We live in a world where people (particularly women) are led to believe that if you exercise more, eat less, then you will fit in the perfect ‘size 10’ or whatever your desired size is. I have measured women for close to 30 years and only once have I discovered a perfect ‘size 14’.
We have been sold a lie.
The system is imperfect, not you.
Standardized sizing was created for mass production not for humanity. In its inception it was always expected that one could take your purchased clothes and have them altered to fit (either by you or a dressmaker/tailor). With the loss of sewing skills, the emphasis switched to changing your body to fit the clothes rather than the other way around. Consequently there has been an increase in anxiety over body image when we fail to measure up. The reality is that changing a body shape is virtually impossible. One can lose weight but your shape/proportions are likely to stay the same – i.e. if you don't have a place at size 14 it’s highly unlikely you’ll have one at size 10.
The Institute of Imperfection was born out of the desire to give people an alternative to the eternal quest to be a perfect size. I often joke to my students, ‘everyone in our school is a size 10 regardless of your measurements’. Clothing made to your own measurements not only fit and are comfortable, but do wonders for self confidence and body image.
Weight loss should be about healthy living not societal expectations. As Ella, one of our tutors says, "losing weight is about self-love rather than for the love of others".
No matter what your body shape or size you are welcome at the Institute of Imperfection because:
Every body has the right to feel beautiful.
OWNER AND CREATIVE INSPIRER
Cate comes from a long lineage of creatives, so making things has always been her ‘natural’ way of being. Her sewing passion though, was birthed around the same time her children were born - 30 years ago.
She started by sewing children’s clothes and then in 1994, made her own wedding dress. Yet all these skills were self-taught. In 1995, she enrolled in a course to learn ‘proper’ sewing and patternmaking skills. A new love affair was formed with pattern making. By 1996, she had opened her own school in Melbourne, teaching women the joys of making clothes that are unique and fit well.
In 2010, she walked away from the creative life to pursue an academic life and recover from a major depressive illness. The journey proved fruitful to restoring her passion for a creative life.
In 2016, with renewed vigour, she opened The Institute Of Imperfection with an even greater vision. Women (and now men) are perpetually bombarded with images of bodily ‘perfection’ and consequently their body image and confidence plummets. Designing and making one’s own clothes is a subversive act to defy ‘perfectionistic norms’, allowing people to fall in love with their own beauty again, no matter how ‘imperfect’ they feel.
While Cate loves sewing and creativity, she is far more passionate about enabling people to find ways to express their unique and inherent beauty. Her school provides a safe community for people to be able explore and learn skills for that to happen.
Sarah Hoy is a teacher, artist, jewellery and clothes maker from Bendigo. She is passionate about sustainable fashion and loves the process of turning a design into reality using her sharp pattern-making skills.
After graduating school in 2006, Sarah embarked upon a Fashion Design and Technology diploma with Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE (now TAFE Queensland). She learned sewing, pattern-making, design, computer-assisted design, fashion illustration, trend forecasting and more during this time.
After moving to Bendigo in 2016, she completed a year of further study with Melbourne Fashion Institute in Fitzroy,
which expanded her pattern-making and construction skills and inspired a love of computer-assisted design. Having completed this, she launched her label of sustainable and ethical women's wear in 2018, called Sarah Hoy Designs. This was sold at markets, online through her Etsy page, was exhibited with Living Arts Space in Bendigo and stocked in a Melbourne boutique. The range consisted of handmade jewellery made with plastic and resin, and handmade tops, dresses, skirts and jumpsuits using natural fibres and unique designs.
She has been a teacher with The Institute of Imperfection since mid-2019, teaching sewing and pattern-making classes several times a week and has loved guiding students of all skill levels through their individual projects.
Ellajaz Toll-Bujeya is 22 and has been a student at The Institute of Imperfection for 4 years. Last year, Ella joined the teaching team.
Through coming to classes at the school, Ella has developed a love for making interesting unique clothing. She was unsatisfied with what she could find in shops, often being basic, inexpressive and what she did like was in sizes way too small for her body.
"Coming to the TIOI has allowed me to make clothes that I love that fit me."
In 2018, Ella started her own handmade clothing business, Psyfunkle. She makes and sells very unique one off soulmate pieces, mostly for young people for special events. She has done countless photoshoots and runway shows. In 2020, Ella organised a sustainable fashion outdoor runway show at Ceres Environment Park in Brunswick, a career highlight.
In 2019, Ella started teaching at the TIOI. She loves sharing her knowledge and passion with others and watching the joy and satisfaction people get from making their own clothes for their bodies.
"I love teaching children and teens, they are fearless and boundlessly creative. The intro to sewing class is also fantastic. It's so great to take people, with no experience, on the journey of making their first garment. I love watching our students gain confidence and a sense of community together. The best moment is always when the ladies try on their finished items and prance around the school with pride."