Meet Debby


Debby Spence, Dressmaker

Debby Spence specializes in creating and restyling garments utilizing her 30 years of experience and creativity to collaborate with her discerning clients to create clothing to fit and flatter their unique figure and personality, and enhance their wardrobe. 

Debby Spence learned how to sew in 4-H, and soon realized she had a passion for it. In 10th grade, she knew she wanted to do something related to fashion design, so went on to major in ‘Clothing and Textiles in Business and Industry’ at the University of Delaware. During her summers off, she worked at a local department store doing alterations, and helped a friend make patchwork shirts out of vintage calico cottons. After she graduated, she developed a number of other garments out of patchwork, and one thing led to another until she was selling them to stores up and down the east coast with the help of a couple reps, under the label ‘Debby Spence Personal Patchwork’. She had enough business to employ 3 or 4 people at her shop and have several people who contracted to sew garments together at home.

This business lasted about 10 years after which Debby and a partner opened o.t.e. Using the same workspace, they added a retail area, and sold clothes they made there. Customers could buy off the rack or order garments in other fabrics, with some custom sizing.

After 3 years, in 1988, Debby’s partner decided she wanted to move on, so they liquidated the business, and Debby moved her workspace home to start a custom dressmaking business. Because they had already been doing some custom work for people, she had some ready clients.

In 1991, Debby saw an ad in Threads magazine for a new organization called the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers, and decided to join. It was one of the best things she’s ever done! She attended her first conference in Boston, and the first challenge that she participated in was ‘Inspired by Art’ at the Denver conference. She has entered a total of 8 challenges, 4 of which have been given awards. She is an active member of the Baltimore Chapter and has served as its President, Membership Chair, Chapter Rep, and Program Co-Chair. She also served a term on the National Board as VP of Chapter Relations.

ASDP/Threads Challenges Awards

  • Zero Waste - Best Column made from a Tube, 2011
  • Sleeves - Best Overall, 2013
  • Sheath Dress Inspired by Art - Best Application, 2015
  • Quilted Garment - Best Overall, 2016

Experience and Education

  • Dressmaker I and II and Master Dressmaker Certification, Baltimore Chapter of ASDP
  • B.S., Clothing and Textiles in Business and Industry, University of Delaware

Professional Associations


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