Monday, 3 March 2014

Bristol School of Sewing & Textiles

A self-taught seamstress from the age of seven Emma, owner of the Bristol School of Sewing & Textiles, began her life's endeavour carving up her mother's wedding dress to clothe her Sindy doll. Fortunately sewing has, as an adult, led Emma on a more prodigious path and she is long since forgiven. 

At eighteen Emma was taken under the wing of Teresa Gale, purveyor of costumes for the Bristol Hippodrome and the opera amongst others. Under Teresa's tutelage she learnt all there is to know about structuring a garment and, lately, how to fashion twenty intricate Venetian headdresses for a thirty-second scene without entirely despairing. 

From there, Emma has created Couture from her own back bedroom in the form of hundreds of ball gowns and wedding dresses and gone on to complete a teaching degree at the local university. Stepping through the unassuming front door of the Bristol sewing school you therefore find yourself in the most capable pair of hands, even if you've never so much as experienced the exciting electrical whir of a sewing machine before.

The courses are always sold out or on the verge of being so, what used to be a life skill has dwindled through the generations and Emma is putting this right, one room of keen amateur sewers at a time. You need only take a glance at the week's television schedule to see that sewing, and indeed craft in general, is experiencing something of a renaissance. With a growing backlash against fast fashion and all that entails and implies, people want to do things differently and instead own items into which they invest both thought and their own creativity. Today is the first of a series of beginners courses and they are starting out with a simple bag, yet Emma begins as she means to go on: twenty minutes in and everyone is cutting and constructing their own patterns and learning to line up fabric, they do things properly here.

For the more advanced there is plenty on offer too including courses from dress or curtain making to corsets and knickers. Emma also has many gentleman recruits who spend their time constructing scatter cushions in manly Harris Tweed. Parties for little ones, hen dos, willow weaving and tailoring to boot; no matter your ability, or lack thereof, it's easy to see the appeal. Today, tote bags, tomorrow the world.

If you'd like to get back behind a sewing machine the school is located just behind Staple Hill high Street and all their contact details and information on future courses are available on their website.

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