Award-winning and innovative: the stand-alone Level 5 qualification delivers both, the cutting and tailoring pathways, to all students

The Tailoring 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.

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Award-winning and innovative: the stand-alone Level 5 qualification delivers both, the cutting and tailoring pathways, to all students

The Level 5 Diploma is the highest standard in UK tailoring training


Learn how to draft your own cutting patterns from scratch

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

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

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 recently spoke about the skills shortage in the UK and how, in our sector, emphasis is being laid on increasing the provision of practical skills training in response to that shortage. There is a big offer out there for conceptual programmes but the real shortage is with practical training.

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 pretty 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.

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 £2,500 to each student enrolled with the Academy in 2019/20.

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 six 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. From September each year, the programme delivers a total of 800 hours of tuition (plus an additional 200 hrs voluntary practice), running through to July the following year. Successful students 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.

What sets the Tailoring 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 or coat makers, or cutters. From an employer’s perspective, this secures a succession of specialists as part of their in-house production. From an employees 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.

We therefore adopt a more holistic approach and teach BOTH pathways (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. The programme starting in September 2019 will provide 1,000 hours of guided tuition and individual practice in total. 

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 customer. 

Finally, 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 take this opportunity to practice their skills and generate some income at the same time.

New Stand-Alone Qualification in Bespoke Tailoring

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 drafting
• Planning and cutting
• Bespoke trouser, waistcoat and coat making
• Ironing and shaping
• Fittings
• Hand finishing

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 will deliver the qualification in partnership with Macclesfield College.

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 six 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.

Practical Skills Training at the Highest Level

Bespoke Tailoring Training in the North West

The Tailoring Academy Ltd. was founded in response to the lack of practical tailoring training in the UK, particularly outside of London. Based in the North West of England, it aims to end 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 Creative Skillset and the Savile Row Bespoke Association, the programme is delivered in partnership with Macclesfield College, providing practical skills training and opening up an alternative route to learners who can’t or don’t want to go through a traditional tailoring apprenticeship.

The Tailoring Academy is based in Macclesfield, the old centre of the UK silk industry, with excellent train links to Manchester (25min), London Euston (1h 40min) and further afield.