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Pattern-making course promotes fashion freedom

By Nicki Cruickshank, Barrie Examiner

Maria Calautti will soon be teaching a European pattern making course at Georgian College. (Mark Wanzel Photo)

Maria Calautti will soon be teaching a European pattern making course at Georgian College. (Mark Wanzel Photo)

If it doesn’t fit right, Maria Calautti won’t wear it.

In her mind, why would she wear baggy, droopy or overly snug attire off the rack when she can make it to fit like a glove?

“I’ve always been very particular about the fit of clothing,” said Calautti, a professional garment pattern drafter and owner of Le Grand Chic Italia School of Fashion in Oro-Medonte Township.

“The peeve I have with off-the-rack clothing, especially the plus sizes, is the fit. A shirt might fit in the hips and bust, but then the shoulders are sitting up too high. If the fit is wrong, it can look terrible.

“Clothes have to be tailored right.”

For the past five years, Calautti has been teaching a European pattern-making course at Georgian College.

The first of six modules for the course begins Oct. 10, and limited spots are still available. The limit is 15 students.

“You need a passion for this,” said the Oro Station resident. “This program is for anybody frustrated with off-the-rack fit and who has some basic sewing knowledge.”

Using cutting-edge techniques, students will learn to create a style from a sketch or custom-make their own designs, create clothing and properly add finishings.

“The course I teach gives them the basics. We start with skirts and that’s a six-week module. Module two is pants and then we start on tops,” Calautti said.

“Pattern drafters are few and far between these days, and they’ll learn to make them,” she added. “They’ll certainly be able to create clothing for themselves, and understand the body, where lines should fall and how to better fit clothing to their bodies.”

The program not only teaches students to sew, but also design, fabrics, drape, finishing and lines as they progress through the modules.

“It’s a ton of work (teaching), but there’s the satisfaction of passing on my passion to others,” Calautti said. “I’ve been drafting (patterns) since I was 15, and I started sewing in home economics in Grade 7 and 8. I made my first skirt. I enjoy the finishes of evening wear and I enjoy working with elegant fabrics.”

Students who take Calautti’s course will be learning from a professional with impressive credentials. She has two diplomas from Le Grande Chic Italia School of Fashion in Rome.

“Back in 2002, we closed our restaurant and I yearned to get into this again,” Calautti said. “I found Le Grande Chic Italia on the Internet and got in contact with the woman who runs it. I made these patterns and was mailing them out to her to be graded. I guess she liked what she saw.

“I went back to Italy two years ago to the school to upgrade my skills for four days.

I plan to go back again,” she added.

And after all that work, Calautti ended up with two prestigious diplomas from the Italian school, including a teaching certificate.

“She told me I should open up a school here,” Calautti said. “I also translated the pattern books from Italian into English.”

Calautti has been running her school for a few years, in her home and then expanding to 2240 Highway 11 in Oro-Medonte.

She runs another course, Sewing 101, from that location.

The next course begins Oct. 4.

Anyone interested in registering for Calautti’s pattern-making course can find more information at under the ‘continuing studies’ tab. Click on ‘creative and visual arts’.

Potential students can contact Maria at 705-487-2328, or

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