Where is your business located? In Austin, Texas. Do you work out of a home studio or do you have a brick and mortar location? I have a home-based studio. What kind of work do you specialize in? Bridal aterations and custom linens.
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? The comment I most often hear is, “Wow, you’re serious about this.” They notice all the tools, the machines, the large work table and the sewing related décor such as antique notions, irons and garments.
Tell me a little about your favorite part of your sewing space. The large work table I created from 2 IKEA storage units—I have a place to store things I use regularly and a large work surface. I’ve been doing more hand-sewing on recent projects and this table, with an adjustable height work stool is perfect. How did you develop your layout? Trial and error over the years. As I’ve changed the way I sew, the work area has changed. I spend far more time at the work table than the machines now, so the work table is larger. A long time ago I started sewing at a standing position. I’ve kept my machines at that height, making it easy to sew a quick seam. The adjustable stool I use allows me to sit for longer sewing sessions. The ironing station is easily accessible from both the work and sewing tables. I basically have the equivalent of a kitchen work triangle with the sewing table, work table and ironing station.
What makes your sewing space unique? Lots of interesting notions from my grandmother and my travels. I also have a fairly large collection of sewing, art and costume books. I think clients see this as an indication of my dedication. This is clearly where I spend my time, energy and money, so it must be important to me.
I’ve not actively pursued clients for quite a while, but have kept busy with personal referrals. Since I also have a full-time job, I have the luxury of only taking projects I’m interested in. Most of the work I’ve done in the past year has been through co-workers, which has been really convenient.
When I headed off to college in 1998, I certainly had no idea that my career path would one day involve a sewing machine. I graduated with a BS in finance and a BA in accounting from William Jewell College, a liberal arts college in Missouri in 2002. When I became pregnant with my twins in 2005 and left my job as a financial analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank, I knew accounting was no longer a field I wanted to pursue. It wasn’t until I couldn’t find gender neutral bedding that I discovered sewing. Armed with a sewing machine from Costco and my mother’s limited sewing knowledge, we managed to create two bedskirts, two quilts, two bumpers and a valance. It was then that my passion for sewing was ignited.
From that point on I read and absorbed all the sewing information I could gather. It was at this time that I began accepting home décor sewing jobs from friends and family. When my husband was relocated to the Indianapolis area in 2011, I was yearning to explore garment construction, primarily because I am a very difficult to-fit body type. It was then that I signed up for a class at my local fabric shop and met fellow ASDP member Joyce Hittesdorf who took me under her wing after our first class. From there, I apprenticed with Joyce until the sale of her business in the fall of 2013. I continued to work with the new proprietor, Sarah Knochel, and upped my ASDP membership from friend to Intern. It was also at this time that I felt confident enough to begin offering alterations and custom construction to clients on my own. In 2014, I set up TomKat Stitchery, changed my ASDP membership to formal, and began working from my basement. In 2015, with help from my family, we turned our basement into a professional studio where I continue to work.
I continue to take classes both in person and online to further my education and my skill level. I am very hopeful that the MSDP program will serve as a compass to help me achieve my goal of excellence in this field about which I am so passionate. I can assure you that sewing is not a passing fad or interest for me, but a skill commitment I hope to pursue for the rest of my life. I thank you again for your time and consideration of my application for this scholarship.
Written by Whitney Luckenbill
Our Newest Master Alteration Specialist Graduate
LaVonda Miles, the latest graduate of the ASDP/MAS Certification Program, wanted to share the journey with others who may be contemplating going through either of the two certification programs. Congratulations, LaVonda!
I actually wrote this goal down in 2009, as I wrote my initial business plan.
“A goal to become Master Tailor is also a priority to the owner, as she will take the necessary steps to become a certified Master Tailor in the early part of 2014.”
Although the date/year and the exact title didn’t align, I can still say the original goal was met. I enrolled into the MAS program in 2013 shortly after I joined the ASDP. After receiving the enrollment packet, I rationalized over which module to tackle first, with the Business Professional Module pulling out first, only because I had already done it. So from there, I revised and updated it to the current year and submitted it. Even though I had done it before, it still wasn’t easy to conform to what the organization required. This was definitely an arduous module requiring you to be precise and organized with your business to be able to submit a concrete business plan. The evaluator gave me a great rating and rewarding feedback. So in summary for this module, do the absolute best to submit a professional business plan as it will make so many of your plans and practices come together for a good solid business.
As I recall, the second module chosen was the online Fabric Module. This was a little frightening because, I thought to myself, “How do you test online about fabrics?” My thoughts were there are so many fabric types, blends, properties, etc., how on earth do I prepare for this? Well the test has been very well developed as it is adapted to reading and note taking from the various resource books offered in the registration packet. I could not afford all of the books, so I resorted to the local libraries and even found a great resource book at the Goodwill store.
My third module was Alteration Fit, which I wanted to get in and pass at the 2015 Convention. For this one I contacted the Director of Operations and she orchestrated all the logistics for me to have a model with the proper garments to be evaluated. The preparation for this was to again rely on the suggested books and material on proper garment fit, and techniques. I can honestly say that my nerves initially took over the first 5 minutes of this evaluation. As I entered that room and had myself all worked up over nervousness, I realized the 3 evaluators in the room were not there to make me nervous at all. They were the total opposite. Once I made eye contact and took deep breaths and methodically remembered the fit mantras, ("evaluate from the shoulders moving downward," is what I programmed myself to say), I felt more confidence come across my lips through the remainder of the evaluation. Not only did the evaluators pass me, they too had a great impact and input about how I perform some of my alterations today in order to achieve a great fit.
The fourth module for me, was the Alteration Technique. I spent about 3-4 months gathering all the needed items to alter. Economically, I remember spending about $25 - $30 on the compiled list of items purchased from the thrift store when the monthly ½ price per item event occurred. This particular module was the most in-depth, time consuming, hard as heck, but most rewarding for me. The reason I thought it was so hard was the fact that about 50% of the techniques were none that I had ever done before, or ever knew how to do, or even want to do again. But on a serious note about the different techniques; they all sharpened my skills and gave me that edge I needed to learn how to professionally perform a ready-to-wear alteration. So in preparation for this one, I watched videos, purchased on-line classes, and books for the techniques I wasn't familiar with. I mailed the entire bundle of items and received superb feedback from the evaluator.
Lastly, I had the Alteration Overview module which was initially planned as an online testing that went not in my favor quickly. I attempted to pass this twice. Realization was that it wasn’t me actually failing the knowledge of the overview, there was something technically wrong with the testing mode and grading (whew!)…. I kept asking myself, did I come this far to fail? Then the Director of Operations called me to say that the test would be administered via phone conference with evaluators asking me the same test questions that were online. This, I must say, was a more positive outcome as it gave me interaction with the evaluators just the same as the Alteration Fit experience but without the nervousness.
In summary, to anyone that may be contemplating achieving this certification, I can say to you that the accomplishment is so rewarding on a personal level and will boost your confidence on a business level. This certification will validate your skills like nothing else you can imagine. “Awesome Sauce” on a sewing platform, is what I call it!
Written by LaVonda Miles
July was a very busy month for the Heartland Chapter. On July 8th we hosted an evening meal at Joyce Hittesdorf’s for many of the ASDP officers and members who were in Indianapolis for the America Sewing Guild Conference. We all enjoyed a wonderful evening together making some new friends and renewing old acquaintances. Joyce amazingly managed to seat all of us at one gigantic table which allowed that beautiful non-stop sewing chatter the entire evening.
On July 15th – 16th Julianne Bramson, co-author of “Bias Cut Blueprints” taught her hands-on two day class to 14 very eager students. We were able to use the machines and wonderful facilities at the Art Institute of Indianapolis for the class. Julianne shared the “magic” of the bias cut garments. This is a geometric method for clothing design and construction. She patiently showed us step-by-step how these basic bias tubes could be used in many different ways to construct very different garments. Amazingly, they are sewn on the straight of grain, hang on the perfect bias and actually fit thanks to a simple chart! It gave us all a whole new way to think, plan and create new designs without patterns.
Many more ideas were presented in her extensive collection of sample garments that we were able to examine and try on. We had a fun two days working together and learning about the bias cut with Julianne. Those attending were Tina Colombo, Sarah Knochel, Donna Christian, Joyce Hittesdorf, Cathy Runion, Whitney Luckinbill, Cisa Kubley and Ellen Blacketer from our chapter. Our guest students were Karen Ahrens and Pat Acklie-Ortiz from Nebraska, Amanda Madden from New York, Wendy Cettina and Gail McLaughlin from New Jersey and Robin Kunzer from Illinois.
Each day we enjoyed eating lunch out together and Whitney invited everyone to her home on Friday evening for a meal and more fellowship. Thank you to Julianne for challenging us and teaching us new techniques!
We have the rest of our year’s meetings planned including a day trip in December to South Bend, IN to see the Downton Abby Exhibit, a tour of the South Bend Chocolate Factory (we will figure a way to tie this into sewing some way) and fabric shop in Shipshewana.
Our sewing retreat last year was a great success and we have planned another weekend retreat for late January 2017.
Written by Ellen Blacketer
OR, HOW TO KEEP YOUR SEWING MACHINE HAPPY AND HEALTHY BETWEEN TUNE-UPS By Nelson Maynard II, Owner/Proprietor, Nelson Maynard Sewing Machine Service, Lawrenceburg, KY
Workrooms don’t work unless their sewing machines do. As a sewing machine technician, my job is to keep them running and to repair them when they aren’t. I recommend an annual tune-up for most machines that are used professionally, but there are some basic preventive maintenance steps that sewing professionals can take to ensure that their sewing machines stay in good condition between regular tune-ups.
First of all, I always recommend having a back-up machine in your stable in case your regular machine is not operating correctly. You don’t want to put your work on hold while you’re waiting for your machine tech to schedule an appointment, especially if it turns out that replacement parts have to be ordered in. So, a backup machine is critical.
Secondly, it’s important to familiarize yourself and your machine operators with the machines you use, especially with regard to cleaning and lubrication. Review the instruction manual for your machine and follow it accordingly. Sewing machines that are kept clean and properly lubricated are much less likely to give you trouble. Let’s start with cleaning.
Cleaning the machine is often more of a housekeeping matter than a critical maintenance check, but it’s important to remember that sewing machines will accumulate lint, dust, and bits of thread as an ordinary matter of course. Loose threads especially can cause the machine’s mechanisms to bind if
they get caught in the gears or shafts, and should be cleared out regularly. Compacted lint can also accumulate in between the rows of the teeth on the feed dogs, leading to feed problems and even, in extreme cases, bent needle plates or feed dog carriers.
For this reason, I would recommend that every sewing machine operator know how to remove their machine’s stitch plate and clean the feed dogs while also checking for accumulated lint in the area of the hook shuttle or rotary hook assembly. Be sure to check for any stray thread that might be wrapped around the associated mechanisms. Lint brushes, tweezers, toothpicks, or even old needles are very useful for doing this job.
Compressed air can be very helpful as well, but only if the area around the hook is open, to allow the blown-off dust and lint to escape. This is usually the case with industrial or commercial machines, which can be tipped back on their hinges to expose the works of the lower carriage. For domestic machines, which are usually fully enclosed in a plastic or metal housing, a set of precision hose attachments for a vacuum is what I would recommend rather than compressed air. This will prevent bits of oily detritus from being blown further into the machine covers, where it may have more opportunities to foul up the works.
Once the feed dogs and hook well are cleaned out, replace the stitch plate. On most industrial and domestic machines the stitch plate simply mounts in place with machine screws or clips. Be aware that certain machines such as the Singer 221 Featherweight and most top-loading industrial walking foot machines have a position finger on the rotary hook base. This finger must be located between retaining tabs on the underside of the stitch plate in order to hold the bobbin case basket in the correct position for stitch formation. It is very important that these be mounted correctly in order to ensure correct stitch formation and prevent
damage to the machine.
While you have the stitch plate dismounted, it’s a good idea to check it for wear or damage, such as burrs from needle strikes or bent center sections, and replace it if necessary.
You should also check the headframe mechanisms of your machines for wound-up thread and similarly remove any accumulated dust and lint. The headframe consists of the shafts and rods at the head end of the machine including the needle bar, needle bar carrier, presser foot bar, and associated cranks and connecting rods. On many domestic machines the headframe cover, which is usually called the faceplate, is hinged for easy access and may simply be swung open;. Sometimes one or two mounting screws must be removed in order to free up the faceplate for removal. In either case, you should know how to access these mechanisms for periodic inspection and cleaning.
Thread is the real culprit to look for in this case;. Dust and lint can get saturated with cast-off oil and possibly make a mess on your work. Wound-up thread around the eccentric crank, take-up lever pivot point, or needle bar connecting rod can put your machine in a tight bind and put your machine out of commission. When the faceplate is removed or swung open, brush or vacuum out any accumulated lint and inspect the junction points of the various mechanisms for any wound-up thread, removing it as needed. Tweezers and hemostats are very helpful in this regard. A sharp hobby knife, such as an X-Acto #1, or similar, may sometimes be necessary. I’ve also found that a good set of fine thread snips, such as Tooltron’s “Easy Kut” trimmers, can be very useful for removing tightly wound thread as well.
Cutting wound-up thread can sometimes result in more of a tangled mess than you had before, so I always think it’s best to simply unwind the thread if possible. Locate the end of the thread, and take hold of it with your tweezers or hemostat, and slowly turn the hand-wheel in reverse while pulling the thread gently; this will often allow you remove the entire section of fouled thread without having to do any cutting.
Keeping these two critical areas of your sewing machines clean and free of potential obstructions will help ensure smooth operation and I would recommend inspecting these areas regularly, say, once a week on any workroom machines. Make it a regular part of your routine at the beginning or end of the week and you’ll be much less likely to encounter operational problems with your sewing equipment.
Now for lubrication. In order to keep your sewing machine running smoothly and extend its working life, it is very important that its moving parts should be properly lubricated. Fortunately, this isn’t generally difficult.
Most domestic sewing machines manufactured over the past twenty years or so require very little in the way of direct lubrication. They are usually equipped with sinter bushings, which are porous pressed-metal fittings that are permanently impregnated with oil during the manufacturing process. As the machine runs, the bushings warm up, and the embedded oil expands, creating a film of lubricant that protects the shaft that the bushing supports. The instruction manuals for older machines usually included a lubrication diagram showing ten or twelve points that needed regular application of machine oil but most modern machines do not; it’s simply not necessary, owing to the new bushings.
Professional and industrial machines are not generally equipped with sinter bushings, but many of them are equipped with oil sumps in their bases, or with felt oil pads in their upper works which distribute the oil throughout the machine via a system of cotton wicks. If you keep your oil pan topped up and your pads well saturated, regular daily lubrication is
once again minimized.
However, if your machine is not equipped with either sinter bearings or an oil wick harness, it will be necessary to regularly lubricate its wear points, according to the lubrication diagram in its operator’s manual. This is especially important for older domestic or industrial machines. In a dedicated production setting machines would normally be lubed at the beginning of each shift; for most professional workrooms, where the machines are used every day but not all day, weekly lubrication should generally be sufficient. Use only lightweight oil designed specifically for sewing machines for this application;. Other oils, such as 3-in-1 or WD-40 are generally too viscous for use in sewing machines and can leave behind a gummy residue as they dry out,. which This can leave the works of the machine in a bind, leading to stiff running and excessive strain on the motor. The correct lubricant will keep the machine running freely with regular use.
As with cleaning, the hook system and headframe are the most important points to consider when lubricating your machine. In domestic machines these are two areas that are not equipped with sinter bushings, and in commercial machines may not be reached by the oil wicks. For rotary hook machines, a drop or two of oil in the flangeway where the bobbin case basket meets the outer hook will suffice; for oscillating-hook machines, remove the hook shuttle and apply a drop of oil directly to the edge of the hook then reinsert it and secure the hook race cover.
After oiling the hook, it is important to wick off any excess oil by sewing a few inches on scrap material until no fresh oil is visible on the work.
For the headframe mechanisms, apply a drop of oil at every point where you
see metal moving on metal. The needle bar and its connecting rod as well as the pivot points for the eccentric crank, take-up lever, and take-up support rod all need a drop of oil;. Mechanical machines will have an oil port cast into the headframe components to allow the oil to work its way inside the linkages.
As with the hook, it’s important to remember that one or two drops of oil will usually suffice;. e Excess oil can attract dust and grime and, more importantly, can be cast off onto the work while sewing, which is something I’m sure I don’t have to remind you is something to be most earnestly avoided.
Again, in factory settings, this sort of preventive maintenance would be carried out at the beginning of each shift but is not necessary as frequently in a workroom setting. About once a week, perhaps in conjunction with cleaning and inspection, should be sufficient in most cases.
By keeping your machines cleaned and lubricated on a regular basis, you will be doing the best thing that you can to keep them in good condition between professional cleanings and adjustment. Your machines will run smoothly and will be less likely to malfunction, allowing your business to run more smoothly and maintain a good turn around on your clients’ projects. As the old quartermaster said, take care of them, and they will take care of you!
And while I don’t mind coming out to service my clients’ machines—it is, after all, what I do—I find it’s much simpler to work on a well-maintained machine than one that has been neglected.
So keep them clean, keep them lubed, and everyone will be happier for it!
Now, sit down to your machine, and make it sew!
SARAH VEBLEN CLOTHING ORIGINALS
Where is your business located? In Sparks, Maryland which is about a half-hour drive north of Baltimore. Do you work out of a home studio or do you have a brick and mortar location? I have a home-based business. I live in a townhouse and have dedicated my lower level to my business. As my three girls each left home, I’ve also taken over more of the house. When I hold classes here, I rearrange my living room to accommodate work tables and we use the living level as well as the studio level.
What kind of work do you specialize in? The majority of my time is now spent teaching, whether on-line for Pattern Review, private instruction, here in my home, or in venues across the country where I’m invited to teach.I still do a little custom sewing, which I enjoy a great deal.
It’s mostly daywear – pants, skirts, dresses, blouses, jackets – although I’m happy to do special occasion work when I’m asked. Do you work alone or do you share the space with others? For the most part I work alone. I have an office assistant who works for me 25 to 30 hours per week. She is usually here one day a week and then the rest of the time she works from her home. When the majority of my business was custom clothing, I had at least one person sew for me part time; most of their work was done on their own and occasionally in my studio.
What's the first thing that clients notice about your space? The most frequent comment I hear when people go down the stairs and turn to walk down the hall to my studio is simply “wow!” I think that’s because they immediately see that my studio is a busy place with lots of creative things happening.
Tell me a little about your favorite part of your sewing space. Even though my studio is in my lower level, I have a sliding glass door that goes out onto my lower deck and small back garden. I’m a morning person and I love that I get morning light and that my studio is bright and cheerful. While my sewing space is indeed important to me, so is my desk area, since I now spend a huge amount of time writing, working on class-related things, and running my business. A few years ago, I splurged on a beautiful desk system that was so worth the cost – it has allowed me to get much more organized and it’s an extremely pleasant place to work
How did you develop your layout? The sliding glass door in my studio influenced how I organized. I wanted as much light as possible in the area where I sew and I wanted my ironing station right next to my machines. As a result, I get to enjoy looking outside every time I press at the ironing board. My cutting table needed to be sturdy and inexpensive when I had it built almost 23 years ago. It’s a hollow-core door on top of braced 2 x 4s with storage underneath. It has worked so well, I’ve never even thought about changing it. Having a cutting table I can walk around is extremely important to me. Storage – can you ever have enough? I have lots of cabinets with drawers for smaller items and a wardrobe for fabric in my studio. I’m very fortunate to have a second room for storage on the same level as my studio
What makes your sewing space unique? I have a lot of pictures and drawings for inspiration. And because I often have to “live with” a fabric before I’m ready to cut into it, there’s often fabric draped on a dress form or stacked on the side table. It’s definitely a working studio!
ASDP volunteers Carol Kimball, Carol Phillips, and Pat Bornman have been responsible for passing on a generous donation by Richard Murray. The fabric had been collected by his late wife Naomi; he had kept it for twelve years before he was willing to part with it. Murray lives in Parker, CO, 25 miles southeast of metro Denver. The two Carols are from central and southeast Denver and Pat drove down from Boulder.
Family members had winnowed the stash down over the winter, but more than 50 boxes remained. These contained uncut fabric lengths of a decades-gone quality from the U.S. and Asia, dating largely from the 1970-80s:
The three women had been part of the Colorado Chapter's field trip to the Avenir Gallery in Fort Collins the previous month, and were delighted to see "Mr. Blackwell" on some of the packaging.
Dr. Murray drove from his assisted living apartment to his home, but as the storage was down a flight he stayed in his vehicle. He does not have email and has been pleased and touched by the handwritten thank-you notes he has been receiving.
Kimball, the initial contact, preempted what could be made into pajama pants for the kids at The Oglala Lakota Reservation at Pine Ridge, South Dakota and took wovens for the sewing program run by Jerome and Theresa High Horse (who retired back to the reservation and channel many resources into the badlands). Kimball also grabbed half a dozen lengths for personal use.
After Phillips and Bornman earmarked their preferences, everything needed to be hauled out and the bulk of the original stash distributed. Fortunately there was a chair lift that could take four boxes at a whack.
About 10 boxes were reviewed in early May at the ASDP couture class at the Career Education Center, a division of the Denver Public Schools. Individual class participants made their choices, and the rest was left there with Katherine McMann for use by her students.
Phillips is further distributing the wealth by ferrying boxes to chapter meetings as well as letting members visit the mother lode in her sewing area. Whatever is not selected over the summer will be delivered to CEC once school resumes in late Aug early Sept.
Anything left in Kimball's studio after she and her intern have gotten at it will be donated to ARC (a Colorado organization similar to Goodwill). All of us have felt honored to share in this tremendous resource and are grateful to put to beneficial use as much fabric as possible.
If you have a similar opportunity, we have these suggestions:
The NJ Chapter has been enjoying a busy, productive year. Our new retreat was a huge success! Joined by some former members, other colleagues, and friends, we spent a wonderful weekend pursuing personal sewing goals, exchanging ideas, and sharing expertise. Our fitting and alterations skills were once again called into play at our local Cinderella's Closet charity prom boutique, an annual event that helps area teens in need. Other meetings featured tools, techniques, and tips from home decor boot camp, and a fun and informative sharing of our members' very favorite sewing notions and tools. We've also had the pleasure of sharing events with members of other ASDP chapters!
NEW JERSEY CHAPTER CHALLENGE, 2015
What are the results when several people sew a garment from the same fabric? That is what our chapter decided to find out when we won 7 yards of fabric, along with some other items, at the 2014 ASDP National Conference in Philadelphia. Since we won the fabric as a chapter, it was decided to divide up the fabric among the conference attendees willing to participate in a sewing and design challenge. Each participant was to sew a garment in the fabric incorporating a technique learned during the conference. The submissions were judged on how well this technique was incorporated into the garment, as well as fit, creativity, coordination of other fabrics and execution. The fabric was a lace mesh with lycra; the colors were dark and light brown on an ecru back ground. Each participant got 1-1/3 yards. In the end, two garments made it to the November meeting for evaluation and judging. Lois Anderson constructed a top with the lace fabric overlaying a blue sparkly knit. Wendy Cettina sewed a skirt using the lace as an underskirt/petticoat with a brown herringbone with a gold pinstripe as the main skirt. In the end (drum roll please…) Lois won, with Wendy a close second. It was a fun challenge and interesting to see the results using the same fabrics. Specifics on each garment follow.
When Lois looked at the fabric she immediately knew she wanted to make a top with the lace overlaid on another fabric. She had purchased the croquis set from Carol Kimball (didn’t take the fashion illustration class) and used those to sketch some ideas. While shopping for fabric, she was enthralled with the change in color depending on what base color when beneath it; she chose light blue because she like the lavender shades it created. Lois fussy cut the sleeves to get matching sleeves with a centered medallion and the darker color on the back and across the front. Two patterns were combined for the top, Simplicity and Pamela Leggett’s t-shirt pattern. She used two techniques from the conference, narrow hems from Robin Bolton’s class on industrial shortcuts and, from a beading class, beading along the edges and a little fob in front. Since the lace is so springy, she thought the beads would give it some weight.
The lace fabric was not something Wendy would have typically chosen so, she knew she would be making something that used the lace as an accent and not the main fabric. She decided to make a skirt using the lace as an underlay peeking out below. Placing the lace near other fabrics in her studio, she liked it with the brown wool blend. The brown toned down the colors of the lace. After beginning then abandoning the idea of making a gored skirt and matching all those pinstripes, she decided make a dirndl skirt and used Style Arc’s Margo skirt pattern. After it was finished it needed something a little extra so she added a fabric flower at the waist.
It was a fun project and all the attendees at the meeting enjoyed seeing how different each person’s vision was!
This year, many members of the Baltimore Chapter are participating in the chapter’s evaluation program that was developed in 2001. There are 5 levels, 3 of which members are currently working towards: Dressmaker I and II, and Master Dressmaker. Consequently, most of the year’s programs are related to the requirements needed to successfully complete each level. A number of our members shared their expertise and tips for such topics as seam techniques, thread carriers, darts and gathers, invisible zippers, collars, cuffs and plackets, and hems. It seems like no matter how much experience we have, there are always some new tips to learn to make constructing these things easier, faster, and better!
Our May meeting had a little different format. One of our members, Kathy Sack, has been making skating costumes for the last several years and gave us lots of good info about the process and the differences between sewing these and regular clothing. The members in attendance don’t have much experience with this type of work, so it was all new to us! Keeping with the costume theme, Andrea Hoover, who got her costuming degree from Penn State University, presented the second half of the program on how to build the costumes for a theater production and all the people involved in the process. Using some Elizabethan sleeves as an example, she explained all the steps from going through the design stage through the pattern-making to the muslin to the finished garment. Then we got to have an up-close look at Debby Spence’s winning (Most Successful Application) Challenge garment as she explained how she put it all together. Susan Khalje, who judged the Challenge, was at the meeting and it was interesting to hear a judge’s perspective of the garment.
A highlight of our year was an all-day workshop to learn Sashiko stitching, lead by Nancy Long, from Lancaster, PA. She has extensive knowledge of the art form and of Japanese textiles, so she had lots to teach us. It was a fun day, and greatly enhanced by the presence of some members of the NJ chapter who drove several hours to take the workshop!
We have had a busy Winter/Spring. February found us learning how and when to fix our furs, led by our own Dot Treece. In March we started to learn some basics of fashion sketching with Carol Kimball. Our chapter also hosted a three Saturday workshop with Clara Dittli on the fine art of the couture skirt. In the workshop we had two snow storms and one rainy day, but we didn’t let a little spring snow get in our way.
Clara taught us how to draft our own pattern, how to mark our fabric with our seam allowances, thread marking, basting, underlining, lining, zipper, waistband and hem techniques. Clara apprenticed in a Haute Couture Atelier where she learned couture sewing, pattern drafting, draping and fashion illustration. Clara continued her career as a fashion designer and consultant in some of Zurich’s finest houses. In 1985, she moved to Denver and established her own couture Studio.
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