Haute Couture course at Fashion Institute of the Philippines: How was it?

I took up the Haute Couture course together with the Advanced Fashion Design and Advanced Pattern-making courses. For those who don’t know what it means, Haute Couture is a French term for fashion that is constructed by hand (without the use of sewing machines and sergers/overlockers) from start to finish, made from high quality, expensive, often unusual fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail and finished by the most experienced and capable seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques (definition from Wikipedia). However the techniques I have learned from the course were not all sewn by hand. I used the sewing machine several times. So maybe haute couture is just… fashion, haha. I don’t know.

My Haute Couture classes started during the last week of May 2014 (it was supposed to start first week of May but we waited for those students who had conflicts with their schedule). To my surprise, I was the only student who attended Haute Couture for that term. No kidding! So where were those students who caused the delay of the classes? Damn. So the week before the next term began, there were make up classes for three straight days :( I didn’t have enough time to construct my bustier (I’ll explain later).

The instructor for this course is Hazel Cargado, she graduated from FIP a couple of years ago and she is a year younger than me.


What I learned

Here’s the summary of what I learned:

  1. Stretch Bodice PatternAlso a topic in Advanced Pattern-making
  2. Stretch Sleeve Pattern
  3. Cowl
    Cowl Neckline, Detachable cowl neckline, High neck Cowl, Side Cowl, Side cowl with sleeves, Sleeve cowl, Off-shoulder cowl
    I had to cut geena silk for all these patterns, some were even sewn together. Cut fabric were draped on the mannequin.
  4. Pegged Skirt, Draped Skirt
    Tested this on geena silk.
  5. Twist
    Waist, Assymetrical Skirt Twist, Bodice (Bust/waist/hips and back) twist.
    Cut geena silk for this (except for bodice – bust/waist/back twist).
  6. Butterfly Sleeve
    Probably the hardest to sew of all the techniques I have learned. No choice but to sew this by hand. The instructor only demonstrated on paper how to fold this sleeve.
  7. Shrug
    Cut geena silk for this
  8. Collars
    Standing collar, portrait collarOnly patterns were cut. I did not test these on fabric.
  9. Capped Sleeve
  10. Off-shoulder
  11. Shirring
    This took a lot of effort and time. The pattern I made was for a whole dress. I used up the whole long table just for this pattern! I cut the fabric at home because I didn’t have the time to cut it in school. And since I was required to use a stretch fabric, it was even harder to cut :(( I haven’t even sewn the dress yet because my sewing skills are so poor (that is why I enrolled in their Basic Sewing course). This is one of the projects that I have to pass in order to complete the course. Another thing, Hazel did not demonstrate how to sew this dress. But she explained how to do it. Of course I get the procedures but I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull it off when I start to sew this dress.
  12. Bustier
    Bustier pattern was already discussed in the Advanced Pattern-making course but the procedures on how to sew it were not. Hazel discussed how to sew it (because I asked)  but didn’t really demonstrated it to me, because according to her this is taught in the Advanced sewing course. Oh okay. So anyway, that day I had to create the bustier pattern, press and cut and fuse the fabrics, and try to sew the pieces together (just the front will do, preparation for the next topics). Like I wrote here, my sewing skills are poor. But I still tried to sew the pieces on my own using the industrial sewing machine (I’m not so used to it). So yeah, it took time. When I finally put together the front pieces, I had to redo it because Hazel told me it’s puckered.
  13. Ruching and Lace Sculpting
    Unfortunately, these topics were not discussed to me because we lack time. I spent almost two days trying to put together my bustier (that’s the base for this lesson) and I was not successful. And the last day, I also had to press and cut another set of fabrics and try to sew another bustier (the course requires two of them). The second bustier still turned out puckered. Gaah. I had no choice but to redo it. Hazel agreed to teach me ruching and lace sculpting when I get my bustiers right. I still haven’t sewn them to this day, haha. I’m still in the middle of another project.


So how was it?

The course was okay. I learned more patterns – I love the twist and portrait collar techniques the most. I was just a bit disappointed that the steps for sewing the bustier was not demonstrated/discussed in detail. And yet, it is the required project for this course. I don’t plan to enroll in FIP’s advanced sewing course, so I will just rely on online tutorials. I found this great site with classes (you need to purchase their online classes) at Anyway, I was satisfied with the Haute Couture course. Hazel just needs to be more patient in teaching :) When I was her student, I felt like she was expecting more from me. I don’t know how to explain it. But the good thing is I can ask her to explain some points that I don’t understand or ask for tips (that’s the advantage of having one-on-one lectures with her, haha).


UPDATE (09/21/2014)

Carla is another instructor from FIP who is also teaching the accelerated class of Haute Couture, where you finish the course in 8 straight days. I saw her teaching Dart Manipulation to her students and I couldn’t help but tell her that this topic was not tackled in my Haute Couture class. She was surprised to know this and told us that this topic was very important. It’s a good thing that she agreed to teach us dart manipulation. I now have an idea how to do it somehow.

I would love to hear from you