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  • 12/07/2015 7:58 PM | Cisa Kubley

    Conference has been the healing inspiration to my ailing heart and outlook!

    That may sound sensational, but allow me to explain. Due to family events it had been 8 years since I attended conference. In the last 4 years I have lost both my parents and become an empty-nester. That’s a lot of loss all at once. It seemed as though everyone else was excited about a new endeavor and I was stuck in the quagmire of grief and darkness. My alterations business became stale. On the drive home from conference I heard George Strait’s “I Hate Everything.” The guy in the song had such a bleak outlook that he even hated the four seasons. I never hated everything, but the song helped me recognize that I’m making progress. Time, a wonderful husband, and this conference with my sewing sisters have lifted me to a brighter perspective.

    Loss affected all aspects of my life. My world became colorless. I am a nurturer. I raised our son and cared for my elderly parents. Those were responsibilities I anticipated accomplishing. And now I have. Suddenly, at 52 years old I’m staring at my sewing machine wondering existentially, what’s next? I thought I’d have another 10 years with my parents, that I would be retired and caring for them and then go play with my grandkids. Now I don’t know what to expect (even though the whole world is open to me.)

    Everyone else was embarking on a new endeavor. My son graduated college in May and is living his dream in Manhattan with a very good job. That’s what he’s supposed to do. My husband has gone back to school. My sister moved to another state to work for the oil industry and travels the world. I’m 52, in my colorless grief-stricken world of alterations, staring at my sewing machine wondering, what’s next?

    What’s next? Conference. Nothing was going to keep me from conference this year. I had an inkling of my almost profound need for conference this spring when I took a remnant from my stash and created a lovely wrap for a mother of the bride. It reminded me why I sew. It felt so good to create. Creation over loss.

    I excitedly browsed the conference brochure and decided I needed more than the core conference. I needed to stay for the Transformational Reconstruction master class. It just looked so far out! Fabric origami! Just the class to stretch my mind, to create something wonderful and unique, and pull me so far from my doldrums.

    At conference I volunteered at the registration desk. No brainer, right? Right up until Sandra Betzina, our Lifetime Achievement Award winner, asked me if she could bring to her morning class a fashion student she just met at breakfast who was not connected to our conference. “Uh, let me find out for you, Sandra,” I replied. (BTW, the answer is LAA winners can do anything they want.)

    Joan Kuhry and I took tickets for the fashion show. We stood in the back of the room and the models collected near us as the show neared an end. I collected the ballots for audience favorite and Judith Neukam petted my sleeve, admiring the textured fabric of my top. Takes a lot to impress that lady! Later on Debby Spence and Barbie McCormick explained their challenge-winning sheaths and I marveled at the time and talent invested in each. These are my people! We’re talking sewing.

    I roomed and dined with many different members. We discussed our classes and experiences, the direction of our businesses, and who spent the most money at SR Harris.

    Once home and unpacked I considered all I had seen and learned: fantastic challenge garments; clever classes that will improve my business; the far out TR master class; but most especially the laughter and camaraderie of my sewing tribe.

    Today, I sat down at my sewing machine clicked on the light and smiled. That small, warm light illuminates my future. Not so much to a new endeavor, but to a new outlook on a long time love. Conference reminded me why I sew-- for the pleasure.

    Written by Kathy Burns


  • 12/06/2015 7:54 PM | Cisa Kubley

    “Teach a class at conference,” they said. “You’ve got a lot to contribute,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. And you know what? They were right!

    It all started when I was at the Wisconsin/Illinois/Indiana retreat in Rockford, IL this January and the email went out announcing that there was an extended deadline for class proposals for the 2015 conference. As this was my first time at this retreat and I was just getting to know some ASDP members better, there was much talk about my shop and my business model. Through my experiences in ASDP for the few years that I’ve been a member, I’ve learned that my business is not typical within our membership. At 2080 square feet for my tailor shop, I have a relatively large store front and an average of 4 employees at any given time.

    When the call for additional class proposals went out, Linda McCoy, our VP of Membership, was the first to prod me into submitting a proposal to teach a class on hiring and having employees. I’d already submitted one proposal for a sewing technique I use regularly and had some other ASDP members express interest in, but I’d never really given any consideration to teaching a business class. Just submitting that idea was scary to me. I’d never taught on this level before. The idea of teaching my peers and ASDP members that I look up to tremendously was completely daunting!  Some of my potential students have been in business longer than I have been alive. What could I possibly teach them?

    By the end of the night, my retreat cohorts had me convinced that I knew what I was talking about and that people would be lining up to take my class. I was nervous but excited when I clicked “submit” on that proposal. I came home from the retreat jazzed for the rest of my year. Then prom season hit and the spring was a blur. In the midst of my 100-hour work weeks, I got the news that my business class proposal had been accepted.  Plus, assuming that the class attendance hit the minimum requirement, I would be teaching in Minneapolis. I read the email, smiled, read it again, and then it hit me. Oh no….what have I done?!

    I spent the summer puttering and planning and panicking. I thought through the life of my business and my experience as an employer. I started my business when I was 22 and hired my first employee at 23. Since then, I’ve had successes and failures as a boss. I’ve had good employees and bad and I’ve learned more lessons that I can count. I’ve struggled through some of the biggest hurdles that our industry faces when hiring. Where do you find applicants and how do you figure out if they really have the skills you need? What I found when I got right down to it was that Linda and the rest of the ladies at the January retreat were right. I had plenty to talk about and contribute.


     I’m incredibly thankful that I taught on Sunday afternoon. I was already five days into conference and had plenty to occupy my mind before I took center stage in my little classroom. I also had five wonderful days to talk to several of the teachers that I have looked up to and ask their advice before I jumped into the deep end. I got to pick the brains of many wonderful conference attendees and consider all kinds of new ways to approach my material. I started my Sunday classes in Sarah Veblen’s “Becoming an Effective Teacher” Class and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. After that class, I was calmer and much more convinced that I had done everything I could and needed to do to prepare to teach my hiring class. I had just enough time to get to lunch and find my classroom well before my students showed up so that I could continue to convince myself that I was prepared.

    The day I taught my class, I celebrated my 7-year business anniversary, a fact that brought me a lot of warm and fuzzy feelings. Being surrounded by my peers and largest support network is my perfect idea of an anniversary celebration. I had a cozy class of eight students, including my trusty classroom assistant. When I looked around the room as we gave our introductions, I saw familiar faces smiling back at me. My students were engaging, encouraging and best of all, incredibly inquisitive. They challenged me and validated me, sometimes all in the same breath.

    They even left the classroom smiling.

    Veni, vidi, vici. Roughly translated: I prepared, I babbled, I educated. I would also like to think that I succeeded. While I haven’t received any formal evaluations or feedback, my students were wonderful and I received plenty of thanks and encouragement after my adventure.

    If you have ever considered teaching, please, submit a proposal. I cannot recommend the experience highly enough. Not only do I feel like my experiences have benefitted my students, but I know that it has changed me. I came out of that class feeling like a more confident teacher, more sure of my knowledge and capabilities, and ready to take on any challenge that I might face when I came home. I’m already tossing around ideas for my next proposal because as terrified as I was when my students starting filing into that room there will absolutely be a next time. I would like to thank those of you at the retreat who pushed me to submit the “How and When to Hire” proposal. Preparing for and teaching this class has absolutely changed the way that I think about myself, my business, and my participation in the ASDP for the better

    Written by Cisa Kubley


  • 12/05/2015 7:42 PM | Cisa Kubley

    With bridal gown challenges of all kinds, of course. However, thanks to Brenda Breitenmoser’s bridal class, bridal alterations and bustles have become clearer and have stretched my imagination to better problem solving. I’ve always looked forward to working on special occasion gowns, and there is something beautiful, imaginary & dreamy about bridal/ wedding gowns in particular. This year, I had a lot of bridal alterations, bustles, and not so hot designs which were challenging so I was happy to learn a bridal class was being held at conference.

    Brenda Breitenmoser

    Brenda has a wealth of knowledge, is full of humor, and has a knack for  teaching in a way that is easy to learn and comprehend. The 10 of us in the class had levels of experience from beginners to veteran professionals. While Brenda was teaching her methods to all, the beginners were sharing new techniques they had learned. The veterans also shared their techniques and solutions and I tried to absorb all the jammed packed information that was being discussed.

    Brenda admits to staying up all night until a solution to the problem comes to her which sometimes takes days. Her motto is simple: “The gown leaves the shop like no one has touched it!”


    Our first project in her class was the pregnant bride.  Deciding how to alter this gown can definitely cause your head to spin. The solution to this alteration depends on the style of the gown and how far along the bride is in her pregnancy. Two weeks before the wedding is the guide line to start Brenda’s alteration technique. We were able to practice the technique with paper while she patiently helped each of us who weren’t as quick to catch on. After the paper pattern was finished, Brenda demonstrated on the dress form with muslin fabric. She made it look very, very easy. It was definitely a challenge for me, but I guess if you do it more than once, you know what you’re doing.


    Our next assignment was “My dress is too small. Can you convert this into a corseted/lace up back?”  Brenda’s answer was “Sure, no problem. I’d be happy to.”  From start to finish it takes about an hour for Brenda. As of yet, I have not attempted this, but I assure you it will take me much, much longer!  Although you can purchase a lace up kit, the kit is limited in colors. Using curtain gathering tape, she taught us how to make the loops and ties with fabric and materials which match the gown.


    The last half of the class featured different types of bustles.


    When it comes to bustles, for reasons unknown to alterationists, it is usually the salesperson leading the bride astray as to how a gown (of any style) gets bustled.

    How in the world do you tame one of those Cinderella gowns?  You know the one I’m talking about. It has seemingly endless layers upon layers of tulle, 1-3 layers of crinoline and the width of the dress is 10 times wider than the door she has to walk through!  I’ve often wondered how one enters the ladies room in this type of gown!  What about those asymmetrical, mermaid, A-line, and pick up gowns?  The styles are endless and each requires a different technique. This is when we have to think outside of the box!


    To me the Cinderella type of gown is tricky to bustle in the sense that there is so much fabric to be lifted off the ground and still make one’s backside look good, and it can require several pick up points. It is hard to disguise the bustle hardware on tulle gowns. Items used to aid in the bustling process were hooks and eyes, clear or white plastic drapery rings, ribbon, thread loops with eyes, and clear buttons to name a few. Our goal for the Cinderella dresses is to eliminate as many bustle points as possible but have enough to have a great looking bustle. Whether it is a Cinderella gown or not, the main idea I learned was: “All bustles need to pop off the floor so the gown won’t be torn.”

    I would encourage anyone, whether you are a beginner or a veteran, to take Brenda’s bridal class. There is so much to learn, so many ideas tossed out, the “duh” moments and brainstorming with other colleagues were a lot of fun. You’re probably thinking, “She didn’t give us any tips from the class.” You’re right, I didn’t!  You’ll have to sign up for this class to learn the tips!

    Brenda Breitenmoser, thank you for your amazing class. I hope to enroll again, maybe in Vancouver?

    Written by Robin Kunzer


  • 12/04/2015 7:39 PM | Cisa Kubley

    My first step in the judging process was to review the submitted materials sent to me by the challenge coordinator. The materials included the submission number and title, photographs of the garments and required written material. I went through each submission with the challenge parameters in mind; is there a relationship between the artwork and the finished garment? Is it a sheath dress? Does it look well designed and made? On the second pass through the submissions I gave the garments a yes, maybe, or no and made written notes reflecting my impressions. Some garments were difficult to see because of the quality of photographs. In some the lighting was poor or uneven and in others the background was busy and distracting. In this phase I tried to judge each dress individually, not in comparison with the others. I tried to understand what the creator was attempting with the particular garment.

    The second step is the conference call with the other judges to discuss the submissions. Together we reviewed the submitted materials and made a case for our favorites. Threads likes to have about twenty finalists for the in-person judging. During the discussion questions and observations were made that called attention to things I hadn’t noticed or considered in my review. It was a judging panel of three and consensus had to be reached: the hardest stage because we knew there would be wonderful dresses that we somehow overlooked. We did the best we could. As the ASDP member judge (having won last year’s challenge) I knew and appreciated the effort put forth by each person who stepped up and took the challenge.

    At conference on Friday we got together for the in-person judging. The able and organized Challenge Coordinator, Terri Tipps, had put together a booklet with all the submissions bound together for us to refer to during the judging. The garments were presented in order, by number as they were in the booklet. We looked at the dresses on the dress form and then up close, inside and out. The Threads editor Judy Neukam was looking at the garments as magazine content. She was looking at them not just in the context of the Challenge but as inspiration for an article or as a potential magazine cover. Susan Khalje examined every seam, seam finish, the stitching, the bottom of the invisible zipper with her meticulous eye for detail. We looked at everything and looked again and again. There were so many considerations. One fabulous dress just wasn’t a sheath (undone by the godets in the skirt). In some the idea and inspiration were great but the execution was lacking. In some the relationship between the inspiration and the garment just wasn’t there. Overall the submissions were very impressive, and I am in awe of the work.

    I hope this review will demystify the Challenge and encourage members to participate in future challenges. If you have further questions about the judging or the process, I welcome inquiries and feedback.

    Written by Patty Robison


  • 12/03/2015 7:27 PM | Cisa Kubley

    A big heartfelt thank you to all those who participated in the 2015 fashion show at the conference in Minneapolis. It was fantastic! I think our Association showed our talents very well.

    Lynne Williams wearing her entry Seams Natural. Photo by Karen Gay

    We had 43 garments in the general entries, 2 student finalists in the student design competition and 20 finalists in the Threads Magazine challenge for a total of 65 garments on the runway. There were also the clever creations by the ASDP board with their interpretation of fine works of art. Actually, they were hilarious. I truly enjoyed that and hope someone has photos to share. I was worried when the September 10th deadline came and we only had 2 garments entered in the fashion show, but this wonderful group of talented members came through and we had an assortment of outwear, costumes, casual wear, career wear, and evening wear. We had 3 restyled garments presenting “before” photos on the dual screens while the “after” was on  the runway.

    Noreen Hoenig wearing Edgy Suede Fringe by Cisa Kubley, Photo by Rory O'NeillErin Retelle wearing the dress she created inspired by Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup pop art painting, Photo by Rory O'NeillWhitney Luckinbill wearing her entry Tiny Dancer, Photo by Rory O'Neill

    This is a new area that we might continue in 2016. While there were some technical problems, the show went on and I was told the audience never knew about the glitches that took place backstage. We had a great crew of volunteers and I thank you all for the help as you were so important in pulling it all together. A huge thank you is due to Ashley Roberts, a newscaster from WCCO-CBS in Minneapolis, who served as our guest commentator for the show. Ashley was funny, poised, and professional, rolling with the last minute changes that come as part of a live show.

    Some models and volunteers came from the local colleges and I think this is a great way for our organization to tap into the up and coming designers. We need to get them familiar with ASDP early in their careers, and inviting them to participate in our fashion show is a good way to do that. Most metropolitan cities will have a college nearby with a fashion design or merchandising program. If we offer them the chance to participate in our fashion show, we can help feed their interest in the world of fashion. We had one model, Tara, from the Minneapolis area who is pursuing a modeling career and looks forward to having the photos from this event to add to her portfolio. Tara is going to NY in a few days for a modeling gig.

    Amanda Madden wearing the stunning non-traditional wedding gown she created for her own wedding earlier this year, Photo by Karen Gay

    We also had a young gal from a local college, Anyse Mellot, who was a real trouper. Anyse is a student in the fashion design program at The Art Institutes International MN. She participated in the student design competition, but her garment did not make the finals so she offered to volunteer back stage. Well, this young gal was a godsend to me that night! I was able to give her numerous tasks and she performed each beautifully.   She helped me put the commentator book together, helped with the garments backstage, and then ran the power point for part of the show.  And then on top of all that, I asked her to model.  For more about the exceptional capabilities and potential of using aspiring students, see more* about Anyse below.  Thank you Anyse!! As I am looking forward to the 2016 fashion show, I am working on the details with the help of Denise Liss. We will work till we get the sign up link correct. I don’t give up easily; I guess I am a bit of a determined German!

    The rules might change a bit. We are in discussion on that and we are thinking of new ways to get more of you involved as we realize more of our members are involved more in alterations than custom work.  For those of you designing and doing custom work, start planning on putting a garment in the 2016 fashion show NOW. We are already working with the locals of Vancouver, B.C. to find models just as we did in Minneapolis.

    Carol Fresia of Threads, judge Patricia Robison, judge Judith Neukam of Threads, Susan Widawski (Winner of Best Construction), judge Susan Khalje, Photo by Rory O'Neill

    Again a big thank you to those who entered garments, volunteered back stage, and modeled.  It was hectic, but a lot of fun! There were many modeling glitches throughout the night and Anyse was the only one I had to fit in a particular dress. Well, as it turned out what she modeled was one of the big winners.  She had arrived that night in her casual clothes and fashion boots, expecting to work backstage. Now she was on the runway! No, there was no time for extra make up or hair prep. She went from one task to the other and did it with grace and style. This girl will go far. But this is exactly how the fashion world can be. She went on the runway cold turkey and did a fantastic job. Her comment to me after the show was that she had a lot of fun and was very grateful she was able to be a part of the conference. She also said, “It was amazing to get to see another great fashion show and meet all the people that made it happen. I really hope these are the professionals I get to work with in the future!” She looks forward to hearing more from us and pursuing her career in fashion. Thanks a lot Anyse!

    Written by Chris Kazmerzak


  • 12/02/2015 7:06 PM | Cisa Kubley

    The 2015 ASDP National Educational Conference was held October 14-20 at the beautiful Crowne Plaza Northstar, downtown Minneapolis, featuring seven days of classes, meetings, and social events, with 79 members and guests attending.

    On registration, attendees received an ASDP logo neck wallet for holding their name badge, conference tickets, room key, credit cards, pens, and other things and were told that bringing it to conference in Vancouver will net them a small but special perk at conference next year. The hotel, connected with Northstar Mall and the enclosed skyway, had a layout ideal for attendees, with registration, meeting rooms and events all conveniently located on the seventh floor.

    Thursday night’s welcome reception was held in the beautiful Minnetonka Lounge and connecting Fireside Room instead of the outside Skygarden, as originally planned, due to a dip in the temperature and threat of rain. Susan Khalje shared lovely garments and fabrics as she presented “The Fine Art of Lace.” Members and guests (including Threads staff Judith Neukam and Carol Fresia, as well as LAA recipient Sandra Betzina) enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and drinks as they met new friends and became reacquainted with old ones.

    Large canvasses of famous artwork with the faces cut out for photo-ops made their first appearance, and were seen at various events throughout the weekend. Rae Cumbie spoke briefly about the ASDP Foundation, which has now been reactivated as a 501c3 charitable foundation. The reception followed the return of some members from the all-day bus tour of Minneapolis and St. Paul that included visits to the Guthrie Theatre Costume Shop, where they marveled over the vast array of costumes, the Textile Center, one of the finest fiber arts groups in the country, and the Minnesota History Center’s collection of Munsingwear memorabilia.

    There was, of course, shopping – at the Textile Center’s fine gift shop, Treadle Yard Goods, and the fabled 30,000 square feet of fabric and notions at S.R. Harris. Other members at conference on Wednesday and Thursday enjoyed pre-conference classes in a variety of subjects.

    Friday brought full-day classes as well as the keynote luncheon featuring award-winning speaker and Minnesota native Theresa Rose, who presented a lively program on realistic time management.

    Theresa Rose, Keynote Speaker

    At Friday evening’s Fashion Show and Member Showcase, attendees were treated to a runway and multimedia presentation that spotlighted the entries in the Threads Inspired by Art Sheath Dress Challenge. Coordinator Terri Tipps outlined the requirements of the competition, and the artistic inspiration was shown on dual screens on each side of the runway as the garments were modeled. Finalist garments were brought back on the runway for a final look and Audience Choice voting. The national board members again presented a humorous segment as Audience Choice votes were tallied. The segment in which they recreated famous works of art was again a hit with the members. Undoubtedly the favorite of the audience, Chapter Relations VP Debby Spence presented “Thorn Necklace” by Frida Kahlo, with hilariously striking realism!

    Student Design Challenge Winner Erica Sorenson and finalist Valerie Bolden

    As a surprise, one of the sewing machines generously donated by Baby Lock was raffled off to raise money for the ASDP Foundation. Member Abby Riba of Florida was the winner and plans to gift the machine to her granddaughter. Karen Gay, Regional Student Challenge Coordinator, introduced the two student finalists from the Minneapolis area, and presented winner Erica Sorenson with a prize package that included a student membership in ASDP, $200 cash, a Threads subscription, and a Baby Lock sewing machine valued at $1,799, among other things.

    Judith Neukam of Threads magazine, along with Carol Fresia (who will be moving into Judith’s position as our liaison with Threads), introduced fellow judges Susan Khalje and Patricia Robison (last year’s Best Overall winner) then announced the winners for 2015:

    Best Overall Award: Tricia Crockett from Damascus, Oregon

    Best Construction: Susan Widawski from Belleville, Michigan

    Best Creative Interpretation: Barbie McCormick from Nampa, Idaho

    Best Successful Adaptation: Debby Spence from Lancaster, Pennsylvania

    Audience Choice Award: Linda McCoy from Oostberg, Wisconsin

    Photos of the winning garments will be published in Threads Magazine in spring 2016.

    Saturday brought a mix of both full and half-day classes for the first time. Two smaller meetings were held that day as well: the MSDP/MAP breakfast hosted by Vandarra Robbins and the Chapter Relations Luncheon with Debby Spence. In the afternoon attendees visited the Vendor Market which, though small (9 vendors this year) offered wonderful high quality fabrics, trims, leathers, patterns and books from a variety of sources. Vendors interviewed were very happy with the response of members.


    In the evening, the ballroom was the setting for our Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony and banquet with guest of honor and industry icon Sandra Betzina. After dinner, President Debra Utberg recognized former national presidents in attendance and introduced member Janee Connor, who read her nomination for Sandra Betzina as LAA recipient. Debra Utberg then presented a stunning glass sculptured award to Sandra and offered a champagne toast. Sandra then gave a short acceptance speech and graciously posed for photos with members, including group photos with those who were wearing designs made from Sandra’s McCall’s patterns.

    Sunday morning came early after Saturday night’s celebration, with a 7 am breakfast and 7:30 am annual meeting. Reports were given by board members (see reports on the ASDP website), and President Debra Utberg gave a presentation on the budget. The early draft cut for the ASDP promotional video being done as a class project by University of Minnesota film students was premiered with great excitement, and the location and dates of the 2017 conference was announced as Orlando, Florida, October 18-22. Annual elections for the national board were held, with all nominated positions being elected. Members were released to attend morning, then afternoon classes.

    The Last Hurrah Tea late Sunday afternoon gave members a chance to connect one last time over beverages and sweets before going their separate ways again. Numerous door prizes generously donated by sewing and design businesses as well as member businesses were give away throughout the weekend. Approximately two dozen members stayed over to attend post conference classes on Monday and Tuesday.

    Our sincere thanks to our sponsors, Baby Lock, Threads, McCalls, Fit for Art Patterns, and Reliable for making a great conference possible!

    Written by Karen  Gay



  • 12/01/2015 6:59 PM | Cisa Kubley

    I hope everyone came home from conference rejuvenated, inspired, and motivated. If you were not able to attend, hopefully the contents of this newsletter will motivate and inspire you to set aside the time and money to attend our next conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

    Now it is time to close out 2015 and make plans for 2016. What will you do to move your business forward? How will you do it? As the board makes preparations for our annual Strategic Planning meeting, I have asked them to read two books, "Getting Things Done by David Allen and "The Trust Edge" by David Horsager. I challenge anyone to find anything in these books that is really new! Still, the authors present the concepts in their own voice and that is what makes them new and worth the read.

    As dressmakers, tailors, alteration specialists, designers, purveyors of goods and services, etc. we are not doing anything new. Rather, it is our voice and how we do it that makes what we offer interesting and valuable. It has been suggested that we are part of a dying trade. Maybe. But, unlike the blacksmith who lost his livelihood to the advent and popularity of the automobile, people still wear clothes, as well as need and use many other sewn products (i.e. pillows, curtains, tents, etc.). What has changed is how people get their sewn goods.

    Even so, in spite of the “casualization” of dress and outsourcing of sewing to cheaper labor markets, there remains a population who have unique desires and needs and who want customized/unique goods with personalized service. Furthermore, they have the resources to pay. To this population, we offer the breadth and depth of our skill and talent, our “voice” if you will. They will find it interesting and valuable - if they can find us.

    May 2016 find you with great books on your reading table, interesting projects in your studio, extra profits in your bank account and an amazing “voice”

    Written by Debra Utberg, President

  • 09/06/2015 1:10 PM | Cisa Kubley

    We have some very exciting news for you – ASDP has a new chapter – the Metro Detroit Chapter!

    The ASDP-Metro Detroit Chapter was installed in June. This chapter services the entire Metropolitan Detroit area and runs its operations in donated space from PonyRide, a small business incubator located in Detroit MI. The chapter was installed with five members. They are Monica Minor, Kenyetta Caldwell, Brenna Lane, Kathleen Tootell and Maxine Jackson. Monica Minor serves as the President of this chapter. This is their vision statement:

    “To unify people while bringing new opportunities, new outlooks and new exposure to sewing and design professionals within the Metropolitan Detroit area.”

    Monica says: “The chapter considers itself a unique addition to the association. Metro Detroit has tons of hidden talent in the sewing and design profession; one of our goals is to bring exposure to that talent. 

    Additionally, we are invested in preserving the integrity of our profession. With that, we aim to host several trainings, workshops, seminars, etc. aimed at (a) increasing our knowledge and skills and (b) fine- tuning and polishing up our business ethics and skills. Finally, we intend to start a program within our chapter that is aimed at mentoring our students of fashion for the future. The goal would be to recruit at the college student level with the intent of maturing the student members onto the intern level and to the professional member level. This will not only enhance the talent in the Metro Detroit area for our industry, but will ideally create a future generation of leaders for the chapter and association. All of these initiatives are obviously at the premature stages of planning and development, but we feel that this is where we should start to be of best service for the industry in this area via the association. “The remainder of the year’s meetings will serve as planning meetings as our core team of 5 also serves as our planning committee. We plan to ‘reintroduce’ the chapter with a huge Membership Drive meeting in January 2016. We should have the date set within the next couple of weeks. We will be advertising substantially to ensure a huge presence at this meeting. We also will have a presence at the American Sewing Expo with a booth which is in September in Novi MI where we will provide information about the association and our chapter.”

    Susan Khalje has invited the Baltimore Chapter to her gallery for their first meeting of the new program year. She’ll be talking about lace and showing members lots of beautiful examples. An added bonus - Alice from Mendel Goldberg will also be there, so they’ll have the opportunity to see (and purchase!) her gorgeous fabrics. The Chapter is going to be focusing on ‘Topnotch Techniques’ this year to encourage members to participate in their Chapter’s evaluation program.

    The British Columbia Society has been extremely busy getting ready for their Sew-Ed Conference in September. They have a great working team there, and all are working together for the common goal of a successful event in advance of the 2016 ASDP conference in Vancouver.

    They have contacted businesses all over Canada in preparation for next year’s conference, not only for sponsorship but also to advertise the event. Their sponsors are sending e-blasts to their own client lists, and displaying posters in their places of business. Members of the chapter have also attended different types of events related to sewing and fashion in the Vancouver area promoting their event. They also had a phone campaign calling every contact on their mailing list collected from the spring sewing expo. Carol Lees and Brenda Breitenmoser have been busy promoting their Facebook page and the exposure has been amazing. Some of their class registrations are looking very good and they look forward to filling the classes. If you haven’t already, ‘like’ their Facebook page and you’ll see all the great classes and instructors they having at their event.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/SewEd-Open-Conference-September-18-202015/901757139865518?fref=ts

    Brenda says – “It is an exciting and stressful time for us all. Looking forward to seeing everyone at this year’s conference.”

    In June, Wisconsin chapter members met at Linda McCoy's studio in Oostburg, about an hour north of Milwaukee along Lake Michigan. Members present were joined via Skype with another Wisconsin chapter member, Lynne Williams, from her studio in Rhinelander which is in far northern Wisconsin, about 3-1/2 to 4 hours north of Linda's studio. It was a great way to meet another chapter member! Members also worked on their muslins for the Sheath Challenge.

    In July, members met at Chris Kazmerzak's studio in Sun Prairie, near Madison. They discussed client relations, cancellation and refund policies. Several of the chapter members are planning to attend Conference!

    The Colorado chapter has been busy upgrading their technical knowledge. They are using cloud computing and a web cataloging tool called LibraryThing to make its growing list of library resources available to members online 24/7. LibraryThing is a web application that allows you to create a catalog or database of library resources including books, DVDs, magazines, articles, and journals. Once created, you can share this catalog with others, and track whom you lend your resources to. Moreover, by assigning specific keywords and phrases (tags) and populating the review, comments and descriptions fields for each resource, it becomes possible to perform very specific searches and for members to share their knowledge by recommending best practices.

    Accessing the Colorado Chapter catalog is fast and easy. All you need to do is type the catalog URL http://www.librarything.com/catalog/ASDP_Colorado/ allcollections in your Internet browser and click the enter key on your keyboard. A User Guide is available to demonstrate how to view, sort and search the library catalog. However, only members of the Colorado Chapter can borrow resources from their library.

    Currently, Colorado Chapter members are busy reviewing their library resources and identifying additional key words and phrases for each resource so searching can be more targeted, thus saving members valuable research time. In addition, the Chapter Board is considering how best to vet and recommend specific sewing techniques as a best practice, raising the efficiency and level of quality of the Chapter as a whole.

    The Colorado chapter has just uploaded a new website for their chapter. Check it out - http://colosewingpros.org/. This update includes better professional profiles for our juried members and a login area for all members to access chapter documents and resources (library). We will be using this tool to communicate with other seamstresses and potential new members.

    In other news, the Board will be rolling out a new program at conference this year – Chapter of the Year. Chapters will get points for all kinds of things they do and the Chapter with the most points wins! They will be awarded a trophy, bragging rights and perks given at the discretion of the Board.

    Our chapters are doing very fun and exciting things. If you live anywhere near a chapter, join it! You won’t regret it.

    Written by Debby Spence, VP of Chapter Relations



  • 09/01/2015 12:54 PM | Cisa Kubley

    Have you heard the buzz lately about the ‘Millennials?’ Many marketing experts have identified and labeled various generations for the purpose of understanding their characteristics and what motivates them to buy, act, work, etc. If you look at the demographics of our organization, you will most likely find that we are a ‘Baby Boomer’ and late ‘Gen Xer’ group. That means most of us were born between 1946 and 1970. Like every generation, we were shaped by the cultural norms of the time. We tend to have certain characteristics that cause us to respond in predictable ways. For a long time we ‘Baby Boomers’ have been the largest segment of the population and companies have catered to us. NO MORE! The Millennials are now the largest group and every brand and company is trying capture their loyalty!

    So who are the Millennials? They were born about 1982 to 2004. Today, they range in age from adolescence to early thirties. The older Millennials have been in the work place for several years. As a group, they are on track to be the most educated generation in American history.. They have gotten along with their parents more than any previous generation. This generation tends to be ‘friends’ with their parents. Often Baby Boomers and Gen Xers will label Millennials as ‘entitled’ or ‘disrespectful’. If we think about it, these perceptions are not surprising, but there is another way to look at it. Millennials have grown up with abundance and choice. As a result,when they are given a task, they expect the right tools to be available to them. They resent having to ‘make do’ because there is a sense that ‘making do’ is setting them up for failure. Also, because they have been ‘friends’ with their parents, they don’t have a sensitivity to hierarchy. Whether it is a parent, boss, or the CEO a Millennial is likely to see him or herself as on equal footing.

    This is a sampling of what I have learned lately. My resources are Rob Charleton of Charleton Marketing (a Portland, OR company), KRM Information Services and the e-book “When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business” by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant (I highly recommend the book!). I’ll be sharing more of this information in future newsletters. In the meantime, what is my one big take-away? I need to watch my language! (and I’m not talking about the occasional swear word.) Some words that I use to describe people really do not describe them at all. Rather they betray my cultural norms and upbringing, for good or ill.

    What does this have to do with ASDP? As we grow our membership and target the next generation of sewing and design professionals, let us be intentional and choose to ‘use our words’ for the benefit, support and encouragement of all! In the words of Stephen Covey and his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” let us “seek first to understand”.

    Written by Debra Utberg, President


  • 08/03/2015 6:52 PM | Cisa Kubley

    You are used to hearing the words altering or re-styling associated with new bridal gowns, but for the past 9 months another word has surfaced in my work, the word “salvage.” In the fall of 2013 I started working as a volunteer with my local YWCA to open what is now called “The Bristol Bridal Station” in an un-used section of their building. The concept was and still is to contact upscale bridal designers and salons across the country (those that carry gowns in the $3,000 and up range) asking them to donate their sample and older year gowns to us rather than marking them down to sell. It is a win-win situation, as the donor gets a tax write-off and the Bridal Station gets the gown. At present we sell the gowns at about 25% of the retail value.

    Stains on the gown

    The majority of the gowns arrive in pristine condition, but others arrive with stains, dirt, perspiration/ deodorant, or makeup. If the gown is made of polyester we are in luck as all of those are simply washed in the washing machine, let air dry, and then steamed. Stain problems are harder to deal with if the gown is made of silk, as are many in the price range we receive. Deodorant is especially hard on these gowns and many have deteriorated in the underarm area to such an extent that they simply cannot be worn or sold in that condition.

    Missing buttons and loops

    This shows how some of the gowns come in with buttons and loops unusable.  In this case, new loops and buttons are made or are simply removed and a zipper inserted.  I keep new buttons in stock to replace old buttons, but I never discard a usable button. Many companies use the same buttons on all their gowns and I can usually match buttons from ones I’ve saved. In this situation a little ingenuity comes in handy.

    Vera Wang gown

    In the case of the Vera Wang gown shown, the silk under the arm had rotted (see red arrow pointing to the replacement on previous image. I loosened the ribbon and removed the rotted silk organza at the underarm and at the bodice top edge. I then cut a new underarm piece using the removed organza as a pattern I sewed it in place at the top edge of the bodice, tucked the edge under the petersham and topstitched the ribbon in place. By doing this I salvaged what would have been an unsaleable gown with an original retail price of over $8000.

    So far all the silk gowns have come in either ivory or natural. I’ve kept scraps of silk for years and also keep in stock bolts of silk organza so matching colors has not been a problem. One gown came in with huge rotted holes in the plain A-line skirt. To my surprise, the under layer was very ornate and was supposed to ‘shadow’ through the silk organza. I simply removed the torn layer and salvaged the gown.

    Several gowns from designers such as Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang and Oscar de la Renta have come to us with retail values of over $13,000. I simply cannot allow a gown with a value that high to be discarded because of torn or rotted fabric. In the photo below is an example. The gown is a Monique Lhuillier that had severe rotting and discoloring, not only at the underarm but throughout the entire bodice.

    You will notice the gown has one puffy layer at the top of the skirt. It originally had two puffy layers. I removed one layer and used the fabric to make a new bodice. The bodice is exactly like the original. In this case the fabric was so unusual that if the gown was to be salvaged, the fabric had to come from somewhere on the gown.

    This gown is one of the very few silk gowns I’ve actually washed, as it was very yellowed. In this instance, I used Ivory laundry detergent and some Oxyclean in the bathtub, gently agitating by hand. Then I rinsed it until the water was clear and hung it to dry. It was a huge risk, but in this case the gown was unsaleable the way it was.

    Monique Lhuillier gown

    Now we have a real showcase gown. Some gowns simply cannot be salvaged.  We mark them as unsaleable in our inventory and I remove any item from them such as zippers, boning, lace, and embellishments that can be used to repair other garments.  One lovely lace gown came in with the lace on one side perfect and the other side so rotted it fell apart in my hand. I salvaged all the stable lace.

    I have found my volunteer work with this project to have been a great learning experience.  I have stretched my imagination and skills to be able to salvage many of the gowns.  To discard a gown that can, with a bit of ingenuity, be salvaged seems such a waste.  All the funds raised by the Bridal Station go to help the YWCA with its many projects, mainly a top-ranked daycare center which is the only one in our region to offer sliding scale care.  We also have a wonderful project to help at-risk teenage girls.  So I see where all our efforts go.   The Bristol Bridal Station is always looking for new shops to partner with, so if you know of any, please pass the word along to me. Please visit us on Facebook

    Written by Linda Stewart



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