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Sewing School Frequently Asked Questions

  1. EHC awards Certificates and Diplomas
  2. What is ‘Haute Couture’?
  3. What is the difference between a Designer and a Couturier?
  4. Does EHC provide financial assistance?
  5. What about GST?
  6. What are the regulations regarding students and income tax?
  7. Does EHC offer bursaries or scholarships?
  8. Can an individual with sewing or fashion experience, or fashion education enrol in an advanced level of study?
  9. How much time do the homework assignments take?
  10. Can I, or should I sew for my friends and family during the course of study?
  11. Why doesn’t EHC offer separate courses on how to make particular items such as tailored jackets or corsetry?
  12. Are the course project garments made for model size figures?
  13. Are there designers out there who will take on a student willing to gain experience?
  14. With fashion changing so quickly these days, why should anyone bother to place so much importance on whether a piece of clothing be of good quality or not?
  15. Why are there so few in-depth programs available today that teach people couture sewing and design?
  16. Is couture made clothing still appreciated today?
  17. How did this school come to be in Calgary?
  18. What is an Haute Couture house in France?

1. EHC awards Certificates and Diplomas

EHC is licensed under the Alberta Private Vocational Training Act providing individuals with expert instruction in a highly specialized area of the fashion industry, for professional Dressmaking, haute Couture and bespoke Tailoring.

2. What is ‘Haute Couture’?

Apparel designed and created exclusively for individual customer requirements, that is hand executed using high quality fabrics, with extreme attention paid to embellishment and detailing, fit and style.

3. What is the difference between a Designer and a Couturier? Definitions: the sewing/fashion trade.

Designer - one who combines line, proportion, color, texture for a garment, may have no sewing or pattern making skills, and may only sketch or conceptualize garments.

Couturier - someone who is involved in the business of haute couture or bespoke garments, creates, designs, and constructs fashionable clothing for their clientele; also, a designer of fashionable women’s clothing, especially one who is in the business of making and selling such clothes.

Custom Clothier/Custom Dressmaker -one who creates custom garments to order, one at a time, to meet a customer’s needs and preferences.

Ladies Tailor - one who creates women’s suits, jackets, pants, skirts and overcoats with appropriate interlinings to fit, form, and follow an individual’s shape and function i.e. Business suit, riding apparel etc.

Dressmaker - one who makes articles of women’s clothing - also:

Mantua Maker – in the 18th century one who makes mantuas or dresses; Modiste – one who makes fashionable clothing and accessories following current styles.

Pattern Maker – one who creates original patterns by hand flat, by computer [CAD], or by draping methods.

Sewing Professional – a general term for earning a living by sewing, teaching sewing, writing about sewing, retailing sewing supplies at home, at a studio, a retail shop full time or part time.

Wardrobe Consultant/ Fashion Advisor – one who recommends styles and colors which flatter a client, or for theatre, TV, film, model runway, ad agency, fashion show. (See also Stylist).

Stylist – one who designs and supervises construction and fittings of special garments or conducts wardrobe fittings, to create a branded image in order to make a statement.

Seamstress – one who seams usually by machine, a machine operator in a factory, who may not have the skills to make made to measure garments or to fit them on a real body. Not synonymous with dressmaker.

Alteration Specialist/ Alterationist – someone who specializes in altering garments but may not have the skills to tailor or make made to measure garments.

4. Does EHC provide financial assistance?

Applicants must have adequate financial resources for fees, project costs and living expenses, as EHC does not offer financial assistance.

5. What about GST?

Students do not pay GST on Application fees or Tuition fees. However, GST is added to the cost of any materials or products which the School offers for sale to the students as part of curriculum, or extras such as field trips etc.

6. What are the regulations regarding students and income tax?

The best way to answer this is to go to the source, please follow the link: www.cra-arc.gc.ca

7. Does EHC offer bursaries or scholarships?

EHC does not offer bursaries, however a Scholarship is offered to the student achieving the highest level of excellence in the 6th Term for tuition towards the 7th Term in the Certificate Program toward tuition into the Diploma Program.

8. Can an individual with sewing or fashion experience, or fashion education enrol in an advanced level of study?

Every new applicant must begin at the beginning of the Certificate program as each consecutive learning module is integrated and specifically designed to teach skills which must be executed at a particular standard and must be completely competent with the required concepts before moving on to the next level. Experience in Sewing may be an asset, in which case, students may advance in some areas more rapidly.

9. How much time does the homework assignments take?

It is required that a student considers each program as a full time learning commitment, and 30 hours a week is required to be dedicated to homework projects, although, it may well require more than 30 hours per week (- this is in addition to the class days).

10. Can I, or should I sew for my friends and family during the course of study?

Absolutely, EHC encourages each student to gain as much experience as possible during the course of study and to develop a clientele of their own.

Equally, EHC reinforces the principle that students shall not devalue the high standards of workmanship they’ve been taught, but to apply it to every item that is created.

11. Why doesn’t EHC offer separate courses on how to make particular items such as tailored jackets or corsetry?

EHC's methodology is based on teaching students how to create original couture garments, by thinking through projects and resolving the design challenges by knowing and understanding the principles and techniques of construction, developing proficient hand sewing skills, acquiring sufficient experience through prescribed assignments, and of course, understanding design principles providing the knowledge necessary to undertake all manner of garments - skills specifically directed towards establishing a professional career in Dressmaking, Tailoring and Couture Design.

12. Are the course project garments made for model or standard size figures?

In couture there is no such thing as a model or standard figures as garments are created for each individual; couture garments are as individualistic as their owners. Everyone should be made aware that no-one is truly a standard size; even size standards vary greatly with each brand and manufacturer and were developed solely for the purpose of mass production.

13. Are there designers out there who will take on a student willing to gain experience?

EHC receives requests from the fashion industry eagerly looking for people who can fill various positions from creating sample garments with professional results to assistant positions.

14. With fashion changing so quickly these days, why should anyone bother to place so much importance on whether a piece of clothing be of good quality or not?

Couture made clothing is about personal style, not to be confused with fashion trends that change every three months.

Couture made is well fitting, of high quality materials and workmanship and will not wear out in six months, will stand up to cleaning, and will stand the test of time style wise – is classical as well as fashionable, so couture clothing is an excellent investment.

Additionally, couture clothing is environmentally green and will not become ‘land fill’, rather being in service for many years will either be handed on or recycled as the fabrics used are natural fibres retaining their lustre and appeal after many years.

15. Why are there so few in-depth programs available today that teach people couture sewing and design?

It is true that most fashion programs concentrate more on collection design and marketing, and less on the skills needed to interpret and accomplish those designs. As the need for domestic production skills has diminished over the past few decades, because of the use of foreign labour and production, it has also created a more distribution focused domestic fashion industry. Consequently, traditional skills and expertise to create and produce the samples have disappeared from our domestic labour market.

Those specialized production skills, domestically speaking, are required now more than ever as prototypes are still required to sell designs in the first place, and effective communication with foreign production lines very much relies on proficient understanding of how new designs are constructed.

EHC maintains that these specialised skills and expertise are also the most important to the local economy. By providing the educational opportunity locally to highly talented individuals to learn and develop these specialized skills, they can service a luxury niche market, independently or collaboratively, and contribute to the local economy – as well as contribute to and create the cultural fashion heritage of the future.

16. Is couture made clothing still appreciated today?

Today more than ever, people are realizing and appreciating the beauty and craftsmanship of couture made clothing. As a point of interest the number of haute couture garments is increasing in both museum and personal collections.

What is fortunate is that there are still a few experts alive today who can pass on these skills before they are lost altogether. EHC teaches these traditional skills to support the continuation of this creative and wearable art.

...On losing the craftsmanship of haute couture “The creation of clothes… cannot be viable without their original skills” Sidney Toledano, president and CEO of the Christian Dior Group 2008

17. How did this school come to be in Calgary?

The founder left Europe and settled in Calgary in l954; so started her atelier. Elfriedé has now established this unique school to share her knowledge and wide experience with future couturiers.

EHC’s learning environment is one providing a positive experience for each student; they are able to study in a functioning atelier to see first-hand how it works, and is located in a quiet secure location conducive to study and concentration.

Fortunately, Calgary is a major hub for international travel providing direct non-stop flights to major fashion centres of the world such as New York, London, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, as well as Los Angeles. Worth mentioning is that Paris is only a connecting flight from Montreal, Toronto or London England.

18. What is an Haute Couture house in France?

In France, the term haute couture is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Paris based in Paris, France. The Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture is defined as the regulating commission that determines which fashion houses are eligible to be true haute couture houses.

Their rules state that only "those companies mentioned on the list drawn up each year by a commission domiciled at the Ministry for Industry are entitled to avail themselves" of the label haute couture. They deal with piracy of style, foreign relations and coordination of the fashion collection timetables, and do some international advertising for the French fashion industry.

'The couture house is customarily composed of two parts, one devoted to dressmaking (flou), the other devoted to tailoring (tailleur) of suits and coats. Skilled workers in each area practice the arts apposite to the area.

Embellishments and accessories are added incrementally as applied decoration, often from sources outside the couture house. However, with regard to the unembellished garment, the modern couture house is a completely autonomous workroom of dedicated ateliers. In fact, surprisingly, in view of the elegant locations of most couture houses, the creation of the garments occurs in the maisons particulières of the house, thus under the daily surveillance of the designer as well as in intimate connection with the vendeuses.

Depending upon the designer, the design process might begin either with sketches or with a muslin or toile, draped and cut. Fit, both in its tailored form and in its dressmaking variant, is inevitably part of the value of the couture. A designer or trusted fitter will conduct the client through a series of fittings to determine the minute adjustments of the garment to the individual's size and sense of comfort.

The couturier’s offering of distinction in design and technique remains a compelling force….It remains a discipline of ultimate imagination, unaccountable to cost, with the paradox of being the fashion most cognizant of its ideal clients. It is, as it began, a dream of quality in an era of industry and its succession. The haute couture persists in providing us with a paragon of the most beautiful clothing that can be envisioned and made in any time'. www.metmuseum.org