ISU alumna named 2013 Teacher of the Year at American Sewing Expo


Courtesy of Joi Mahon

Joi Mahon, ISU alumna and owner of Dress Forms Design Studio, was chosen as the 2013 Teacher of the Year at the American Sewing Expo, one of the largest independent fashion sewing events in the United States.

Mary Kate Knabel

Joi Mahon, ISU alumna and owner of Dress Forms Design Studio, was named the 2013 Teacher of the Year by one of the largest independent fashion sewing events in the nation. 

Traveling across the country to design for clients, Mahon has perfected the number of measurements to have the best fitting garments. She has taken her skills to the classroom, teaching a number of classes and recently teamed up with Baby Lock USA Sewing Machines to teach fit at many sewing events.

With the sponsorship of Baby Lock, Mahon continues to flourish and establish herself as one of the best educators in fit. With years of experience and advice, Mahon speaks to the topic of fit differently than most designers.

“People aren’t addressing what [a] body looks like prior to working on garment,” Mahon said.

Recently, Mahon was awarded Teacher of the Year at the American Sewing Expo.

“She says things that make the technique memorable,” said Nancy Faught, one of Mahon’s students. “One of the things that makes her unique is her personality and the absolute love of teaching, and more importantly her love for her students.”

Voted on by attendees, Mahon’s award honors her talent for educating in the apparel field.

“That is a rare combination of talent. Joi’s classes are fun and yet students will learn effortlessly, maybe not even realizing they are learning,” Faught said about Mahon’s teaching talent.

After receiving her award, Mahon developed a nationwide fashion design competition. The American Sewing Expo Designer Joi 1/2 Scale Challenge consists of a yearlong design challenge alongside the designer for the first 100 registrants. Winners and prizes will be awarded at next year’s American Sewing Expo.

Graduating top of her class at Iowa State, establishing herself in the industry and continuing to grow as an educator and designer, Mahon speaks highly of developmental time in her sewing career.

Mahon began her career in a sixth grade garment construction class and continued perfecting her skills, working for a tailor at age 14 to gain an understanding of different body types.  

“It was a very valuable experience where a lot was learned,” Mahon said of her time with the tailor.

Studying apparel, merchandising and design at Iowa State, Mahon credits her success to spending weekend nights perfecting her skills.

“I was that designer who worked on Friday nights while everyone else was out partying,” Mahon said.

Mahon quickly began her career following college by starting her own business, Dress Forms Design Studio.

Check out Mahon’s website,, for updates on her upcoming events and competitions.