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.
What is your favorite task to do in your business?
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.
How did you develop the layout of your workspace?
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!
What is your favorite part about being an ASDP member?
Networking and Education. Getting to meet and learn from Susan Khalje, Claire Shaeffer, Bobbie Carr, Kenneth King, both at conferences, and in subsequent workshops.
What are your favorite resources and/or authors from whom you have learned the most?
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.
What is the craziest request you have ever had from a client?
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.
What else should we know about you or your business?
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.