Our guide to dressmaking
Kristina K

Our guide to dressmaking

First published date September 10 2013 Amended date November 10 2015

Do you struggle to find the perfect dress when you go shopping? What if you could make your own dress, which hugs you in all the right places? The days of settling for ones that don't quite fit right will be over, that's for sure. Take up a dressmaking course and you’ll instantly feel a great sense of gratification. If you’re a professional dressmaker or hope to be one, then our wide range of professional dressmaking courses will be the perfect fit for you!

Different levels

How good are you with your needle and thread? Find out which category you fall into to take the appropriate courses…

Jazz up your style

You probably love fashion guru Gok’s How to Look Good Naked and secretly wish that he could give you some dressing tips. Remember how he always gets the women to dress in their usual, unshapely clothes, and behold, Gok comes and snips and tucks away bits of the clothes, giving them an instant makeover in a matter of seconds? Rather than waiting for the fashion God to miraculously arrive at your front door (unless you’re prepared to go on TV?), your best bet would be to take things into your own hands and stitch your own garments! You’ll need to be adept at sewing and know how to use a sewing machine before embarking on most dressmaking courses, though there are some aimed at complete beginners. You’ll walk away with your very own comfy pyjamas, a lovely skirt (no more paying £60 for a simple floral skirt) or even a shirt for your favourite man. All you need is a genuine interest to start sewing a simple garment.

Dress to impress

You’re worried that you might end up with the same outfit as your best friend again or turn up at a wedding in the same cocktail dress as Grandma Maggie. Alleviate those fears and sew your own beautiful dresses. You’ll be able to wear your own creation with confidence (no stretched fabrics there); from leggings and trousers to 50s inspired dresses and waistcoats. Dressmaking lets you wear your personality and passion on your sleeve, giving you the chance to go as wild as you want with design ideas and prints.

Be the next Coco Chanel

You can specialise in making specific types of clothing, such as wedding apparel and customised, tailored pieces like lined jackets. You may even consider fashion design courses if you wish to follow the footsteps of Vivienne Westwood and Isabel Toledo, where you’ll see your designs making its way down the catwalk.

What will you learn?

For beginners, you’ll learn to follow patterns, finish seams, insert zips, attach waistbands, pick up traditional tailoring techniques and experiment with various fabrics. Most classes don’t require students to have any dressmaking experience. For the intermediate and advanced learners, courses will teach you a range of construction techniques, health and safety regulations to promote good studio practice and a fashion business sense. At the end of the courses, you’ll have mastered commercial dressmaking patterns, learned to interpret symbols, construct darts, attach linings, press and finish.

The rise of a top dressmaker

Check out our Pinterest for some dressmaking tips and beautiful ideas.   

We can’t help but admire Thelma Madine, the famous dressmaker who’s been featured in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Whether you find it tasteless or a work of art and creativity, Thelma’s 20 stone wedding dress which she designed, costs a whopping £50,000 - covered in 30,000 Swarovski crystals, 400 ft of silk, 5,450 ft of tulle, mechanical butterflies, flashing hearts and fairy lights. Dubbed the Elizabeth Emanuel of the gypsy world, Thelma started her dressmaking career when she first sold christening outfits, moving onto wedding dresses and she has never looked back since. You may not want to go down the same road as Thelma, but if you’re interested in dressmaking, then finding your niche and marketing your work are all part and parcel of being successful!

Did you know?

1 in 3 women buy clothes they never wear.

99% of women claim they have bought clothes which don’t suit their figure.

Clothing is very often made in sweatshops with the use of child labour. Overseas, garment workers make less than a living wage, working under extremely oppressive conditions. 

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