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August 2008
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Figure Skater Turns Sewing Skills Into New Career

From body suits to bridal gowns, Elina Viola has turned her passion for sewing into a tale of success.  Growing up as a dancer and figure skater, Viola would practice her sewing skills on her portable sewing machine between performances and competitions.  “I would sew to entertain myself when I was on the road,” she says. “Then I took a pattern-making course just for fun.”

Little did she know that she would one day turn her hobby into a profession.  When Viola left skating, she intended to pursue a career in sports therapy. But she took a two-year break from her sports therapy studies to skate, and when she tried to return to the program, she discovered she had to start the curriculum over again.

Instead of re-studying sports sciences, she enrolled in design school at Vancouver Community College.  “Obviously the passion was still there,” she says.  She then moved to Calgary to focus on her design career, but still teaches skating choreography part-time.

When it comes to sewing for her company, Viola Designs, she focuses on creating active wear and costumes for figure skaters and fitness models.  “When the industry found out that I had sewn a lot of stretch wear for dancers and figure skaters, my business just grew,” she says.  Fifteen years later, Viola has had a variety of creative jobs, including costume design and special effects for movies, bridal wear, children’s wear, home interiors and even upholstery for puppet sets.

What sparked her interest in style: Viola tips her hat to her older brother, founder of Anthony’s Per L’Umo, for influencing her approach to dressing.  “He has an eye for putting clothing together,” she says.  Viola’s creations are by appointment only; contact her by e-mail at  Read more about Viola in the Calgary Herald.

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Author, Instructor & Pattern Designer


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