Category Archives: tailoring
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.
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.
- Enough fabric and ease across the bust line. No straining of fabric here.
- 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.
- Ease of fabric draping or flowing over the hip line, no stress or stretched out fabric here.
- The hemline is horizontally even from the floor front and back, even in stilettos.
- 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.
- 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
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
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.
Ecole Holt Couture students feature their current project work on the runway each year. This year, the event opened with an exhibit in Festival Hall foyer, curated by Ian Rogan with the assistance of Cassandra Cummings, featuring the students and their work in progress up-close interacting with the guests before the runway show. Alumni members also showcased their masterpieces on display on the auditorium stage.
This year EHC also partnered with InspireProjectYYC, raising awareness and funds for children’s charities – supporting children victimized by abuse and neglect. Mini Heroes, a coffee table photographic portrait collection of children re-imagined as influential heroes, a creative project by InspireProjectYYC were sold in the exhibit hall. All the proceeds of the event were donated to InspireProjectYYC not-for-profit foundation.
The young Mini Heroes were the first to walk out on the runway, followed by EHC students modeling their own creations, and this year’s Vintage collection by Elfriede Holtkamp, Master couturier/tailor and Founder of Ecole Holt Couture.
The theme ‘Step by Step’ reflected the methods and steps EHC applies in sharing information and training students to become professional couturiers and tailors.
Live music by Los Morenos
Video by Joe Kelly
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.
What an amazing experience! Ecole Holt Couture was invited to present a couture sewing workshop in Haines Junction, Yukon in August 2016. If you’re like me, you’re wondering where this place is and what is it all about. And so, I did some research to answer these two initial questions.
Haines Junction, Yukon – not to be confused with Haines Alaska, is a community of about 600+ residents where highway 1 and highway 3 converge in the Canadian Yukon. If you continue to follow highway 3 south you’ll end up in Haines Alaska, and if you follow highway 1 north you’ll end up in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Haines Junction is situated at the eastern edge of Kluane National Park and Reserve, 1.5 hours drive west of the city of Whitehorse, the capital of northwest Canada’s Yukon territory. Kluane is the home of Canada’s highest mountain peak, 5,959-metre Mount Logan. You may be starting to create a mental image of a wilderness intersection in the middle of the bush of the great Canadian north.
To my embarrassment, that’s what I thought too, but was overwhelmingly and pleasantly surprised by discovering a vibrant community well adjusted to the 21st century. Haines Junction is a beautiful village nestled in the northern boreal forest with a brand new 300 seat concert hall and convention center (that sells out for its annual Kluane Mountain Bluegrass Festival well into its second decade), and the DaKu Cultural Centre teaching, curatorial and interpretive facility of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) Dän (people) and National Park Visitor Centre.
Upon landing in Whitehorse, my traveling companion D’Arcy Moses (whom I’d only just met on the flight) and I were graciously ushered into CBC Radio North studio to do a live interview with Tara McCarthy, host of ‘the Weekender’ to promote our respective workshops and the Junction Arts & Music event.
Ecole Holt Couture presented 3 workshops over the weekend, demonstrating how to create and sew professionally made couture items using native Yukon Fox. Each workshop concentrated on a different project suggested by the participants, items that they would like to attempt themselves. The participants ranged from novices to experienced sewers, and from the reviews we received everyone learned something valuable to take home with them to apply to their own inspired fur projects.
What I took away from this experience was the exuberance and creative energy that exists within the people, both of the First Nations and incomers (all of us who are not first nations) to the Canadian north. These are a people that appreciate the arts and heritage crafts, who originate a wealth of innovative art and music. The arts, as it happens is also well supported in the north by corporate sponsorship and various levels of government who “get it” that the arts promotes well being plus local economic success.
If you asked me, would I do it again? “In a heartbeat”. – cheers, J
(pic below: demonstrating the difficulty of cutting fur when it’s not properly secured to the cutting surface…)