Our Tribute to Angelina di Bello

As the custom fitter and designer at Creativ Dezign, I would like to begin this blog by expressing my sincere gratitude to the late Angelina di Bello, whose lifelong career in haute couture inspired all her students and television viewers to set a very high standard for making clothing. Everything that I and my technical partner do at Creativ Dezign really began many years ago when I began learning how to draft custom patterns. I had always admired and been interested in making quality handwork as far back as I can remember, but it was in the early 1990s that I really learned to hone my skills. At the time, I watched Angelina di Bello’s “Pins & Needles” series on TV Ontario, and began custom patternmaking with a basic skirt. Eventually, we met Angelina at the Creative Sewing Festival in Toronto and I attended her haute couture school in Montréal, Québec, soon after.

My partner and I learned how to make custom dressforms on real people with different body shapes. I also learned how to draft a basic pattern from measurements, and then fit that pattern as a muslin. I then learned how to use that basic pattern to generate different garment styles. Several years later, when Angelina di Bello wrote her pants book, I also learned how draft a custom pants pattern using her template system and fit that pattern as a muslin. Eventually, I developed a method to generate a pants pattern entirely from measurements, which can then be used to create trousers, jeans, and any other type of pant-style.

Throughout her career, Angelina di Bello emphasized that the labour and materials make up the largest part of the cost of a custom-made garment. She advised her students to buy the best materials that they can afford and learn how to make well-fitted custom-garments themselves. There were many haute couture details that she taught, including how to do hand-rolled edges, and finish seams with custom bias binding. Every couture detail has a purpose, and the detail that is used in a particular instance depends on the common sense of the designer.

One of the most important skills that I learned from Angelina di Bello was developing a keen eye for observing silhouettes to do proper fittings, and how to draft a pattern from measurements. Both sets of skills are inseparable because you can’t begin to cut a garment until you have a well-thought out and carefully drafted pattern. Angelina di Bello always said that the pattern is like a cake mould; if the mould is poorly made, the cake will not turn out.

In our age of cheap and fast foods and goods, we at Creativ Dezign believe that the manufacture of high-quality and well-made garments is more important than ever. Just as there is a “slow food” movement, we would like to see a “slow clothing” movement where quality, craftsmanship, and ethically-operated clothing businesses are highly valued. We feel very strongly that the skills of haute couture need to be kept alive before they disappear altogether.

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