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Tag Archives: pattern making

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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Ecole Holt Couture 2014 Presents – Youtube video trailer

Watch Video

Watch Video

At EHC we are very fortunate to have talented students with varied skills. ‘You’re Invited’ was created by one such student, Amy Zia, as a light-hearted look at what we do as couturiers! But, don’t be fooled, what we do is highly professional whether for special occasions or to create a functional and personal business wardrobe.

This fashion event is created to help raise awareness and funds for Making Changes Association, who provides hundreds and hundreds of women with functional and appropriate work wardrobes each year. Their clients are all making the effort to re-enter the workforce, and perhaps have few resources to do so.

Making Changes programs include guidance on writing resumes, and networking to gain employment, to those who perhaps may never have had to provide these qualifications before.

The wardrobes that are provided are all donated, recycled, reused, and up-cycled from high quality garments that are either brand new or gently used, giving the garments a new life as well.

So although, EHC teaches the skills to create brand new custom couture made garments, we support, believe in what and how Making Changes not only uses perfectly good clothing as their main program resource, but

More importantly, we support and share their values in how they treat women and teens struggling to improve their life situations, by treating them like family. Almost all of the day to day operations are handled by wonderful volunteers who have time and expertise to share.

You are invited, to attend this event! Just click on ‘buy tickets‘, and join us in supporting this wonderful organization.
Ecole Holt Couture School will also have a booth at the event if you would like to know more about us, and become part of this wonderful highly skilled, hand-made and crafted market!

If you can’t start the video, please copy and paste the URL into your preferred browser! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phgn-NzI-Ls
Enjoy and see you at the event on Sunday November 16th! – cheers J.

To get ahead you need to get started.

To get ahead you need to get started.

 

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Slow fashion – its your prerogative!

389x421To be happily successful in couture and tailoring you must become a master maker and this takes time as does developing your clientele. Gaining sufficient experience and always paying a great deal of attention to detail, wherein no element is compromised in a garment’s making, cannot be learned in a fast-track approach to learning, which is the reason why EHC’s programs are longer than typical career college programs.

Because the essence of couture and tailoring is to create a masterpiece every time, as with fine art, it is through making a multitude of discriminating choices. Understanding the intricacies of construction techniques and their application complexities is cultivated by experience. Pushing beyond your current level of creativity needs time to mature. In couture and tailoring a single garment is made to fit the client’s exacting requirements and style. As with an original work of art, cannot not be reproduced on mass and would defeat the whole purpose. In Couture and Tailoring, no garment is made on speculation; but by prearranged sale or by agreement.

Financial success at any level is basically what is left over after expenses and other related costs. In creating one item whatever profit is attained very quickly, which could either be acceptable or unacceptable. It is noteworthy to point out artists and artisans have a reputation for disliking putting themselves forward selling their expertise and generally do better in complementary business arrangements wherein they can entrust some time-consuming marketing duties into the hands of someone else. However, handing over this kind of content control to someone else is not easy – finding someone who understands your vision and can speak in your voice – is exceptional.

If profit margins turnout to be lower for ‘makers’, meaning artists, artisans, and crafts people the compensation is greater in career satisfaction (or high job satisfaction). We also have somewhat longer careers than usual, working well beyond retirement age because we love to be creative and productive at any age. To be a successful maker the secret is in being authentic. Staying creatively involved, having control over our work, maintaining high work ethics, keeping our natural and business environments healthy and sustaining our emotional and spiritual wellbeing is essential to and naturally high on our priority list in life.

A word about sustainability – defined as genuine attitudes and practices rather than ‘green-washed’ attempts or hyped up pitches to create an illusion of sustainability. More and more influential people in the industry are supporting what is called ‘slow fashion’, a term coined by Kate Fletcher (Centre for Sustainable Fashion, UK, 2007). The core of a movement dedicated to righteous ways of being fashionable. Slow fashion encompasses all initiatives taken towards using bio-degradable raw materials, recycled garments, buying from fair-trade organization and promoting slow consumption.

We all have choices, and no one way is right for everyone. But, being able to make conscious and informed choices shouldn’t be drudgery, it is a luxury, it should be our prerogative. This may also appeal to you! Cheers! J. IMG_3096

 

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Creating is exciting, mastering is satisfying.

70x76I love and need to do something creative with my hands, whether playing the piano, sewing, cooking, gardening, sketching or doodling. Using my hands and engaging my mind are perfect partners for what I do in couture sewing and bespoke tailoring. I’m never satisfied with good enough, I strive for perfection every time. And, learning continues long after you master the fundamental skills and techniques. Couture and tailoring as a career has never become dry and continues to evolve.

In fashion making, including alterations, businesses surveyed (2012) – 56% required expert hand sewing skills, 33% custom pattern making skills, 89% custom fitting skills, 56% customer service skills, 33% required design and styling skills, and only 22% need machinist skills. Clearly, machinist skills at the bottom of the list.

Wow, a whopping 89% could really use expertise in custom fitting skills!

It doesn’t help, I think,  that many young people are misinformed about the business of professional couture sewing. As a result are reluctant to get into a field of fashion design that they think is just monotonous and slavishly laborious such as seen in those factories exposed recently in overseas countries.  In fact, couture sewing and tailoring is really very creative and fulfilling. True, the hours are sometimes long, but each piece that you work on is different from the last, unlike production work.

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Glamour and sex appeal is continually portrayed in fashion media and gives a false impression of the reality of working in fashion. Fashion is exciting, but true career satisfaction from comes from within and from the recognition of a job well done, along with the financial rewards. And while haute couture appears quite sensational on the surface, it is just like any business that requires education, experience, dedication and investment to be successful. Did I forget to say, you need ‘Passion’.

If you are anything like me, you get excited about creating things yourself, find peace and tranquillity in stillness and quiet concentration, thrive on a balance of keeping your own company and sharing quality time with other creative people and have an eye for detail and beauty. Often I become inspired and find myself lost in imagination. You see a need and know deep down that you can succeed at something that you really love doing.

One of the most rewarding times is when you reach the stage in your career, when you no longer question your abilities or skills. When you know that even when you haven’t done something before, you can figure it out! Excitement builds within me with every new project, especially the challenging ones, and then to see the joy your clients express when they get what they dream about.

...working on a wedding gown early in my career...

…working on a wedding gown early in my career…

To see other people awaken to their passion, is always a thrill as an educator. Doing what I do is the cake, doing what I love doing is the icing on the cake. Sharing what I’ve learned is the eating of the cake. – J.

Pattern cutter, maker, engineer

 

Artist-hand-mind-maker

kelsey

Creative expression your living heritage

 

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Pattern cutting, pattern making, pattern engineering.

At EHC pattern engineering

At EHC pattern engineering

Whatever you call it, is interpreting a design with an eye for detail, making pattern templates used to cut the cloth before any construction can begin. We often get approached by outside students of fashion and designers alike asking for theses pattern making skills.

We still draft patterns by hand at Ecole Holt Couture, an essentially combined science and art form without the aid of CAD programs, specifically for haute couture and bespoke tailoring – which is what we teach. Pattern engineering is integral and essential to a successful business as a couturier and tailor whether you work from home or operate a studio or boutique.

Every pattern is based on an entirely unique set of measurements first to create a mock-up or toile for design and fit adjustments. This ensures perfect fit, efficient use and adequate quantity of expensive and specially made fabrics for the final garment.

Interpreting the designer’s ideal fit and flair is what sets great pattern-makers apart from the masses and enables them to command high salaries. Being detail-oriented, style-conscious, perfectionistic, and hard-working, enables pattern-makers to earn upwards of $100,000/year in New York or Los Angeles as of 2013. Freelance pattern-makers may earn up to $40/hr or more in LA. Pattern-making services usually charge more than this, however. The time it takes to make any type of pattern is extremely difficult to predict, and few predictions are accurate.

The importance of having the skills to make original patterns cannot be understated. The following are comments made by professionals in the fashion design and production field.

Pattern engineering is at the cutting edge of design, processing flat designs into 3D form is as important as the design itself, and fundamental to the success of any design. Without the technician the designer cannot produce. Pattern cutters are equal to the designer and are crucial to success.

Even though pattern cutters work in collaboration with designers for many years, the credit normally goes to the designer. However, no famous designer would ever claim that their design was created without a great team behind them as they work hand in hand on every function to achieve final goal.

Cutters understand and are interpreters of what is in your head as a designer. Behind every designer is a very creative pattern cutter, a sort of marriage between art forms and expertise. They provide many more options than the obvious ones to achieve a design.

Pattern cutters are just as creative as the designer, but perhaps more practical. However, not enough technical people being trained for the fashion industry as the actual manufacturers move into other countries. There are plenty of designers around, but not enough technical creators.

Pattern cutters are open-minded and know the foundation rules, and understand how to break those rules. They can turn tailoring ideas on their head, are methodical and use good sense.

We live in a fairly celebrity obsessed society and perhaps most people want to be the high profile designer. But maybe you are the type that will follow your love and spirit for cutting. Pattern cutting is actually a highly respected career that you can make a decent living out of. (See: Canada. USA. UK. )

As a pattern cutter you won’t be on television or have a famous name, the same as if you’re a football coach or in the pit crew of a formula one race car – you are the support team. Pattern cutters are the unsung heroes.

It is very satisfying seeing a project through from the concept, its procedure of cutting and fitting, all the way to the runway or see someone wearing it, or in the shops.If you become a top pattern cutter you will become an even better designer, the best training ever to become an even better designer.

They are real gold to a designer, who needs to create what people want to buy and what they want to wear. Imagine if you are a designer and find pattern cutter you absolutely love, then you can feed all these wonderful ideas to them to be interpreted.

Imaging doing something you really enjoy for 8 hours every day. Pattern cutters understand you before you’ve even said something, even presented with a vague sketch. You don’t want to get rid of a good pattern cutter – ever!

Designers will come and go. That’s just the way it is. A creative pattern cutter will have great job security. If you are good, then you become in some ways, the mainstay of a successful creative studio.

You work with someone else and add your input to create the final garment. You turn great ideas into reality. There is a huge need for creative technologists in every single area of fashion design including pattern cutters, seamstresses, etc.

The fashion industry has changed, certainly from local manufacturing, but the front end part is not moving anywhere – business always need to be very close to the market that they are operating in.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been enough publicity of the icons of the past – we need more publicity of these very creative people. Careers for pattern cutting and sewing are still very much alive; you just never know where you will end up working – for a high street shop or next to a designer.

Comments condensed from video:
Sally Smith, one time Design Director, Coats Viyella
Michael Terry, Design Director and one time Executive Director at Dewhirst Group based in the UK,
Amanda Wakeley, Designer
Betty Jackson, Designer
Nicole Fahri, Designer
Ren Pearce and Andrew Fionda, Designers recently well known for their innovative cutting techniques for British Fashion Council.

Many books are published on the subject, but it is rare for a pattern-maker to become a professional through teaching oneself. Apprenticeships are almost unheard of in North America, but would serve well to improve the transition from student to professional status. Because this occupation is relatively unknown outside of the apparel industry, there is a serious lack of pattern-makers who can accurately interpret designs in LA, and possibly other fashion capitals.

pattern cutter

 

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Draft your own Patterns

Draft your own Patterns

Have you ever wondered how it is possible to draft you own pattern without copying or modifying a commercial pattern, must you use a wiz bang 1-2-3 step computer program? And how are patterns designed in the first place? Whether sold for home sewers, enthusiasts or hobbyists patterns are all first created by someone.

Using advanced technology, laser beams can scan the body, translate a million bits of information through the software to instantly generate the human form onto the screen in 3D. Plotting manipulates information to produce a pattern piece according to your design. The pieces are joined together in virtual reality to see how they all fit together, along with instructions for assembly. Computer programs can generate patterns in a matter of minutes rather than hours, in the hands of an experienced operator. But is it necessary to use CAD?

Or must you be a Michael Angelo, Leonardo Davinci, Albert Einstein or Bill Gates to design, draft or engineer patterns? Some would say yes it helps, and I would agree, however you do not need to be an art master or math genius. Yes, it is highly creative and yes it relies on the theory of relativity, and practice.

One must develop ‘an eye’ – meaning perceiving more than what is visually in front of you and then interpreting and comparing it with a standard, or your design. It doesn’t only rely on having an eye, but also on how measurements relate to one another.  In couture, these sets of measurements are different for every individual – they are relative or depend on factors that vary according to context.

For manufacturing purposes, it is made easier for the pattern maker because they are working with a set of standards – standard sizes (the terrible thing that makes women feel so inadequate about themselves). One pattern is created which is then graded – or adjusted up or down thus creating several sizes of the same design.

For a couturier it is a matter of everyday business to interpret a number of measurements – as many as 60 for each client to draft or create a master pattern, a few more measurements are taken specific to a particular design. To grade these patterns is a useless exercise because in Couture everything is unique and no two people are the same.

The couturier is an artist that is continually creating new work so it is crucially important to understand the dynamics of pattern making or pattern engineering and the uniqueness of every individual – of course flat pattern drafting is done by hand. Various methods of draping are used in addition to – not instead of flat pattern drafting.

Trained couturiers use various draping methods to test and visualize designs effectively upon a firm understanding of flat pattern drafting. Much like engineers use models to test designs, and true artists create new work based on past experience – not happen stance.

The initial two years of training in the EHC certificate program, concentrates on the fundamentals of pattern drafting, and further two years of training in the diploma program, teaches students how to refine these skills and then push the boundaries of pattern making – which is referred to as pattern engineering.

 

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