Dear ASDP Board
The Wisconsin chapter hosted their annual Professional Development Retreat January 22-25 near Whitewater, WI. Major kudos to Sue Tenney, for masterfully out-maneuvering the ice dams along the Rock River (which forced a cancellation at the original location) by securing new venue, Kettle Moraine Retreat, just a few days before the retreat! The two ‘rules’ for this annual event: no client sewing and have fun! Projects included sewing gifts for family members, brushing up on various skills, muslins, and various garments for personal use. And food…there was lot of food, too ;)
In January, the Heartland chapter enjoyed a wonderful weekend in Nashville, IN during their first annual chapter retreat. Many garments were sewn, much food was eaten, and many wonderful memories were made. In February, the chapter enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at artist Sylvia Gray’s studio in Westfield, IN learning the art of Shibori Dyeing. Each member was able to dye yardage of silk to take home. It was extremely educational and the take-away will be very beneficial to our businesses. Coming up, the Heartland chapter will be hosting a bias class by author and teacher, Julianne Bramson. It will be July 14-15, 2016 in the Indianapolis area. While it is open first to chapter members, the remaining spots will be made available to ASDP members in March. Please contact Joyce Hittesdorf if you are interested.
We met at Do Space in Omaha NE. This is a new community technology library with digital workshops. This just opened in November and the only facility of its kind in the US. This facility is funded by private donations thru a nonprofit organization and use of everything and all classes at Do Space are free. We are especially excited that Do Space has 3D printers, a 3D scanner, a laser cutter and large format printer. Our heads were just spinning thinking about things to do with the 3D printer and laser cutter. The only cost for any of this is the cost of supplies. Many of the computer classes and workshops they offer will be great chapter programs. I know, this sounds unbelievable, but this place is amazing. It has over 200 computers for use by the public. Their website is dospace.org if you are interested is checking it our.
The Colorado chapter welcomed a New President and a new member at large to our board. January, Clara Dittli showed the members how to measure a body for a skirt and then how to draft out are own personal pattern. February we explored the Denver Art Museum. We also headed for the Mountains for our 14th Annual Sewing retreat. In March, Dot Treece, will demonstrate how she repairs fur coats. April meeting Carol Kimball will be introducing the members to the art of fashion sketching. Also in April Clara Dittli will be leading our Spring workshop, The Couture Skirt.
Our January meeting began with our semi-annual election of Chapter officers, and thankful recognition of out-going officers. Here is our new slate of officers: Robin Bolton, President; Michelle Davis and Elizabeth Miles, Co-First VP for General Meetings; Suzanne Olson and Jennifer Phillips, Co-Second VP for Website/Communication; Tania Naef, Secretary; Judi McKamey, Treasurer; Krysti Emerson and Marsha McClintock, Co-Membership Chairs; Tricia Crockett, Education Chair. Tricia would love to share the Education Chair job; any volunteers? The educational content of our meeting focused on setting goals and refining vision. It was offered by Brandon Cordell, a chapter student member currently working on his MBA in entrepreneurship at the University of Oregon. Here are a few practical comments he made about goals, based on his studies and his military experience:
The chapter started the year off with our annual holiday gathering in January – held post holidays to avoid conflicting with other festivities. Donna Fortier and Janee Connor hosted a tea at Janee's home – complete with cream scones, clotted cream, lemon curd, and raspberry jam among many other yummy goodies; with a vast variety of teas served in Donna's collection of china teacups. 12 chapter members enjoyed the afternoon, touring Janee's studio and looking at her current projects, and swapping fabric gifts from our stashes. The discussion was casual but really lively, with the topic of how we set our pricing rate front and center. This set the stage for February's meeting, a program on Alterations Pricing presented by Janee Connor. Held at the Charleton Sewing Center and open to non-members as well, the presentation included a review of the $NAP Tool for Alterations Pricing from JSM Tailoring tools, along with an overview of methods for estimating pricing for custom garments. The chapter's April meeting will feature Gail Yellen in her only Boston area appearance this Spring. The program entitled "It's all about embellishment... I know how to do it, but where do I put it?", will take place on Sunday, April 24th and is open to all ASDP members and the public. Attendees will learn some of the techniques Gail uses on her amazing garments, come away with suggestions for beautiful designs, and be more confident in deciding what will or won't work on a garment. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for registration information.
A. MADDEN TAILORING, BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Where is your business located? Do you work out of a home studio or do you have a brick and mortar location?
My business is located in Gowanus area of Brooklyn, NY. The neighborhood used to be pretty industrial, but right now it is one of the most up and coming areas in NYC. I have two shop spaces on the same street (about two doors apart). In one space we do the majority of the work. In the other, we receive customers, but I also have a fully functional sewing room there as well. One block away there is a bridal salon and across the street from that another bridal designer has just opened up. We also have a wedding cake designer and florist right here so we are working on building a new "Bridal District".
What kind of work do you specialize in?
I specialize in bridal alterations, but we offer all types of alterations as well as custom monogramming and embroidery.
Tell me a little about your favorite part of your sewing space.
Right now my space is still fairly new so it's a work in progress. It is extremely functional and I have plenty of space, but I am looking forward to having it completed. We are adding new lighting soon as possible and a few space savers and details. I have a local artist adding an art installation in the front of the shop in the next few weeks and we are really excited about that. I also have a number of posters and pictures that inspire me that I am waiting to get hung up. I have a Cyndi Lauper poster from when I was a teenager, a Tank Girl Poster, a Pretty in Pink poster, a picture of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, one of Amy Poehler with a quote from her, and a poster of the Ms. magazine Wonder Woman cover from a while back. Most importantly, I have photos of my great aunt, great grandmother and grandmother when you first walk into the shop. They are such a part of this shop for me. I light a candle and greet them every morning.
Do you work alone or do you share the space with others?
Right now, I have a great assistant (Stephanie) who handles appointments, phone calls, emails, errands, and greeting clients. She is a god-send because I am the only tailor. I have tried hiring someone to help with the sewing, but have yet to find a qualified candidate.
How did you develop your layout?
Trial and error!!! Still trying out new things and then trying something different. We have a lot of space but we also have a lot of equipment and a LOT of wedding dresses. Maybe we'll find the magic combo or maybe I'll keep rearranging forever!
What's the first thing that clients notice about your space?
The one thing clients always first comment on when they come into our shop is how peaceful it is. I worked hard to make sure that a strong sense of calm comes over anyone who comes in and so far it has worked great! People love being in my shop. It makes them feel relaxed, gives them a time out from the insanity of wedding planning, and instills a sense of confidence that they have made the right choice for their alterations. I find that clients will sometimes hang around a bit after their appointment just to enjoy a peaceful moment in the wedding planning process. I have also noticed that my brides are starting to chat with each other while waiting and it's becoming a social place, which is what I wanted. I keep saying that I am going to pitch a class in creating a sense of calm in brides (and their families) for conference one year, but I have yet to get a proposal in.
What makes your sewing space unique?
Honestly, my first response to that is this: It's mine, and I am unique! But that is probably not what you are looking for. I guess the first time I ever thought about owning a shop was when I saw "The Color Purple". When Celie is in her own tiny shop, "Folkspants", I loved it. In the movie, it represented an independence and freedom that she had never known before. She was happy and at peace and her own woman. That little shop was one of my first inspirations. I also loved the early 20th century idea of people having a true neighborhood tailor and that was something I wanted to bring back. The front of the shop has an easy chair and a love seat and encourages people to make themselves comfortable, have a cup of tea, and stay for a while.
Joyce Simons Murphy tells us about her latest adventure – building a school!
What is SCCandA? SCCandA is a virtual school (offering online classes only) that will eventually have a complete curriculum for tailoring stylists (dressmakers and tailors who co-design with their clients) to take courses in all aspects of tailoring, altering, designing, and running a business. To view the school, go to www.sccanda.com and enroll in the two sample courses for free!
One course is on using the JSM pricing system Joyce calls SNAP Tools 2015. The other course is from guest instructor Brenda Breitenmoser on covering a hair comb to attach a bridal veil. Both courses use still images and narration to present the materials in a pre-recorded video clip format Joyce calls a "smarticle". The smarticle is the main content piece of each lesson within the course. Other content options including worksheets and printable pdf files will be added to some courses along with a discussion group and homework review options. The video clips are prerecorded and fully-captioned so they can be reviewed and studied at any time.
Addressing a need. Joyce saw the need for better schooling for tailoring stylists soon after graduating from what is now the School of Apparel Design and Development in Seattle in 1983. She was fortunate to have this schooling available to her for skills such as tailoring, dressmaking, design, and alterations. She was in the right place at the right time. Shortly thereafter the program gradually changed from a custom program to train tailors and dressmakers to a program with more emphasis on training designers to work in the ready-to-wear industry.
Joyce says, “Before attending school, I thought I had learned it all from my mother who made most of my clothes (until I took over) and my aunt, the home economics teacher at the local high school. The program proved me wrong. I had much to learn about menswear alterations and pattern making; information not available to me outside of class. I found there were time-honored procedures that were taught in class but not written in books – for example, techniques that tailors traditionally passed on from father to son.” These techniques will become part of the curriculum at SCCandA.
Meeting this need with education to call our own. There are many wonderful classes and workshops in tailoring, dressmaking and design providing great educational opportunities. However, they are generally geared to the sewing community at large and most do not address the business needs of the professional, nor do they include practice on numerous body shapes or the gamut of personal style considerations that tailoring stylists are expected to know. This is the niche Joyce is planning to fill by building SCCandA. ASDP conference courses are excellent, but the structure does not allow for a set curriculum that covers all the bases and is accessible to students when the students need them. This is the role of a school.
ASDP friends are already playing a role in SCCandA’s development. Joyce appreciates the involvement and freely admits, “I cannot do this alone!” She needs your help. You can read "It Takes a Team to Build a School," a recent post to Joyce's Tailoring YOUR Style blog on the JSM Tailoring Tools website. Go to http://www.jsmtailoringtools. com/it-takes-a-team-to-build-a-school/ to read the post and view the video clips. (Patty’s enthusiastic response to Brenda’s comb covering technique is worth a listen!) The post tells the story of a fun get together in Bellingham, Washington that Brenda
Breitenmoser, Patty Robison, Linda Macke and Joyce Murphy cooked up at the conference last fall in Minneapolis. Brenda moves into the teacher’s role. Patty, Linda and Joyce become Brenda’s students as they experiment with Joyce’s method for bringing an online tailoring lesson to life with pictures, screen-casting and narration all pulled together on the computer and recorded for future development.
Joyce is looking forward to SCCandA progress in 2016. Joyce has been working on SCCandA as time allows inbetween caring for grandchildren (her other passion in life) with plans to return to business full-time mid-March. The new pole barn studio anxiously awaits!
Early spring in northern Michigan is an excellent time for new beginnings as the ground starts to thaw and new sprouts emerge. Look for new courses to appear on the SCCandA website by late spring / early summer now that the groundwork is laid. Joyce has promised to keep her ASDP friends abreast of SCCandA developments as they occur. She sincerely appreciates your kind words and moral support!
I was recently planning to visit the small community of Winchester in northwestern Virginia, and a few garment-sewing enthusiasts mentioned that I shouldn’t miss the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley where there was a clothing exhibit. Winchester is a charming old town, and I love its historic nature, including red brick buildings and uneven sidewalks. While charming, it’s a sleepy kind of town, and when I heard about this clothing exhibit, I didn’t have particularly high expectations.
When I walked up the staircase of this beautifully situated museum, I was greeted not only by a docent who was eager to tell me a few things about what I was about to see, but also by a gorgeous dress worn by Angelica Huston in EVER AFTER. The elaborateness and attention to detail in the sleeves really captured my attention!
The clothing exhibit turned out to be “CUT! Costume and the Cinema,” a collection of about forty garments from the illustrious British costumer Cosprop, Ltd. If you’ve ever seen a period piece movie, it’s pretty much a certainty that you’ve seen garments from the Cosprop archives or made by Cosprop for that particular movie.
Historically accurate (although occasionally with some changes for the actors’ comfort), and sometimes using fabrics from the time period being depicted in the movie, these garments are astoundingly beautiful on many different levels. To say they were inspiring to me is an understatement. I was awed by the workmanship, and my head was swirling with ideas by the time I left.
Seeing a stunning exhibition like this always stirs my imagination. Even though I was working on garments of a completely different nature, I couldn’t wait to get home and sew. It’s simply inspiring to see what can be done with cloth.
If you have a chance to see this traveling exhibit, by all means make an effort to do so. It will be at the Heritage Museum & Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts next.
Do you have a favorite shopping area? Please consider writing it up for us.
Montreal isn’t just a city of great international restaurants and chic boutiques. Montreal hosts a fabric district to rival New York’s – and the prices are much better. Many of the vendors will first address you in French, but almost all are fluent in English as well. No one will tell you “they don’t make that any more” in order to get you to buy something else. If they know someone else has what you’re looking for, they’ll tell you which store to try next. If you’re making small purchases vendors will appreciate it if you offer Canadian cash. There are ATM machines in the Jean Toulon market and in the pizzeria on Rue St-Hubert. Stores will sometimes accept American cash, but they might offer you a one-for-one trade. Fabric is measured in metres (39.37”) rather than yards (36”), so there’s a built-in bonus. Most of the stores are talking about getting websites, but don’t have them yet.
The majority of the stores are along Rue St-Hubert. You can start at the farmer’s market for lunch and work your way up Rue St-Hubert from the lower end shops that carry odd lots and polyesters, ending on the far end at the couture fabric stores, or you can start at the couture end and work your way back. For fabrics, my favorite shops are Textile Couture Elle and Tissus St Hubert.
Tissus St Hubert, 7399 Rue St-Hubert, is owned by Joseph, who makes trips to Italy to source fabrics. He has luscious Italian wools, boucles, silks (especially 60” wide Italian prints), and suitings. I bought an exquisite new boucle for $70 a metre Canadian – that’s $52.50 a metre American. I’ve also bought doublefaced wool and a wool/cashmere mix at Tissus St Hubert. I think the wool/cashmere was $40.00 a metre, which equals $30.00 American. Kitty Daly purchased a 4-ply off-white viscose for a wedding gown, $40 Canadian a metre, exquisite quality. Take time to talk to Joseph and his helper, Omar. They both have a great sense of color and an intimate knowledge of their vast stock. They have 2 warehouses across the street and if you describe what you’re looking for they will happily bring it from one of the warehouses.
Kitty’s note: I dare you to get out of there empty handed! Omar told us about Daou, a Lebanese restaurant around the corner and a great place for a leisurely break. Tissus St Hubert will have a website (it’s not running yet) at www.Gamma-Textiles.com.
Textiles Couture Elle, 7361 Rue St-Hubert, is run by Jean and his family. Jean is Omar’s uncle and he and Joseph go on buying trips abroad together. Couture Elle also has boucles, Italian wools, silk tulle, 4-ply silk crepe in a variety of colors, evening wear fabrics, and designer fabrics. Jean carries a nice range of high quality laces. His prices for lace were close to what I pay for wholesale, with the advantage of being able to buy less than 4 yards of a pattern.
On one trip I bought three laces and accidentally left the bag at a trim store. I called the trim store and the owner said she had my bag. I called Jean and he immediately offered to go get the bag and to mail it to me – at no extra charge.
There’s very little overlap between Couture Elle and Tissus St-Hubert. They shop together and divide up the fabrics between them. I was introduced to Couture Elle by Kitty Daly and she recognized boucles she had seen at Michael’s and in New York. Jean is their source and he, as the source, charges much less.
C&M Textiles, 7500 Rue St-Hubert, carries a wide range of fabrics, notions, and patterns. There is a large showroom of home-dec fabrics and a bargain basement. They have rayon Bemberg lining in a wide range of colors, but at full cost. Many of their fabrics are synthetic blends. They also have the best rest rooms in the fabric district, and maybe in North America.
Riatex, 7360 Rue St-Hubert, has fabrics arranged in aisles by price. Most are between $2.99 and $9.99. Remember that these prices are in Canadian dollars. Most of the fabrics at Riatex are stretch fabrics or polyester. They also have some home-dec fabrics. They have a nice weight of stretch satin in many shades of white, 60” wide, for $7.99 a yard.
Goodman Carlyle 7282 Rue St-Hubert is a large dark store with odd bolts from jobbers, the middlemen who buy overruns from manufacturers and sell to retail shops. You can find treasures here if you take the time to look. Silk and wool are at one end, home-dec at the other. Everything imaginable is in between the two.
BUTTONS, TRIM, NOTIONS
Rix Rax, 801 Rue Gilford at the corner of Rue StHubert, is a button store to die for – cabinets made for blueprints are full of boxes of buttons, buttons are in cases, on the walls, on rotating stands, on cards. I found the perfect vintage button for a client’s coat. The store is open from 11 until 6 most days. Don’t get there until at least 11:15. 11:30 would be even better. It’s a small shop that rarely opens on time and the owner gets rattled when a disgruntled crowd descends on her at opening time. Allow time to browse and be patient as you wait your turn at the antiquated cash register. I recommend paying with cash to save time. I also recommend a GPS to get there as there’s construction in the neighborhood. When the construction is completed, you’ll be able to drive from there straight up St-Hubert to the fabric stores.
Rubans Boutons, 7363 Rue St-Hubert, is a tiny store run by Richard Letendre, a theatre buff and button collector. His stock is much smaller than Rix Rax’s, but his location is more convenient. He has a nice selection of buttons, both new and vintage, and has a chest of ribbons.
Trimcite 7381 Rue St-Hubert, has ribbons, trims, and all kinds of elastic by the yard. It’s a great place to look for trim for your Chanel jacket.
Kava, 7609 Rue St-Hubert, has industrial supplies, invisible zippers, and large cones of thread for $2.50, machine needles, bra hooks, elastic, sewing machine parts, Velcro, and irons.
Add to this mix dozens of smaller fabric stores, button shops, and even a sewing machine shop with a treasure trove of used machines and you have the making of a fabulous few days in Montreal.
Jean Toulon Farmer’s Market: the second most important reason to travel to Montreal! Glorious fruits and vegetables all year long, beautifully displayed and at bargain prices, as well as meat markets with
handmade sausages, pates, and exotic meats and fowl hard to find in the States. The downside is you have to eat any uncooked items there, as they don’t permit bringing them across the border. However, there are several eateries, making it an excellent lunch stop, and a few bakeries where we buy treats for our husbands to keep them from getting jealous of our trips.
Montreal is a four-hour drive for me. Kitty Daly and I go and make a long day of it. Ideally you’d spend a few days, allowing you to see all the fabric stores and to eat a few meals – Brazilian, Ethiopian, Chinese, Indian, Turkish, and Lebanese Montreal is a multi-facetted city. Allow time for the Botanical Gardens and take the family to the Biodome!
There are also several small lot wholesalers who exhibit at the Fabric Expo in New York. Many are in a large building at 5445 Rue De Gaspe. We plan to check it out on a future trip – so much to see
Written by Rachel Kurland and Kitty Daly
The ASDP Charitable Foundation was proudly launched at the Annual Educational Conference in October. The Foundation’s Board has adopted Vision and Mission Statements that we hope will inspire ASDP members:
We envision a world where the sewing and design industry is made up of well trained, highly skilled and fairly compensated professionals whose unique skills, expertise, and workmanship are respected and valued.
Our mission is to support students pursuing education in sewing and design, educators teaching the next generation of sewing and design professionals, and to the extent permitted by IRS interpretations of charitable purpose, small manufacturers and other sewing and design entrepreneurs.
The Foundation’s status as a 501(c)3 charitable organization means that donations to the Foundation are tax deductible to the extent provided by law. We are grateful for the generous pro bono work of John Colombo and the extraordinary efforts of several ASDP members who worked together to obtain the Foundation’s 501(c)3 status.
The Foundation’s goals were presented at several conference events. Giving cards were distributed at conference, and Threads Magazine contributed a sewing machine that was raffled off. Over $1,000 was raised during the conference toward our lofty goals.
The Foundation’s initial funding came from approximately $3,000 that remained in the original PACC Scholarship Fund. We hope to raise enough principal, ideally $100,000, so that the Foundation can distribute at least $6,000 in interest-based grants per year to deserving students and projects. As we work to raise the principal, seeking donations from ASDP members as well as industry leaders, we will begin developing application forms and establishing guidelines for the Foundation’s distributions. Keep an eye on this newsletter for updates.
We encourage you to include the ASDP Charitable Foundation in your end-of-year giving. You may copy the form below and mail it with your check or donate online by visiting the ASDP website and clicking on the button labeled ASDP Charitable Foundation. Your contribution will be acknowledged with a letter of thanks as we work toward building a better tomorrow for all who consider the sewing and design fields their calling.
If you would be interested in working as a volunteer with the Foundation as it moves forward or would like giving cards to distribute to friends, colleagues, clients, or other foundations you think would be interested in contributing, please contact Rae Cumbie
ASDP Foundation Board of Directors: Rae Cumbie, President Tina Colombo, Treasurer Janet Blood, Secretary Robin Bolton Teresa Kipper Richanne Nicolai, Resident Agent for the State of IL Debra Utberg, ASDP President representing the ASDP Board
Written by Rae Cumbie
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
“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
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 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
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
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