Meet the Jill-of-All-Trades Sewing Studio

April 12, 2017

Owned by sister-duo, Sam and Sou, the Jill-of-All-Trades sewing studio is located in one of the former ‘garment districts’ of Toronto, called Leslieville. Once brimming with apparel factories, there is now only a handful left. Operating out of an original loft warehouse, the Jill-of-All-Trades are as versatile as our designs. They have production capability, and more importantly, over 40+ years of experience in apparel manufacturing, from knits to wovens, and everything in between.

Encircled's Marketing Content Manager, Angela, met up with Sam and Sou to ask them about their time in the garment industry, where they shop, and their love for bell-bottoms. 

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.
Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.

Shop: The Dressy Sweatpants in Smoke Grey.

 

I remember visiting Sam and Sou for the first time last November. I tagged along with Kristi, (CEO and founder of Encircled) to pick up our very first run of Reversible Pencil Skirts in Black and Navy (Here’s a picture of that day here). Once I got into our interview, I was happy to know that they had still remembered me from that one time, and that really put a smile on my face!

The Sam and Sou sisters sew many of our Encircled designs, such as The Dressy Sweatpant, The Retrograde Kimono Dress, The Minimalist Legging, The Flipside LeggingThe Reversible Pencil Skirt, and The Revolve Dress.

Tell us a bit about your background.

SAM: I moved to Canada from Laos in 1980. We both speak many languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Lao, English. We started our own business 20 years ago, I’m a very lucky person.

How did you get your start?

SAM: We started working in Canada for a shop on Danforth doing suit sampling. The owner was 75 years old at the time and we learned the importance of fit through him. We moved into working for big athletic brands, Nike, Adidas and Reebok, making heavier products, like jackets. After, we worked for a company that made bras. Bras today are cheaply made, they “fit” in that they can be worn, but they don’t actually fit well. Today’s pattern makers rely only on computers, but we love working with our hands. Proper fit starts with the pattern of a design.

 

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.

What’s your favourite thing to sew?

SOU: Everything! Happy to do everything.

BOTH: We feel so much less stressed working with each other. We can choose our clients, who we work with, and focus more on quality over quantity.

 

Below, The Flipside Leggings cut and being sewn by Sou 

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.

 

Where do you buy your clothes?

BOTH: We haven’t shopped in a very long time, the last thing I bought was a pair of jeans. We usually make our own clothes with scrap fabric that’s been left over from clients. If they tell us to throw away any fabric ends, we keep them to make our own clothes. We make our own traditional Thai outfits called Chut Thai that we wear to the temples, they're made out of silk. Depending on the fabric, like cotton, linen and silk, the fit and the pattern of the design has to be perfect - traditional outfits are meant to be fitted tight across the chest, we love crazy colours, like this, a crazy green colour!

SAM: I love wearing bell-bottoms, I need to be comfortable for work since I spend the majority of my time doing that! We try to support Canadian brands when we do shop, though.

 

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.

And that concludes our super casual interview with Sam and Sou. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed getting to know them better.

The Jill-of-All Trades Studio was one of the original sewing studios Kristi worked with when she first started Encircled. We love their passion for their craft and hands-on approach (the owners still cut fabric!). Their collaborative nature is unmatched. They work side-by-side with us to figure any production challenge out. Every trip to their studio means candid conversations that are least 30 minute long catch-up sessions. Sam and Sou are always full of warm smiles and laughs, making this one of our favourite studios to work with.

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.

WHAT'S MADE HERE

 

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is Made in Canada, out of sustainable, and eco friendly materials.

Love travel? Join our League of Travelistas -
A community for women who love to travel. Click here to request access to our private facebook group.

All photos are copyright Encircled. Contact us for permissions/rights to re-use or repost images. 





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Encircled Size Charts
If you have any questions on sizing, please try out our online size recommender or click here to contact us with questions prior to ordering. 
If you're on our product page viewing the size chart, click anywhere outside of the pop-up (or on the X in the top right corner) to close the size charts, or click here to surf back to our main collection page.

The Chrysalis Cardi

Size
Garment Length (Laid Flat) Garment Width (Laid Flat) Bust 
(inches)
Waist 
(inches)
Hip 
(inches)
Height 

Regular

(xs - xxl)

38" 39.5" 32"-41" 25"-34" 35"-44" 5'2"-6'0"

Petite

(xxs - m)

35" 34.5" 27"-35" 23"-28" 30"-38" <5'4"

Maxi

(xl - xxxl)

43" 41.5" 41"-52" 33"-45" 44"-56" <6'0"

Fit Advice: The Regular Chrysalis Cardi is a one size fits most garment ranging from sizes XS-XXL or 2-14. It can be easily belted in multiple ways, however the Regular is not recommended for petite or shorter woman due to the volume of fabric - See Petite Cardi. The Regular is also not recommended for curvier/taller women due to fabric pulling around the bust or bottom - See Maxi Cardi.

We recommend watching the how-to wear videos to see how much fabric drape and length you would like in your finished garment. If you are in between sizes, it is best to size up and the garment can always be tailored shorter to better suit your look - you cannot add more fabric, unfortunately!

The Petite is best suited for women 5'4" and under with a smaller frame, although it will also work on women above this height (depending on preferred length when styled). 

The Maxi is best suited for all women under 6’0” with a curvier shape to eliminate any uncomfortable fabric pulling, although it will also work on women who are a bit less curvy (depending on preferred length when styled).

*If you have any questions on sizing, please contact us - Remember it is best to provide us with your height and size range of garments that you already own! 

 

Women's Size Chart

Size
0-2 (XS)
4-6 (S)
8-10 (M)
12-14 (L)
16-18 (XL)
20 (XXL)
(XS/S) (M/L)
(XL)
Bust
30-32"
33-35"
36-38"
39-41"
42-44"
45-47"
Waist
22-24"
25-27"
28-30"
31-33"
34-36"
37-39"
Hips
34-36"
37-39"
28-30"
31-33"
46-48"
49-51"

Bra Size Chart

Size (XS/S) (M/L) (XL)
Bust 30-33" 34-37" 38-41"

Men's Size Chart

Size S M L XL XXL
Chest 36-38" 38-40" 40-42" 42-44" 44-46"
Back Length 27" 27.5" 28" 28.75" 29.5"