My love for sewing and design started when I was in junior high and I started my own business. I went on to earn degrees in Fashion Design from Purdue University and The Fashion Institute of Technology. I've worked with knitwear designers, specialized in lingerie at FIT and have extensive experience in bridal and formal wear. I got more training and added home décor to my business, but my true joy is working with apparel and teaching. While getting my masters at Miami University in Education, I was the Textiles and Clothing Construction Teaching Assistant. I fell in love with teaching and have since had hundreds of students of all ages in schools, stores, 4-H and home settings. I have a special passion for modifying and designing clothing for individuals who don't fit in ready to wear clothing, especially those with disabilities, which started with my own daughter. I volunteer many hours with all sorts of groups using my sewing knowledge from 4H to Cinderella's Closet altering formal wear for young ladies needing some assistance.
What professional title do you use?
Seamstress, Designer and Teacher. Because I also emphasize teaching it's important to included that title.
How long have you been sewing professionally?
What is your favorite task to do in your business?
Design or modify apparel for those with health issues or disabilities that don't allow them to fit into off the rack apparel. I have a daughter who is very medically fragile and I had to sew or modify most of her clothing from birth. I also love working with knits and formal wear and teaching others about textiles and sewing skills.
What goals do you have for your business (or yourself professionally) in the next 5 years?
I'd like to get a grant or somehow get funding to allow me to work with people who need their wardrobe modified due to medical issues or disabilities. That population is often also low income so grants or financial assistance will be needed. I took a significant amount of time off sewing to teach HS full time and am just now coming back into making sewing/design my primary business. I also want to figure out how to make sewing as a business profitable and a living wage. I want to refine my target market and products. I also want to completely renovate my workspace and make it organized and efficient and a space I want to be in to work.
I have volunteered thousands of hours for so many charities sewing everything from full sized dinosaur Halloween costumes (dressing the dinosaurs), to making thousands of masks to altering formalwear for charities to making huge quilts with the children in a congenital heart defect camp. My passion is sewing things that cannot be purchased ready to wear. Making people feel confident and comfortable in their clothing. Preserving textile related memories and teaching others the arts of textiles and sewing.
What else should we know about you or your business?
I want to find grants to help me work with those with special needs for modified apparel.
Facebook ~ Melissa Klaassen, Seamstress, Designer and Teacher
YouTube ~ Melissa Klaassen