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Category Archives: fashion design

Lesson #2 – Petite is Powerful – tips for a great fit.

If you are like me, considered a petite size, then your proportions are slightly shorter from the shoulders to the waist than a standard size, and you all know what I think about ‘standard’ sizes. But being ‘petite’ may also reflect that you may perhaps be relatively shorter in stature than most of your contemporaries in North America. Not at all if you are in most parts of Asia and in some parts of Europe.

Wearing off-the-rack and ready-made garments always seem to appear slightly ‘off’ because, petite manufactured garments are mostly only adjusted for the above mentioned variance, or worse – adjusted for shorter arm and leg length as well which may not apply at all to you (or to me). These adjusted variances may greatly reduce the choice in ready-made or off-the-rack for you to look amazing.

If you want to look your perfect-size ‘perfect’, then every component needs to be made in proportion to the whole. That doesn’t mean a petite cannot wear a large pattern print, or conversely that being tall you cannot wear small prints. Only that the proportions must be adjusted accordingly as is true to haute couture and bespoke tailoring.

In this example, notice that in her riding jacket all the components – lapel size and stance, buttoning, pockets, sleeve length (and armhole circumference), waist cinch, and jacket length are all relative to proportion. The trousers again are the right length and leg width. Any one of these elements out of proportion will throw the whole look ‘off’.

A petite can look positively overwhelmed or underwhelmed because of the lack of choice. Remember that in garment manufacturing, realistically it can only serve a small section of the market offering a limited range of ‘sizes’ to be profitable. That pretty much excludes the other 90% of the population. It is not you, you are a perfect size.

Cheers! J

 

 

 

 

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6 Tips for a great fit. Lesson #1.

Does a ‘great fit’ or ‘perfect fit’ leave you wondering what that really means in terms of your clothes? These days with most everything being ‘off the rack’ ‘ready to wear’ or ‘prêt-à-porter’ you may not be aware that your clothes don’t actually fit well at all. Even when special items are ‘custom made’ ‘made to measure’ or dressmaker made you could still be left wanting a great fit or perfect fit. So here are a few tips for things to watch out for. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but let’s start with these.

Example – Let’s assume that you don’t fit the typical fashion model profile or standard size. Actually most people don’t fit into a standard size perfectly, because sizes are determined by averaging a set of statistics by manufacturers.  (By the way, you are the perfect size and shape you were meant to be, so celebrate your curves! Go ahead and look the fabulous person you are.)

These 6 tips are for dresses, tops and skirts.

EHC FS 2016- Elise

EHC FS 2016- Elise (3)

EHC FS 2016- Elise (2)

  1. Enough fabric and ease across the bust line. No straining of fabric here.
  2. Waistline is cinched in at the right level. Notice that the waistline of the dress doesn’t present any horizontal buckling of superfluous fabric or diagonal wrinkling in the front, side, or back.
  3. Ease of fabric draping or flowing over the hip line, no stress or stretched out fabric here.
  4. The hemline is horizontally even from the floor front and back, even in stilettos.
  5. Sleeves are set in at the right directional angle. No two people’s arms hang the same way! Enough room at the sleeve cap, or top of the sleeve, no straining of fabric here either with ample room for freedom of movement.
  6. Fit across the shoulders from sleeve to sleeve is wide enough, ending just at the shoulder joint.  The problem is usually too wide (too much material) or too narrow (not enough material).

Again, these 6 tips are true for any figure, and true for dresses, tops and skirts. Next time we’ll look at some other examples of well fitting points.  Cheers! J

 

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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.

 

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 is taking summer break, but gearing up for the Fall already!

Hi there! Ecole Holt Couture is on summer break, but not all of us are on vacation just yet! The classes are over for now but the students still have a couple or three weeks to finish up their projects. And even though we are winding down from the year, we are gearing up for our next fashion event in November.

We start planning the next fashion event just after the last one is over and finished. We’ve booked the venue and we’ve got the date – Sunday November 13th, 2016 at Festival Hall Calgary. There is a lot of planning to do though from that point on, most of which doesn’t go into high gear until August. Right now we are sitting down with the people who are our best supporters and getting their input into the plan.

We maintain our event website throughout the year now at http://www.ehcfashionshow.myevent.com/. There we post things like pics from the last show and a few photo albums from past shows so that our visitors can get an idea of what its all about. It gets updated every now and then with the latest information, so if you’ve stopped in at our event site before feel free to drop-in now and again to see what’s new.

Have a look at the video that Tessa and her dad Terry created from our 2015 Ecole Holt Couture Fashion Event. We’re pretty pleased with the result. Cheers! J

EHC 2015 Event Video

 

 

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Happy New Year 2016!

We posted this one year ago, but still a good story to illustrate a point about the value of couture sewing skills…Happy 2016! I’ll leave this one with you as well: Without Craft, inspiration is a mere weed in the wind.

Once upon a time there was a very rich man and his wife spending some quality time together on their private south pacific island. Even with its remoteness it had every modern convenience. Solar panels for electricity, running water, and even 4G Internet access. Everything you could possibly need was there. A beautiful house, airstrip, dock, boat house, deep-sea fishing boat, and several guest cottages on its beaches.

He arrived following several strenuous business trips with his wife, who had completed a major shopping spree from Paris, Milan, London, to Tokyo. There was nothing that the couple could not buy. His wife had just procured lengths of the most elaborately hand-embroidered French silk, the softest Kashmir wool, the most luxurious Italian silk velvet, and the finest English worsted. The best that could be made, very expensive and all quite unique.

Because this man was also very generous he regularly invited friends and relatives to his island, but he also invited strangers from time to time to share in his good fortune. This time he invited three young, and very promising, fashion designers to the island as a reward for their contribution to one of the many charities he supported.

Each of the three individuals saw this opportunity differently. One was very ambitious and viewed each day as potential for new business and so brought an iPhone, laptop, latest look-book, and a few new design ideas to present, just in case. The other viewed this as a good time to get on with a project or two without distractions, and so managed to pack a compact sewing machine, sewing kit (thread, pins and scissors), and some new patterns but decided to investigate locally made materials on the island to experiment with. The third accepted this, as a time to relax and not worry about anything. To absorb, and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

While on the island, which was very tiny indeed, it became apparent just how remote it was from civilization. The owners of the island were very hospitable and made time to visit with each of their guests, making sure that everyone was quite comfortable. One night they invited the three young people to dinner at the big house. Nothing but the finest was offered, the freshest fish caught just hours earlier, the best quality vegetables and most exotic fruit flown in from the nearest islands, and the finest wines.

The conversation turned to each guest to find out what their hopes and aspirations were for the future. One was confident that someday they would become world famous, so that everyone would want to own one of their designs. The other was hopeful, that with experience and some help, they would be able to manufacture highly popular collections selling around the world. The third confessed to wanting to be creative every day, to being content, and wanting to make other people happy. The others all sniggered at the third’s response, and privately thought how impractical and unrealistic that would be.

Curiously, the rich man’s wife asked more questions about why this would be a considered career choice. After all, doesn’t one need a lot of money to be able to have everything one’s heart desires? “For instance, we have everything one could possibly want, a good income, good health, and access to the best of everything. This doesn’t come without hard work and sacrifice of course”. All had to agree, and continued to enjoy a pleasant evening of good food, conversation and exchange of ideas.

Later, the rich man’s wife was delighted to show the three young people her exquisite fabric finds, knowing they would share in her excitement. As expected, all three were indeed thrilled. Also, as an almost instant reaction, they offered to design something for her using these fabrics. “Oh, but, I couldn’t just let anyone touch these precious fabrics, only someone with considerable experience”. They asked who she knew, that had such experience. “Well, I don’t really. I’m a bit hesitant about asking anyone!”

The first young designer offered to create the most fashion-forward designs, and would start on it straight away. The second, began to research the latest trends to present. Meanwhile, the third asked questions about what the rich man’s wife dreamed for herself, what were her requirements for the coming year, and what type of things she loves to wear. “This is all wonderful, but it still leaves the dilemma of who will make these amazing designs for me?”

Not to worry the first designer said, “I have some really good people behind me who will get it done right”, the second designer remarked, “I will make it myself, it won’t take long. I can usually run things up in a few hours, a couple of days at most!” The third’s reply was “I would love to make it for you, it will take some time. I want to make sure everything fits just right, and makes you look marvelous. Your fabrics will deserve the utmost attention, for the most part they will be hand-sewn”.

That night a tropical storm knocked out the 4G Internet access, the docks were damaged, and the airstrip was littered with debris from broken branches. Fuel supplies were so low that the generators couldn’t be run for more than just the bare essentials – such as pumping fresh water. Repairs would take some time.

The first designer conceded, “Well that pretty much finishes my plans, without the internet I can’t communicate with my team, my laptop battery is low and in need of recharging, but I can’t do it without electricity”. The second designer complained that without power the sewing machine was useless, and it was too late to order patterns on-line. The third said, “No problem. Let’s get started”.

In wonderment, the rich man’s wife asked how this is possible without any equipment! “I have my hands, I never travel without my emergency sewing kit, and if you have a ball of string somewhere, that’s all I need.” And so proceeded to take her measurements with the ball of string, sketched some ideas on paper for her approval, and drafted the patterns on old bed sheets. After assembling the mock-up designs, they were fitted exactly to her figure. Then used as the pattern to cut her prized fabrics.

During the following days, the rich man’s wife witnessed how the garments were being created piece by piece, all with the greatest care and attention to detail. Every pattern was skillfully matched at each seam. The garments were fitted a few times making sure they were comfortable and flattering to her figure. Then – one day the clothes were complete! “Oh my, I have never in my life seen such craftsmanship, such beauty, but mostly I have not felt so comfortable in my clothes, and felt so good about the way they make me look! I could see your joy while you worked, and why you love creating such wonderful things! How can I thank you enough for what you have done for me?” The young Couturier replied, “The opportunity you’ve given me has been priceless! Here is a detailed invoice of what you have received in exchange for my expertise.” The rich man’s wife never again wanted what everyone else could buy! Do you?

(Not The End) Just The Beginning – Cheers J

Ecole Holt Couture 2015 Fashion Event opening welcome

Ecole Holt Couture 2015 Fashion Event opening welcome

 

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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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