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Custom Shirt Making

Welcome to our brand new custom shirt making class: staying true to our ‘no shortcuts’ ways, we will teach a small group of students the art of making classic shirts entirely to customer specification. From measurement taking to finishing touches, this is your chance to learn to be your very own shirt maker!

We start by guiding you step-by-step through the draft of your bespoke cutting pattern*, followed by lay planning, the cutting of the fabric, classic sewing and pressing techniques and, finally, hand-finishing to the highest standard. We also include a ‘class-within-the-class’, teaching participants the stitching of the famous hand button holes – a hallmark of only the best custom made shirts available on the market.

Learning also to use different machine seam techniques, including the French seam, you will leave with your fully bespoke shirt. Better still, you have acquired the complete skill set to make all your shirts, at a professional level, in the future. The drafting system is repeatable with any set of measurements.

The class takes place from 6th to 10th of June 2022 at our state-of-the-art workshop in Macclesfield. Class size is limited to six and admission is on a first come first serve basis. Each student has the exclusive use of a workbench. Industrial sewing and pressing machinery can be accessed following induction under the guidance of two experienced tutors.

Our premises are equipped with a powerful air filtration system to keep staff and students safe from pathogens, pollutants and other contaminants. Please be aware that we require participants to be fully vaccinated against SARS-COV-2.

The course fee is £450 for the week and includes:

  • Written step-by-step pattern draft instructions for your future reference.
  • Prime quality, white Oxford cotton shirting.
  • Real button hole silk.
  • Real mother of pearl buttons.
  • All interlinings and sewing threads.

Required for participation is a good level of previous experience in garment making, best described as ‘equivalent to a Level 2’. Please get in touch directly to discuss your previous experience if in doubt, using the contact form below.

*Participants who have previously completed one of our Online Shirt Pattern Cutting classes can choose to join the course on the second day, at a discounted fee of £360.

To secure your place, please complete our application form and send it to – thank you!


    Apply Now

    … for your place on our 2022/23 Level 5 Diploma course:

    Submit your application to let us know a little more about yourself: we would like to hear about any  previous experience you may have in garment making and your aspiration for what you would like to take away from the  course. Don’t worry if you don’t have formal qualifications in the field – what matters is a love for meticulous hand craft (do you enjoy that flow state of total immersion in a task?) and real determination to learn and practice these heritage techniques with us. Find all the key facts below, more information here or get in touch by email.

    IMPORTANT:  to protect the wellbeing of our staff and students, we will only consider applications from candidates who have been fully vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants.

    If your application is successful, we invite you for a personal interview. Within a few days you will receive notification as to whether or not we can offer you a place (we always include feedback). We hold your offer for 14 days to allow you to complete the formal registration process. The non-refundable enrolment fee is payable upon agreement.

    Course Structure:
    Qualification ABC Level 5 Diploma in Bespoke Tailoring (601/8252/0)
    Cutting AND Tailoring Pathway (two qualifications)
    Regulator Ofqual
    Assessment Internal assessment, internal and external moderation
    Grading Pass
    Duration September 2022 to July 2023
    Format Full Time
    Fee £9,750
    Payment Schedule Available
    ABC Sector Fashion and Textiles
    Ofqual SSA Sector 4.2 Manufacturing Technologies
    Stakeholder Support UKFT and The Savile Row Bespoke Association

    The 2022 Summer School

    Last year we organised our first Summer School, inviting a small group of students to learn how to hand tailor a jacket from scratch, including the drafting of the individual cutting pattern – the ultimate hallmark of the true bespoke craft.
    We had such lovely feedback and so many requests for a re-run, we decided to do it all over again in summer of 2022.

    “I had an amazing 4 weeks of learning tailoring on the summer school. It gave me the chance to take a one month break from my daily work to completely absorb myself in learning these incredible techniques. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process and not only did it teach me a whole array of new skills, but it made me reconsider my approach to my work ethos in general. I highly recommend taking the time for yourself to experience this course.”
    Henrietta Adams, Founder Henri London

    The course will take place at our brand new, dedicated workshop in Cheshire (UK), available exclusively to participants. The studio provides ample light, safe space as well as individual tool kits that will be made available to each student. Each participant will have the exclusive use of a state-of-the-art industrial sewing machine (induction provided).

    Course Dates, Training Times & Fee:

    Monday 1st to Friday 26th August, 10am to 5pm (120 total hours) =  £1,795 incl VAT
    The schedule allows for ample time to learn, to ask questions and to receive answers that make sense. We strive to create a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the outside world – a time to forget about being efficient, for once.

    Entry Requirements:

    This year’s Summer School is dedicated to the classic Men’s Sports Jacket and designed for participants with an intermediate level of experience in garment making. You do not require experience in pattern construction, as we guide you through the process step-by-step. Please tell us about your background on your application form.

    IMPORTANT: please note this class is suitable for figure types with a greater chest than waist measurement.
    Belly figures require a different pattern draft, which we may teach at another time. Please get in touch if in doubt.


    Under the guidance of two experienced tutors, you learn to draft, cut and tailor a fully bespoke jacket to individual measurements.

    You will…

    • construct a cutting pattern for yourself or your chosen model from scratch
    • cut and mark the cloth
    • cut and assemble the canvass, including pad stitching
    • learn to join the canvass to the cloth, shape and press
    • assemble the garment ready for the first (baste) fitting
    • fit and ‘rip down’ the jacket for adjustments
    • make pockets, face and line the jacket
    • re-assemble for second (forward) fitting and final adjustments
    • hand finish and press
    • make hand button holes

    Tailoring trimmings, including body canvas, horse hair and collar melton are included in the fee. Drafting literature is also included for your future reference. Outer fabrics, linings, closures (buttons) and decorative threads (button hole silk) must be purchased by students prior to the course. We are happy to advise on suitable materials and sources during the preparation day.

    Student Wellbeing:

    We have been able to navigate through two turbulent years by taking the pandemic seriously. We monitor CO2  levels in the workroom and powerful air filters provide us with clean air. To further protect the wellbeing of all our staff and students, we require course participants to be fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants prior to the commencement of the course. We may also ask you to wear a high grade (FFP2) face mask during class sessions.

    International Students:

    The Tailoring Academy is in the process of seeking accreditation to deliver its programmes to overseas candidates from summer 2022. Please get in touch to discuss your application.

    Apply here or get in touch to learn more – we are here to answer your questions!

      Applications are Open

      … once again!

      Our previous cohort left the academy having signed employment contracts, accepted freelance offers or getting ready for the launch of a company. We are immensely proud of our graduates and will keep following their progress. Our new cohort is only a few weeks into their training but students already impress us with work that would typically be expected of trainees much further into their course or apprenticeship.

      The secret lies in the fact that students follow a structured programme with us, rather than running alongside their employer, to pick up odd jobs here and there – the nature of the traditional apprenticeship! But let’s not forget the fact they are, first and foremost, immensely talented and determined to learn. It is a joy to see them soaking up the new knowledge and skills, transferring them into sterling results, even this early on.

      Following our move to larger, beautiful new premises we are ready to welcome new candidates to our Level 5 Diploma 2022/23 intake. We will keep student numbers low as is our well-proven custom, allowing everyone ample space keeps being important, not just for health reasons but also because our craft demands freedom of movement and of course each student needs room to accommodate their alter ego – the tailoring dummy (long time followers know they have a special place in my heart).

      Get in touch if you’d like to hear more, including about our Community Tailoring scheme that allows you to earn whilst you learn. Drop us a line using the contact form or come and see us for a tour and chat on either of our Open Days. The dates are:

      Saturday 13th November for those who can attend in person
      Saturday 20th November for those further afield, including international applicants

      Participation in an open day is not a pre-condition for your application. Get in touch straight away if you wish to be considered for our 2022/23 intake. We look forward to hearing from you!

      Our family of dummies


        Keeping Everyone Safe

        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 UK 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.

        Textile Society Award

        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.

        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.

        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.