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A visit to The Tailoring Academy

Meeting the Class of 2020


On a mission to fill the gap of bespoke tailoring training in the UK, The Tailoring Academy in Macclesfield recently welcomed its new cohort of six students who are now embarking on a year-long Level 5 bespoke tailoring course. This week we made the journey across the Pennines to find out more about the class of 2020, and to present each student with a pair of EXO shears as they begin their journey taught by bespoke tailor and textile engineer, Brita Hirsch.


The Tailoring Academy


Anna Chandler, a former Fashion Design and Business Studies student from the University of Brighton, said “I decided to make the move to Macclesfield and begin the course at The Tailoring Academy because I wanted to expand my knowledge surrounding the care and craft that goes into tailoring and also to learn more about its heritage. If you can get to grips with bespoke tailoring, then you really can make anything. Tailoring gives you a vast understanding of which fabrics work for different garment shapes.”


Megan Good, a former Fashion Design student from Falmouth University, hopes to open her own tailoring business after completing the Level 5 tailoring course. “I’m from Cornwall and in my town there’s only one tailoring shop. Tailoring is a unique and old craft so I was really excited when I found out about the opportunity to study with Brita at The Tailoring Academy, and looking forward to having a greater understanding about textiles and having the opportunity to work with different fabrics.”


Students being presented with EXO shears. Left to right: students Mimi Hölzl , Sophia Feist, Laura Ella, Megan Good, Megan Balfour-Bond and Anna Chandler


Laura Ella recently completed her studies at Huddersfield University; an undergraduate degree in Costume with Textiles, and a Master’s degree in Fashion Textile Practices. “During my time at university, I had the opportunity to make costumes and work for the wardrobe department with the local theatre group – I absolutely loved it and wanted to learn more. When I researched bespoke tailoring courses in the UK, nearly all of them were in London, an expensive to place to be as a student. Fortunately I found out about The Tailoring Academy in Macclesfield and it just seemed like the perfect choice. I’m most excited to learn about menswear, practicing my hand sewing and working with traditional shapes.”


Mimi Hölzl, originally from Austria, has been studying varying courses for the past 8 years, including Theatre Design and Costume Making at the Wimbledon College of Arts. “I’m really looking forward to learning different ways of sewing. Sewing for stage and screen is more efficient so I’m looking forward to finding the balance between creativity and tailoring techniques. I’m fairly confident in womenswear and dressmaking but I’d like to grow my skills in bespoke tailoring jackets and produce bridal suits. Also, in my hometown in Austria, folk dress production is decreasing significantly and there are only a handful of people left skilled to make a dirndl. I would love to keep this craft going in my hometown and help ensure the tradition remains for years to come.”


Cutting fabric with our Wilkinson EXO shears


Megan Balfour-Bond decided to go travelling after school and found her love for tailoring along the way. “I decided I wanted to study something practical, and had the opportunity to learn about sewing during my time abroad. Whilst exploring the idea of tailoring, I found The Tailoring Academy. I’ve recently completed my Level 3 qualification with Brita and loved it so much I’ve decided to stay on and complete my Level 5. I’m really looking forward to making jackets as there’s so much skill involved to produce one. Eventually, I’d love the opportunity to work within a costume department at a theatre.”


Sophia Feist, originally from the United States, recently completed a degree in Art History at Princeton University. “I decided the UK was the perfect place to learn about tailoring. I didn’t feel there was as much respect for the craft and tradition of tailoring back at home, so I’m really excited to be learning about tailoring here. Brita’s course is fantastic as she teaches tailoring and cutting at the same time, which allows you to understand the whole process to ensure you’re able to do your best work.”


Director Sally explaining the history of Whiteleys, and the evolution in our shear design through the centuries