Getting Ready for a New Age

Practical skills delivery is face-to-face by nature and heritage tailoring skills are what our students are joining us for. That’s why the closure of our workshop facilities as a consequence of the crisis surrounding coronavirus came as a real blow. Having to rapidly re-imagine the way we deliver our training, the fact that, so far, we had spent most of our time tailoring – rather than with the more conceptual parts of the qualification – turned out to be a blessing.

When the reality of the impending lockdown hit home around mid March, we wrapped up the few remaining tasks in a matter of days. Then everyone grabbed a number of indispensable tools and headed home; for some of our students that meant catching a last minute flight to a different country.

Setting up their own workshops and attending distance learning sessions to cover both, further practical and also the more conceptual parts of the Level 5 qualification, learners were able to continue their training. As one of only a handful of training providers in the country, we are delighted to say our students will complete their training as planned, by mid July.

I am pleased to have been invited, through our industry body, the UK Fashion and Textiles Association (UKFT), to advise, together with esteemed colleagues, the government on measures to safeguard the wellbeing of students, customers and staff in our sector. This means we have our finger directly on the pulse, working with the people who know best how to overcome adversity – the UK textile industry is famous for its resilience for a reason.

We will return to the workshop in September, when our new cohort starts their tailoring journey. If you have been to our studio, you know the unique atmosphere of the place: the quality of the light, the quiet vibe high up in the attic and the inspiration that comes with the textile heritage of the building. All of this utterly conducive, and crucial, to the deep, complete immersion in the delightful occupation that is our craft.

Part of our setup are our gorgeous, mobile work benches, custom-made for us by local craftsmen TLJ Welding. To make sure everyone learning with us can feel at ease, we have limited numbers for the upcoming academic year, so each student will have the use of their own work station and tools, with ample space for safe distancing.

We are blessed with space anyway, but are taking on additional room to allow for a one-way access system and relocation of all not training-related areas. Working with TLJ again, we are developing solutions to equip the academy to be as safe a learning environment as it possibly can be: using stainless steel, the company is building prototypes for foot operated dispensers, screen stands and clever contraptions hands-free opening of doors.

Knowing the quality but also the aesthetics of their work, the result will not only be reassuring from a safety point of view, but also immensely pleasing to the eye. Which kind of fits with what we are doing here.

Case study shows dual tailoring qualification opens up progression routes for fashion and costume designers

Glyndebourne beckons for John!

Our dual qualification has just been confirmed as a pathway to a fulfilling career – the ABC Level 5 Diploma in Bespoke Tailoring opens up veritable progression routes for those with previous experience in garment making:

John joined our very first cohort studying for the newly launched qualification in September 2018, as a recent fashion design graduate from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. During his admission interview, he explained he was looking for solid traditional tailoring skills, as well as training in pattern construction – both areas the more conceptual BA fashion design courses do not generally deliver. His admiration for meticulous hand craft was immediately evident and he knew that adding this specialist expertise to his existing skill set would enable him to follow a more ambitious career path than the fashion degree alone would have afforded him.

His previous experience in design and garment making helped him to hit the ground running. His diligence and inquisitive mind played a significant role in maximising the learning opportunities the qualification has on offer. He was particularly appreciative of the fact that the academy delivers both pathways of the qualification – the cutting and tailoring route – to all students.

From the second term onwards, John began working on customer commissions within the academy’s ‘Community Tailoring’ scheme. He engaged in bespoke selling, advised customers on style options, material choices and technical detail concerning individual figure and posture. He carried out cost calculations, provided quotations and placed orders for materials with suppliers. He then moved on to tailor, fit and supply the bespoke garments.  John worked hard and achieved extremely positive outcomes on each occasion, which was evidenced in the feedback he received from customers – valuable experience he will be able to build on in the future. He passed the final assessments with flying colours in July 2019. His practical work is of professional standard and his exemplary portfolio received particular praise: meticulous and beautifully accomplished, it will serve him as reference throughout his future career.

The Level 5 curriculum is an intensive programme, hands-on and within the real environment of a working bespoke house, with all the challenges this entails. It is designed to equip graduates for a career role with considerable responsibility, including setting up their own bespoke business, if they so wish. John made full use of this opportunity and I was delighted to learn that, following his graduation from the academy, he accepted the offer of a tailoring position within the men’s costume department at the prestigious Glyndebourne Festival Opera. The application process at Glyndebourne involved two interview stages, both entailing a practical exam. John was able to demonstrate his proficiency on both occasions owing to the practical skills training he received as part of the qualification.

John was generously supported by a student grant made available by the CapitB Trust, in recognition of the fact that the qualification, designed by the Savile Row Bespoke Association as an alternative to the traditional apprenticeship, is becoming available outside of London.

CapitB agrees Grant Support

The new ABC Level 5 Diploma was designed by the Savile Row Bespoke Association and Creative Skillset to open up an alternative route to the traditional apprenticeship and the Tailoring Academy has become the first UK training centre to deliver the programme as a stand-alone qualification. In recognition of this unique opportunity, the CapitB Trust, which is funding training for the next generation of fashion and textiles industry talent, has committed to grant £1,800 to each student enrolled with the Academy in 2020/21.

There will be no essay-writing but hands-on practice, under the guidance of master tailor Brita Hirsch, who has 30 years of experience under her belt. Teaching within the environment of her bespoke tailoring house, she keeps the class size to only eight students to ensure that each individual receives her full attention.

Students will acquire the entire skill set – Cutter AND Tailor – from pattern drafting to hand finishing bespoke garments, in a full-time course with a focus on the all-important practical skills. Graduates will leave the Academy with an industry-acknowledged qualification, enabling them to seek employment or set up their own business, if they so wish.

The Academy is licensed – as the only UK provider – to deliver pattern construction using the renowned Müller & Sohn system, in English. Graduates will be in a position to draft bespoke garment patterns from scratch, individually for each customer. They will be issued with a separate M&S certificate upon completion of the course.

The Level 5 Diploma has been designed for applicants with previous experience in the field, however no formal prior qualification is required for those applying for a place. Non-accredited prior learning related to the fashion and textile industry e.g. voluntary or unpaid employment or relevant training in areas such as garment making, fashion design or textile studies may be useful evidence to demonstrate an appropriate level of experience.

Those interested in more information can get in touch using the contact form below.


The Academy at #GNCCF2019

We are VERY proud to have been selected to show at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair in Manchester from 10th to 13th October. Now in its 12th year, the exhibition is the North’s largest and most established annual celebration of contemporary craft. This is a curated show and the Tailoring Academy has been selected to participate as the only UK training provider offering the highest level of tailoring training outside of Savile Row, London.

There is a craft renaissance underway, and it’s not limited to our sector: people are getting tired of cheap, disposable goods that are manufactured at the other end of the globe, because they hold no real value.

The concern for our planet plays a massive role in this, of course, and it is first and foremost young people who are now actively taking a role in halting the destruction relentless consumerism has caused. Knowing how to make things that last is a powerful antidote to the unsettling feeling of losing control. Human hands are our most capable tool.

Sustainability is at the forefront of our work, and we respond directly to our students’ desire for a more resourceful way of production by sourcing our materials locally, or even producing our own cloth to use in our tailoring.

The Academy offers the highest level in UK tailoring training: the ABC Level 5 Diploma, an alternative to the traditional apprenticeship. Designed by the Savile Row Bespoke Association and approved by the UK Fashion and Textiles Association (UKFT), the double qualification opens up a route to those looking to learn traditional tailoring skills in a life changing course, delivered in real-life work environment.

Our state-of-the-art workshop is housed on the top floor of a majestic former silk mill and is flooded with light. The textile heritage is tangible and hugely stimulating in our work.

Get the whole story at @tailoringacademy.co.uk

 

A Craft Renaissance

Many of you want to learn to repair or even make your own clothes, and we applaud the renaissance of this tradition: having these skills is a powerful antidote to the relentless consumerism of our time.

Repairing a much loved garment is worth every minute of the process and you end up with a much more characterful favourite jumper or dress once you have mended it – perhaps even deliberately in visible fashion. On Saturday afternoons, my apprentice Quentin Felix is at the academy to help you doing just that in his Drop-In sewing class.

Reproducing a beloved staple you have worn so many times it’s beyond repair is another way of staying true to yourself, and your own style. Claire Hutchinson will teach you exactly that, in her class dedicated to the art of the replica. She also delivers a hugely popular dressmaking class on Sunday afternoons.

Creating a garment from scratch entirely begins with learning how to make your very own cutting pattern. We have organised a series of workshops introducing you to the art of pattern drafting from scratch: starting with a simple skirt, we will move on to a shirt and finally a (male or female) trouser pattern – powerful stuff.  And to make it even easier to get on the course you want, our pattern making classes can be booked online.

Come and join us!

Images by Fiona Bailey

Officially Award Winning

The concept of delivering the ABC Level 5 Diploma as a stand-alone alternative to the traditional apprenticeship is officially award-winning! I am delighted to have received the Textile Society’s Professional Development Award, for offering this Ofqual regulated programme, the highest standard in UK Tailoring training, outside of London. 

The Society states in their announcement: “The selection panel were particularly interested in bringing an ABC qualification of tailoring to the North” and continues: “the application shows initiative and enterprise, specialist knowledge and strong professional experience. The strength of this application is its potential to disseminate knowledge through vocational education”.

As part of ITV’s ‘Tonight’ programme, I spoke about the skills shortage in the UK and how emphasis is now being laid on increasing the provision of practical skills training in response to that shortage. 

Filming took place at the Tailoring Academy, which I founded in response to what I know is an enormous demand for traditional tailoring skills: young people up and down the country – not just in our field but across all disciplines – want to learn to make things by hand again, a powerful antidote in an era of relentless consumerism.

Filming at the Tailoring Academy

Much of my work focuses on developing skills in those older than school age. Typically, applicants are self-taught, have a segmented background of different roles in the industry or are fashion design graduates with a degree under their belt. These candidates are aware they don’t have the technical skills, pattern and garment construction in particular, they need to progress in their chosen career.

At the Academy, which shares premises with my bespoke tailoring house, students receive the entire bespoke skill set, giving them control over the process from start to finish. Once they have completed the one-year course, they are in a position to deliver the highest quality in garment making, enabling them to set up their own business or seek employment equipped with an acknowledged qualification.

What sets the Academy apart?

At the Tailoring Academy, we believe that students should receive a full education and acquire, alongside their practical training, a sense of responsibility and accountability for their work.

Traditionally, apprentices receive training in only one area of the craft: they must choose between different pathways and become trouser/coat makers, or cutters. From an employer’s perspective, this secures a succession of specialists as part of their in-house production. From an employee’s point of view, however, following years of commitment, they often haven’t had the chance to acquire skills needed to move on or set up their own company.

At the Tailoring Academy, we adopt a more holistic approach and deliver the ENTIRE bespoke skill set to all students: graduates leave the course with TWO acknowledged qualifications, as fully rounded specialists.

We believe that practice is essential for any craft and encourage our students to spend time in the workshop outside teaching hours. During term time, students have the facilities exclusively to themselves each Friday.

Pattern construction is an important part of our curriculum, and students learn to draft individual paper patterns from scratch. The Tailoring Academy is the first UK training facility to follow the renowned German Müller & Sohn construction system (in English), which allows a truly individual pattern draft for each new set of measurements. 

To provide students with practical experience in measuring, fitting and consulting individual customers, we pride ourselves of our ‘Community Tailoring’ scheme: students take on bespoke commissions from members of the community, and work with them through all stages of the bespoke process. Participation is voluntary but students are encouraged to embrace this opportunity, enhancing their skills through practice and seeing their efforts rewarded at the same time.

A Stand-Alone Qualification

Are you a fashion or textile graduate or perhaps a costume maker? Have you had enough lessons in ‘history of fashion’ and written plenty of essays on the subject? Do you feel you haven’t been given the opportunity to acquire the all-important practical skills in garment making?

Creative people up and down the country are looking for a chance to learn one of the most prestigious crafts, bespoke tailoring. And yet, there seems to be a distinctive lack of skills focussed training available in the market.

The Tailoring Academy ends this shortage by becoming the first UK training centre to deliver the new ABC Awards Level 5 Diploma in Bespoke Tailoring, as a stand-alone qualification. Designed in collaboration with the Savile Row Bespoke Association, the programme is focussed on delivering practical skills, opening up an alternative route to the traditional tailoring apprenticeship.

The curriculum includes:

Individual (male and female) Pattern Construction
Planning and Cutting
Bespoke Trouser, Waistcoat and Coat making
Ironing and Shaping
Customer Fittings
Hand Finishing
Community Tailoring (learn & earn)

Students will complete the course with an acknowledged qualification, opening up progression routes to  employment, setting up their own business or applying their expertise in free-lance work.

Based in the foothills of the Peak District and yet only 30min from Manchester and 1h 40min from London, the  Academy delivers the qualification with student support from the CapitB Trust.

The training centre adopts a holistic approach – a working master tailor is at hand at any given time – and will deliver the entire bespoke process (cutter and tailor) to all students in a one year full time course. Places are limited to only eight per year.

An equivalent of Level 3 experience in a related field is entry requirement for the Level 5 Diploma.  Get in touch to discuss your individual circumstances if your are interested in this exciting opportunity.