Dear ASDP Board
Today we welcome Linda Macke, Director for the MSDP Board, as a guest writer. Linda is here to tell us how the MSDP certification program came into being and why it is a valuable addition to the sewing and design industry.
The Master Sewing and Design Professional (MSDP) Certification Program has become an important part of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP) but it has not always been so. Back in 1990 when ASDP (then called the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers (PACC)) was created, it was only a whisper of a dream for many members of our organization.
During the beginning years of the national organization, Catherine Stephenson, a national board member at that time, began to research how to establish a national certification program for PACC members that would validate their professional skills.
As a result of her research, the board decided to take the first step of establishing a set of Standards of Quality for Custom Clothing that would become an important benefit for members. The process of writing the Standards took two years of research conducted by a committee of six professionals from the founding Oregon Chapter, chaired by Catherine. An opportunity to participate in the review process was made available to all members, and with the addition of educational advisers, a total of 27 professionals were involved in the writing of the Standards. In 1997, the PACC national board adopted the Standards as a benefit to our members and eventually to the general public.
Around 2005 ,the idea of a national certification program was brought before PACC’s executive board. At that time, President Sally Silvers asked Linda Stewart to take over the project and see that a master certification program be established. She researched the past attempts to establish the program and found the following “bumps” that seemed to be stumbling blocks.
Certification cannot be done internally; an outside group would have to perform the evaluations.
Should Certification be mandatory?
It was determined that certification should be encouraged but not be made mandatory. Education via conference classes and eventually on-line classes would be made available to all to encourage members to increase their skill level and prepare them for certification, if that be their goal.
What subjects would be covered in certification?
Later, Linda Stewart asked Catherine Stephenson to begin writing the curriculum for each of the modules. The already developed Standards for Quality was used as the basis for the curriculum and testing. Having this document was a huge leap forward for the MSDP program. Catherine then formed committees of various other educators such as Clair Shaeffer, Rhonda Cheney, Mirjana Freilich, Leslie Littell, as well as others to help write the curriculum for each of the modules. From this curriculum, tests were written for each module.
Around this time PACC changed its name to the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP) to better reflect the members of the organization. Linda Stewart was the main force in getting MSDP off the ground. She dealt with all of the everyday requirements to get the program launched in October 2008.
In April, 2009 a national board was formed and Catherine Stephenson was elected to be the Chair, along with Marjana Freilich, Susan Khalje, Kenneth King, Kathleen Rowold, and Janie Stidham.
In October 2009, Linda Macke took over the day to day running of the program. MSDP was officially incorporated in the State of Illinois as the Master Sewing and Design Professional Certification Program in October 2012. By March 2013 we were managing our own finances, work which was formerly done by the ASDP Treasurer. We continue to be part of ASDP’s group exemption for the IRS and use ASDP’s website for promoting the program. In September 2013 Linda launched the Master Alteration Specialist (MAS) Certification Program, and later launched a Grandfather program for both MSDP and MAS.
In October 2014, the ASDP Board decided to remove the board position of VP of Certification Programs and instead have a representative from MSDP report monthly to the VP of Education to continue clear lines of communication between these two groups. The person managing the day to day operations of MSDP was then given the title of MSDP Director of Operations. This position is currently held by Vandarra Robbins. The separation of MSDP from ASDP was part of the original vision, that MSDP would become its own entity under the umbrella of ASDP.
MSDP actively promotes membership in ASDP to people inquiring into our program and encourages our participants to be active members of the Association. The MSDP Board of Directors has been entrusted with the responsibility to maintain and improve upon the legacy we have been given—to provide the opportunity for those in the sewing industry to be certified, should that be their desire. We are grateful to all the sewing professionals who generously gave their time and talent to create this program and hope to honor them by making sure that the MSDP Certification Program stays viable and meaningful long into the future.
We are pleased to announce our keynote speaker for the 2019 ASDP conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Please join us in October as we welcome
Miranda Levy's story begins in the tiny town of Wilton, Wisconsin where she was the daughter of an Army soldier and the oldest of three children. Following in her father's footsteps, her work was defined by the eight years she spent in the U.S. Army as a construction equipment mechanic, a path she chose due to their reluctance to hire a woman for the position. After active duty, Levy returned to Wisconsin to attend the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she earned a BFA in Fibers.
Levy’s early work explores her own experiences in the military, questions the effects that camouflage has when applied to the human form, and investigates the role that the uniform plays. Levy’s uniform-like designs have been the highlight of several fashion shows including Run Up to the Runway at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Return to the Runway, and Contemporary Threads.Her designs have been featured in several editorials including M magazine, INFO magazine, Marie Claire, and Country Woman magazine. In 2013, Levy was featured as a contestant for television's Lifetime Series, Project Runway, season 12, an experience that has launched her career to higher levels.
While design ultimately plays a leading role in Levy’s life, she is most thankful for the opportunity to teach and share what she learns with others. Her husband jokingly refers to her as the world's youngest grandmother which she holds as her highest compliment. Thankfully, Levy’s career has allowed her the opportunity to mentor and teach students at the Milwaukee Public School’s Bay View High School, Art Institute of Wisconsin, The Jewish Museum, Vogue Fabrics, and the Museum of Wisconsin Art.
With her life as the mother of a four year old as new inspiration, Miranda joined the Florence Eiseman family in 2018 and is excited to share her creative ideas as part of the iconic children’s clothing company. As a Purchasing and Production Manager, Miranda is building relationships with textile professionals around the world and gaining first hand experience walking a design from the child-size dress form to the retailer’s shelves.
On Monday January 21st, the sewing industry lost a teacher who is remembered fondly by her students. Although not an ASDP member, she has touched our community through our members who took her classes over the years.
It is with great sadness that we share with you the passing of our dear friend and teacher, Cynthia Guffey, on Monday night. She had throat cancer. She did not seek, nor did she accept medical intervention, and so passed much the way she lived – in charge of her decisions, following her heart. Even when Cynthia sent a note last week canceling her appearance at both the Atlanta and Lakeland, FL, Expos, she did not let on how seriously ill she was. She was a very private person.
Cynthia was a founding member of our Expo family, having been at the very first event, missing an event only when her husband, Wayne, and then her mother passed. Her clever wit, generosity of spirit, intellectual curiosity and uncanny ability to communicate complex ideas simply and clearly will be missed by her thousands of students, her friends at the Expo and by each of us. Her impact cannot be overstated, and we will miss her more than words can express.
Her service will be held on Friday, January 25th at New Life Baptist Church at 11:00 AM at 34 Sunrise Place, Hayesville, NC 28904. Friends are welcome at 10:00 AM to greet her family. Flowers may be ordered from Rachel Payne Florist 828-389-0204. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to New Life Baptist Church, P.O. Box 742, Hayesville, NC 28904.
Her presence will be so deeply missed, but what a legacy of excellence she has left to us. Let us honor her memory with that same commitment to excellence.
As you prepare to close out 2018 and welcome the new year, what are you thinking about? Are you setting goals, writing resolutions, or looking back on your year? What do you want your business to look like in 2019? Will you increase your sales? Add to your professional knowledge? Diversify your offerings? How will you go about accomplishing these things?
Goals aren't going to meet themselves and like the successful entrepreneur you are, you know you'll need a game-plan. ASDP member Terri Martin recently shared this fascinating article that she came across from American author and entrepreneur, James Clear. This article from https://jamesclear.com/measure-backward challenges us to think about how we assess our progress in all areas of our life, business and personal, in a new way.
Joining the ASDP or renewing your membership is a great way to jump-start your business development in the new year. Participate in the online discuss list to network with your colleagues to problem solve, test ideas, or find new vendors.
Plan to attend local chapter meetings and the national education conference to grow your practical skills and business knowledge.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or LinkedIn for advice, reviews, and to stay connected to your colleagues across the world.
The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to have the search engines find your site and hopefully rank your page(s) relevance so that it appears at the top of the search engine results. This is not a one-time process; it requires cycles of testing, tweaking, monitoring, and maintenance. Outlined below is a broad five-step process to develop your own strategy for SEO.
A good place to start is keyword research. You may be familiar with industry jargon, but the general public may use different terms. If you’re a custom bridal designer, you may not call yourself a seamstress, but that may be the word that potential customers are using to search for your services. Keyword research provides an understanding of the words (and phrases) that consumers use in search queries.
Start your list with what you would type in a search to find your business; then ask your customers. Add to your list plurals, phrases, and potential misspellings. Rank each keyword or phrase with high, mid or low priority.
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool.
Using some of your keywords, examine the first 5-10 results in Google listings. Are they using keywords that you hadn’t thought of? Look at how they are similar or dissimilar to your web page.
The first step of planning is knowing where you stand. Having a benchmark of current statics gives you a way to assess if you are making progress. Web search ranking on targeted keywords, website traffic, and conversion rate are a basic way to start.
Using your baselines, develop goals for improving. For more about goal setting check out SMART(blog link). Clearly define your objectives before you start making changes. Being able to measure the ROI of your efforts will help you decide the best place to invest your time.
With a better understanding of what keywords consumers use to find your products or services; identify the pages on your website to optimize for those keywords. Each high priority keyword or phrase should have a page to correspond to that search query.
Beginning weekly, analyze search rankings and web traffic to determine the effect of changes you’ve implemented. Keep track of measurements in an Excel spreadsheet or use this template(link).
Take some time to gain a basic understanding of whichever web analytic tool you have decided to use. Google Analytics has a library of articles and guides to help you use the tool.
Continuing to add and modify keywords and website content is necessary to keep improving search rankings.
Check out these other free beginner SEO guides:
Google’s "Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide"
Occasionally we like to use this space to help you get to know the ASDP membership a little better. With the speed of business, technology, and life ever increasing, it can leave us feeling a certain disconnect from our communities and our peers. One of the most fantastic benefits of being a member of the ASDP is that it connects sewing professionals to one another when we are often sole-proprietors going it along.
This month, we'd like to introduce you to new member, Abby Stroot. Abby is the superb owner of Pincushion, A Sewing Shop, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
My name is Abby Stroot and I grew up in Andover, Kansas where I started sewing in middle school as a part of our local 4-H group. I am a third generation seamstress; both of my grandmothers made beautiful quilts and my mother made every school formal dress and Halloween costume I could come up with. After middle school, I got very involved in my high school theatre program. Throughout my high school years I volunteered with the Music Theatre of Wichita, working in various departments of the theatre. It wasn’t until college that I became more involved in costuming. I graduated from Wichita State University with my Bachelors in Theatre and during my time there I worked as a stitcher for the theatre costume shop. During the summer, I worked as Head of Wardrobe for the same theatre that I had initially volunteered for. As a member of Wardrobe, I spent most of my time working backstage during performances and some of the time working on alterations in the Costume Shop. After college, I worked for a touring production for awhile and eventually landed in Las Vegas.
When I first moved to Las Vegas, I didn’t really know anyone so I got involved in the community theatres as a way to meet people. In my first year in Vegas, I costume designed for over 10 productions across various theatres. Along with my volunteer designing for the theatres, I started working for Cirque du Soleil as a Wardrobe Attendant. I had been working for Cirque for 5 years when I decided to take the huge step of opening my own sewing shop.
The great thing about Vegas is that the artistic energy is everywhere and there are so many work opportunities within the city. I found myself and several of my friends working on various freelance gigs across the city. The only problem was that we were all trying to make masterpieces out of our tiny living spaces. There are so many stories of people turning their kitchen floors into a cutting space or trying to make a costume on their small dining table. This is where the idea for Pincushion sprang from. I felt that the city needed a space for people to make their masterpieces and not feel cramped. Office co-working spaces are such a huge industry right now, so why couldn’t we have an artistic co-working space? I wanted Pincushion to be a comfortable shop where people could come in and have the space to work on their own projects or to learn something new in a casual atmosphere.
Right now, Pincushion offers all things sewing. We do alterations, make custom orders, and offer sewing classes ranging from basics to advanced techniques. We also offer a rentable sewing work space, and we offer consignment retail for local artisans. We are in the heart of the Arts District in Las Vegas and we couldn’t be in a more perfect spot. The local businesses in the Arts District are incredibly supportive and everyone is very excited to help each other out. The Arts District is growing more and more every day and we look forward to what opportunities that means for Pincushion.
I’m really looking forward to the learning opportunities through ASDP, whether it’s at conference or through other member offers. Everyone has different tips and tricks to how they do things and I’m always interested in ways to improve my existing skills.
Sew Fitting is located in historic downtown New Albany, Indiana (which is about 5 minutes from Louisville, KY). I worked my first two years out of my apartment and over the last seven years I have grown through a variety of brick and mortar locations. We're now in a 2080 square foot building on a prominent corner downtown. This wonderful building is the oldest commercial building in town and was built in 1834 with the back office extension added in 1840. My landlords provided me with a list of every business that has been in the building for it's life and it's fascinating to see the kinds of businesses that preceded me. A few of my favorites were a sewing machine sales business and then a milliner and drygoods store. There's a strong sewing and clothing history to this building and I love that my landlords added me as the most recent tenant on the list!
I'm a big believer in diversification. In our current business model we are the area's only full-service tailor shop. We offer clothing alterations and repair, including a lot of bridal work, custom clothing including many historical reenactment garments, prototyping for inventors and designers, tuxedo rental, sewing machine repair, embroidery, and simple home decor work. I also teach at a local maker space and am looking forward to expanding that program and hopefully someday using it as a trade school for the sewing and design industry.
I like to describe my shop aesthetic as vintage industrial chic. It's a fancy way of saying that I love my all metal machines, custom wooden work tables, and all the exposed brick and woodwork in my 174 year old building. Our space is wide open with great windows and a prime view of our community. It's a wonderful way to feel connected to our town.
I am very fortunate to surround myself with a really dynamic staff full of absolute characters. Mandi is my part-time administrative assistant and full-time tattooed lady. Allison is my full-time seamstress who never fails to entertain us and puts customers at ease. She's also currently growing our new mascot, Baby Tailor! Brittni is an intern who transitioned into a part-time employee during the spring. We're looking forward to her making the leap to full-time in the spring of 2018 as we ramp up for prom season and Allison takes a step away for maternity leave. Last but not least, we have Bjorn the viking cat and his not-so-little brother Henry to keep us in line. The shopcats earn their keep by tracking down stray bugs that get in when we open the windows, holding down all the comfy chairs so they don't get away, and supervising our work with much enthusiasm. Thankfully they also take their job as official greeters very seriously.
When we moved to the current building it marked seven expansions in six years of business. We went from 850 square feet to just over 2000 so it was a pretty big adjustment. I kept meaning to make a scale sketch of the space with little paper models of all the furniture and equipment. I really did. I even sort of succeeded. The sketch was made. In reality, the space has got some pretty specific architectural features that dictated a lot of the layout for us. I wanted the staff to have a nice view and excellent lighting when they worked, so all the machines line the wall of windows along the western face of the building. We like to watch Fredric and Lorelei, the groundhogs across the street, as we work. There are several support columns that run down the center of the work room that provided great niches for our ironing stations and garment racks. These created a natural divide between the customer area and the work area while still leaving everything out in the open. There's a great little alcove in the back of the workroom behind one of the dressing rooms, so it made perfect sense to put our supply closets there. Most of the walls in the shop are very old, soft masonry and as such, we can't really hang anything from them. Thankfully, we have beautiful exposed rafters throughout the work room and our industrial look means that the chains we hang garment racks, artwork, and thread racks from blend right in. We're constantly reevaluating the shop set up and this winter will include a rather hefty overhaul of the back office to better utilize the space.
Usually the cats. Even if the cats aren't there to greet them, customers have either seen them before or heard that we have them and are on the lookout for our furry mascots. We often joke that having work done is the secondary reason that customers come to see us! The most common comments we hear are about the exposed brick wall, the lovely old rafters in the ceiling, and the wonderful lighting. Our shop is quite a visual experience whether it's your first time in or for those of us who are there day in and day out.
I've already talked about a lot of the individuality of our building, but I think beyond the looks and overall aesthetic, our space is unique within our industry. It's certainly different than any other tailor shop I've ever worked in. One of the things that I've found very typical in the alterations industry (and here I'm talking the typical strip mall shop rather than the beautiful home studios that are so prevalent within the ASDP) is that when a client walks in, they are typically confined to a reception area and fitting room. The workroom where the actual work occurs, and often time the workers who are doing the physical sewing, are hidden behind closed doors. This was especially true in the first shop I worked in when I moved to the Louisville area. There were only a few tailor shop staff who were permitted on the sales floor for fittings and the rest of us were kept in the basement workroom, like some kind of little secret. When I opened my business I knew that I didn't want to hide the work area. I am proud of our craft and I love the reactions from clients when they see us working. I am often told that people love to come in to see where the magic happens. I have nothing to hide from my clients and find that having everything on display can have a hugely positive effect on first time clients who may have had bad experiences with other alterations "professionals."
The ASDP Charitable Foundation is honored to announce a sizable donation from the family of Sharon Zydiak and the New Jersey Chapter in her memory. Here are some of her chapters reminiscences of this longtime member of the NJ chapter:
Sharon Zydiak, a founding member of the New Jersey chapter, passed away in April of lung cancer. She was very dedicated to PACC/ASDP. Even after she retired and became sick she still attended as many meetings as she could. She was an instructor and sales person at Fabricland in North Plainfield, NJ for a number of years and pointed many people towards ASDP from that position. She had her own dressmaking and bridal shop on Main St. in High Bridge for a long time called "Dial-a-Style".
Sharon was a former winner of the Make It With Wool competition. She helped judge the New Jersey chapter’s original jurying program. This program eventually formed the basis for the current MSDP program.
Three binders full of photos of her creations over the years including wonderful suits, jackets, dresses and bridal gowns were found in her studio. Some photos were included alongside a clipping of a garment that was the inspiration. The binders also contained a number of glowing thank-you notes from her customers.
Like so many of us, Sharon had collected several sewing machines, a wonderful resource library of books and Threads magazines, a dress form, yards of fabric, and tons of notions and supplies. Her husband, not knowing what much of it was or what he should do with it, contacted Sharon’s ASDP friends. The chapter organized and facilitated a profitable sale with the last of the items being donated to a non-profit called "So You Can" run by Vivian Burns. This organization runs after school programs, summer camps, and adult ed classes for children and adults to teach them to sew to empower them, give them something to do, etc.
Sharon’s husband, Wayne, wholeheartedly agreed to Lois Anderson’s suggestion that the profits be donated to the ASDP Charitable Foundation. So Wayne got his house cleared out of a lot of stuff he knew nothing about, many people got new supplies and a little bit of Sharon to hang on to, and the New Jersey chapter got to support two charities that encourage sewing in the process.
Sharon was a talented dressmaker, a good friend and mentor, and a knowledgeable teacher who was totally dedicated to her craft. Although she is sorely missed by the New Jersey chapter and all of her ASDP friends, being the kind of person Sharon was, she would be thrilled to know she helped others prosper in a career she was so passionate about.
We thank Lois Anderson, President, ASDP NJ Chapter, for these memories of Sharon and for inspiring this significant donation to the ASDP Charitable Foundation.
Through donations such as this and those from other members the Foundation is picking up momentum. We hope to be assisting future sewists soon. We welcome your support.
“Darlings of Dress: Children’s Costume 1860-1920” by Norma Shephard is a beautifully organized look at sixty years of children’s fashions. The book is nearly two hundred pages of visual joy looking not just at children’s fashions, but the societies that designed them. Ms. Shephard provides a stunning timeline that clearly delineates the change from Victorian children dressed as miniature adults to the 20th century embrace of children as children who need to move and play.
While perusing the chapters, all laid out by decade, I was very impressed not only in the variety of the pictures (almost always more than one image of each style being discussed) but with the depth of knowledge Ms. Shephard provided. In each decade she delved briefly and concisely into the views of the day regarding the purpose of clothing, the prevailing thoughts on health, new technologies that were available, and children’s place within society. The book also does an excellent job of tracking the provenance of garments and the transition from homemade to store-bought as well as what garments were procured where. Even as catalog and store bought clothes gained traction, there were still some garments made at home. As each new style is introduced it is accompanied by a vivid description of shape, fabric options, as well as popular colors and combinations. Often, garments are described that are not actually pictured. While initially frustrating to not see the garments, they are so meticulously described that they come alive in the reader’s mind thanks to the fullness of Ms. Shephard’s writing.
The pages of “Darlings of Dress” are absolutely filled with beautiful black and white photos and illustrations, as well as colorized fashion plates, catalog images, and portraits for every era. It is charming and delightful to see not only how fashions for children were changing, but also how the advertising changed with the decades. This book brings so many clothing styles to life for the reader with a full accompaniment of shoes, and bags, and accessories for the growing little one. A personal favorite is the (slightly terrifying) child’s purse made of some taxidermied critter, complete with teeth and eyes.
The 1860s dressed children as pint-sized adults and ushered in the advent of the sewing machine. The 1870s, with the sewing machine more established, enabled the lower classes the imitate those with more means. Children's clothing became more ornate, providing a perfect introduction to the 1880s when children were dressed to see and be seen, as Ms. Shepard so accurately put it. The 1890s brought dress reform and a new consciousness about health and children’s needs while growing. By 1900, while elegance was still a concern, clothing started to be more about ease. The teens brought with them dropping waists, relaxed lines, and finally a bit more time for children to just be and grow as children. Ms. Shepard brings a wonderful personal history to the book as well, with the final decade of the book featuring several childhood pictures of the author’s father at various ages.
From the nearly 50 page introduction which is informative and fascinating to each well rounded chapter/decade, Norma Shephard has produced yet another beautiful look at a niche in historical fashion. Whether or not you’re specifically interested in children’s clothing, “Darlings of Dress” is a beautiful and insightful look at 60 years of fashion history.
Review by ASDP member Cisa Kubley
This summer I attended a design camp at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I studied fashion construction, one of three different course offerings they had under the fashion design category. My time there was extremely insightful. I learned much about what it’s going to be like going to college in a big city and about the field I want to go into.
It was a two week course going in depth into draping and pattern-making, an area I felt that I needed more knowledge in. The goal of this course was to sketch, drape, and sew together a complete look. During class time we would take trips out into the city to different museums to get inspiration, and to fabrics stores that I spent too much time and money in (I went to Joann’s so many times in one week, the lady knew me and asked where I’d been if I didn’t come in the day before.)
My instructor, Kylee Alexander, was extremely knowledgeable in what she taught. Whenever I had a question or something that I needed more understanding on, she was able to very easily explain to me what was happening and the next steps I needed to take to finish each garment. The teachers assistants, Sun and Sarah, were also super helpful and amazing. They were each more specialized in different areas and were able to help students in areas they were interested in with the TA’s previous knowledge. Sarah in particular was very good at flat patterning, she helped me a lot with the layout and construction of the jacket I made.
Being around so many people that I clicked with was also extremely helpful. It really helped me feel more creative, even though I’d already been thrown off the creative diving board upon arrival. Being so immersed in it was crazy and out of this world for me. It was stressful at times, but I loved every second of it. The deadlines were scary, but manageable. All the people I made friends with were mostly in my class, so we would stay up late together working on our projects and motivating each other to finish them.
On the skirt and top that I made I beaded these child-like stars onto organza. The process took forever! I was beading the skirt until 10 am of install day and the installation had to be up at 1 pm. I still don't know how I was able to finish in time but it all worked out. A really interesting part of the whole process was seeing what other people were making too and what inspired them. My look was more classic Dior inspired while another piece was Comme Des Garçons inspired. Viewing other people's processes is so inspiring to me, working in such close quarters with all of these other people I really got a feel for how their minds work.
Being in this environment really solidified Fashion Design as a career choice for me. It is something that I really love to do, and I am so ready to experience college life in this field. Also, after experiencing life partially in a big city I really felt like it was the right fit for me. I was just extremely happy to be there doing what I love doing, and that's important.
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