Clothing can be a lot more than a simple covering to protect the body. It can be a form of self-expression and Vernon’s Dawne Whelpley knows better than most as she’s been creating her own pieces for over 60 years.
Whelpley, the mastermind behind Copy Cut Fashions Sewing Studio, knows even more so that a piece of clothing that fits properly not only looks better, but it feels better.
“The confidence that comes with a piece of clothing that fits properly is incredible,” she said from her quaint in-house sewing studio.
Buying clothing off the rack is nearly impossible as body types have changed over the years while patterns for clothing have remained seemingly untouched.
Standardized European patterns created in the 1930s were based on stewardesses’ measurements, Whelpley said.
“You have to go through a lot of effort to keep that body,” she said. “They started to realize women’s body types change all the time, not just with age, but with everyday life.”
But with the Palmer/Pletsch tissue fitting process, Whelpley has been equipped with the tools to alter any pattern to ensure a perfect fit for any pattern.
Whelpley underwent 20 days of training in the United States to become a certified Palmer/Pletsch instructor, dividing her time in Portland and Seattle.
“I know there are other (sewing) teachers on the coast, but I don’t know of any that are certified for fitting,” she said.
With a single measurement above the bust, Whelpley is able to create a perfectly fitted garment for any body type, while scrapping unnecessary measurements that lead to more trouble than they are worth.
She can also teach others to do the same for themselves.
“Twenty-five per cent of your time should be spent fitting a garment, but it’s often more and not where you want to spend your time,” she said.
By applying the tissue directly to the body, or mannequin, Whelpley can manipulate the tissue before any cuts are ever made to the often costly materials and fabrics.
“Every wrinkle and fold (in the tissue) detects a fitting issue,” she said, noting these can be resolved before scissors are unsheathed.
Taught by Patty Palmer herself, Whelpley said the tissue-fitting method is ideal for any sewer who wants to master the art (and science) of fitting clothes.
“The best fabric you buy, or finest workmanship cannot make up for poor fitting,” Whelpley said.
And the pride that comes with creating your own piece of clothing that fits perfectly — better than anything off the rack — Whelpley said, is an indescribable feeling.
She intends to share the skills with those interested in learning through a series of workshops run out Copy Cut Fashions Sewing Studio in Vernon.
Whelpley is teaching a Tissue Fitting Workshop that runs Feb. 29-March 15 from 9-4 p.m., but classes are limited to four students at a time. Visit copycutfashions.com for more information on available classes and to register online.