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The Art of Ease

Had a crash course this week in putting ease into clothing.

There is a woman that I work with that has a very interesting background. Originally from the Ukraine she tells stories of living in the homeland when they broke off from the Soviet Union. Her stories captive and awaken a sense of adventure and mystery. Having been through several husbands and living around the world for work, her vast knowledge of tailoring and the world of costumes and couture make me envious of a life yet lived. Lucky for me I have the opportunity to work along side her as I finish my apprenticeship.

She has a drive that I wish a lot of people would have. She strives to learn and do work that people are proud of. Not one to pass off work because she is sick of working on it, she really works to make every garment as perfect as possible.

This week was a great week to work with this woman. We had time in the week to look at some pants I had made for myself. There were parts of the pants I wasn't too overly happy about so I asked her for advice. After a long pause she fiddled with the pant, laying it on the table, pulling in one direction while holding it steady in another. Ironing the seams and analyzing the issue areas.... And she looks at me and says in her broken english "take it all apart we shall start again". As I began to take apart this pant she began to explain to me what she thought was wrong and how "we" we're going to fix it.

Now I know all garments have ease in them, it's necessary in a custom garment. Ease allows comfort and flexibility.... Unlike most garments you purchase in the stores these days. As I finish pressing all the pockets and seams flat to start over she takes the pants and starts to shape them with the iron adding bias take where needed, creating shape in all the right areas and explains every process of "why". She would explain as I would watch and listen, tackling one side of the pant only for me to finish the other.

As we worked though the pant she tells stories of the couture shops she has worked in, and the teams she managed while working in factories back in the Ukraine. She has a way of telling a story that triggers the image of a great Hollywood movie. Her schooling in tailoring and working with mentors learning step by step how to put garments together.

She stresses that although clothing is tight these days you still must allow a good amount of ease in a garment. She explains that through pressing and working the garment all the ease will shrink on the surface but still exists in the actual garment.

It was a good week to learn. I enjoy learning another person’s point of view. All tailors have a different way of working, as they should have. Every tailors personal experience and upbringing will have them take in knowledge a different way. I am fortunate to work with a man who has generation of knowledge behind him, and a woman who has worked around the world, managing teams in factories to owning her own alterations shop, to working in a couturier. All this adding to my learning and upbringing. I hope to travel the world and work with more people while I have my shop here in Canada.

When people ask me if I like to travel, I always stress that I love to travel. I believe it is SO important to see how other people live on a day-to-day basis. You Learn a lot about yourself and you learn a lot about others and what they have lived through and how it has shaped them.

I am reminded of a story I heard from an older English woman when I worked in the corporate world. A little off topic but still a good story, for privacy sake we will call her Glenda. Glenda had told stories of England after the war and how life was as England rebuilt itself. Glenda was a larger woman with a teddy bear personality. Giddy but miserable at the same time, she could talk your ear off for hours, and knew exactly how to tell a story and really deliver the punch line.

One day we had landed on the topic of children's stores... Don't ask me how, I don't have kids, and it is not usually a topic discussed with me. Nonetheless Glenda began to tell a story about working with a colleague, female of course. They were talking about how they played as a child. This woman described this small town in Germany with a toy store. On the second level of the toy store kids could come in and play with these beautiful toys, handmade artisan type of toys. Her colleague explained with enthusiasm how great this toy store was, how much fun she had as a child going and playing with the toys. As she began to finish talking about her childhood and how she grew up as a child she began to ask Glenda about her childhood. Now growing up Glenda didn't live in a posh neighborhood. She grew up in Liverpool and always talked about the struggle of life. She told her work mate that she had a park by her house that she could play at, but it mostly consisted of dirt and rubble. She tells the woman that it use to be a nice park until the Germans blew it up. Glenda giggled to me as she explained the look of shock on the woman's face. As Glenda talked about this park she started to giggle, like Tigger from Winnie the pooh... . You see Glenda had forgotten that this woman was of German decent, while she talked about the toy stores she didn't have and the parks that she couldn't play in.

Now the Glenda story is a little off topic, but it has a point. The more you talk to people the more you get to learn their personal story. You learn through what they have been through, the failures and successes. I am finding that I get more out of several little successes than a couple big successes. Storytellers like Glenda make life more exciting, rather than reading from a book you hear the enthusiasm in their voice, you hear how they tell a story, and what they consider important while telling it. It is people like Glenda and the mentors around me that shape how I talk and tell stories, how I interact with clients.

So all in all a good week for me, learned a lot. Finished a bunch of work and ready for another week, all with more knowledge than last week. :)

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