March Newsletter

February Newsletter

The 2023 Annual ASDP Conference will be in Denver!

Core Conference will by October 19-22. Master Classes are before core conference.

Conference will be in the Tech Center area of south Denver metro area.

Details will be posted at the Association of Sewing and Design Professions (ASDP) web site (sewingprofessionals.com) as they become available.

SCHEDULE:

  • Master Classes ~ October 18-19, 2023 (pre-conference)
  • Core Conference ~ October 19-23, 2023 (Charity Sewing and then Reception Thursday October 19, Classes Friday-Sunday October 20-22)
  • Post-Conference Tour ~ Monday October 23.

Other Topics of Interest

Invisible Seams Video

Video about Asian garment workers in New York City.
Invisible Seams on Vimeo

Fabric Sale for the Win-Win-Win:
Lessons Learned for a Successful Event

By Carol Phillips, ASDP Colorado Chapter Treasurer. May 15, 2022

Our sister society, the Denver Chapter of American Sewing Guild (ASG), held a very successful fabric sale in April 2022, their first sale in 2 ½ years. A lot of work was involved but the results were worthwhile! As a volunteer I gained some insights to share.

Firstly, having a sale of donated items is a good thing. It allows donors to curate their collections and feel good that their fabric/notions/books/patterns have a second chance. This is especially true about donations from retiring or deceased sewers.

Secondly, it gives newer sewers an economical path for nice-to-have notions and books and a variety of fabrics. Sometimes one is lucky and finds usable pieces of extremely upscale fabric. (Chocolate brown wool satin, I’m looking at you!)

Thirdly, it generates much needed funds to the non-profit group that sponsors the event. For example, the ASG chapter expects to underwrite classes by out-of-town experts and to support other community-building events with their proceeds.

How-To Suggestions, divided by topic so that planning can be split among several people:

Start with location: Church basement? Community center? Spare room of a store? Garage sale? Be sure to be clear that sales are involved! (That requirement eliminates some facilities like libraries.) Think about handicap access, parking, available equipment like tables and chairs, etc. Will the location work well in case of hot or wet weather?

Accepting donations: Can volunteers store some boxes in their homes in clean and dry condition for a limited time? (But it is easy to abuse people’s good will and easy to forget who has what.) Is it economical to rent a storage locker?  Once your organization develops a reputation for accepting these donations, you may be amazed at the volume of “good stuff” out there and be able to schedule more than one sale per year.

Curating donations: Pre-sorting and evaluating donations is an overlooked but important part of a really successful sale. The ideal is for a few volunteers go through donations as they come in, or just prior to the sale. Measuring and tagging fabric regarding width, length and probable fiber content will help greatly on the sale day. Weeding out stained or ineligible fabric and books (no cookbooks here, thank you!) also reduces the volume of “stuff” needing to be handled during setup. If necessary, rebox items to make boxes no more than 30 pounds and of reasonable dimensions. (Donations from estates frequently minimize their handling burdens by using huge, heavy boxes. Black plastic garbage sacks are a poor choice – prone to tearing and hard to handle when full of heavy fabric.)

Advertising: Start with your own organization and similar groups, requesting email blasts, word of mouth, newsletters (deadline dates?), etc. Ask to post simple one-page flyers in fabric/yarn/quilting/etc. stores. Online resources such as Facebook or Eventbrite are excellent new avenues to advertise to a much wider audience. (On Eventbrite, your event can be listed as free or can charge a ticket fee, which is one way to cover expenses like room or truck rental.) Ads should prominently give the date and location of the sale. Ads should mention starting and ending time, and say “no early sales” if necessary. Ads should mention payment methods: cash, checks?, credit cards? (via Square, Venmo etc.)

Setup Logistics: Will you have access for setup prior to the sale, or must the entire event happen on one day? At the sale room, you need tables for display, a station for accepting payments, a few chairs, ready access to bring in the inventory, space to temporarily stash empty boxes, and (most importantly!) people to lift and carry the boxes. Encourage strong husbands, kids, and grandkids. Discourage anyone with physical limitations, such as “I can’t lift more than 10 pounds right now”.  For large inventories consider hiring labor such as “two-men-and-a-truck” local movers. Develop plans for picking up inventory from storage units or from volunteers’ houses. Will labor be needed to be return unsold inventory to storage, or are there other alternatives? If unsold inventory must be sent to landfill, where will that happen?

During the Sale: Make sure that the room is easy for handicapped people to get around. Place fabric on tables where it can be seen. (One 6-foot table probably can display fabric from two boxes.) Set books/magazines, notions, and patterns each in a separate area because people tend to browse slowly over those items. Have an empty table adjacent to the cashier so people can lay down their items and make it clear what needs to be rung up. Volunteers can circulate to answer questions, help carry selections and refold fabric. If available, folding picnic wagons are wonderful helps and lead to higher sales because people select more than they can carry in their arms.

Cleanup from Sale: Designated person takes care of money and receipts, prepares for bank deposit and preliminary financial report. Plans for room cleanup and lockup? Plans for leftover inventory? Is labor and transportation needed for reboxing and return to storage? For transport to some other non-profit? For transport to landfill?

I hope these comments will spark additional sales in many places. If you have sewing friends, maybe they can be involved even if not members of our ASDP community.

Please join the conversation with additional suggestions, insights and experiences of such events, by posting on the ASDP Colorado Chapter Facebook page or by contacting Carol Phillips at cpdenverco@outlook.com

August 2023: Picnic

It was a beautiful day in Colorado, which worked perfectly for a potluck at the picnic facility where member Jane lives.

We had a comfortable size group, and all fit around one table.  We had hoped for several more to attend, but life got in the way, and they sent their regrets.

The picnic included pleasant conversations and a wide variety of edibles.  It was fun to meet with each other in an informal setting and talk about whatever came to mind.

To be added to the mailing list for our chapter’s Zoom meetings, contact Pat at colosewingpros@gmail.com .

July 2023: Chapter 2 Angela Wolf’s book

In July the Colorado Chapter of ASDP continued its discussion of ASDP member Angela Wolf’s book “How to Start a Home-based Fashion Design Business.”  This time we discussed chapter 2, titled “From Dream to Reality.”

This chapter of the book has lots of information that is common advice for members in our group, so we focused on what is different.  The book concentrates on advice for fashion designers, but we do lots of alterations and custom work. 

Our main topic of discussion was the need for a contract, which is very important for fashion designers to get paid.  Most of our members work with individual clients on a one-on-one basis.  This means we have a chance to interview our clients and get a sense of their honesty.  And much of our business growth comes from referrals, so new clients can usually be trusted if the original client was honest.  One member reported not being paid by only one client, and another reported that only one altered garment was never picked up and was never paid for the work.   

We were mixed about requiring a deposit.  If people want to give a deposit, (e. g. for the fabric) that is welcomed but not required by most of us.  One client wanted to make partial payments at each visit, which was not a problem.  Most clients are too excited about getting the final product, so they pay as soon as the item is ready to be picked up.  One member, who does pattern design work, requires 50% deposit before any work begins. 

We did acknowledge that many of us work independently and that fashion designers with collections that require contract sewers (especially if overseas) would want to be protected with a clear contract.  If a member is concerned about what would be in a contract, it was suggested that these points be printed and posted on the wall for the client to read.

Another topic of discussion was the use of computers to help with business.  Our older members don’t use computers much but said they would if they were younger.  One of our younger, computer-savvy members uses computers to schedule all her appointments and lets her young clients schedule appointments by themselves.  The computer then generates a link to a video meeting for them to discuss online what is needed.

To be added to the mailing list for our chapter’s Zoom meetings, contact Pat at colosewingpros@gmail.com .

June 2023: Trims on Wheels

After a survey of our chapter membership, we decided to invite Luc Roelens from Trims on Wheels to our June chapter meeting.  Many of us had shopped with Trims on Wheels at local sewing festivals before the COVID pandemic. 

After introductions of the types of sewing we each do, Luc showed us trims suitable for garments.   He had numerous white and off-white trims suitable for formal (bridal) wear.  He also had various Rocco-styled flower strips made from folded ribbon.  One trim several of us liked was satin cord wrapped around colored grosgrain ribbon.

Luc and Edie have recently moved from Wyoming to Florida.  They are maintaining web-site sales and Luc will do personal zoom-based showings if you are looking for something specific.   To learn more about Trims on Wheels, go to https://trimsonwheels.com.

To be added to the mailing list for our chapter’s Zoom meetings, contact Pat at colosewingpros@gmail.com.

May 2023: Jack Makovsky

     For our May meeting, the Colorado chapter was fortunate to hear from Jack Makovsky. Jack is Executive VP Ralph’s Industrial Sewing and Board Member of Denver Design Incubator (DDI).  He was invited to speak about the state of sewing manufacturing in the State of Colorado, because Ralph’s supplies most of the sewing manufacturing equipment to businesses in the state, which makes Jack uniquely positioned to know who is doing what.

     Ralph’s presentation covered a wide range of topics including Colorado success stories, trends in the industry, headwinds or conditions that impede or inhibit progress, and future opportunities.

     One of Colorado manufacturing success stories is Mellanzana Outdoor Clothing in the mountain town of Leadville.  Mellanzana does not sell its products online; customers are required to make an appointment to determine what is required. Growth in Colorado is also found in the bag industry, outdoor wear and outdoor gear.  In addition, demand is active in the theater, military sewing, and alterations businesses.

     In terms of the future, two high schools are reintroducing sewing into their curriculum, but further progress in the sewing business is limited for several reasons: limited number of skilled sewers, lack of schools teaching sewing skills from basic to couture, inadequate wages offered to sewing experts to teach others and funding needs. For industrial sewing there is also a lack of suitable or affordable facilities for manufacturing.

    Opportunities to improve are abundant.  Jack described looking for potential sewing industry employees at ethnic centers who know of new immigrants coming into the state who would like to work in the business, working with local schools and universities to help establish a beginner sewing program, working with the Denver Design Incubator to train people interested in learning sewing by sharing our standards of quality (certification), and teaching people how to use manufacturing equipment to satisfy industry demand for skilled labor (which DDI does).

    One area where ASDP can help is by getting apprenticeship programs subsidized through local businesses, ASDP and DDI.

March 2023: Charity Sewing

The Colorado Chapter met in March to make receiving blankets for the Baby Boutique at the St. Joseph/National Jewish Hospital in Denver.  Enrollees in this program earn points by attending classes on having and caring for a baby.  These points are used to purchase items like the receiving blankets we made. 

Our chapter made double-layer flannel blankets from 84 yards of flannel purchased on sale for $2.40/yard.  The fabric was cut by one group of members. The remainder of the group aligned layers and edges serged together.

We had planned to take a break and discuss chapter 2 of Angela Wolf’s book How to Start a Home-Based Fashion Design Business.  But, we were making lots of progress on the blankets and no one had joined by zoom, so we decided to postpone that discussion for a future meeting.

To be added to the mailing list for our chapter’s Zoom meetings, contact Pat at colosewingpros@gmail.com.