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Category Archives: Ecole Holt Couture Enrolment

Ecole Holt Couture 2017 Graduation

ehc-2016

Graduation Ceremonies for 2017 is almost upon us, and we’ll be celebrating four more talented and now skills trained Artisans in the art of Couture sewing and Tailoring. They’ve put in many hours of work and effort in anticipation of doing something they love, with the knowledge – and some great experience behind them, that they can.

Accumulating experience during their Ecole Holt Couture training is only the beginning of a long career ahead. Not every action of creating was successful, but every action contained a valuable lesson, and no school projects were abandoned. These mistakes made in context are as valuable as the straight forward lessons. There is something to be learned and gained with every experience.

Crafting a career from what you are passionate about will take you on a journey that will undoubtedly have many twists and turns, but will never be boring. There is no cul-de-sac dead end, every day will hold something new to experience and learn. This is how Couturier and Founder of Ecole Holt Couture Elfriede Holtkamp, has built and sustained her career and craft for more than 60 years in an ever-changing economy, by being adaptable.

Building your business and career doesn’t happen overnight in any field of expertise. It takes some time to plan, years to build, but evolves continuously. The first step is having the courage and skills to just go ahead and do what you love. In your heart, you are driven to do it. You’ll likely need to take on a part-time position while you are starting out, to help you pay the daily bills. This approach is commendable and worthy of anyone’s respect, so don’t let that deter you from building your dream.

Let me share a little story to illustrate my point.  A pair of magpies arrived in our garden this spring and made the decision to nest in a Spruce tree a few feet from of our second storey kitchen window. My first reaction was, ‘OMG, please no!’ fearing the disruption and real inconvenience that these stately looking but nerdy birds, will cause in our as yet, peaceful proximity. We did try to dissuade them by occasionally tapping loudly on the window glass, without much luck. Then I thought, actually it would be very interesting to witness their progress, so close-up without interfering with them.

For three days they came with long twigs attempting to place them in well thought-out positions, each day without much success at all. They were obviously first time home builders. They interacted with each other conversationally the whole time, ‘what do you think about this way or that way?’ the other would take up the challenge by trying it another way. The fourth day they arrived with Y shaped twigs hanging each one over a branch, this was finally working! They had the foundation for their nest building.

Then they abandoned the site altogether. Why. There may have been many reasons. I’m sure it wasn’t because they didn’t have the drive or instinct, or only just a little bit of experience. Perhaps they took advice from the older more experienced members of their parliament and moved on to a more suitable site. I am sure though, that they did find a better site, because they didn’t suddenly become different birds, and they needed to find a way to raise their pending family and sustain themselves in a more suitable way for them.

Our own terms of success are entirely unique and shouldn’t be compared with other opinions of what ‘success’ means. This is my point. In the beginning, we do what we do because we’re drawn to it, we love it. We continue to do it because it feels right and it is personally satisfying. We overcome many barriers because we learn how to, perhaps by trying various different paths. We continue to do it for many years because we’ve found a way to practice our passion by successfully sustaining ourselves along the way.

Just as I’m now disappointed that we won’t witness the progress of our magpie friends, I know they’ll be OK.  We will miss our four students when they’ve fledged, but we wish these graduates much success and the very best. Just a reminder to them, we are always here to offer professional advice and mentoring  support if needed. Cheers! J

httpwww.care2.comcauses6-fascinating-facts-about-the-misunderstood-magpie.html

PS. There are many ways to practice your creative maker business. We believe that being environmentally responsible, ethical, authentic, and by passing on these specialized professional skills with thorough training has sustained, and will continue to sustain Couturiers and Tailoring for generations.

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Couture | Fashion & Philanthropy

It’s important to give back to the community and Ecole Holt Couture is fortunate to do this while sharing the art of couture and the work of our students in support of InspireProjectYYC.

This is the first year the event will benefit new-kid-on-the-block INSPIRE Project YYC. Started in 2012, by a group of Calgarian creatives, passionate about social justice, the Project funds organizations seeking to affect change in difficult areas. Their first recipient? Dare to Care, whose mission is to address the pervasive and crippling issue of bullying.

Step by Step  will focus on explaining what couture really is, how it is achieved, and why it matters and more importantly how it can change your outlook towards your fashion style!

Join us on November 13th, 2016 at Festival Hall in Calgary’s Inglewood community, hub of live music venues and is known as the one-stop shop for art fans, culture buffs, foodies, fashionistas, scrappy hippies, and hipsters.

 

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Ecole Holt Couture Information Seminar

Ecole Holt Couture will be hosting its Information Seminar for those interested in enrolling, on
Thursday April 14th from 7 to 9 pm.
You must register for this free information seminar by email: info@ecoleholtcouture.com
*Registration deadline date for the seminar closes Monday April 11th.
[due to limited spaces available EHC reserves the right to reschedule or schedule and additional Information Seminar date]

General admissions information:
First, to make your application for enrollment, contact EHC by phone or by email requesting a Prospectus.
Then, because École Holt Couture School of Couture Sewing and Design’s curriculum is truly unique, we schedule an information seminar at the school to help you decide whether Ecole Holt Couture School of Couture Sewing and Design is the right fit for you.
The information seminar is presented to further explain EHC’s mission and goals, curriculum and instructional methods, and to answer your specific questions so you can make an informed decision about your education opportunities. (more scroll down)

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In summary – what you need to know before you start.

Admission Requirements
Standard Admission:
• High School Diploma or Equivalent (GED, diploma from another province)
• Parental/legal guardian signed consent if under the age of 18
• Demonstrate an aptitude for sewing or fashion, passionate commitment to couture fashion
• Successful completion of interview with EHC

Mature Students:
• Must be out of school for at least 2 years
• Minimum of 19 years of age
• Must complete and submit a high school equivalency exam result (GED or CAST) to EHC
• Demonstrate an aptitude for sewing or fashion, passionate commitment to couture fashion
• Successful completion of interview with EHC

In addition – ESL Students:
• Fulfill the above with the addition of submitting successful result of standardized ESL test ( eg . TOEFL) to EHC

About the School Year – what to expect

Each school Year begins in early September and ends the following June. The year consists of 3 Terms which each run 10 consecutive weeks, including a break between each term. Classes are held twice weekly for 10 hours, or 5 hours per class, including a short lunch break. The remaining 3 days are required for lab (or homework) mandatory studies which takes up 30 or more hours per week. You must expect to dedicate 40 hours per week for classes and homework during the year to successfully complete each program.

Very important: Students must have free access to a dedicated work space or studio in which to do homework projects and assignments. Ideally a separate room, with good natural, ambient and task lighting, preferably self-contained and protected from through traffic and everyday disturbances. (What we are saying is, using a kitchen space is not acceptable). Your studio space could be accommodated within your bedroom area – if no other suitable space is available.

How to go about making an application
1. Request a Prospectus by telephone or email.
2. After you receive a Prospectus, review all the information carefully.
3. Return your signed and completed application forms, by the stated deadline. Only completed applications are reviewed by the school’s selection committee.

Letters of acceptance (plus required tools/materials list), or letters of regret, or waiting list letters, are forwarded to you within 6 weeks of your application being received by EHC’s registrar.
*Email info@ecoleholtcouture.com for current application deadlines.

How much does it cost for each Program

Certificate Full Tuition $23,700
Registration Fee $500 – This fee is later deducted from tuition fees
Books $250 – Students are given a resource list and are free to purchase their own copies
Equipment $2000 – Most of this initial equipment cost is good for both programs and should last you for many years thereafter.
*Materials $3000 – Students are given a resource list to search out and purchase their own required materials as they become necessary for projects.

Diploma Full Tuition $27,300
Registration Fee $500 – same as above
Books $500 – same as above
Equipment $2400 – This advanced equipment in addition to the Certificate program equipment, is useful not only for school use, but for use after graduation for many years to come.
*Materials $5000 – same as above

*Materials costs vary widely and are subject to market fluctuations.
A financing schedule for Tuition fees may be available for Registered students.

What do I do with all my projects at the end of the program?

Each year in November EHC presents a fashion show, open to the public, to feature the couture garments students have created. Graduates of the Diploma Program will have developed outstanding wardrobe items consisting of approximately 30 – 40 full scale, plus 10 – 20 half scale couture garments, and accessories valuing more than the total investment in tuition fees and materials combined.

Each project garment increases in complexity of style and design, and reflects, of course, the student’s increasing level of skill and competency. All garments created during the program are designed to be completely wearable and reflect a tangible portfolio, which exhibits the skills and experience graduates will have acquired during their time at Ecole Holt Couture.
Ecole Holt Couture April 14th Information Seminar
[Please note that at this time Ecole Holt Couture is not able to accept international students.]

 

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Questions, questions and more questions at Ecole Holt Couture!

Questions, questions and more questions at Ecole Holt Couture!

After being on a blog hiatus for a bit, we thought that we would start our blog back up in September 2015 with what we do with student’s questions, and we encourage our students at École Holt Couture – School of Couture Fashion Sewing and Design to ask lots and lots of questions. After all, we are here to share what we know about our area of expertise.

Some questions require multi-dimensional answers. In other words, the answer depends on the specific situation “if this, then do this”, when all that is wanted is a simple directive to “how do I do this?”.

So, the strategy goes like this. At the very beginning, we say “it doesn’t matter why, just do it this way”, which later progresses to “do it this way, but in certain situations do it the other way”.

In advanced classes, we give several answers to a single question, but each answer is quite relevant. Later still, the students are encouraged to come up with their own thought-out solutions and to bounce them off the wall with us.

Finally, the goal is that students work through their questions and problems based on relevant research plus what they already know in some form, and can defend their solution paths. It is at this point when we can breathe out a happy sigh and know that we’ve done our job reasonably well.

There are better ways and not-so-successful ways of doing things to achieve a result. Nothing is written in stone, and it is universally accepted, or least it should be, that no one should have to reinvent the wheel to be a highly skilled creative type, and yet still considered to be ‘original’ in their art form.

No single person knows everything there is to know about any single thing. So we continue to learn throughout our careers and lives, and we learn from the experience of others before us. It saves a tremendous amount of learning time, unless we are stubbornly determined to engineer a new pattern for the wheel.

We also encourage you to never stop asking the tough questions. Never be satisfied with a simple answer, but don’t over complicate things just because you can. The best solutions are sometimes very simple and sometimes very complicated. Sometimes they require a team to figure it out, sometimes they just require an unexpected ‘Ah-ha’ moment. Sometimes they need in-depth explanation and sometimes they just need an act of faith.

Diploma

Diploma

Certificate

Certificate

First-Ever Day in Class this is what you learn…. cheers! J

 

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Form │ Structure │ Design – EHC Couture

EHC trademark

EHC trademark

It is said that Balenciaga (couturier and designer) enjoyed traveling by train inspired by what he saw from the window, to generate ideas for new forms, silhouettes and creations. Pumpkins in the field inspired his balloon skirt, a canvas tent his tent dress, sunbeam pleated skirts from the rays of the sun. Inspiration came to me for the sculptural figure you will see displayed at the bottom of the stairway entrance to the School. One first recognizes its form or shape, then its structure and then the design of the fabric draped around it. These three elements are the basis of what Ecole Holt Couture teaches: form, structure and design.

As with any new language one must first learn to recognize its alphabet, in music for instance. Before writing music, not least a complex symphony, one must first learn to recognize the notes and their position on the staff lines, time signatures, and get a feel for rhythm. To perform music from written score, one must first learn how to play the instrument. And before any instrument can be played, it must indeed, first be created.

Before anyone can create couture, they must learn the basic stitches and their applications, details and combinations of details. Then how to use the tools, and also how to make certain tools. That is what the EHC Sampler resource library is for, so that each student can first learn professional couture sewing basics. In the process, students build their own personal resource library for future reference.

In Terms one and two, the 9 projects required must be wearable unlined garments of pure cotton and pure linen fibers, each project introduces increasing complexity. In Term three, students are already creating a four piece business suit including a blazer, skirt, trousers and vest, each fully lined. The suit must be made of 100% pure wool and natural fiber linings and interlinings.

Term 4, 5 and 6, the projects in the second year are all made of 100% pure wool, silk fabrics and including high quality lace. All these projects are fully lined and structured. Each project throughout the curriculum has been carefully selected as a classic garment with an identifiable origin. Students learn to recognize style from trend, and understand how styles cycle and recycle through time. They learn how to build a client-specific (which is not the same as a ‘targeted market’) wardrobe, and design a collection that is appropriate to a specific individual, thereby applying their own creativity.

In year three, Terms 7, 8 and 9, students learn the skills of hand knitting, and how to work with pliable leather. They learn how to tailor both ladies and men’s garments in the haute couture and bespoke methods traditional to each profession. The techniques for mens’ and ladies tailoring are not the same.

In the fourth year and final three Terms, students create a formal tailored tuxedo outfitting either a man or lady, complete with cummerbund, bow tie and tuxedo shirt. They learn how to work with fur, handle velvet, how to embroider, create cutwork and hollow work, bead work, and smocking techniques. Students create accessory items such as hats, and detachable collars. They practice different methods of pattern making to flat pattern drafting in the previous years, such as body draping and transformational pattern making.

At the end of four years, the graduating student must create a fully structured Ball gown or Wedding gown as their ‘master piece’ without the help from an instructor. When successfully completed, graduates are entitled to refer to themselves as professional couturiers and tailors with the skills to begin their career journey. Formally trained couturiers and tailors are artisans as well as craftsmen who continue to experiment and gain experience throughout their careers, each year becoming more proficient and more highly sought after.

Instruction time at Ecole Holt Couture

Ecole Holt Couture School of Sewing and Design is where students come to learn on a full-time basis earning an EHC Dressmaking Certificate and EHC Couturier/Tailor Diploma. Each student must maintain an 80% minimum grade level assessed every 10 weeks to continue on into the next term. There are three terms each school year. Each Program is two years in duration, totaling 12 terms or four years. Only successful graduates holding an EHC Certificate Dressmaking Award may enroll in the EHC Diploma program, having acquired the required skills to enter the Couturier/Tailor program.

At the beginning of each class day we assemble for a short meeting, after which the day is spent covering EHC course material relevant to the schedule. Rather than assigning reading material as homework, we engage the entire class (of six people maximum) so that questions that come up can be addressed immediately for everyone’s benefit. This normally consumes about 20 to 25 percent of the class day. The remaining 75 percent of the day is entirely supervised hands-on work.

Every project initially begins as a working sketch drawn by hand within imaginary box outlines, according to a ‘client’s’ proportions, and later progress to freehand drawn realistic illustrations with student designed garments in contextual backgrounds, and finally to fashion magazine type figures with more artistic expression.

EHC’s goal is to train the mind, hands and eyes to work in harmonic synergy producing a finished product. Taking appropriate measurements, documenting them, and then applying those measurements creating an original pattern according to the design. First fittings on the client are performed with a ‘toile’ created from that pattern. Then the actual garment is prepared from the toile. More fittings and continuous structuring, with a 50/50% ratio of sewing/pressing. One secret of success to professional results lies in pressing at the right time using the right methods.

The entire couture process is 80% hand worked, sometimes more and sometimes a bit less.The final product must be as finished and as beautiful, on the inside, and in between the layers as on the outside.Couturier and tailoring students bring their designs to reality.

In professional practice, before the final owner of the garment takes possession of it, they must try it on one more time to make final inspection of themselves in the mirror. Only then can it be allowed to leave the couturier or tailors studio. It is the couturier’s ultimate level of gratification to see a client’s eyes light up. To hear them proclaim its true comfort and fit, beautiful finish and flattering style, is the true confirmation of success.

Many do try to ‘copy’ original (haute) couture creations, but they cannot ever be truly duplicated.

created by Elfriede

created by Elfriede

What struck me as a good comparison to this was inspired by a documentary shown on PBS TV about one Stradivari violin made in the 17th century and how truly unique it is. The “Stradivarius” has become associated with excellence; to be called “the Stradivari” of any field is to be deemed the finest there is. Looking deeper uncovered certain experts had analyzed the Stradivarius violin, along with one Guarneri violin also made in the 17th century. From the outside they both looked so similar, almost identical. Each one was of the highest quality and wonderfully crafted, but each had very distinct sounds. But what made them so distinctly different?

The wood used to make both violins had a very particular quality and density.The Stradivarius was crafted to perfection on the outside, inside, in every groove and chiseled stroke. The varnish recipe used for the finish, also believed to be part of the reason for its unique sound died with the maker at the end of his 70 year career, and is still a mystery to this day. The other violin was also crafted to perfection on the outside, but the inside – was left in a somewhat less state of perfection.

Expert comments suggested that the Guarneri violin was somewhat easier to play, more forgiving, and had a larger range of tone. But it didn’t have the fineness of tune of the Stradivarius. The Stradivarius was more difficult to play requiring a very precise touch of the bow. It is said to be very unforgiving, so that only the most accomplished violinists can bring life to it producing such an exquisite sound that has never yet been replicated. The Stradivarius is still being played today, 300 years later, sounding as excellent and as unique as was at its first debut.

Expertly made, well fitted haute couture and bespoke tailored garment cannot be identically copied. The secrets lay within the mind, the soul and in the skilled hands of the creator, and is proven by the workmanship on the outside, inside and in between layers of every piece.

Elfriede Holtkamp
Ecole Holt Couture, Founder

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What it takes at Ecole Holt Couture School of Couture Sewing and Design

As the committee is now starting to review applications for 2015, it may be helpful to know what is expected of students at Ecole Holt Couture School of Couture Sewing and Design.

One of the first questions that instructors of fashion programs in high school put to us in regard to recommending various fashion schools to their own students is what grade standing is expected of an EHC student. It comes as a bit of a surprise to most that EHC expects at least an 80% (B-) level of success which is assessed every three months for every student attending the program to continue. And not only is the skills mastery assessed, but also students’ level of professionalism and responsibility, as each one is extremely important in the business of couture and tailoring.

So that each student receives the best training possible, they must successfully achieve every step (or learning module) along the way, before being allowed to continue along with their class mates. It may sound overwhelming, and it certainly challenges every new student during the first few months. History has shown that only about 50% of students find their pace and rhythm to continue in the program after the initial 10 to 15 weeks of the program.

Ecole Holt Couture is continually reviewing what filters need to be in place for selecting suitable applicants for its programs, so that the success rate for enrolled students is nearer 100%. EHC is as much interested in matching skills, dedication and passion levels most suitable for its programs, as each potential student wishes to choose a program best suited for their own needs and goals. For this reason, the application process has become much more in depth since the opening of the school in 2007.

Here is a summary of assessments:
1. Mastery of skills
a. Demonstrating good comprehension given a set of objectives
b. Showing a high degree of skill and competence
c. Achieving the desired level of competence through preparation and through training
2. Professionalism:
a. Skill and competence outcome expected of a highly trained professional
b. Pursues adequate research, and demonstrates creativity
c. Conforms to high degree of work ethic
d. Consistently achieves and produces the highest standards
3. Responsibility:
a. Able to be counted upon qualities of conscientiousness and trustworthiness
b. Accountable for actions and successful completion of duties
c. Mental and emotional characteristics associated with a well-rounded mature person
d. Shows qualities gained by development and experience
e. Courteous and sensitive to client needs

Also, some things that EHC has found to be common to those creative individuals that have successfully completed the programs, although not absolute, lists very good indicators.

1. Ability to spend long hours in solitude in full enjoyment rather than regret
2. Possessing high level of focused concentration, not easily distracted
3. Able to dedicate 40 plus hours a week for classes and homework
4. Rarely, if ever absent from classes (100% attendance expected)
5. Few commitments outside of school for the duration of the program
6. Able to work with self-imposed standards and time frames, highly self-disciplined
7. Emotionally resilient, open to constructive criticism
8. Take the long view to creating a fulfilling career
9. Interested in a self-designed lifestyle rather than ‘running with the pack’
10. Highly competitive with self, more so than with others
11. Has access to financial resources and an emotional support system
12. Ability to tolerate uncertainty and willingness to accept help that is offered

What is your score on the above? A high score doesn’t automatically assure you have what it takes, nor does a low score necessarily mean failure, but it does help to know what you are best suited for in terms of learning and expected outcomes.

 

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Tools of the trade

389x421We all love the latest in gadgetry or digital technology which most of us want to possess even if we don’t actually use! If you’ve ever observed an artist or trades person using their tools at work, you’ll have noticed that the tools are very simple or very special but, very well used. Painters use the same brushes over and over until the bristles have all fallen out or have broken off. Cabinet makers use the same planes, chisels and mallets that perhaps they’ve inherited or started out with. Hair stylists use their favorite scissors and combs. You get the picture.It is no different with dressmakers, tailors and couturiers. Once we’ve invested in the best tools we can afford, we use them constantly, and stay with us forever if we can help it.

A few examples of tools I mean are scissors, thimbles, sewing needles, yard sticks and tape measures. Tape measures drape around your neck, get rolled up and unrolled, the printed markings become worn, and they gain a few nicks along the edges, but getting a new one is one is just one big hassle after breaking-in the one you’ve been using properly. Yard sticks are good for setting hems, marking lines, and swatting flies when necessary.
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Sewing needles sometimes become visibly plate bare in spots along the shafts, and eventually do get replaced. But to lose one is irritating bordering on disaster and finding one that became lost is a near-on victory! Using cheap needles is total waste of time because they only bend and break.
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Thimbles actually become a comfortable extension of your middle finger. I’ve used very few in my career, only replacing two that acquired punctures in the tops from repeated needle pressure, and it takes a long time to warm up to a new one so I guard mine closely. They need not be pretty, but good quality metal is essential. In the studio, holding up your middle finger is not a rude gesture – it means ‘have you seen where I left my thimble?’ without speaking.
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Scissors and shears become your pride and joy when you’ve invested in high quality tempered steal. Purchasing them really hurts at the time, as they’re rather expensive items – which no one else will understand the value of, and hard to justify when you’re just starting out. Good ones will last 40 to 50 years and longer if you take good care of them!
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We don’t use special pattern drafting tools either, just the basics. Straight edge or T-square, triangle, pencil and eraser. We go through proper tailors chalk like crazy. Pens are banned from the studio. We use ordinary un-waxed wide width white butchers paper for drafting, only using tailors card for patterns we plan to keep and reuse – this 92lb card stock is sold in rolls and is extremely heavy and somewhat expensive.

Wonderful gadgets, fancy sewing aids and swanky drafting tools are a boon for sewing hobbyists. DIY stores offer a specialized tool for every conceivable do-it or fix-it job you might ever do at home. As appealing or impressive as they might look they’re not necessarily manufactured for the professionals. However, it seems everyone wants them and they do look terrific on the collector’s shelf!
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