David Nieper launches sewing school

Derbyshire-based womenswear label David Nipper has launched a new sewing school to help address the textile industries skills deficit and to nurture local talent by passing on its specialist skills.

The sewing school will be run by two of David Nieper’s most accomplished dressmakers: Carol Shaw, with 14 years’ experience and Sue Cook with 27 years’ experience, both of which will be responsible for design room sampling and advanced sewing techniques.

The fashion label, which was founded in 1961 prides itself on its manufacturing in the UK, stating that it has never gone offshore to source labour, and the sewing school is its way of passing on its specialist tailoring and dressmaking skills to a younger generation.

In a statement, the fashion house points to research from the British Fashion Council, which found that 60 percent of workers in fashion and textile manufacturing are over the age of 40, and its goal with the new sewing school is to help train up the next generation before the skills are lost forever.

The 12-week course started this month with its first four trainees aged from 18, including two school leavers and two more experienced women who are changing career.

Carole Shaw, senior supervisor, David Nieper sewing room said: “Our trainees will start by getting to know their machines and develop thread control. They will learn dressmaking essentials including cross-stitch, overlock, lockstich and bar tacking. We start with paper patterns to learn the basic principles then progress to a range of different fabrics including; cottons, silks, elastics and wools and learn how to work with each.

“Many seamstresses in clothes manufacturing only make one part of a garment e.g. a leg, arm or collar on a production line but our trainees will benefit from learning how to make the whole garment. At the end of the course we are hoping to offer jobs to trainees who have demonstrated a good eye, good coordination and a good aptitude for creating fashion in luxury fabrics.”

David Nieper looking to pass on specialist skills with new sewing school

Bethan Kerry, a recent graduate from Swanwick Hall school in Derbyshire, added: “We are learning such a lot, and although the patterns are repetitive to start it is satisfying when you get the hang of it.

“At the end of the course it will be rewarding to actually make a complete garment, as well as having developed a new skill and the possibility of a job. Most jobs in fashion are in retail and it is very difficult to find something like this that allows you to be creative.”

At the end of the 12 weeks, successful trainees will have the option to take up a full time position in the David Nieper sewing room as junior machinist or extend their traineeship.

Christopher Nieper, managing director, commented: “There is a critical skills shortage in fashion manufacturing, made worse by relentless offshoring in recent years. It’s crucial to nurture local talent and pass these valuable dressmaking skills to the next generation.

“We are delighted to pass specialist skills to the next generation. Our sewing school is only the start, there are many rewarding careers in fashion manufacturing alongside sewing such as pattern cutting, fabric cutting, knitwear and quality control.”


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