Something old, something new ….

13 Oct

People ask us all the time about the sewing machines we use at the school, expecting some brand new whiz-bang computerized machines that will do everything imaginable – perhaps even by themselves! They are terribly disappointed when we tell them they are mere humble 1950’s vintage all metal industrial strength Singer 306k models. Industrial strength in this case means extremely strong, which means this machine is not industrial or commercial sewing machine but powerful enough to work as industrial sewing machine.


Above photos captured from the internet.

EHC students use them and are now working on their first leather and synthetic leathers projects which are interpretations of the classic Bomber Jacket using the Singer 306k to construct them. As clothing trends come and go, the bomber jacket has stood the test of time and is more popular than ever, this fashionable leather jacket is over 90 years old, but where did it start?

Bomber Jacket roots can be traced back to WWI, where “bomber” pilots with the Royal Flying Corps in Belgium and France were the first military to be issued long leather flying coats in 1915. Cockpits in the fighter planes were not enclosed and pilots wore leather coats, leather caps to protect their heads from wind and weather, plus a woolen scarf and goggles. American forces took this practice of wearing leather on board and two years later in 1917, the U.S. Aviation Clothing Board was established; modified the design and began issuing fighter pilots their first leather flight jackets and the term bomber jacket was born. Navy officials soon followed suit with their own version of the bomber jacket.

To make a long story very short Hollywood actors from Gregory Peck to Tom Cruise and countless female celebrities, have made the bomber jacket skyrocket into popular fashion,  for men, women, children, athletes, motorbike riders, and you name it now is considered a staple classic.

The 306k sewing machine is perfect for what we do at the school as well as in the studio. Unlike for heavy Industrial machines for this one you don’t need any special electrical outlets.  This machine has been in constant service in EHC’s couture studio since 1954, with only the motor and belts having to be replaced.

To fill you in, another part of EHC’s history is the professional couture studio – and having said that – we want to emphasize that MOST work was and is done by hand thus explaining the longevity of the machines. Our students report that each of the machines has their own quirky personality, but once you get to know them they work properly for you. The 306k does a good job of topstitching leather because of its strength, ability to maintain thread tension and its feed mechanism.

In the school studio another secret to success is the fact that our machines are dropped in and level with the worktop surface so fabric can run smoothly through the pressure foot without the uneven drag force in front and behind it.

At Ecole Holt Couture and in the design practice we use old traditional equipment to produce new and exciting creations. The best tools for couture are still skilled eyes and hands.

The above photo is one of our own machines taken with a Canon point and shoot digital camera which is what we generally use, however for the Fashion Event ‘Eleganza’ coming up in November we have a great photographer, Aaron Mccullough at Reddot Photography doing his creative thing with a slightly more sophisticated camera and new technology. Aaron is super great guy, a highly creative individual who appreciates artisanship in many forms – he’s done some wonderful work for us (sneak peek) /watch?v=22b8DbclWXg for our first Fashion Event “One” in 2010, and we’re looking forward to his creativity as official photographer for this years Eleganza Fashion Event.


3 responses to “Something old, something new ….

  1. KatiesCameraBlog

    October 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    I love these old (and older) Singers. They are great machines and last forever (as evidenced here). Great post!

    • ecoleholtcouture

      October 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      Thank you for your response! Great photos by the way!

  2. dapperdolly

    October 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Those are awesome machines, I remember when all the older generations had a sewing room in their homes with a traditional stand alone or heavy desk top Singer. They truly lasted a long time and handled a lot of use not to mention they look impressive. I think they’re very relevant to younger people too who aren’t used to making or altering their own clothes – it’s such a good skill to have like other trades such as mechanics, construction, plumbing etc – practical and cost effective.


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