Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Bring Back the Art of Tailoring

A year ago, while I was still president of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago, the board met for our summer planning meeting. For a number of years, the club had been giving scholarships to aspiring designers who were graduating from design school. Sadly, the school that we had partnered with, closed, so we needed a new strategy. Three of our board members had been mentoring 3 high school students who were interested in pursuing a career in fashion. So, rather than try and find another school to partner with, we decided to promote these young ladies. As it turned out, we loved it, and the audience loved it too. 

The young woman (Pearl) who won our top award was also awarded a scholarship to study at the Art Institute's school of fashion design. Such a wonderful opportunity for her. Although, she was lamenting that the sewing aspect of the program was lacking. So, I decided to help her out. Over the upcoming school year, I will be working with her to create a stitch and technique notebook as well as construct a true tailored jacket. I was so fortunate with the school that I attended as there was a very heavy focus on fine sewing skills. While in school, I built an incredible stitch and technique portfolio. Sadly, our basement flooded, and I lost my book. Needless to say, I was devastated. 

Back in June of this year, I taught a class on seam finishes and fabric stabilizing at the Michigan League of Handweavers conference. That gave me the incentive to begin building a new stitch and technique notebook. So, work has begun on mine, and as Pearl and I work together, my notebook will once again come to life :)

As it turned out, the board member who had been mentoring Pearl also wanted to participate in building a stitch/technique book, and make a true tailored jacket. At this point, I have gotten the 2 of them started. Their muslins have been fitted, and we are beginning the work of tailoring. I too will be putting together a tailored jacket so that they can follow along. So...in essence, if you would like, you can virtually be a part of the class as I will be posting each of the steps of my jacket here on the blog.

I have decided to use the vintage Vogue pattern that you see below. I have been wanting to make the jacket for years! A fellow Haute Couture member gave me the pattern as she felt that "it looked like" me :)

I'll be using this fabulous piece of wool. The contrasting collar will be in a solid navy blue wool or velvet. I'll decide that once I get a little closer to adding the collar. 

I just love the instructions. Not something you see in many patterns today. While looking at the pattern, I told Pearl that this was a time when we used the term, investment clothing. 

On the label of the pattern it says;

Straight from Paris to you - the fashion in this envelope. Your Paris Original was selected by Vogue at the dramatic opening of the designer's collection, then flown to America where a line-for-line translation was put into pattern form. 

Each piece that is included in the pattern is quite lovely. 

I am especially excited about this new project. Anytime I get something lovely out of the deal, I'm happy!!! I'm excited also about being able to pass along a little of my knowledge, and hopefully help a new generation who has not had the opportunities that I had (home ec in high school) to advance her skills. And too, I hope that there will be a little something to glean for all of you who stop by the blog :)

Happy Sewing!

Share this PostPin ThisShare on TumblrShare on Google PlusEmail This


  1. How lovely for you and for the girls you help. I'd be interested in reading more about how you compile a stitch and technique notebook. Sounds like a wonderful idea!

  2. Kudos to you for taking on this substantial mentoring commitment. I'm interested to watch the processes the three of you engage in.

  3. Those Vogue patterns from that time were wonderful. I made a few dresses from Vogue patterns and was always so proud of how well they turned out. Single sizes, great instructions. You could teach yourself to sew with those patterns.

  4. What a great idea. I'm not able to participate just now but would love to follow along. I'd really like to know more about the notebook, too. It's fabulous to hear people passing on skills - and enjoying the process.

  5. I will follow this to see things I never learned. I am still stuck on how to make a muslin - just can't figure out how to make it and how to use it on various patterns. Do you have a blog about that?

  6. I am another one who is very curious about *how* to create a stitch/technique notebook, and would welcome more information... I am also, of course, looking forward to reading about your progress on the jacket

  7. I learned to sew/tailor with Vogue patterns, loved them. Wore vogue to high school everyday. To this day I can make a bound buttonhole in my sleep. Too bad these skills are no longer taught.

  8. Would like to know more about the stitch and technique notebook. Love your work!

  9. What a wonderful project and great learning opportunity! They are very lucky to have you sharing your skills, Rhonda. I know you will enjoy every minute. The notebook sounds like something we could all use.

  10. Thanks for this little piece of HCCC history! You have chosen a beautiful fabric. Will you be matching the plaid exactly? A topic for discussion for a future post?