Mechiel began designing and sewing for her dolls at 7 years old. She made her own clothes by the end of grade school. In High School Mechiel made costumes for both the school and community theatres and also enjoyed making her own fancy dresses. She started sewing for the public over 30 years ago and has maintained her own business for more than 20 years.
Her story of the process involved in making the amazing San Antonio, Texas Fiesta coronation gowns was published in the Vogue Patterns Magazine Oct/Nov 2012. Mechiel has been working with other dressmakers on and off since 1992 creating the coronation gowns. They have just finished another fantastic season that you can see here; Mechiel worked with Laura Sepulveda on #3,7,8,11,17 The Court of Nature's Tapestry She will have the privilege of making one of these gowns inher own workroom next season.
PREVIOUSLY FEATURED MEMBERS
Denise began sewing when she was five, restyling her Barbie doll dresses, which is a good way to learn extreme filling. She continued sewing and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor's degree in Home Economics, emphasis on Textiles and Clothing (1982).
Joining the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP, then PACC) in 2005 and BNI (Business Network International) in 2003 were two of the smartest decisions she's ever made. In ASDP, Denise is also a member of the Wisconsin chapter, having previously served as chapter secretary, and has recently served ASDP national as Challenge coordinator (2008) and VP-Communications (2009-2011). She has placed as a finalist in the Threads Challenge in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012. In her local BNI chapter, Denise has served a term as president; vice-president, several terms; secretary-treasure, 1 term; and on various other committees. In addition, Denise has 3 finalist entries in the 2012 Alliance of Independent Pattern Companies Midnight Magic Challenge, 2 finalist entries in the 2013 Alliance of Independent Pattern Companies Ticket to Paradise Challenge, winning the choice for Petite Plus Patterns and placing 6th overall. She has juried into the Wisconsin Quilt Expo 2006 and 2007. She has also been published in Threads magazine (issues 142 and 155).
Her business is primarily alterations, but she also does some home dec, machine embroidery and custom work. She has taught clothing construction fro Rock County 4-H youth for 17 years and has previously worked for a Viking Sewing Machine dealership, fabric retailers and a drapery studio. She is scheduled to teach a half-day serger technique class at ASDP's Educational Conference in October 2013 in Nashville.
What a wonderful year it has been! I've celebrated my first year as a member of ASDP, such a wonderful organization. I decided to enter the Passion For Fashion contest that The American Sewing Expo and Baby Lock sponsors every September in Novi, MI. To my amazement, I won the People's Choice Award, very exciting! Over the summer I received a message from Threads Magazine asking if I would be interested in submitting my French jacket for an upcoming issue. Sending something away that you've spent quite a bit of time working on is a little daunting, but how could I pass up the opportunity? So off my little jacket went. You can see the jacket in the December/January 2013 issue. I am also wearing the jacket in the attached photo. The fun has not stopped as I just found out that I am one of five finalists who will audition at the sewing expo held in Puyallup, WA. I will be auditioning for a chance to be on the television program, "Sew It All." Such a wonderful opportunity!
Three years ago I started my blog, www.rhondabuss.blogspot.com. At the time, I really wasn't sure what to do. I would talk about my life and post garments that I had made. Over the past three years the blog has evolved into a passion. On Friday's I share garments that I have made using very simple shapes, rectangles, squares, circles and sometimes a triangle or two. This post also includes instructions on how to draft the pieces that I make. It's called Fabulous Free Pattern Fridays. On Saturday I post a tutorial on sleeve drafting. Each week I showcase a different sleeve and explain the drafting process. I love doing these posts as they stretch my mind and I hope that in turn helps to stretch the reader's mind as well. My Fabulous Free Pattern Friday posts have become my number one followed board on Pinterest.
When I'm not sewing, I fly! Twenty years ago I decided to learn to fly. Since then I have earned my instrument and commercial ratings. I now fly for an organization called Pilot-N-Paws. It's a non-profilt organization that rescues animals.
Susan Crane had one grandmother who knitted and one who sewed, and grew up doing both. She started a knitting shop but soon realized that while sales was not her thing – she was good at problem solving and doing custom work. While at her shop she designed children’s sweaters and custom wrote patterns for clients.
After that she started sewing for friends and got recommendations from friends and thus a sewing business was born, that was over 15 years ago. Claire Shaeffer’s book “Couture Sewing Techniques” was probably the biggest influence in the type of sewing that she enjoys doing. As soon as she read it she realized that that was the type of sewing the she wanted to do...
That was the past and brings us up to the present. The present is as Charles Dickens said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. The worst of times is obviously the recession and down turn in business. The best of times is that she now has the time to explore other things. She started writing for Threads, she loves writing. Besides writing for Threads she has had her work featured in Claire Shaeffer’s book, “Fabric Sewing Guide”. She also won the 2006 Threads PACC challenge for the LBD, and the 2012 Threads ASDP challenge on Lace Garments.
For the future; she wants to design and sell a limited collection on the internet. She also has started a book on sewing with lace.
Susan Khalje had not originally envisioned a career in couture sewing. Instead, her choice was between her two great loves: languages and music. She chose the later, attend a music conservatory, and worked as a classical pianist in London for many years.
She returned to New York and received her professional training at the couture salon Chez Cez et Bez. Given her background, it made sense to focus her own custom business on bridal couture. After 25 years, she moved away from sewing to concentrate on writing and teaching couture techniques.
She is the author of Bridal Couture (Krause Publications) and Linen and Cotton (Taunton Press), and her long-running HGTV/DIY show, Sew Much More, focused on a variety of sewing techniques. In addition to shorter offerings, Susan teaches 6-day seminars on couture sewing, and each year she takes a small group to Paris for a behind-the-scenes exploration of the world of couture. She is a Threads Magazine Contributing Editor, and currently teaches the Couture Dress Class on Craftsy.com. She is also developing her own on-line classes.
Susan is a charter member and former chairperson of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (formerly known as The Professional Association of Custom Clothiers) and received, in 2005, the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
An acrobat in her youth, Claire enrolled in the circus curriculum at Florida State University but left with a MRS degree. Though quite thin, she had developed broad shoulders through acrobatics — a factor that ultimately steered her life in another direction. Finding it difficult to find clothes that fit, she turned to sewing her own wardrobe, but wanted more than commercial patterns offered. “I went back to school to learn how to make my own patterns,” she says. She studied couture techniques, developed a passion for fashion, and ultimately amassed an impressive collection of designer clothes. Later she returned to school and graduated with an art history degree so she could teach at the college level.
Claire is the author of the popular “Couture Sewing Techniques” and many other books that you should check out. She is a frequent contributor to Threads magazine, as well as Vogue Pattern Magazine and teaches two couture workshops a year in her hometown Palm Springs.
Claire’s motto is “I demystify couture”. In fact, she confides almost proudly that she is not allowed to visit Chanel’s Paris workrooms to observe the petite mains (little hands) at their tasks. “I’m on their bad list,” she says. “I have written them twice, but they have made it very clear that they do not want me to write about the Chanel designs.” She has, however, gained entry into many other haute couture house in Paris. Forever secretive about its methods, Chanel even denies ever having granted authorized copies. [Several books now include this info.]
Claire continues to make her own clothes and has designed more than a dozen patterns for Vogue Patterns, often with a nod to Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. From her intensive studies of their work, she says, “So much of what I’ve learned is not new techniques, but how to apply techniques I already knew — taking one application and adapting it to a new case. Most things are not difficult, but they are time-consuming.”
Claire passes along the knowledge she has gained through her personal studies, “It’s very rewarding to see people improve their skills and expand their knowledge,” she says. “There is no place else to go to learn these things.”
The ASDP Workshop in Novi–Chanel and that Jacket Class –is no longer accepting registration. Claire teaches a 5-day workshop In Palm Springs.
Claire recently received the ASG Hall of Fame Award. I’m the only person to have received both the PACC Lifetime Achievement Award and the Asg award.
Leslie Littell (Costume Specialist, is the owner of Ashbridge Costume Studio, a private studio offering full costume design services. Currently, her studio focuses on historic pattern development. She is a member of the Costume Society of America, and the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals.
As a Costume Specialist, she earned a BS in Design from the University of Cincinnati and worked in the NY garment industry before obtaining an MA in History from Rutgers University. Leslie has been on the faculty at Oakland University’s Department of Music, Theatre & Dance (Michigan) since 2002 and has worked and taught previously at Wayne State University (MI) and Montclair State University (NJ) in similar capacity.
Leslie has over 100 costume design credits for theatre and dance productions from New York to Colorado, including serving as the principal Costumer for Eisenhower Dance Ensemble in Michigan for ten years. She has presented at national and international conferences on teaching and creative process. Her favorite part of theatre is the rich relationships that come from collaboration. Her favorite part of design is the problem solving process.
Joyce Simons Murphy
Joyce Simons Murphy (JSM) has degrees in apparel design and education plus 20 years of experience running a tailors shop, altering clothes, constructing garments and selling men's made-to-measure suits. As owner of JSM Tailors, Joyce saw a need for new tools to make tailoring easier. In response to this need, Joyce developed the JSM Hourly Rate Calculator, the Pricing Alterations Made Easier system, and the JSM Pants for Women system. As owner of JSM Tailoring Tools, Joyce writes for Threads magazine, trains sewing enthusiasts everywhere in the use of her professional tailoring tools and continues to develop new tools designed to save fitting time, time making and adjusting patterns and time spent on business tasks thus giving more time to design and construct custom clothing.
We are extremely pleased to have Joyce as one of our Master Class instructors for our "Be a Part of it All" 2012 Educational Conference in Novi, Michigan. She is offering a "Menswear Tailored Alterations for Dressmakers" course for two days before conference which is a topic requested by our membership. The first day will address trouser alterations including machine and hand hemming, adjusting the seat and stride, and replacing a fly-front zipper. Day 2 will include such jacket alterations as shortening vented cuffs and the collar, taking in the sides and narrowing the shoulders. Take advantage of Joyce's years of experience and sign up early! More information on Joyce's class is available in the conference brochure.
Juliette Kimes comes from a long line of sewing professionals, including a great-grandmother who sewed for the Queen of England before immigrating to the US, so it is only natural that she was wielding aneedle and thread by the age of four.
She graduated to a sewing machine by seven and startedmaking her own clothes at 12. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Textiles and Clothing from the University of California at Davis, she worked in the childrenswear industry in the San Francisco area. Now earning her living intechnology, Juliette continues to sew for herself and select clients. Her specialty is custom formalwear and bridal alterations, but she also enjoys working with machine embroidery, dyeing and has developed an obsession with making the perfect collared shirt over the years. She began teaching at her local Bernina dealer in 2010.
Juliette has been a member of ASDP since 2005, was a finalist in “Inspired by Threads” in 2004 and 2005, and a finalist in the Threads “Suit Your Style” Challenge in 2010.
Helen Haughey, Helen Haughey Designs
Helen Haughey currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri but her clientele is spread throughout the United States. She began her sewing career at a very young age in New Zealand and initially sewed for herself and her family. As Helen recognized the opportunity to assist women within the community to find a truer, better fit, she expanded her business to clients at large. Helen has a broad repertoire:
Her skill set has been honed over time to use couture techniques.
Helen belongs to the Haute Couture Society of Chicago and has House of Haughey published in St. Louis Magazine.
As Vice President of Conference Planning, Helen is excited about the new conference format this year, and hopes every ASDP member will consider attending!
Kathy Levy, The Sewing Room, Colonie, NY
Kathy Levy became frustrated and unsatisfied after working many years as a medical secretary. She needed to do something else with her life. A friend asked why she didn’t do what she loved and did well – sew. That began a series of sewing related jobs which helped her gain the skills and experiences she needed to start an alteration business in her home. She did alterations for a dry cleaner, decorated costumes for a dance studio, became production manager for a college sportswear store sewing lettering and art work on garments and made samples for a children’s clothing boutique.
Early in her business, Kathy took on any work she could find, including several independent contracting jobs, to boost her income. Many of the jobs were tedious and uncreative. Eventually she was able to limit her work to alterations. Although she does basic alterations, bridal alterations have become her specialty. She finds great satisfaction working with the difficult to fit client, making her look and feel beautiful for her wedding day. Over the years Kathy has found her true passion to be making Christening gowns, in particular, creating them from the wedding dress of the baby’s mother or grandmother.
In 1999 Kathy took an active part in the development of the newly formed Albany Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. She served 7 years on the Chapter Advisory Board, 4 of them as Chapter President. In 2001 she joined PACC, but did not take an active role in the organization. In 2005, while attending an alteration class given by a PACC member, she learned more about what the organization had to offer and she became a more active member. ASDP Conferences have provided her with valuable education, great networking and many friendships. This year’s conference in Novi will be her 8th. The association is fortunate that Kathy answered the call to serve on the board; she is currently the ASDP Treasurer.
Rachel Kurland, VP Communications
Rachel Kurland, ASDP’s VP-Communications, brings a wealth of experience to the governing board of the Association. Currently residing in rural Vermont, Rachel designs and constructs custom bridal gowns under the label Foxglove Custom Bridal Gowns, but her eclectic resume includes an MFA in costume design from Brandeis University, managing UC-Santa Barbara’s costume shop, work for a bridal designer, an armorer, and costume shops in New York city, teaching costume history and construction at Windham College (now defunct) in Putney, VT, wardrobe work for Jerry Lewis and John Raitt, and curating a costume collection for a historical society in Woodstock, Vermont. Between designing regional theatre shows Rachel also constructs insulated window quilts, builds mascots, tailors women’s suits, and occasionally does alterations.
Located in a small town, Rachel soon came to appreciate ASDP. Attending the Association’s annual conferences showed her how involvement with ASDP connected her to other people across the country earning a living doing what she does. Rachel states, “The generosity of ASDP members always impresses me. We share contacts, sources, techniques, accomplishments, and failures. The discuss list has helped me more times than I can count. Now that I’m travelling less for work, I feel I have more flexible time to give back to ASDP.“
Having a background with dozens of classes covering obscure techniques, Rachel cherishes the most exquisitely tailored vest she has ever seen, made by her paternal grandfather (a Boston tailor) with buttonholes hand-worked by her grandmother. ASDP is grateful to have Rachel begin her two-year term as VP-Communications on January 1, 2012.
The MSDP Certification Program is pleased to announce we have our first MSDP recipient - Brenda Breitenmoser of Agassiz, British Columbia! Brenda has demonstrated mastery in all seven areas of required expertise and has now earned the right to use Master Sewing and Design Professional in all of her business promotions. Brenda was presented with her certificate and a bouquet of seven roses (one for each module) at the recent Members Banquet at the national conference in Portland, Oregon. It is anticipated that Brenda will soon be joined by more certified recipients.
Brenda has had a sewing related business since 1985 and works mainly from her home. Her sewing experience includes working for Trautmann Furs and later for Silk and White Satin bridal shop doing alterations and sales. She is now working on her own doing alterations and custom sewing with a focus on custom wedding gowns.
Joining ASDP in 2006, Brenda has been the secretary of the Association for the past 2 years, and at our recent annual meeting was re-elected to this position for another two-year term. In addition, Brenda is working hard to start a chapter in British Columbia.
Photo Description: Brenda Breitenmoser, center, receiving her MSDP certificate from Linda Macke (left), ASDP VP Certificate Program, and Catherine Stephenson, Chairperson, MSDP Board.
Photo Credit: Charles Islander
Teresa Nieswaag has been sewing since eighth grade Home Economics. She started her business in 2001, working at a Husqvarna Viking dealership. The manager nudged her into teaching, something she would never have considered on her own. As a certified Square-in-a-Square quilt instructor for Jodi Barrows, Teresa has been a vendor at quilt shows in four states. Teresa now focuses her business more on custom sewing, embroidery and alterations.
In 2001 a garment that she made and embroidered won "Best Use of Color" in the Stitches Magazine Embroidery Challenge which traveled with the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo that year. Teresa joined ASDP in 2006 and has served as a Regional Directory for Region 4 until structural reorganization discontinued these positions. She helped with scheduling volunteers for the 2008 conference in Chicago. MSDP (Master of Sewing and Design) also used her skills as a secretary.
Upon accepting her nomination for President-Elect, Teresa stated "One great way to truly understand an organization is to become involved, and I hope to influence more members to do this also. Asdp is a wonderful networking organization with highly knowledgeable and skilled members. In learning from each other and working together I hope we will continue to see ASDP grow and evolve into an even more dynamic organization." Teresa feels a strong sense of responsibility to ASDP and its members, and is honored to have been elected President-Elect at the 2011 Annual Meeting. After serving one year in this capacity, she will take over as President in January, 2013.