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Couture Gets Practical: Observations from Susan Khalje

Video: Threads magazine

Threads Editorial Director Sarah McFarland talks with Contributing Editor Susan Khalje about how she has kept busy during the pandemic, and what trends she has noticed in sewing during the past couple of years. Spoiler: Keep your couture practical.

What do you make, and where do you wear it?

Susan sees this as the fundamental questions sewers ask themselves when they plan a garment. Lately, she finds the answers have changed significantly. Instead of evening gowns made of high-end fabrics, her students are making more practical things. Take a look at pre-pandemic work by some of Susan’s couture students here. For example, they are now making skirts rather than special-occasion clothing. While they are not investing in fancy eveningwear, they are still putting time, effort, and money into selecting luxury fabrics—Linton tweeds, for example—and using couture techniques to make pieces with timeless appeal.

Sewers explore their stashes

Over many months of lockdown, and with less justification for indulging in the loveliest of high-end laces, silks, and trims, even couture-level sewers are delving into their fabric collections. Susan says this makes sense, as there are few opportunities to dress up these days. Instead, sewers are enjoying working with the textiles they’ve chosen in the past. She posits that this may be a temporary reflection of our current reality rather than a permanent transformation in sewing habits.


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