My name is Madeline Stage and my business, Goheen Designs is located in Indianapolis, Indiana. I work out of my one bedroom apartment in downtown Indy.
I specialize in digital sewing patterns, as well as creating accessories, home décor and sewing kits from rescued fabrics.
My favorite part of my sewing space is all of the sunlight! I’ve worked in places with no windows before, and I know just how much it can affect my work ethic and general happiness to be without fresh air and sunshine. Plus, the natural light is a big plus for taking photos.
I work alone, but I do share my sewing space with my husband, because my sewing “room” is actually just a part of the living room/dining room. But this is a huge improvement from our last apartment, where I had to keep my sewing desk in the bedroom. As an early riser, I like to be able to sew before my husband wakes up!
My layout is mostly dictated by what fits. I did make sure that I can reach all of my sewing machines by simply turning in a single chair and all of my sewing notions are kept on one shelf, right next to my desk. The patterns, products, and fabrics are more spread out around the apartment. I’ve learned to optimize every little space in our home. Under the bed, under the couch, and most of the walls, are all used as extra storage. I also have a folding table that only comes out when I need it. I try to keep things tidy, and use cute storage solutions, because there is no option to just close the door on my workspace if it looks like a disaster.
I don’t get many clients in my sewing space, but the ones who do see it always notice the wall of fabric. My dad built me a wooden rack that holds several rolls of fabric so that they can be within easy reach without taking up any floor space.
I’ve recently dedicated a section of my sewing space to be my recycling center. I have a series of baskets where I separate out large and small scraps in order to pass them along to other people like teachers and quilters. Whatever is leftover that can’t be used by other people has its own basket. I donate these scraps to Goodwill, who sends them on to a fabric recycler.
Members shall, at all times, consider the health, safety and welfare of the public in their conduct of business.
*Whether the area where you interact with customers (not necessarily your work space) is a room in your home or a brick and mortar shop, it should always be clean, well-lit, and comfortable. The area should not smell like your lunch. It is a good idea to have hand sanitizer and tissues available for public use.
*Be aware of any carpet that may be frayed or worn. If it cannot be replaced, tape it down to prevent someone from tripping.
*Be aware of possible allergies. The space should be as dust free as possible and be careful when using air fresheners.
*When the customer is changing clothes, their privacy is paramount. Always ask before you enter the dressing room to help them with a zipper or other closure.
*You, as the business owner, are liable if the customer were to fall, trip, or slip. In legal terms, your customers are invitees on your property, whether you operate in your home or rent a space. You are responsible for their well-being while they are in your studio. You should carry liability insurance to cover those potential mishaps.
*Customer garments are your responsibility also. They legally become your property when they are dropped off. This is called bailment. Those items must be secured, protected and kept clean while in your care. Any item, when returned to the customer, must be in as good if not better condition than when it was placed in your custody.
As part of our annual sewing workshop, we invited national fit expert/educator Sarah Veblen to teach her 2-day pants fitting class. Due to the small class size, we could observe each person’s fitting and ask a lot of questions! Our group includes some challenging body shapes and sizes, and everyone came out of class with a lot of new knowledge, a new master pants pattern, and a great fitting pair of pants! The rest of the 3-day workshop weekend, which was our 11th annual event, had its focus on Sewing, Sharing and Fun. The only rule was no client sewing. This concept came from the reality that we often have little to no time to sew for ourselves, and even less opportunity to have a professional fitting done on our own bodies. The workshop was originally called a retreat, but over time we changed it to “workshop” as so much knowledge was gained over the weekend together - a lot more learning occurred than expected. Those in attendance were WI members Katherine Merkel, Sue Tenney, Joan Kuhry, Linda McCoy, and Chris Kazmerzak, as well as other ASDP members Tina Colombo and Robin Kunzer.
Sarah Veblen fits Sue Tenney
Sarah Veblen fits Linda McCoy
Sarah Veblen fits Chris Kazmerzak
Photos by Katherine Merkel
Ten New England Chapter members gathered on a cold and snowy January 8 at Maxwell Silverman's Restaurant in Worcester, Massachusetts to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the chapter's founding. Among the attendees were three of the chapter's founding members: Janee Connor, Mirjana Freilich, and Astrid Gallet, all three also past presidents. vFrom the summer of 1991, beginning as Massachusetts PACC, our group was an early chapter of the fledgling Professional Association of Custom Clothiers, also founded in 1991. We later expanded our geographic reach and became the New England chapter of PACC and continue today as the New England chapter of ASDP.
Opening the event, current President Sue Bennett proposed a toast to past and present members, to our friendship, and to the next 25 years. Following a luncheon buffet, we continued a tradition of going around the group with each saying what we are currently doing. Everyone agreed that the encouragement we receive from each other has been valuable beyond words and that our association transcends professional and business connections, to deep and lasting friendship. We have been with each other during illnesses and loss, personal achievements, business ups and downs, and much more.
The celebration also included a recent tradition, a fabric exchange. The pieces that each person brought were passed around the table, examined and then spoken for. Despite audible murmurs about "downsizing", "too much of a stash", "no need for more fabric", and the like, everyone seemed to leave happy with a "new" piece for a new year.
At the end of the party, members received a silver colored gift bag which held a pair of ballpoint pens personalized with the chapter name and website (we're always marketing!), an article on the early chapter history written in 2002 by Janee Connor, a package of basting needles, a handmade silk organza press cloth, some chocolates and a rose. Amid laughter and hugs, we headed out in our different directions once again on the snowy roads of New England - until the next gathering!
This event was organized by the current chapter officers: Sue Bennett, Joyce DeLoca, Cathie Ryan, and Maureen Egan.
The ASDP New England Chapter web address is: www.newenglandsewingpros.org
A Top Secret Commission
In late November I began conversations with Karen Pence to create gowns for her and her daughters and daughter-in-law for the presidential inauguration. Even now that I am retired, it was obvious to me that I could not handle this job on my own. I immediately thought of the members in my chapter and all the talents they have. With them at my side I was confident we would succeed.
I estimated we would need 6 people who could dedicate at least one whole day a week to working on the gowns and maybe more. I called Sarah Knochel first because she now owns my business, Something Wonderful. One of the first things I told her is that I wanted ASDP to be mentioned whenever possible and that I wanted the Something Wonderful label to be in all the gowns. She was told, as were all the other recruits, that this was a top-secret project to protect the Pence family’s privacy.
Sarah shares, “I started out in this business in a workroom, but have spent the last 12 years at home by myself. I didn't realize how much I missed the camaraderie of being together with other sewers on a daily basis. There wasn't a single day that I didn't learn something new, from techniques, to design, to business practices. The cumulative years of experience in the room for that project was staggering and I think we pooled everyone's skills beautifully. For people used to working on their own, it was amazing and humbling to see everyone come together to help with open hearts and zero ego.”
All the other dressmakers were called and asked if they could work on special project that would require at least one full day per week from late November to mid January. They were told it was a secret and they would find out what I needed them to do when they came to the first work day. I just went down the list of chapter members. Some were too busy, some were too far away to make the commute regularly, and others had obligations that did not allow them to participate. When I had 4 more people who could take part, I stopped calling. This was the beginning to a great adventure for us all.
Cathy Runion comments “Receiving a call from my friend, Joyce, left me feeling humbled that she would call me to help her with a sewing project. She was unable to tell me what I would be sewing until I showed up for my first Wednesday sewing date. After arriving the first day, I was sworn to secrecy. I arrived every Wednesday at Sarah Knochel’s home to be one of Cinderella’s mice in her basement creating the most beautiful eight gowns for the Pence family. Through this, I feel a stronger bond with five of my sewing friends from ASDP.”
Whitney Luckenbill comments “The field of dressmaking tends to be a somewhat solitary business. Most of us work alone with the only interruptions being client appointments. I, for the most part, have worked my sewing business alone and have never had the opportunity to work in a work room setting. This, however, all changed when I had the enormous privilege of working alongside 5 other talented members of our ASDP chapter. This was my first time working in a work room setting and, despite the stressful conditions, I had an amazing time."
"Many times, during that 8 weeks, I would comment how much I was learning from these other 5 women. We respected each other and everyone’s individual skills and specialties. The four of us who helped gladly accepted Joyce and Sarah’s direction because we understood that they were ultimately responsible for the success of the project.”
Ellen Blacketer adds “I think we considered ourselves “worker bees” and were happy to have Sarah and Joyce make the tough, final decisions on different challenges that would pop up. But, they were very open to any and all ideas from everyone else when we were working through some of the difficult situations. The bottom line was that we respected each other and that worked very well to establish a very cooperative work environment”.
Ellen continues, “It also worked well because Joyce and Sarah were great at orchestrating the work schedules, fitting schedules, timing of deadlines, etc. They were always on top of what had to be done next to keep things moving forward efficiently. This is where teamwork is so important. We were all ready to do whatever needed to be done, at any certain time, to keep all 8 dresses on schedule. This was not an easy task because of the Pence family’s erratic schedules. We needed to be flexible and jump from one project to another as directed even if we didn’t get something completed that we had started. It seemed strange from our normal work practices but we knew someone else would step in and finish it at a later time. We truly felt like a team working toward a common goal. I think we all were well aware of what an honor this was. We were determined to do our very best and help Joyce and Sarah in any way.”
Donna Christian adds her thoughts, “It was an honor to be asked to help. Ellen and I were happy to help a friend when asked, and were even more so when we got there and found out it was something so important. Each time we arrived they had different parts of the gowns that needed work done, the beads sewn on, hemming a dress by hand, or ruching for bodice pieces. Each aspect of the work was very organized and planned. We all get along so well that there was never a concern of stepping on each other’s toes, just a good time with friends. The last day Sarah had a nice lunch for all of us to enjoy together, which was very thoughtful of her and Joyce. The whole experience was one that none of us will ever forget.”
Whitney comments, “While the project itself was a once in a lifetime opportunity, it was the time spent in the workroom that I will cherish forever.”
Sarah comments, “It also came at a pivotal point in my business helping me make decisions about expanding and hiring my first employees. This was like a mini course on running a workroom with a total dream team of talent. It was a joy to be together and the experience of creating with my friends will be what I remember about this in years to come.
Donna adds, “It was a thrill of a life time to get to meet Karen Pence, and to know her a bit.”
Best of all, we grew in our friendship and I was thankful every day that I knew these talented women and that they were members of this great organization. It was very easy to work together since we have known each other through our membership in ASDP.
The Colorado Chapter of the ASDP continues to meet monthly with a business meeting followed by a sewing presentation or activity. In October we pieced together quilt blocks for the Quilts of Valor and the Flights for Veterans programs. The Quilts of Valor program donates completed quilts to injured service men and women, and Flights for Veterans gives lap quilts (for wheelchair use) to World War II veterans when they travel to see sites important to their service. Our quilt making was led by former ASDP member Sandy Harmon. We had three groups working the tasks of sewing, ironing, and trimming. This year’s quilt was quite dramatic, with solid blocks of navy blue and blocks that were half navy blue and half stripes of red and white.
We almost finished the quilt top during our four-hour session with just a few rows remaining to be sewn together. After the November business meeting we were scheduled to hear a formal presentation about doing business plans. Unfortunately the SBA (Small Business Association) representative had to cancel at the last minute. The group then decided to have the more experienced members share their expertise. They encouraged the newer members to do a business plan because the process of doing a plan helps clarify thoughts about the development of the business. At our annual potluck Holiday brunch in December the usual business meeting included a discussion of activities planned for 2017. One of the new activities being considered is a series of Couture Building Blocks sessions to be taught by Clara Dittle. (She taught the Couture Skirt classes in 2016.) These classes will focus on learning techniques and making. We expect these classes will be held on three Saturdays in the spring and three in the fall. In January our featured presentation was on the Chanel Jacket. Melanie Knoblauch started with info on available patterns, books, and websites for us to examine. The presentation included samples of completed jackets and jackets in progress. Among the ideas that differ from the average jacket included horizontal quilting in addition to or instead of vertical quilting in the body of the jacket and using hooks and eyes for a hidden front closure.
There are three things to consider when determining the best sewing service project for your chapter:
Here is a list of a few of them:
I believe that the face of ASDP is changing. I wish we had birth dates on our profiles so that I could show concrete data but the best I can do is anecdotal. When I first joined ASDP, then PACC, I was among the youngest members. That is no longer the case. And yet, many of us still wonder what will happen when we retire. After all, as we often hear, “the younger ones are not joining.”
There is a term known as “anchoring heuristic.” It refers to the human tendency to accept and rely on the first piece of information received before making a decision. That first piece of information is the anchor and sets the tone for everything that follows. Think of first impressions and how hard they are to overcome. Or as another example, an investor who took a painful loss in a bear market will not readily invest when the market turns around.
“Heuristic” is using experience to learn and grow. While not a bad thing and in fact smart, can anchoring heuristics keep us from seeing, evaluating and utilizing current realities? If the answer is yes, and I believe it is, then what is the antidote? The first question was primarily rhetorical. The second is not. I await your response.
Have you ever wondered why there was a boxed wedding gown in your attic? Why did you keep yours? Was it just for sentimental reasons, or could it be there was a specific reason?
The Project: Over the last three years, three sisters from a Midwest family have become engaged and the last one to marry her sweetheart will do so this fall. It has been an exciting and busy time for all the family, especially the girls' mother, Tracie, who has made the journey frequently from Cape Girardeau to St Louis, Missouri, venue of the weddings; she has planned all the weddings and taken care of the myriad of details. And it may have been while she has been driving that Tracie’s mind moved ahead to the possibility of grandchildren!
So it was that last year, Tracie asked me to take on the task of creating three christening gowns (one for each of her daughters) from two wedding dresses.
Hers: 30 years old
Her Mother’s: 60 years old
The design of each christening gown was left to my creativity. Both of the wedding dresses needed cleaning (including some areas of poorly cleaned red wine stains) and some areas of lace that were torn and needed restoring.
Deconstruction and Cleaning: First, the gowns had to be deconstructed so that the individual components could be cleaned separately. Each grouping of lace, both Chantilly and Guipure, and the silk satin, plain and embroidered, as well as the tulle were left in the cleaning solution overnight. Sometimes this step raises my blood pressure! Next the cleaning solution was carefully rinsed out and the garment or lace pieces were laid to dry over a drying rack. I'm never quite sure how the old/vintage pieces will react in the cleaning solution. (The oldest gown I have cleaned and restored had a date of 1839 on it and fortunately held up well). Once dry the pieces were pressed and then I assessed what was usable and how they could be combined in a pleasing way.
Pattern: I like the variety of styles in the now out-of-date Children's Corner pattern ' Hand Sewing 1'. For this project I chose three different styles.
And the resulting garments were very pleasing for me and also for Tracie and her daughters
Where is your business located? In Greendale, Wisconsin, which is a suburb of Milwaukee. I draw clients from the entire metro-area and beyond.
Do you work out of a home studio or do you have a brick and mortar location? My studio is in the lower level of my home, which is mostly above ground with lots of natural light. I have about 800 square feet, with three separate rooms – a client room, a creative/cutting room, and my sewing work room.
What kind of work do you specialize in? My business has evolved over 13 years and now I only do bridal, prom, and formal alterations, which is what I love doing. I tend to do a lot of bridal gown restyles and pregnancy re-sizing for brides and maids. In the bridal off-season months (Nov-Feb), I also do work on ballroom dance costumes including custom design, restyling, and alterations.
Do you work alone or do you share the space with others? I work alone. What's the first thing that clients notice about your space? That it is an organized and professional business operation, or as many state “wow, this is a real business!” I’m single and support myself solely from my business. Clients also notice the number of bridal gowns hanging in the work pending area, and my sample ballroom dance costumes on display.
How did you develop your layout? I have had several configurations over the years, and am always trying to make the most efficient use of my space, which is split into small rooms with lots of doorways. I’ve had to use grid paper and cut outs of my furniture to figure it out. My biggest challenge was to get the ironing board accessible from the right side, and minimize the movement of bridal gowns from machine to worktable to iron! I’ve also consulted books on sewing space design, as well as any other examples I can find for ideas.
What makes your sewing space unique? Aside from my quirky décor items from Latin America, I think my space is unique because I have set up a dedicated, high speed sewing station/work table for wedding gowns – which is clean of other thread colors, lint, etc. Then I have another high speed station for everything else – bridesmaids’ dresses, ballroom dance costumes, etc. My serger, coverstitch, and zigzag/embroidery machine are also in this area. I made this change a year ago, and feel it has really increased my productivity and efficiency. The other thing I have done is have a ‘creative room,’ which is where I have my reference library, woven and dance costume stashes, rhinestones, cutting tables, and mannequins. The idea is to keep this room clean and inviting to facilitate starting a new creation - from draping concepts to pattern work, layout/cutting, rhinestoning dance costumes, and steaming bridal gowns.
Anything else you'd like to add? Because I am tall, all of my work tables are 32-35”tall. I use balance balls for my work chairs as they strengthen core muscles and make it hard to slouch at the machines. I also switched to a standing desk for my computer/desk this year to reduce sitting time and improve my work posture.
2885 Sanford Ave SW #19588, Grandville, MI 49418 ~ Toll-Free (877) 755-0303