After asking our students about topics for this blog, they immediately replied ‘what about what we do in class all day long!’ Other than our particular projects (which are pretty exciting in themselves) this is what happens.
At the moment we have 3 separate classes running at different levels, but at some point during the week all the students are together and interact with one another to share struggles, ideas, and insights (including their opinions on what they’ve seen featured on entertainment awards this spring). Here we strive to promote good communication as a key factor in effective mentoring as well as in learning (this is not unique).
On some days the class room and the studio at EHC can be a very quiet and serious place. You can literally hear a pin drop, and when it does, it can turn out to be a bothersome distraction to everyone. As in professional haute couture or bespoke tailoring, only very rarely do you hear the constant chinking or motors buzzing from sewing machines; more commonly heard is the sound of a steam iron sighing and its thermostat switching on and off, and the tinkle of a pair of scissors coming to rest on a padded table.
On another day, if you were to drop in secretly like a fly on the wall, you may witness trivial chatter, classical music, silly hilarity and occasionally the smell of coffee gone cold (from a quick well-deserved break) still all signs of productive creativity wrapped up as a combination of stressful cockup and victory, agony and ecstasy.
We usually start the day around the table altogether with a short informal meeting (and usually a hug) before new class material is presented. Classes are intensely concentrated, so this helps everyone to settle and prepare for the 5 hours of tuition ahead. It is courteous to allow everyone to become oriented, shift onto the same track, and make sure that everyone is ‘in’ on the latest updates. But, it is also extremely productive to the rest of the day, and good management practice as it happens. If someone has experienced problems or unsettling events, sharing it usually soothes frayed emotions and provides support; on the other hand sharing reasons for high spirits makes everyone more cheerful and focused.
One of the 4 or 5 major areas of study in the program (other than design theory and history, pattern drafting, sewing and construction, and couture business essentials), is learning how to Fit a garment.
Fittings for each project module, which are made life size, are demonstrated on the student’s actual garments by the students under supervision. Everyone’s Body is unique and, we’ve found this to be the best way to teach methods and concepts to the art and science of achieving a perfect fit, rather than on mannequins.
Students learn by observing and doing fittings and are encouraged to ‘think out loud’ as they progress through the fittings, to express every little reaction or plan of action. All this can be extremely intimidating for the beginner (student and client alike), and so tactfulness and truthfulness are balanced by being patient and courteous (this helps a great deal), verbalizing the ‘ins and outs’ of the fitting process, and having knowledge of the intended outcome, all contribute to fully understanding what to do.
Open communication is also crucial when performing fittings on paying clients – a couturier or tailor not only needs to take mental note of their client’s reactions and comments, but at the same time should explain to their client ‘what’ and ‘why’ they are making a certain adjustment. This may seem ‘unprofessional’ to some, but most clients really appreciate being involved in the fitting to know that they are being taken seriously.
By the end of the school day, everyone is exhausted. Though it is challenging it is fulfilling at the same time. Some days your head just spins ridiculously with new ideas and plans, and other days seem to be dedicated to just jumping one hurdle and busting that terrifying mind block – but each new day, we really looking forward to doing it all again.
Visit our new webpage called ‘couture sewing tips and secrets’ for a new video series on ‘how to’ sewing basics and some secrets…
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