The Association of Sewing and Design Professionals Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a person, organization, or business that has made a profound contribution to the goals that ASDP promotes: sewing, fashion, pattern making, writing, and/or education in the field of sewing and design. Nominations for the award are made by ASDP members.
Nominations for the 2023 ASDP Lifetime Achievement Award are now being accepted. Let us know of someone in the industry who you think deserves recognition for what they have done for the sewing and design community. To find out more and access the nomination form visit the Member Blog.
Vandarra’s entire career has been devoted to improving not only her own sewing skills but those of anyone else who enters her sphere of influence. She is passionate about proper sewing technique and educating others about it.
She first made a mark on the sewing world by founding, along with a few other sewing enthusiasts, the Northeast NJ Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. Shortly after, in the 1990’s with the same group of sewing friends, they launched the East Coast Sewing Association. This Association was devoted to sewing education, also an important goal of ASDP. They put on sewing workshops and conferences, bringing in sewing experts from around the country for the benefit of the sewing public. It was not long after that she became a member of PACC and their newly formed NJ Chapter. She has been an active member of PACC/ASDP ever since.
From there Vandarra went to work for Handler Textile Corp. as their Creative Director. They manufactured interfacings. Vandarra was responsible for all aspects of product development and educating consumers and stores on the proper use of the company’s interfacings. To this day, she is very particular about what interfacing she uses and makes sure that everyone else is using the correct type as well. Vandarra then went to the McCalls Pattern Company where she spent 6-7 yrs as their Resident Sewing Expert. In this position, she had much influence over the sewing techniques used for the patterns and development of pattern instructions which in turn could influence an entire generation of home sewers. This experience must have cemented her devotion to proper sewing technique which ASDP consistently promotes through conferences, online resources, and the certification programs.
Meanwhile, Vandarra has shared her expertise in a volunteer capacity through many years of service to ASDP. She served as President of the NJ Chapter for 12 years. She developed a jurying program for the Chapter so members could improve and verify their sewing skills. She even gave classes on specific techniques, such as making bound buttonholes that members would encounter in the jurying process. This program subsequently spread to other Chapters and became the foundation for the current ASDP MSDP and MAS Certification Programs.
In her professional career, Vandarra now teaches English as a Second Language in a public school system. However, she continues to promote sewing education, working hard through several budget cuts to get an after-school sewing club off the ground. The club has become very successful and Vandarra has used her clout to acquire good sewing machines for the students to use at school. She also continues to teach sewing to private students in her home studio.
Vandarra’s love of quality sewing rubs off on her students and the other members of the NJ Chapter of ASDP. Her dedication to sewing education and mastery of sewing skills is manifested in her tenure as administrator of ASDP’s Certification Programs, perpetuating high sewing standards in the profession.
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