Dear ASDP Board
Today we get a chance to talk with Helen Haughey. Helen has taught at multiple conferences, served as a VP of Conference Planning, and has served as our Threads Challenge Coordinator since 2018. If you have questions about the upcoming Threads Selvage/Salvage Challenge, she’s your gal!
Helen, tell us about your business.
I opened Helen Haughey Designs in 2006, which I operate now in Celebration, Florida. I am an author and educator and I offer custom sewing services.
How did you decide what your business niche would be?
I have been sewing professionally for the last 10-15 years and I saw a need for custom sewing of high quality and excellent fit.
What makes your business unique?
Since moving to Florida I have been developing more independent classes and my uniqueness in this area is an innate ability to teach and encourage my students. I have also been enjoying doing a number of private lessons. It is important to bring to this all the skills I have acquired over the years, not just the techniques required to create a well-fitting and pleasing garment. Things like the best colors for any particular pupil or balance to the rest of the body through the use of a particular neckline.
What is something that you have always wanted to learn?
A professionally finished hand worked buttonhole and I am still working on this!
What is your favorite task to do in your business?
Complete a project, especially one in which I have struggled to develop/tweak the design.
What is the worst thing about being in business?
Keeping up with the bookkeeping.
How did you develop the layout of your workspace?
Many years of tweaking my work space. I am about to build out a new space so I have been reflecting on what are the essentials in my workspace that encourage my best work, apart from the obvious of good tools and good lighting. In the same way a good layout in your kitchen facilitates efficiency and hopefully great meals, so in the designers workspace a great layout does not detract from the flow of the creative juices!
What is your favorite part about being an ASDP member?
The friendships I have made over the years and the stimulation of sharing new ideas and techniques.
What goals do you have for your business (or yourself professionally) in the next 5 years?
I hope to return to in person classes and private lessons as soon as possible and plan to lead a fashion, food and fabric tour to Italy as soon as this is safe.
I would like to achieve a better balance of work and grandmother duties and to gracefully achieve retirement in about 4 years time.
If you could learn from any sewlebrity (dead or alive) and time and money were no object, who would it be and what would you learn?
Ralph Rucci: I would like to to learn from him two things in particular:
1. Construction of an Infanta (ball) gown
2. Finishing with unusual seam construction and embellishment
What are your favorite resources and/or authors from whom you have learned the most?
Susan Khalje introduced me to the world of couture sewing and it was eye opening in terms of bringing my enjoyment of mathematics, desire for control and excellence into alignment.
Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga.
What is the craziest request you have ever had from a client?
To make a Santa Claus suit. I am quite capable of doing this but have no interest whatsoever in making costumes (especially for adults).
What else should we know about you or your business?
I have recently learned ironwork.
This last February I team taught with Mary Funt (new member) the first French Jacket class in Florida and we have had many requests to repeat this class and will schedule more classes as soon as it is safe to do so.
I have been offering a new product in my Etsy store which I call a shoulder ham (reviewed by Threads issue #209, along with the sleeve board I have for sale (also reviewed by Threads issue #206). The sale of these products have sustained my business in this very strange year.
More about Helen and her business on her website HelenHaugheyDesigns.com.
Follow Helen on Facebook and IG @HelenHaugheyDesigns
You can find Helen's products in her Etsy store.
Today we get the opportunity to talk with Barbie McCormick who recently received “Most Innovative Construction” in the 2020 Threads Elements Challenge (Threads issue #213) for her dress Smoking Hot Pink.
Barbie, tell me about your sewing business, or should I say businesses?
I’m the owner of Sew Good, which I opened in 1994 where I do all aspects- design, patterning, construction, fitting in Nampa, Idaho. And I am co-owner of Love Couture Sewing, which was started with Linda Homan in 2019. Love Couture Sewing offers specialty and couture sewing workshops in different locations including Palm Springs, CA.
What kind of business do you do, and what makes your business unique?
I have been sewing full-time for 20+ years working in all aspects of sewing-design, patterning, construction, fitting. At Sew Good, I offer Bridal, Custom Sewing, Education, Formalwear Alterations, Pattern Making, and also Technical Editing and development of prototypes.
I feel that word-of-mouth led me to specialty sewing and couture workshops with Love Couture Sewing. Linda and I have also developed personalized couture lessons available through Zoom while everyone is dealing with Covid related restrictions.
What kind of sewing education/training do you have?
Similar to many others I have gained skills through self learning and reading books, received on the job training, and pursued classes and conferences. I have also made the investment in my business to complete the MSDP certification program, to demonstrate Master Level techniques in the areas of Business Practices, Fabric Knowledge, Fashion Illustration, Fashion Design, Fitting, Pattern Development, and Garment Construction.
I really like whatever I'm working on- when I'm applying lace to a bodice, I think "Wow! I LOVE sewing lace!", then, when I'm doing hand tailoring on a Harris Tweed coat front, I think "Wow! I LOVE tailoring!", and when I'm doing patternwork, I think "Wow! I LOVE patternwork!"
What is something you absolutely hate about what you do? or What is the worst thing about being in business?
I don't think I absolutely HATE anything, but I dislike mending, customers who ask me to do something that I JUST told them is not possible, and that email that asks "How much will it cost to alter my dress?" with NO details.
In my original area, I started with my main table facing the window, so I could see outside, then filled in everything else as it would fit.
16 years ago I added on to my workspace and put in a separate entrance, a fitting space, a library with sofa, and a drafting/cutting table. When I added that space, I started with the floor plan and drew in what I wanted where. I took the time to figure out how many shelves would fit, how to situate the library in the corner, etc.
What is the first thing clients notice about your space?
My extensive fabric stash. The "walls" of the fitting area are shelves full of fabric, and that is one of my favorite things-to be able to shop at home, from a selection of fabric that I've ALREADY picked out because I love it!
Networking and Education. Getting to meet and learn from Susan Khalje, Claire Shaeffer, Bobbie Carr, Kenneth King, both at conferences, and in subsequent workshops.
When I first started, I used the Singer Sewing Reference library, which I still think is very good for most levels. Susan Khalje's Bridal Couture was the first book to open my eyes to a new way. Claire Shaeffer- I use a lot of her books, but probably Fabric Sewing Guide most of all. But I would say Claire's collection of Haute Couture garments has probably been the most educational- being able to see inside, look and feel, and do some patterning from them, has increased my couture knowledge by leaps and bounds.
I don't know that I've had crazy. Lots of unusual things, like tactical belts, stripper thongs, covered wagon tarps, that sort of thing.
What project is your absolute proudest moment?
I have 2- I made my older daughter's wedding gown from many, many yards of lavender silk chiffon- she got married this year, just everything was getting shut down. And I made a dress that walked down the Red Carpet for the Oscars! For Heather Rae, up for best new producer, she's photographed with Melissa Leo, who was her lead, up for Best Actress 2009.
Well, once the airports and states open back up, Love Couture Sewing will be looking at more and different workshops.
Barbie McCormick can be found online at www.BarbieMcCormick.com and www.LoveCoutureSewing.com and as sewgood_barbie on Instagram.
I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Stephanie at an ASDP-Oregon Chapter seminar recently. After months of limited contact with the outside world, attending this seminar made two things clear to me. One, being in a group of people feels strange-are we sitting far enough apart and what will they think if I sneeze? Two, being with my ASDP friends always makes me feel connected to a tribe.
I encourage you all to get connected with other ASDP members, even if you never get to meet in person, we are here to support you and welcome you into the tribe!
Stephanie, tell us about your business?
I opened Love, Stephanie in 2010 and am located in Lake Oswego, Oregon. I offer custom sewing services including Bridal and Costuming, as well as general and formalwear alterations.
By doing research and finding out what people in my community are looking for in a seamstress whether that be custom work, alterations, image consulting, and also where my personal sewing interest and skill could take me.
I love fashion and beautiful, creative things and want to share that with others to help make them feel beautiful and look their best.
I’ve gained my skills in a variety of ways. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design with a minor in Art History from the University of Rhode Island. While I was at URI, I had the opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad at London College of Fashion. I also completed the Fashion Forward program at Portland Fashion Institute.
I always strive to be learning and developing myself. I take advantage of ways to continue to teach myself through reading books and blogs, watching online tutorials and connecting with other sewing professionals.
If you could learn from a sewlebrity (dead or alive) and time and money were no object, who would it be and what would you learn?
Susan Khalje, to learn bridal and couture sewing techniques from her. Also, Christian Siriano to learn how to listen and learn from others and take your skill to the top of your game. Ann Lowe, the black designer who made Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding gown, to learn how she dealt with the immense racism and discrimination while designing beautiful gowns for wealthy and famous white women in the 1940's, 50's and 60's.
Planning out the next project, sketching, fabric shopping and seeing it all start to come together into a lovely finished project.
What is something you absolutely hate about what you do?
I don't hate any of it, however I don't usually like the cutting out of a new pattern. It takes a lot of time and attention, and I just want to get to the sewing. Also, I do not like bookkeeping, I definitely lack in that department.
I developed the work areas by what made sense in how I move around; the machines and tools I need easy access to, what storage space is available. Also, how it looks when a client comes over for a consultation or fitting. I want my clients to feel welcome, comfortable and special there, see the garments that I have made, and have confidence in my work. I like to have the room clean and neat while having examples of my work on display whenever a client comes over, so my dress forms and mannequins are a part of the space as well. I want it to be an inspirational and creative space that is functional too.
What goals do you have for your business in the next 5 years?
To have regular clients, to have a steady flow of customers, to design a small collection and sell it, to level-up my client projects and do custom work with fine fabrics and trims, have a separate studio or shop outside of my home.
Having a blouse that I made featured in Threads magazine (issue #174 September 2014), and making my wedding gown.
All of the members, the shared skills, knowledge and experience, and belonging to a community who shares my interests.
You can visit Stephanie's website at lovestephanieapparel.com or read her blog at odetosew.com.
Follow Stephanie on Facebook LoveStephanieMendes and Instagram love.stephanie
Today we talk with Madeline Stage, owner of Goheen LLC, about her business, workspace and makes.
Madeline, tell us about your sewing/design business.
I am a Sewing Pattern Designer and my business Goheen LLC sells patterns, DIY kits, accessories and home decor.
I have a focus on intentional and sustainable making. For example, all of the products that I sew and sell are created using at least one secondhand material. I also offer a line of DIY kits that feature discarded fabrics saved from going to a landfill. My patterns offer an inclusive size range (up to a 54" bust), single layer cutting layouts to help reduce material waste, and patterns that fill multiple needs in your wardrobe, like the Huxley Bag, which can convert between a backpack, a bike bag, and a cross body bag.
I've mostly let my niche come about organically, just paying attention to what aspects of my business I'm most passionate about, and leaning into those.
A view toward sustainable making has lead to the following tenets for my business:
Rescue “Graveyard Goods” (unwanted/abandoned materials).
Make beautiful and functional awesomeness out of it.
Inspire other people to do the same.
Have fun while doing it!!
I know that you recently relocated to the Chicago area, what can you tell us about your new workspace?
Since I just moved, the layout of the space is a work in progress. I've been thinking about what my ideal setup would be for each section of my work (cutting, ironing, pattern drafting, computer work, etc.) and then trying to find a way to fit it all together so that it works with the space. For me, that will mean having furniture that can multitask. I'm hoping to build myself a custom table that will be able to fill a lot of those needs.
One of my favorite things about my new workspace is that it has a door! For the first time ever I now have a completely separate space for my work. No more sharing space with the living room or my son's bedroom!
You share many of your makes on Instagram. What project is your absolute proudest moment?
My proudest moment has to be winning one of the categories at last year's Threads Challenge. I put so much of myself into my coat-bag, and it felt so gratifying to be recognized.
The community. I love feeling like I'm a part of a group, even if I'm at home working alone all day.
Welcome to "A Stitch n' Time". Let us ‘sew’ into your life! "A Stitch n' Time", a licensed, taxable business venue, officially opened its doors on November 5, 2013. My name is Andrea Hoover, the Sole owner, and happy worker bee of this company. I cannot wait to announce our 5-year anniversary this year, then maybe the 10-year anniversary and eventually... announce the 50th anniversary at some time down the road.
A Stitch n' Time is a professional service/trade that can alter, tailor, repair, remake, design, custom build and instruct its customers on ready-to-wear, custom made garments and household goods. In a nutshell, I sew, repair or recreate ready-to wear clothing, teach the public how to use and troubleshoot their own sewing machines, and design and build whatever dream floats through my customer's heads. I am only able to accomplish what I do at my job because of the degree, a BFA in Theatre Production with an emphasis in Costume Design and Construction, I received at Pennsylvania State University in 1999 and God's good Grace. Currently, A Stitch n' Time has run out of room at our little cottage. My sewing room runs the length of the back of our rental house, the fitting room doubles as our laundry room, the kitchen table doubles as my cutting table and wedding prep table, the guest bedroom recently housed 12 wedding gowns and a portion of the living room has become the office. I currently have 1 apprentice and 1 full-time employee.
As for ASDP… let’s start at the very beginning, it is an integral part of my business. I searched high and low to find a professional organization in which I could stay abreast of the current trends in alteration techniques and sewing. I found ASDP, 4 years ago, through the Threads Magazine, contacted the ASDP website and started going to Chapter meetings in Baltimore. I cannot say enough about how beneficial the membership, the learning and the comradery has been for my business and I. Currently, I am the Baltimore Chapter’s secretary. Also, through ASDP, I acquired a Dress Maker I certificate and attended my first conference in Florida with one of my apprentices. This year I was awarded a scholarship toward an MAS. I plan on starting my MAS this August and look forward to all the continued learning. ASDP has saved me from construction problems, helped me find resources and even helped me fend off potential business scammers. I just cannot say enough about its benefits.
2885 Sanford Ave SW #19588, Grandville, MI 49418 ~ Toll-Free (877) 755-0303