What should the customer know about your pricing (e.g., discounts, fees)?
I charge $100 for a three-hour lesson. All private lessons are three hours each. Students also need to buy textbooks which cost approximately $100 a book. Each book contains approximately 300 pages of fully-diagrammed material.
What is your typical process for working with a new customer?
This is not a program for anyone who is looking for easy. The work is difficult. The student MUST be motivated. I ask them what they wish to learn, then set up a program that addresses their needs. They come for lessons when it works for them. They do their homework using the textbooks I have written.
What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?
Other than mine there are no books on the market that I know of that show step-by-step each and every procedure needed from start to finish in the making of a garment. This could be considered a new develop in my field.
I am developing the third area of concentration, fashion technology and how to teach it so that the student understands the basic engineering concepts that underlie the computer programs. . Fashion education concentrates on fashion design and fashion retail. Some technology is taught, but often that involves the use of computer programs.
Hands-on understanding needs to be made available. These skills are being lost. Today many graduates cannot draft or grade unless they have a computer at the ready. Unfortunately if the computer is not programmed correctly the graduate is at a loss.
The computer is a wonderful tool, but that is all it is. To effectively use a computer one needs to understand the work and what the computer is doing. I use the computer every day to generate my diagrams. Because I understand the work hands-on I can walk away from my computer and quickly draft and grade patterns by hand. I am not dependent on the computer, nor do I need to spend thousands of dollars for machinery that would only take up space.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
My mother suggested it. I was surprised, when I entered the industry, how easy the work was for me. It seemed, as I was shown how to do the work, as though I already knew it. I was promoted and given raises. I seemed born to do this.
What types of customers have you worked with?
Some of my students now head up designing departments. All are very intelligent. Most have a master's degree or life equivalency experiences. Some have or are starting international fashion businesses, others wish to make clothing for themselves that they can't obtain in teh stores.
Describe a recent project you are fond of. How long did it take?
I moved my program to Oreland, rented space there, and set up my own school. I taught at Philadelphia University for 18 years, Drexel University for another 2 years.
I'm now teaching private lessons in my studio here in Oreland. This is the best setup I have ever had. My students LOVE private lessons.
What advice would you give a customer looking to hire a provider in your area of work?
First one must know that pattern making and designing are difficult fields. Its not a matter of drawing pretty pictures that someone else will turn into wonderful clothing. This is low-level engineering. There is nothing easy about it. There is a lot of math involved. Pattern makers work to an accuracy of 1/32 of an inch. If you want to be successful in the fashion industry you MUST be willing to work hard.
Be aware that there are two types of patternmaking/sewing instructions. There are the instructions for home sewers. Using home sewing instructions usually gives less than satisfactory results. There are many classes available for this type of instruction.
Knowing professional procedures are what makes the difference and what one needs to know to produce truly professional clothing. Not many instructors know how the industry works. Those who do charge more, but in the end one learns the professional skills that enable success.
Professional classes are not as easy to find. Patternmaking and sewing as done in high-end designing departments can be done in the home with minimal equipment. This is what you need to know to make truly beautiful clothing that fits for yourself and others. This is also what you need to know if you are considering working in the fashion industry. Not many people know how this is done.
If you want to make sure you will learn how the professionals REALLY sew and design clothing ask the instructor about her experience: Has she worked in industry? What did she do in industry? Has she ever worked in a designing department? Has she ever done custom work? Ask her to show you some of the clothing she has made for herself. Does she have a website? Has she ever written any instruction? Has she done seminars? Ask if you can audit a class before signing up for a course. Can you speak to some of her students? Are any of her students now working in industry?
Ask for a copy of the syllabus for the course you are considering taking. Read it carefully.
What questions should customers think through before talking to professionals about their project?
The schools and colleges are turning out many fashion designers, but the fashion industry needs trained technical designers. They are people who know how to produce finished garments from scratch and how to set up the work so factories can reproduce those garments. That is what I am teaching in my program. The schools and colleges do teach some of this, but often it is not taught in any real depth. Many designers are almost desperate to find people who can draft the patterns and make the clothing they design. So the work is there. Here in the USA we have forgotten how to make things. That is why I am writing my books and teaching my program. I do not want the information I worked so hard to learn while I worked in the industry to be lost. The only way to preserve it is to write it down and to teach it.