A Certification Program for Custom Clothiers - Threads


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A Certification Program for Custom Clothiers

Three years ago, the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP) launched a performance-based certification program for custom clothiers designed to validate professional skills and expertise. The Master Sewing and Design Professional (MSDP) Certification Program is built upon standards of quality created by the ASDP, and it is intended to uphold high standards of workmanship and provide a benchmark of superior quality for consumers. MSDP certification is open to anyone with a sewing-related business, not just ASDP members, but it is not a requirement for any professional--even ASDP members.

The ASDP believes there is a need for a national certification program as a means for authenticating professional skills because anyone can claim to be a custom clothier--and customers have no reliable way to gauge the service provider's skill or experience. According to the ASDP, certification sends a message to the buying public that sewing and design skills are valuable and quantifiable, that custom clothing is a viable alternative to ready-to-wear, and that custom clothiers can be trusted to deliver quality work. 

MSDP certification is rigorous and each candidate must complete seven modules: Fabrics, Design, Fashion Illustration, Fit, Garment Construction, Pattern Development, and Professional Practices. Continuing education is required to maintain certification, as well. Industry professionals with 15 or more years of experience may qualify for certification under the grandfathering program, but they also must maintain certification through continuing education.

In fall 2013, the ASDP will also launch the Master Alterations Specialist certification program. For more information about MSDP Certification, visit SewingProfessionals.org.

Do you think certification provides any measurable benefit to customers working with custom clothiers? Does certification reinforce the idea that sewing skills are valuable?

SLMiller

Comments (11)

Linda_Macke Linda_Macke writes:
The MSDP Certification Program was born out of the request from very experienced sewing professionals who wanted the opportunity to have their skills recognized, especially if their skills developed without the benefit of a college degree. This program took over ten years to create and involved multiple professionals in our industry who volunteered their time and expertise throughout the entire process. The first few years were spent developing our “Standards of Quality” which defined how the various sewing techniques were done and what one should expect in a quality garment. This had never been done before in our industry and was a necessary first step before creating a certification program. This 48 page document can be found on the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP) website www.sewingprofessionals.org. On page 5 it lists over 35 professionals who participated in creating and reviewing the document throughout its creation, including Claire Schaeffer, Roberta Carr, Kathleen Spike, Catherine Stephenson, Clara Ditli, Marcy Tilton and Sally Silvers, to name a few.
The same care and attention to detail went into the creation of the actual Certification Program, utilizing many of these same professionals in the process. MSDP enlists the help of some of the best professionals, whose specialties are in each of the seven modules, to be the evaluators and holds its evaluators to its highest standards.
The MSDP Certification Program was created under the vision of ASDP but has since been spun off as a separate entity. MSDP is a non-profit organization, incorporated under its own name and manages itself separately from ASDP. It has its own board of directors, half of which are not ASDP members and all who participate in a volunteer capacity. Susan Khalje and Kenneth King were on the MSDP Board for a number of years and Catherine Stephenson is the current Chairperson for the board. The program does not require anyone to be an ASDP member but believes that it is valuable to be one to have access to all the resources that ASDP offers.
The MSDP program is not for the faint hearted. It is designed for the sewing professional who has achieved a high level of skill and would like to be recognized for hours and dedication they have put forth in learning their craft. We welcome any and all questions, comments and concerns regarding the benefits and goals of MSDP Certification, and we can be reached at certificateprogram@sewingprofessionals.org.


Posted: 2:01 pm on April 15th

Barbt730 Barbt730 writes: While I sew quite well, When I needed a jacket for my strapless gown, I engaged a "professional". The pattern called for bias construction, however the fabric I choose was stretch satin. I specifically asked if this should now be cut on grain. This seamstress apparently was not familiar with new fabrics, and the garment I received had bunched up self lining and collar that she did not ease to fit. Not pretty. I would have done better myself. At least tell the customer if you are not familiar with new fabrics.
Posted: 6:02 pm on April 11th

Isagaard Isagaard writes: My mother earned money by sewing for families in the Diamond Heights area of San Francisco. By the time I was 3 years old I was responsible for handkerchief hemming. By the time I was 4 years old I was sewing all my doll clothes, and if I wanted to wear clothes by 8 I had to make them myself. When I was 13 I was creating clothing for the daughters of my mothers clients.

When I was 20 some smart-alec called me a "Master Seamstress" because she asked for and received a Princess Line dress. What she wanted and didn't have the correct name for was Empire. That led to a Fine Arts degree which was for the most part challenged by me. I had to take some classes in formal design, but the rest I had learned from my mother.

I have been sewing for nearly 70 years, and I don't believe I need any organizations piece of paper to convince anyone of the quality of my work. What, after all, qualifies them to judge me and my skills.


Posted: 2:25 pm on April 11th

Isagaard Isagaard writes: My mother earned money by sewing for families in the Diamond Heights area of San Francisco. By the time I was 3 years old I was responsible for handkerchief hemming. By the time I was 4 years old I was sewing all my doll clothes, and if I wanted to wear clothes by 8 I had to make them myself. When I was 13 I was creating clothing for the daughters of my mothers clients.

When I was 20 some smart-alec called me a "Master Seamstress" because she asked for and received a Princess Line dress. What she wanted and didn't have the correct name for was Empire. That led to a Fine Arts degree which was for the most part challenged by me. I had to take some classes in formal design, but the rest I had learned from my mother.

I have been sewing for nearly 70 years, and I don't believe I need any organizations piece of paper to convince anyone of the quality of my work. What, after all, qualifies them to judge me and my skills.


Posted: 2:25 pm on April 11th

RamonaK RamonaK writes: I am a strong believer in continuing education - No matter how much I know about any subject I find that I can always learn some more. I think it depends on the reason one is obtaining the certification. And, with todays technology and the high cost associate with travel and time can't we find ways to improve our learning on the end user's schedule and budget? Similar to Craftsy would be something that could be used. And, the testing. I also think that membership into an organization should not be reliant on continuing education. Once you pass - it should be up to you as the end user if you want more education.
Posted: 12:24 pm on April 11th

GMterrie GMterrie writes: As a retired R.N., I have lived with continuing education requirements. These are essential due to the life and death dealings we have at our jobs.
Sewing is not life or death. I can understand obtaining a qualification certificate for sewing, yet not for continuing ed. The basics never change! Also, the type of test used would be on the same level as "Parson's Sewing and Design School" in New York. I cannot afford that or the mounds of material to be reviewed simply to take the darn test. My sewing career has extended over 40 years now and I have learned so much from 'Threads magazine, Claire Schafer, Susan Kalje, and so on. After devouring the information, I practiced on my own (as so many others do) until I achieved success with new techniques. Most of us do this regularly.
What can you offer us? We grow with experience. Most of us are darn good seamstresses. The proof is in the garments that we make. Come take a look...why don't you pay the money for airfare and all for a change? We cannot afford what you are proposing.
Thank you and God bless.
Posted: 1:12 am on April 10th

oblesq oblesq writes: This is what happens when the members of a group start to age and they no longer can compete with the new or young. They say "with my seal of approval you can make more money." What they are really saying is i cant compete with you so im going to try to convince you to give me part of the money you earned. Unfortunately people will truly belive that others will look highly upon them because of an obsurd pice of paper and buy into their crap. Then one of two things will happen
(a) the group will convince enough people to do this that someone in goverenment will want their fingers in the cash pie that they will make it a law or (b) the group won't convince enough people to do this and they will turn to the govetnment to FORCE people to do it by making it a law.
Either way the end result is to make it as hard as possible for anyone except them to run a business. It makes me sick.
Posted: 10:58 pm on April 9th

RikkiM RikkiM writes: Certification programs are, first and foremost, cash cows for the bodies that sell the certifications. Especially when they expire, so the organization can sell renewals. Some certifications have more value than others -- I'd like an electrician to be certified, for example. Or a physical therapist.

I see no value in certifications for sewing. All you have to do is look at a few samples of the person's work and you can decide for yourself whether you want to do business with them. It's not something I would pursue for myself or take seriously in someone else.
Posted: 4:59 pm on April 9th

SLMiller SLMiller writes: As a side note, most professional organizations/trade associations have similar certification programs and educational requirements for their membership--although many of them are requirements of continued membership and the legal right to claim a specific professional status within the trade and do business as such. The ASDP plans to eventually remove the MSDP certification from its management, so the program will become independent of the trade group--as has happened in several other industries, as well.
Posted: 1:45 pm on April 9th

Serral Serral writes: I am a big believer in continuing education and certiications. I am currently in the first class of the Haute Couture cerificate at FIT. BUT...i am not certain that a professional organization should be designing educational certiications. Curriculum design and teaching are skills that are as complex as sewing and design. I would want to know more about who designed the ciriculum and who vets the teachers. I am also wary of certifications that expire. The certificate at FIT is accredited by the state of New York and does not expire.
Posted: 11:24 pm on April 7th

Lady2k7 Lady2k7 writes: I think cetifications are a clear sign of accomplishment. As an IT Professional certified in several aras of Microsoft servers & desktops, database designing. As long as the testing is honest and thorough,I would like to get the cost and the time to complete bt the ASDP & MSDP.
Posted: 11:26 pm on April 6th

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