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August 2021 – Ecole Holt Couture about ‘ONE’

ONE EHC Fashion Event
Elfriede Holtkamp – Founder, EHC

It seems like a long time ago, and yet just like yesterday, since Ecole Holt Couture hosted its first fashion event ‘ONE’, that so many wonderful creatives contributed to making it a success. We’ve hosted many fashion events over the years, with all our treasured volunteers and creative experts, whom without the events would never have even lifted off the ground.  We have journeyed together and come a long way with our many students and graduates, and event volunteers we are continuing to evolve.

If you are new to EHC, this is what we do and what we don’t do. We can teach you ‘how to’ from visualizing and refining your ideas, all the in-between bits, and take you all the way to making your ideas a reality using your own hands.

Learning these skills and gaining relevant experience doesn’t happen overnight and make years to learn.  We can take the mystery out of what it takes to become competent and proficient to work at this professionally and teach you the component parts of the art and craft of dressmaking, couture, and tailoring. We don’t teach how to become a fashion designer; you already know that you’ve got great taste and ideas. We can’t teach that; you’ve either got that gift or not.

We can tell you what we’ve done to create a sustainable business, as Elfriede the Founder created an entire 65 year career on dressmaking, couture and tailoring, what worked and what didn’t work. What we can’t do is tell you how to run your own business. That depends on your lifestyle goals, your market, your vision, your resources, and your location, etc. There are so many excellent business coaches and business training options today, it really is an asset to be able to choose what suits you best.

For years we have trained and mentored students to do develop their skills, knowledge, and passion for sewing in creating high quality professional level garments. We’ve witnessed the progress, the elation when the proverbial ‘lightbulb’ comes on, and the results that the right training can achieve. We’ve also seen how hard students have worked and the dedication they put into their learning, and the sacrifices they’ve made to achieve those results. Today it is no different, but the circumstances of life have changed today.

We have also taken note of and recognized the challenges and barriers that many students today face. Whether it be with limiting finances, with family and employment commitments, and the time-limits many would-be learners must commit to full-time learning. We have responded to all these factors by changing the way we deliver will our programs.

Starting 2021 EHC have ceased to offer full-time on-site classes for Dressmaking or Couture & Tailoring, but instead will be offering our curriculum in shorter more manageable progressive modules that offers more flexibility for today’s realities.

We are developing learning space options for our students with time and financial constraints. With the advantage of using the amazing potential that online learning provides, we will offer home-study videos and online consultations, using a secure and private members platform bringing together a whole community of current and past students and graduates. And in combination with on-site workshops and events will continue to provide guidance, tuition, and support for our learners.

We say ‘learners’ because learning and sharing ideas never stops with certification awards. This art and craft always offers something new far beyond the programs. These skills and knowledge combined with new design ideas always presents new opportunities for growth and earning potential. 

With this new delivery method and our new business operating model we will still provide the same comprehensive training that we have always delivered, however at a pace that is more aligned with your own pace of learning and with multiple progressive learning modules. Still project-based learning, the cumulative result of achieving all relevant module level certifications, will offer our official dressmaking certificate and couture & tailoring diploma following successful the outcome of each respective final exam.

Another major advantage is that the cost for the training can be broken down into more manageable segments when paid for each consecutive learning module as you go, rather than paying for the full two-year program up front, as it had been mandated by the governing authority over our previous business operating model.

Although, a lump sum of several thousand dollars is a huge investment, few would-be students had that amount tucked away, and naturally needed extra student loans to access this education opportunity. In offering ongoing, and/or lifetime memberships to our learning platform will give everyone the opportunity and the time to raise funds for their education investment without being burdened with student loans afterwards that may take years to repay.  

You make the choice of how to raise funds sourced from your savings, through the support of your family, or you can continue your current employment, you could fund-raise through your community for your education using GoFundMe.com, community grants, or other crowdfunding methods. There are many ways to afford training if you’re willing to look for them. We’ve kept our modules very affordable for the type of master level training you are receiving.

Don’t worry if you are not quite sure this is the right fit for you. You don’t have to commit to joining our membership program right away. It won’t even be launched for several months, and in the meantime, we are uploading a load of free beginner videos on our YouTube channel so that you can dip your toes and test the waters first, to find out if our style of teaching appeals to you and if it works for you. It won’t work for everyone, and that’s OK too. We have a tried and tested method of teaching that we are very good at, but it’s not good for everyone. Education is and should be viewed as an investment, and no one should invest in something they don’t trust, or think will provide a good return.

Looking to the future, we are very excited and encourage you to watch this space for details and updates in 2021.

There are several ways to follow EHC: our website at http://www.ecoleholtcouture.com [which still needs major updates BTW], our FB page and Twitter which are current, our Blogsite, our YouTube channel all accessed from our website, and our Newsletter that you can sign up for by request at info@ecoleholtcouture.com.

Thanks to you for following us so far! Please feel free to share this with your friends and family.

cheers! J

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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July 2021 post – Ecole Holt Couture

Hi everyone! Hope you are all doing well in this almost ‘post’ pandemic period. I say almost, because with all my fingers crossed we won’t be experiencing a fourth wave of Covid19 or its variants. Please do take any precautions you feel comfortable with wherever you go!

It seems fitting, to expand on my thoughts inspired by this photo shared on Facebook by the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria – sourced from http://ouvragesdedames.canalblog.com about the exquisite  handmade button holes  decorated around the edges, dated back to 1828.

Looking at this lovely sampler, embroidered on quite possibly hand-woven linen, you can see the care and precision of the work that has been put into these buttonholes with the finely stitched decoration surrounding the hole. This embroidery was created to enhance a purely functional detail such as a buttonhole.

As with all hand stitching, it requires experience to be done well. Not only that, but it also creates a signature upon the project being done. Let me refer you to the practice used in Men’s tailoring.

In Men’s tailoring there are divisions of labour in the making of bespoke items or suit of items. One person will be the cutter, another will work on jackets [coats], another the trousers, and another will be creating the vests and another the shirts. The detailing work is also divided into another division of labour where one crafts-person will do nothing else but hand-stitch buttonholes. One can see that each crafts-person will have a particular style which you can visually recognize. This means that even though there may be many people creating buttonholes, there will never be two project pieces that are ‘identical. They will be ‘identifiable’, in effect, creating that crafts-person’s signature. So, when inspecting a piece that has been handmade in the past, you can identify, whether more than one person has been working on the same piece.

It is the same with all handwork, and in the piece pictured below. Even if two highly skilled people were to embroider the same pattern, they would not look exactly the same. They would be identifiably different.

In couture and tailoring, this is also true. Even though, two or more people will have been trained by one master, all work that is created will be identifiably different. This means, that although one designer may try to copy someone else’s garment, it will never be exactly the same. However, at Ecole Holt Couture we teach our students to never copy any garment. Each garment in couture [and bespoke tailoring] must be one of a kind. In effect, just creating a piece by single maker makes it unique because no one can exactly copy your exact methodology or your exact techniques. This is encouraging because it is tangible proof of your own unique work, if any doubts should arise.

This buttonhole sampler was made many years ago, but today our clothing is much simpler in style, and much less detailed. However even on simple clothing or a simple design, one can still add some detailing method either on the surface or on the inside of the garment which creates a signature or a style either of the creator, or the wearer, or both. This will identify a garment as uniquely yours.

At Ecole Holt Couture we emphasize the unique nature of ‘hand-made’ or creating things by hand. Beginning with the thought process that goes into creating a garment which is unique to each individual. From the intake of information, the planning, sketching, the drafting of a new pattern, the creation of a toile for the first fitting, the unique layout of the pattern pieces on the final fabric, each construction stage, to the finishing and the detailing will all be unique to the creator. And each designer/creator will in fact, be leaving their signature upon each garment. This is one of the most exciting aspects of couture and tailoring. Each and every piece is unique, not only in style but in its execution.

Photo source: click on image.

 

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We’ve reached the end of Term! Sort of.

We’ve reached the end of term, as well as the end of the 2019-2021 Certificate Program. Sort of.

Because of the accumulation of Covid19 restrictions during the last 18 months, putting us a little behind schedule, we haven’t actually completed the term. So we will continue our classes for another couple of months with a flexible schedule so that all current students receive all the instruction and input that had been our method for the last 13 years.

When that has been accomplished we will plan the celebrations that the graduates are so looking forward to. We are very impressed with their commitment and talent, and anticipate a very interesting result!

Stay safe, enjoy the summer… will keep you informed!

Cheers! J

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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Ecole Holt Couture COVID-19

COVID-19 has certainly changed how we presented our final term for year one of the Certificate and Diploma program. Interactive online classes replaced on-campus classes for 10 weeks. We necessarily compressed two terms of theory into one term online instruction, deferring all practical instruction for the same two terms until the fall when we plan to resume on-campus classes. This process was a huge learning curve for all of us – and not without its losses, but certainly not without space for creating new opportunities for online instruction in the future.

The experience has shunted us towards a clearer vision of the future for Ecole Holt Couture. The notion of migrating a selection of instruction modules to an online version has been in the planning for over a year. But now we have real time practical experience to create an educational experience that can potentially reach a further reaching audience. Although, still in the early stages of development, we do have a grasp on what works and what does not work in our specialisation, for an online format.

Thanks to my assistant and our current students who have stayed the course with us through this difficult time, even though only temporary, we were able to discover the strengths and weaknesses of online learning firsthand. We are much enlightened with the experience.

COVID-19 and the mandatory isolation regulations imposed on us all, has changed our world. Along with everything else that has impacted us, even a little bit, in the last 12 months, it seems there is not a week that goes by without news of another natural disaster or global movement affecting everything we thought we knew to be normal. It also feels like now is the time to be taking a firmer stand on issues that affect how humanity is being treated, as well as how we ought to be treating our unique planet earth.

At Ecole Holt Couture, we took a stand on using natural fibres in regard to minimising long-term negative effects on the environment, years ago. Natural fibres are by a long shot, the best in comfort and function to be wearing next to your skin, have the most long-lasting desirable characteristics, and the longest useful lifetime, and the safest decomposition properties, than any synthetic fibres to date. Yes, synthetics have their place in fashion and in utility, but should be used minimally and only for their ideal or optimum purpose.

We also believe that every human being, as well as all other beings in our natural world, has a valuable valid place and room for potential on our precious planet earth and should be treated with respect, understanding and with genuine kindness.

The problem is with our collective definition of value. The most contentious issue in society seems to be how we decide upon and prescribe value, and what characteristics we deem to be of value, which has changed and continues to change over time.

What we in truth value is tangibly reflected in how we live and treat other human beings, treat all creatures, and treat our natural environment. Why is our Earth continually mistreated and then also regarded as an unlimited provider of resources? What makes one human being more valuable than another? Who decides which skill is more important than another? What makes one creature’s existence worth more than another’s? Well, one thing that has been proven is in recent months, is that people on the ground keeping all essential services going are now invaluable where before they were disregarded as being insignificant.  

We still, however, face severe injustices of poverty & violence, and persistent resistance to human rights equality for women, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ communities, people of colour, and immigrants even after all the protests and riots around the world bringing it to everyone’s attention. We still face climate crises around the globe.

How then can we as individuals improve and change these unjust situations? It begins with each of us doing our part. Without that grounding no organisation, corporate or charitable, nor any level of government, is able gain any forward momentum for positive and equitable change.

… my condensed list of 2019/2020 events, disasters, catastrophes – the aftermath of what we are dealing with:

  • Major flooding, land slides, and melting of polar ice-cap disasters
  • SA Amazon rain-forest fires, and Australian bush-fire catastrophes
  • Global climate change denial and climate action demonstrations
  • Mass migration, and immigration conflicts,
  • #MMIWG movement, #MeToo movement, #BlackLivesMatter movement
  • Truth and Reconciliation reparation stalls for Indigenous peoples in Canada
  • Indigenous land-rights disputes and demonstrations,  
  • Acts of violence, mass shooting tragedies, and police brutality
  • Human rights demonstrations
  • Brexit and Megxit  fallout,
  • USA impeachment hearings and trial,
  • Rise of populism, return of fascism,
  • Major retailer bankruptcies, foreign trade-relation wars
  • Global deficiencies from COVID-19 Pandemic
  • And with 7 months of 2020 left to go…

I hope things will improve, and am doing what I can. I know you will too…

Cheers, J

 

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2019 Ecole Holt Couture Showcase Event!

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.

If you are in the Calgary area on November 3rd, come and join us! Tickets are available through Eventbrite: look for 2019 Ecole Holt Couture Student Showcase .

Ecole-72

 

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Happy 10th Anniversary Ecole Holt Couture!

Happy 10th Anniversary Ecole Holt Couture!

cropped-648x702.jpgWe are celebrating our 10th year in operation! After more than 16 years in the planning, Elfriede Holtkamp, my mother, and the Founder of EHC, who is a European trained Couturier of 60 years practice in both Europe and Calgary, designed and curated the entire curriculum based on her years of professional experience. The school opened its doors in September 2007 followed by passionate promotional efforts, attracting our first intake of students in 2008. After the first run-through of this new program, we continued to edit and tweak in response to what we witnessed being achievable by novices, and in learning how to more effectively transfer all the knowledge and experience in real-time practice. As our environment evolves, we also continue to evolve.

Our desire is that each student thrives and successfully completes the program, which is ingrained into our psyches, we are invested in each student’s training and strive to encourage excellence in all aspects of their learning and in their practice. Its not about competition, or only just meeting standards, or passing the grade, we want every student to become confident and proficient in their skills and abilities to both design, sew, and make garments.

Our curriculum is based on learning modules that must be completed in succession including all prescribed projects – unsurprisingly every student’s project has turned out distinct from another’s throughout 10 years – this is partly due to the unique nature of true couture and tailoring, but mostly because of the very creative minds and talented designer and makers behind them.

There is no doubt in our minds, that to fully comprehend and competently perform at a professional level expected of properly trained couturiers and tailors, is the foundation upon on which long and sustainable careers are built. The direction that each graduate chooses to pursue following training is as varied as the individual, and there are no limits in a career in which there is always more to learn and explore.

Currently we have 5 students who are in their second year of the Certificate program, and although the maximum size of each class is 6, most classes have been a 2 – 3:1 student instructor ratio, providing almost personal instruction. Each of the two programs are 2 years in length with the Certificate being the foundation program, and the Diploma the advanced program.  They may be taken in succession, however, students may for various reasons wish to gain industry experience before returning to pursue the advanced program. Whatever the choice, the Certificate programme must be completed before undertaking the Diploma program.

Over 10 years, Elfriede and I [who also have been trained and mentored by Elfriede] loved teaching together, have taken on two EHC trained temporary teaching assistants, presented 9 Certificate and 5 Diploma awards to our graduates, and currently have more than a handful of accepted applicants on a waiting list for the next intake in 2019. EHC is licensed by Alberta Advanced Education to deliver the programs as an Alberta Private Career College, and is member of the Canadian and Alberta Association of Career Colleges.

Every year EHC celebrates the student’s progress and successes with an end-of-year or graduation dinner, and we go on a class field trip or a fabric buying outing, which heightens the excitement of every sewer! Over the years, the school has hosted its annual fashion runway show, which is open to the public, featuring student’s work that includes vintage pieces created by the founder, Elfriede. In the past we have partnered with Making Changes Association and Inspire YYC charitable organizations for the event, and have welcomed several morning-television local broadcast crews into our studio promoting the event. We’ve also been featured in various news publications. Thankfully, it all comes together with the support of many generous individuals and volunteers.

Ecole Holt Couture’s fashion showcase is an exhibition of student work and a runway show. The narrative is achieved through styling and modelling reflecting and enhancing each student’s work. The audience shouldn’t expect to see or buy the newest or latest trend at the end, but to discover and witness the intricacies and details of couture and tailoring, what is behind and indeed inside a high-quality garment, and what makes a couture garment such a good investment. But mostly, is about making connections with the student creators. After all, everyone desires to have and wear clothes that fit their unique needs and individual style… clothes made specifically and especially for them.

If you would like to attend, here is the link to the event: Ecole Holt Couture 2018 Showcase

Oct 5 poster jpg

 

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Couture and Watermelon salad…

P1120268 (2) - Copy

One of the greatest pleasures at Ecole Holt Couture is celebrating well deserved credit for the tremendous effort and progress that EHC students have made since beginning in September 2017. This year we are between Graduation goal posts, so we decided that a class luncheon date would be very welcome.

Bonterra Trattoria in Calgary’s belt line district was the restaurant of choice on this sunny Friday afternoon. Of particular enjoyment for me, as lead instructor of this class, was the luxury of just hanging out with 6 amazing talented individuals whom I normally don’t have the opportunity to relax and chat with.

Our teaching intern, an EHC Diploma graduate, is an invaluable asset to the group contributing many hours of advice and support to each of the students. Having plans to travel the world in the future, will do very well combining her couture training and experience, cultural background plus a university education under her belt. We are very glad to have her on staff while we can!

We are interested in our students beyond their training and performance at Ecole Holt Couture. Their range of ambitions is wide and far reaching from further developing a career in Indigenous Fashion [see also http://ifwtoronto.com/ ], or taking control of unique design ideas by introducing them fully developed to the market, and transitioning from or combining Eco rehabilitation with fashion, or offering truly appealing and well fitting fashion for the not-so-common shape or size, to a career based on theatrical fashion culture.

Whatever, their plans and aspirations are, the students will acquire the tools and skills to begin traveling upon their life-long creative journey which will certainly evolve from one form to the next, and I’m enthusiastic for each one of them.

In the meantime, required term projects must be completed and submitted and another school year will commence after a well-deserved summer break – or is it a longed-for period of uninterrupted sewing time! (Hm-mm, perhaps that may be my own aspiration for this summer).

Cheers! J

 

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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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