16, 18, and 20 to meet the needs of professional dressmakers for years to come.
For additional information, please see our website: www.workroombuttons.com. We welcome questions on any covered button-related topic, and can be reached by telephone 978-597-2228 or email email@example.com
Written by Dede O'Hair
My studio is in a detached garage at the back end of our property. We live within walking distance of the ocean and the Shrewsbury River in Rumson, New Jersey. During the past 7-1/2 years we’ve been here the floor has gotten damp during heavy rainstorms, but had never flooded until super storm Sandy hit. At high tide during the storm our house was completely surrounded by water (fortunately our living space stayed dry). A picket fence in front of my studio was completely under water except for the very top and my studio had 3’ of water in it.
I’ve always sewn, so when I became a stay-at-home parent it was a natural transition to start sewing for others. It is such a ‘tiny’ business that I never bothered getting business insurance or thought to include any of my equipment on our flood or homeowner’s policy. I’ve invested money in fabric and equipment, but nothing to secure what I’ve invested.
Since the floor has previously gotten wet everything is raised off of the floor or is in plastic bins. The exception to this, and one of the things I really regret not taking care of was my patterns, which were stored in metal filing cabinets. Many of my patterns ended up in the trash, some I was able to dry by hanging on a drying rack. The other thing I regret was not bringing my machines in the house instead of leaving them in the studio. I had unplugged them and brought the pedals onto the sewing tables but the water was so high one table was under water and the other actually floated dumping my serger under water.
What would I do in the future? Store my patterns in plastic bins and place them high up at any threat of a large storm. Bring my machines in the house. Store everything in containers that are easily transportable to raise them higher off the ground or bring them inside. Reduce the amount of excess ‘stuff’ I tend to have and not get rid of. This would give me less to sort through, organize, and move if this happens again.
Is there a positive aspect of to the storm? My fabric has all been washed and sorted, most of the fabric that got wet was washable and the ‘precious’ fabric was unharmed.
Also, oddly positive, is that I had broken my wrist in September,so I could not sew for a while and had no client work in my studio. Since I’ve had this unintended break from client work, it’s given me time to re-think my business, identifying areas that I did not like and would like to improve. I plan on opening again in January more focused, more profitable, and more assured.
Written by Wendy Cettina, ASDP member
When I was asked to write an article about the importance of attending conference, I agreed immediately. Those of you who know me know that I am not one to brag about my accomplishments; however, I will brag about the following. While there are a number of members who have attended all but one conference, I am the only member to have attended every conference. Conference is that important to us.
The first reason is meeting members face to face, to put a face on those members we know from the discuss list or articles they have written in the newsletter. To make new friends and learn about their business as well as catch up with old friends is wonderful. We discuss business, sewing techniques, family, children and grandchildren and all those things we do not put on the discuss list. I really make an effort, and urge all attendees to make the same effort, to meet and talk with everyone and not spend all the time with old friends. I’ve used these friendships to reach out to specific members with questions out of my expertise and help has always been forthcoming. Two examples of this: I was making a wedding gown. I scanned the photo of the gown detail and sent it to an ASDP friend with what my plans were for constructing the gown. The question I asked was if I was forgetting anything or if I was on the right track and the friend sent me back some suggestions I had not thought about. I made my first heirloom dress and requested a member to mentor me through the project, which she agreed to do.
The second reason includes a little more bragging. During the 1990s, I served on the national board and in 1999 was elected national chair. As some former presidents will tell you, I am passionate about the organization and the business of the organization. I want to know what is going on with the organization and keep up to date with the management of ASDP. I want to attend the membership meeting, ask questions, and remain involved. This is our organization and it is vital to me to make sure it remains strong, growing, and properly managed.
I started attending consumer-sewing shows in the mid 1980s. My children were older and could be left for a long weekend and I could drive the four hours to get there. I took so many classes and was so disappointed because they were intended for the hobby sewer and not the professional. This year I took three classes with Kenneth King and learned so much. At conference, I’ve studied with Susan Khalje and Claire Shaeffer, whereas I would never have the additional time and money to go to them for classes. I’ve met other teachers over the last nineteen years (yes, 2013 will be the twentieth annual conference), learning so much that I can take back and use in my business. I want the advanced classes, I want to learn beyond the hobby sewer, I need to grow my business and myself, and conference is my best tool.
I’ve been asked how I make it to conference every year. Once I know when and where the conference is going to be, I start making plans. First, it goes on the calendar. I travel a great deal in my business, so when something goes on the calendar the master classes and tours are included and the travel dates are marked as well. Oh I love the fabric shopping tours, the trip to the Maryhill Museum outside of Portland is a must, the Worth I saw in Savannah, the New York City Museum, etc. I may not take part in the extras, but the days are blocked off. I balance my workload and commitments so I can attend conference. By the way, I do this for all major events during the year.
Based on previous years, I try to figure out what my cost for conference is going to be. Next year’s conference will be in Nashville, TN, so I will be able to drive rather than fly – a cost savings. Once I have an estimate of the cost, I make sure to build a “conference tax” into the price of my work, much like the often-discussed PITA tax. One suggestion is to raise your hourly rate by what you need for conference and another is a sliding surcharge. I will also put birthday money aside for conference or more likely the shopping tour.
In closing, let me urge any member who has not attended conference before to attend, and those of you who have been absent for a few years to come to Nashville.
Written by Abby Riba, ASDP member
Dolores O. Luckow
July 29, 1941 – December 10, 2012
If the Devil is in the details, then the Devil was an employee of Dolores Luckow. From designing couture gowns to nurturing her friends’ and family’s dreams, Dolores Luckow paid attention to the intricacies of life. When Dolores had a hand in a project, it was done to her impeccable standards. She wanted and knew what was the best for everyone in her life, transforming customers into her ideal of beauty and changing the way they viewed themselves, as well as convincing the most insecure of us that we, too, could be “real” Spanish speakers.
A compassionate woman unable to mask a single emotion, Dolores had a fierce sense of loyalty to her friends and family. She always had something to give -- whether a piece of advice (which she gave on every topic under the sun) or her time, she did so without holding anything back. A benevolent force of Mother Nature, she genuinely and generously and insistently cared for and nurtured everyone in her life.
A beloved wife, mother, sister, friend, and “diva,” she died from injuries sustained after falling off a ladder while trying to retrieve Christmas decorations. She passed away surrounded by friends and family. If the wealthy in this country are 1%, she was in that category of emotional wealth and ability. A registered organ donor, her family feels she heard the criteria necessary for internal organ donation that only 1% of the population can achieve. She made it happen overnight, the time of the day she always felt she did her best work. Her family is grateful that her last wish was fulfilled donating eyes, bones, tissue, kidneys, and a liver that reflected her healthy and fit lifestyle.
Born to privilege in Mexico City to Carlos M. Ojeda and Maria Dolores Ojeda M., Dolores learned to sew, knit, tat, and embroider when she was 4 years old, all skills considered an essential part of a well-rounded Mexican education. As a child, she enthusiastically designed and made clothes for her dolls, sewed her school uniforms and by the age of 16, designed and made all her party and evening gowns. She created haute couture and one-of-a-kind designs for wedding gowns, skating costumes, and beauty pageant dresses at her business Originals by Dolores O. Luckow. She was a member of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals. Always up to the challenge of creating a unique design, she was one of the most sought-after custom clothiers in the Northwest.
A beautifully gifted and compassionate woman, Dolores brought her enthusiasm for life to everything she did. She and her husband, Gerald, who would have celebrated 50 years of marriage on Dec. 27, were members of the Horseless Carriage Club of America. They have traveled to every continent except Antarctica, and enjoyed countless adventures along the way including taking the Trans Siberian Train to the last outpost on the railroad, climbing to the top of Wayna Picchu for the best view of Macchu Picchu, marveling over her favorite city, Paris, at the top of the Arc de Triumphe, visiting historical places and insisting that everywhere she went, she was a temporary local.
A gregarious woman, Dolores quickly made friendships with whomever she met from the classmates in aerobics class to the students in the Spanish classes she taught through Clackamas Community College for more than 35 years.
An excellent example for her exquisite imagination can be found in her miniature dollhouse collection where she created elaborate stories for her dolls that she used to help teach Spanish.
A renegade spirit, she fell in love with Gerald Luckow when he was a student in Mexico City. She left her opulent lifestyle to move with him to Centralia, Washington where she learned to garden, bake and corral the cows back into the pasture despite high heels. She brought her unabashed enthusiasm to life in everything she did and she made sure whatever she did, she did it to her best abilities.
She was proceeded in death by her parents and her brothers Carlos T. Ojeda and Edel Ojeda. She is survived by her husband, Gerald Luckow, her son, Duanne Luckow; her daughter, Sandra Luckow; Juanito; her brother, Jaime Ojeda; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial service was held at The Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Drive. Milwaukie, OR 97222 on Monday, December 17, 2012. In lieu of flowers, a college savings account has been opened for Dolores’ “adopted granddaughter” at Bank of America GRANDAUGHTER MATAYA c/o Julie Passon Acct. # 485008867475.
Dolores will be missed by many people including her students, her friends, and her family
Written by Sandy Luckow, Dolores' daughter
When I was called by the nominating committee in their search to fill the President-elect position, my first inclination was to say, “No way, I could never do that!” After speaking with that nominating committee person and other members, including current and past presidents and board members, I decided to take the position. In 2006 when I joined ASDP, PACC at that time, our conference was held in San Francisco. Since I had not budgeted for an expensive conference, I could not attend during my first membership year, but I did manage to get to conference, held in Denver, Colorado, the following year. Yes, I did say expensive; however, as many of our members will agree, conference is one of our biggest perks and so very worth the investment in ourselves and our businesses. Since that first conference I attended, I have missed only one, due to family circumstances. Each conference location has its own style and flair and at each one I have met numerous inspiring, interesting members. I found it very fun to meet members and put faces with the names I had come to know through the online discuss list. The Nashville, Tennessee location for our 2013 conference promises to be another unique experience that I hope you are all trying to plan and budget for.
Our current board is comprised of members from across the country, including Canada. All of these ladies are very capable, hard-working individuals who truly care about ASDP. Any of them are open to member’s comments and ideas. In the past we have met monthly by telephone conference calls. Recently board meetings were changed to be held via “Go to Meeting” software that enables us to see each other’s faces online. For the most part I believe we like this format, since it replicates our twice a year face-to-face meeting style. More importantly, the plan is to utilize this software for website videos/webinars. The logistics of online use is still being ironed out, but our hope is that members will be able to submit their own informational videos so that other members may benefit from their expertise.
As I contemplate writing this, I find that I am all by myself in a very quiet room. Many times as a small business owner, I am isolated in my own little sewing studio. ASDP has changed this feeling of isolation by connecting me with others with similar interests and varying levels of skill. I have learned more than I can even comprehend from ASDP members. Many times a client has a “puzzle to solve” in construction or alteration that I can reference from a class, online discuss, or face-to-face experience gleaned from our association. As the commercials state, “this experience is priceless”. ASDP is very important to me and I will do my absolute best for this organization. I will continue to introduce myself to faces I don’t know at conference. I have found that these “strangers” are only friends that I haven’t met yet, and these faces all have information to share with each and every one of us! I wish every member a great, productive, inspirational New Year!
Written by Teresa Nieswaag, President-Elect
It has been my privilege to serve on the ASDP Governance Board twice, most recently for about 3 1/2 years as president-elect and president. When I roll off the board in January, I will do so with the knowledge that a productive board will transition peacefully to the leadership of Teresa Nieswaag. Teresa has spent the last 14 months learning the ins and outs of the association’s operations. I will miss communicating regularly with the ASDP members who are serving with distinction to keep ASDP running smoothly and “moving forward,” as my predecessor Joyce Hittesdorf liked to say.
We are entering our fourth year of self-management, which has allowed us to balance the budget in spite of a severe recession. Every member who did not renew for the last 2 years was called by a governance board member and we heard sad stories about the difficult economic choices our former members were having to make. As a professional association, we endeavor to support each member who takes advantage of the opportunities offered through membership and we are always trying to add additional opportunities. I speak as one of those members who benefited from that support. New to the profession, I joined PACC (ASDP’s former name) in 1995. I was insecure about my skill set and trying to discover opportunities to expand my business. Becoming involved in the Baltimore Chapter and then the national organization was instrumental in the growth of my business and my confident personal persona as a sewing professional.
Have you told someone new to the profession about ASDP and encouraged them to join? Share the flyer you received in the mail with someone in your community, perhaps even your competition. Personal contacts are the single most productive way to recruit new members and the more members we have, the more we can accomplish. The more members we have involved and taking an active role, the more quickly we can move forward with our goals.
I hope to exit my leadership role gracefully with the knowledge that Teresa Nieswaag cares as deeply for the organization as I do and she will do everything in her power to nurture current and new members as they develop their sewing related businesses. Teresa will present a positive professional image to the greater public representing the expertise of our members and the benefits of using their services.
Written by Rae Cumbie
As technology speeds into the future with faster and smaller computers, smart phones, and tablets, the opportunities for new educational venues increase as well. Distance learning is now the buzzword at most educational institutions as online learning management systems create opportunities for students who are unable to attend classes in a traditional setting because of geographical restrictions, limitations due to work and family obligations, or because they prefer the environment of self-paced, on-demand training. Special interest organizations have begun to take advantage of the opportunities of distance learning as well by creating online certiﬁcation programs, virtual conferences, video tutorials, and webinars in order to educate their members. Essentially, the organization member can take advantage of these educational opportunities in the comfort of their own home or ofﬁce, from their computer, and for a fee. We, as your ASDP Board, are intrigued by the educational opportunities that these venues may offer in terms of sewing and design education. Before going forward with such a monumental venture, however, both the beneﬁts and challenges need to be recognized.
As mentioned above, online education can take on a variety of forms. The two that most sparked the “what if?” possibilities of the ASDP Board at our recent Annual Strategic Planning meeting as having the most potential for our members were video tutorials and webinars. Video tutorials would simply be taped video segments of an instructor demonstrating a particular sewing or design technique similar to what is currently available on such websites as YouTube. A webinar is a relatively new communication tool using the internet; essentially webinars are “seminars” on the “web”. They come in a variety of formats, but the most common type currently seems to consist of a PowerPoint presentation with a voice over of the instructor teaching the course. The instructor’s voice can be heard by the students via live streaming through the computer or through a one-way conference call (you hear the instructor, but cannot respond by speaking). Student questions are posted in a chat-room type format, and if the webinar is live, the instructor responds to student questions as they arise or at the end of the webinar. This form of online education (usually no more than one hour) is particularly useful for gaining knowledge on content-based topics such as pricing systems, how to set up a business plan, marketing strategies, how to ﬁnd a sales representative, and the like. Plus, because some webinar host providers allow for the students to see the computer screens of their virtual instructor, webinars can be very useful in learning the basics of such computer software packages as Excel, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and even Quickbooks. In these situations, the instructor can walk their students through the functions of the computer program while the students “peek” over the instructor’s virtual shoulder to watch what the instructor is doing with the program.
Beneﬁts of online education to ASDP are plentiful. First of all, what a great way for our members to gain access to information and skills that they may not be able to otherwise! Although in no way will video tutorials or webinars ever replace the rich educational experiences of Chapter programming or the National Conference, we do recognize that there are many members who are “at-large” (like me) or unable to make it to conference every year. It is a way of staying connected, even if done so virtually. Having online sewing and design education opportunities (whether live or on-demand) would also give our organization more public exposure, the possibility of an attractive membership beneﬁt, and bring us professionally and technologically into the 21st Century!
Challenges to this venture unfortunately are plentiful as well. The questions and issues that arose in my own mind span from “What topics should be offered?” to “Who will be willing to instruct the webinars or be video-taped?” Others include, “How do we get instructors trained for these new venues?”, “What is the best host platform for conducting webinars that doesn’t have a high price tag?”, and “When will video segments be taped and by whom?” All of these questions need to be addressed (and more) in order for the initial challenges of online sewing and design education through ASDP to be championed. As you can imagine, of course, one person cannot do this alone! Therefore, if we ARE committed to further exploring and implementing alternative online educational venues to make sewing and design education more accessible to our members, I have but one question that should be answered ﬁrst: Will you step up and volunteer to help organize and be a part of an ASDP Online Education Taskforce? If so, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get to work!
Written by Janet Blood, VP of Education
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