Probably better to watch the video, it has more information than me rambling on here…but in summary:
Pattern Drafting is a skill in huge demand in the fashion industry, and Ecole Holt Couture teaches pattern drafting in the traditional ‘hand drawn’ way as distinct from CAD, computer assisted drafting.
We also teach draping and modelling as an aid to pattern drafting. EHC teaches pattern drafting as an integrated part of the whole curriculum for Dressmaking, Couture and Tailoring.
We believe that pattern drafting cannot be separated from the designing, construction methods or detailing of any garment, and especially for custom or bespoke garments. A practitioner who doesn’t fully understand pattern drafting doesn’t fully appreciate the interconnections between the design, the numerous construction methods, sewing techniques, or even the chain of processes involved in professional dressmaking, couture and tailoring.
At EHC we use different means to help students learn pattern drafting, and we strive to make sure all students fully comprehend all the curriculum by the time they have achieved their Certificate and Diploma awards.
If pattern drafting were an easy skill to learn, then many more designers, dressmakers, couturiers and tailors would be doing it than actually are able to. To be clear, pattern drafting is a highly specialized skill that commands high rewards.
Ecole Holt Couture (EHC) teaches couture sewing skills and methods for application to career Dressmakers, Couturiers and Tailors. We also teach these same skills and methods for those who love to sew who just have a love and appreciation for high quality craftsmanship in the art of couture. Creating is exciting, Mastering is satisfying. How do you start? At the beginning.
We already have a handful of very basic videos free to view, but we are working on more critical fundamental instruction videos if you are interested in knowing a little more.
Ecole Holt Couture is gearing up to soon post our Free ‘introduction to couture sewing’ course on our YouTube Channel. It would be good to know what basic tools and equipment will be needed for couture sewing! Here is a list of tools, equipment and materials you’ll need to get started. This by far is not the entire list, but most of these listed are good for a lifetime of use!
We will be posting a separate video for each one explaining the features, and what to look for when you search them out (refer to our playlists). And, maybe you already own some of these or have a special someone in your life that would love to hand them on to you!
We won’t have any sources linked to the items because we are not affiliated or sponsored by any company or supplier; the choice is yours and the internet has so many resources to choose from, that you would be better able to source them from your particular locale and situation. We do recommend to use key words and phrases in your browsers search bar to to your research. [Ecole Holt Couture does have its preferred suppliers, but those will be specifically shared with students in our program].
Being an ardent admirer of authentic haute couture and while you attend vintage haute couture exhibits, the displays make your mouth water and your heart leap to just witness the artform with its high level of craftsmanship, ‘they look so perfect, no one can do that anymore!’ You crave everything about haute couture garments and are drawn to their glamour, elegance and fine craftsmanship.
As a devoted fan of high-end designer work; in awe you wonder who makes up their amazing clothes! You wish you knew how to do that too. Disappointingly, you are not aware of any master couturiers taking on new apprentices in your locale. ‘Are apprentices even a thing anymore? Who teaches sewing at that level anyway?’
Determined to make-up that design idea you’ve played with in your head for months now, maybe years. In fact, you have a load of great ideas pinned to your peg board or sketched in your journal. You want to create them, and you know you could do it, if only you had the right skills. But you are stuck. ‘They all said it is easy, anyone can do it. So, why can I not do it! And, I have watched hundreds of how-to videos! What are they not telling me?’
Searching everywhere for a commercial sewing pattern that closely resembles what you have in mind, you finally found one, looked at it again but saw some issues that you cannot resolve. Confused now, ‘what point are all those bits and pieces, how to they attach and where do they go, and why are they that odd shape? I could do better starting from scratch!’
Seriously, you would be happy to just sew everyday clothes that you love wearing. Like at least one decent winter coat that really would keep you warm and the wind out, has right size pockets in the right places, and looks like it literally leapt right off a fashion runway stage. To sew a pair of comfortable trousers that fit properly making you look a bit taller, thighs smaller, making your booty look totally awesome, but at the same time obscures your slightly embarrassing love handles. Or a jacket, with sleeves that reach right down to your wrists even when you bend your arms, and buttons-up easily over around your bust-line. ‘These are not unrealistic fairy-tale expectations, they really aren’t! Why can’t I get it to fit right?’
What materials should I use? I don’t even know what it’s called but, ‘it is really soft and feels like’… ‘But I’m afraid to mess it up, and I really don’t want to waste more fabric and money, again. What does ‘good quality’ fabric mean anyway, and how much in reality would it cost to make? What is the problem with cheap fabric anyway?’ Now your conscience bites; ‘what about all the mountains of tossed garments that will never decay’ (and you’re already feeling rotten about the environmental burden). ‘How can anyone justify having anything new at all! What about re purposing stuff in my wardrobe, how do I do that? I just want something new that will last for a long time!’
You’ve collected a lot of ‘time saving’ sewing gadgets you realize haven’t lived up to their claims, but they look pretty neat on the shelf. You loaded your credit card up again by purchasing that dream sewing machine [yup, another one that you don’t have room for] that promises to do everything you fantasized about. And you will use them all some day once you figured out how they work. ‘Does everyone have trouble getting the stitches to look straight? Aren’t sewing machines supposed to miraculously sew things together at lightening speed? Why would anyone sew anything by hand anymore? But then, why can’t we sew and put together things by hand? I’m not sure I could do that, it seems complicated.’
You never have owned an iron and are ‘darned proud of it!’ You are not going to slave over anything that needs pressing. Ever. That was over decades ago. Although, you do admire how well clothes stand out when they are brand new. You recognize some clothing seems to stay so much neater looking than others, and wonder why some look totally rubbish after they’ve been worn a few times? ‘How did they ever manage to keep clothing wearable for so long years ago? Why don’t mine look smart and stay like that?’
Miserable and defeated, your hands up, incapable of instantaneously turning out a decent garment like the neighbourhood seamstress who claims to sew up a suit in a few days! Or maybe, you have misunderstood, convinced that is the amount of time it should take, shouldn’t it? In any case, ‘I wish some one would actually say the words – it doesn’t magically happen at the snap of your fingers!’
Discouraged with the results that you are getting, nothing looks perfectly right, and some things are most definitely ‘off’ about your creation. You followed all the instructions condensed and distilled from the mountain of ‘how to’ sewing guides. You are continually frustrated because there is no one that has the knowledge or experience to guide you along. ‘Why can’t I just find an expert to ask and show me how! Where is everyone!?!’
The sting is real! We get it.
That overwhelming extremely frustrating feeling, of resignation that it might be too late, my expectations are too high and unachievable, and that I will never get there.
But, what if the solution to relieve those feelings of frustration, helplessness and creative despair was available.
What if your skills deficit was fill-able and your knowledge barrier were removed?
What if it became possible and accessible to you?
What if, you had found an experienced guide who would [take you by the hand figuratively speaking] lead you through the wilderness of information, clear cutting a path of learning for you.
If at the end of your journey [by the way this is not just a casual stroll] the result would be a transformation from ‘unknowing’ to ‘confidence’ in your skills and knowledge that would enable you to become the master of your creations.
And you could also then visualize many more routes of opportunity that you never knew existed before.
This is who we are and what we do.
Ecole Holt Couture was designed to be that kind of professional guide.
To help you prepare for the hike (up the learning curve), first we begin by assuming that you are a complete novice.
With simple explanations and demonstrations, we teach you the basics that you can learn and practice on your own before you commit to the amazing journey of transformation ahead.
We will have our foundation instruction videos posted on our YouTube channel. You can follow and practice the basic modules in the privacy of your own internet space for free. No one ever needs to know that you didn’t know how to accomplish them all along.
After you have completed the basic modules, perhaps you discovered that you hate sewing by hand, it is a nightmare, and don’t want to do this after all. That is good! Because then you haven’t wasted any money or invested more time than necessary! There will be another way for you to realize your dreams, just need to keep searching.
But on the other hand, if you discover you love how satisfying [and seriously FUN] it is to be able to be a little bit self-sufficient to know how to sew buttons back on, sew up a loose hem, mend a broken seam, feel inspired to sew something completely by hand, then you may have also discovered the key. The relatedness between your eyes, hands, mind and your soul.
If you discover being in your own head-space alone with your thoughts is enjoyable and stimulating (and a little piece of heaven) then read on.
And along the way, you’ll have discovered a way that you can be instrumental in keeping our precious earth safer from suffocating under the ever-increasing mountains of tossed clothing, just by fixing [aka recycling, up-cycling, re-purposing] clothing up again!
This is how we can help you!
Whenever you are ready to take the next step, we will guide you through the secret world of couture sewing. We will help you understand the connections and relationship between unique body measurements, shapes and postures, and your design, to be able to draft your own original patterns – drawn by hand.
We will unravel the mystery about fibres and materials, and why they do what they do best. You will discover that you can do most everything you need to without a sewing machine, and when you do use one, it doesn’t need to be of the spacecraft variety.
Pressing irons are just tools, just like any other tool. Once you know how, you will be astonished at the professional looking results that are achieved by pressing properly. And perish the thought that it will end your reputation as an ‘iron free’ independent human being with rights, who protested and fought for women’s liberty and equality in the home.
Many myths will be exposed. Yup, they lied to us. Turning out top end couture and tailoring does take more time, more attention to detail, lots of patience, and happens with purposeful intensity that turns into a project into a masterpiece. This is not training for speed sewing!
We will unearth the beauty of clothing that fits you well, and what that will become to mean for you (another thing that standardized sizing lied about). Once you have worn a couture garment made just for you with its corresponding virtues, you will understand why the challenges of mass producing ‘ready-made’ garments can never be overcome.
Inspired to refine your design ideas, you will begin balancing designs with functionality, using appropriate materials and construction methods, achieving a more perfect fit, adding interesting details, all with synchronous harmony for aesthetically satisfying results.
The best part is that in time you will gain the confidence to try things you’ve never attempted before with a reasonable but predictable expectation of success by applying what you now know and pushing beyond those limits (we call this calculated risk).
Great couture, like great Art, can be achieved in a few days or weeks, but only after years of previous practice and experimentation.
There is always a next idea to try out, to explore without having to relearn the skills to reinvent yourself as a creator. It never gets dull!
Like you, we count ourselves among the few who still believe in the importance of nurturing this artform and high level of sewing skills that fills our need to create from the soul as well as our minds.
To not only move towards a future by just clothing our own bodies, but to support a more sustainable fashion industry that puts an end to needless waste and reliance on the exploitation of industry workers. Together we can support our local economies.
But we need to make it more accessible to those who share our vision and are working on it now. For more information and updates on our courses please visit:
But is has also become a marketing lure directed at label conscious or size snob buyers. For example, a size 0 suggests that it is made for slim top model types. Whereas for size 4 individuals, it perhaps suggests ‘beyond the scope of being considered’ for a magazine cover, but in fact they could be the very same body shape.
If you suddenly find that you’ve jumped from a size 10 to a size 14, you may wonder where all of a sudden you’ve gained all that extra weight, but it may just be two different brand’s set of sizing. It has become ‘all about the implications of size. In any case, it causes unnecessary stress.
However, ‘Couture made’ or ‘Bespoke’ has very little in common with size standards, or sizing units, and is uniquely assigned to one, or each individual. If we all had a choice, we too would choose couture made!
Far too many girls, boys, young women and young men, indeed even mature women and men have been stressed out and victimized by this notion of attaining a perfect size. It is an impossible war to win.
Why are people constantly on reducing diets, driven to physical exhaustion in fitness training, and stressing out about their size. This is not about good health.
Magazines, television and social media posts of beautiful models in perfect fitness are front and centre of our faces constantly. Giving the impression that we should all be that way, to be anything at all of any note. And we buy into it.
All photos and images are touched up or photo shopped and do not portray accurately what even the models in the images are really like! You’ve heard this all before right? Why then do we still strive to attain the unrealistic?
We are all born with a unique set of measurements, and proportions – which is perfect for us. What isn’t perfect, or all encompassing, is manufactured clothing. It is made for a huge collective number of end buyers that will to a lessor or greater degree fit into a brand’s sizing or product. It is the only way to mass produce and sell ready made clothing.
Ready made clothing needs to be offered in various different sizes to accommodate a collective number of humans in a target market. That is it. No mystery here.
Couture is not like that. Couture (or Tailoring) is made specifically for YOU. Your individual and unique set of measurements, plus your particular asks, or requirements. To your STYLE. How cool is that!
Is Ecole Holt Couture School of Couture Sewing and Design for you? I’ve been there, you know that point where you are frustrated because there is some piece of information you are missing, some skill that isn’t up to the standard you want it to be. You’ve got the ideas, the creativity, but you don’t have everything in place to make that idea come to life, from start to finish. I know, totally disheartening right!?! My story, how the program blew my mind and profoundly changed me…
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Watch this video I share a little bit about what I learned and how I came to be an instructor at Ecole Holt Couture.
Graduates at EHC receive their final awards for attending and completing 600 hours of instruction and 1800 [2400hrs] hours of practical [projects] lab-work for each of the Dressmaking and Couturier/Tailoring awards.
EHC awards are printed with the graduate’s name, two official signatures, an EHC embossed seal, the date of issue, and possesses a unique serial number registered with the school. You can check the authenticity of our awards if you see one, and want to make sure it is real!
The award costs $40 for paper and graphic work, but is worth more than $60,000 and its value is truly priceless for the recipient. Most importantly, the recipient has the skills to work as a professional dressmaker, couturier and tailor!
The knowledge and curriculum are not copied or borrowed from any other institution, and is original to EHC. We have retained all of the original hard copies of work notes, sketches, and documentation, by the Founder from its inception, and development, to now, and and all of it is copyright protected.
We still create original patterns drafted by hand using 60+ measurements taken from each individual client.
That it took 16 years to develop the innovative curriculum based on the Founder’s 60 years of professional experience in couture and tailoring. It all added up to a life time achievement award and recognition by the Universal Womens Network in 2019 for Elfriede Holtkamp [who now is retired but is still available for sage advice].
These skills are as much an Art as a Craft, and impossible to exactly duplicate the work from one artisan to another. Experienced crafts-person or artisan’s work is unique and cannot be convincingly reproduced, which is awesome!
We continue to be committed to preserving authentic couture sewing and tailoring skills by sharing, teaching, and mentoring. And we really do connect with and love our students!
New* – EHC is developing online instruction to reach further reaching geographic locations, for those who it is impossible to attend in person. We are continuing on-campus workshops and masterclasses launching in the fall of 2021. Who knows, we may even do traveling workshops in the future!
Please subscribe to EHC’s Youtube channel, Facebook page, and follow our WordPress blog for up-to-date information:
As we are making preparations to resume on-campus classes the beginning of September 2020, we wonder how it will all work out in the midst of physical distancing precautions, extra sanitising, and how to minimise time wearing a mandatory face mask during this Pandemic. We admit we don’t have it all figured out, and in one month, circumstances could yet again change, but all of us will be doing our best to make sure everyone is safe and has the best experience possible.
Normally during summer breaks we take advantage of our empty studio to host workshops, and take on a few projects that we otherwise would not have time or available space for. This summer one such project came in that we could accommodate was a prêt-a-porter wedding gown alteration. We usually do not take on alteration projects unless they are particularly complex or noteworthy for our students.
Our client granted us permission to share these videos with you > sewing practitioners, ensuing couturiers and tailors, and future brides. Some insight to what a professional alteration outcome should be, and look like, may help shape your expectations or gain some freedom of choice as to whether to consider ‘alterations’ as a sewing career option/add on. And for the bride-to-be, whether to go for couture made or buy a ready-made wedding gown realising that some altering may be a highly-likely extra cost.
The question often arises: why do alterations cost what they do when they appear to be very straight forward nip-and-tuck changes? This video series attempts to clarify why experienced dressmaking skills are required to do alterations of some complexity, and why the amount of time is necessary to accomplish the adjustments.
This project is divided into 8 separate video segments according to the various tasks following the initial fitting, to the final fitting, and delivery. They are titled and numbered 1/8 to 8/8 to make it easy for you to refer back to if you happen to have interest in one segment over the other. Together it is about 1 hour and 20 minutes in length, and we recommend that it first be viewed in its entirety putting everything in sequential context.
We hope you find the series informative, useful, and enjoyable and thank you for taking the time to visit with us inside the studio!
Sunday November 3rd is showtime! Every year Ecole Holt Couture supports and promotes is students by hosting a fashion event that includes a Student Exhibit with Reception and a Runway Show all within the price of the ticket.
All this so that students can invite their family and friends to view and participate in their achievments. The showcase event is open to the public as well! Would be couture and tailoring students want to see what the school is all about and what the students have created.
EHC also opens its doors once or twice each year, so that those interested in enroling have the opportunity to visit the school. Information seminars are designed to answer the miriad of questions that future applicants have about what they can expect from the program and what is expected of them.
The showcase this year is at cSpace King Edward, a collaborative creative space for all types of artisans. The venue is a sandstone building that was once a school, now completely preserved with a ultra modern theatre space added to the west end of the structure.
Our event features live music by local artists, Joshua Sung Park Trio. Who will play and perform through the afternoon. We offer great tasting treats by Cornerstone Cafe – another unique Calgary eatery that combines good food, good company with live music, and music lessons, during the reception and while guests chat with the students at the exhibit.
Later guests make themselves comfortable in all-front-row seating for the runway show part of the event. Everyone gets a good view and nice long look at the models with commentary by the owner and instructor of the school.
Today our class reviewed the numerous talented individuals who brought dressmaking and sewing to a new and exclusive level labelled ‘haute couture’. From Charles Frederick Worth, who is noted to be the father of haute couture, and many other designer couturiers that have followed in the 100 years leading up to 2000 including Poiret and Doucet, Fortuny, Chanel, Vionnet, Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy, Quant, Pucci, Valentino, Lauren, Prada, and Versace to mention only a few. Generally, before 1900 garments were created by unknown specialist and novelist sewers. That is not to say, they were unremarkable, only unrecognized.
Looking back over unique styles which relate to these designers, and notably have stuck around in some form since 1900, we generally attribute timelines to those trends that caught on in western society. It was true to say that if you weren’t dressed in the fashion of the day you were considered to be operating on the fringes of society, somehow unaware and out of step with the modern world and good taste.
Since around the year 2000 however, that has changed and it would be very difficult to attribute any single fashion with any designer or single style followed by the western world. An explosion of designers and acceptable style possibilities has eased the pressure on everyone to conform to prescribed fashion trends. But this has made fashion trend prediction much more complex. At the same time, it ironically seems easier to see huge design gaps in the fashion market.
One such gap is what we consider ethnically diverse style representation. What I mean is, fashion designed and created by individuals in cultures previously ignored, or even suppressed, by western society has only recently captured popular fashion media attention. Also, we have recognized it as unconscionable, and no longer the prerogative of western entitlement, to copy designs from another’s ethnicity or cultural icons. This really is progress to our own understanding and shouldn’t be viewed as hinderance to creativity or inspiration rather an opportunity for growth.
Another glaring gap is the unfulfilled need for atypical size men’s and women’s fashion, which represents a growing percentage of the population. I’m not just refering to larger size or particularly curvy individuals. It’s not so unusual these days for anyone to outgrow garments just by becoming more fit. Biceps and thighs are becoming larger, but garments are still made with standard size sleeves and trouser legs leaving them looking like they’ve been squeezed into sausage casings. I don’t believe this is the chicest look to show off muscular bodies.
Another gap is in regional requirements for warm and stylish winter wear here in our northerly climate. Sportswear and active wear seem to be reasonably well serviced today with outerwear for every conceivable sport. But what is clearly lacking is fashionable, functional and stylish outer wear for women and men in suits, dresses and evening wear. The key combination which is missing is ‘functional and stylish’ outerwear during the winter months that can last up to 6 months every year. Overcoats are never designed or made with enough wind-break, flexibility or ease to cover the entire body fully clothed in several layers already, nor made to cover, provide adequate warmth, and protect longer hemlines in evening gowns.
These are only three areas of immense opportunity for good creative design in fashion in our time. What I haven’t mentioned in this blog, but no less important, is the necessity to make and create with better materials, with better longer lasting methods. The whole purpose of our being in couture and tailoring is to promote quality in materials and craftsmanship to satisfy personal taste and style in garments that will stand the test of time physically and aesthetically.