Day in the life of a bridal seamstress from Kent
- Credit: Archant
Nicola Leverington, aka the Wedding Dress Surgeon, on achieving the perfect fit and her new training courses
Name: Nicola Leverington
Job title: Bridal alteration specialist
Tell us about you
I have more or less always lived in Maidstone and it's here that I first started to learn to sew from my late nan, mum and aunt who are also bridal seamstresses. I used to make myself clothes from a very early age so when I left school, I started working for the family business within the bridal industry. In my early twenties I decided to gain some qualifications and graduated from the London College of Fashion with a degree in Fashion Studies. I went on to do a postgraduate certificate in advanced pattern cutting at Central St Martins, picking up new skills and techniques along the way. While I studied, I also worked part-time in the family business, assuming several roles over the years, including: admin, managing a retail store, performing bridal alterations, designing bespoke garments and running a wholesale company. All of this was great experience and exposure to the bridalwear industry.
And your business?
- 1 Win a luxury break at The Draycott Hotel in Chelsea
- 2 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 3 One Suffolk beach given Blue Flag status for 2021
- 4 Win £500 of Gallox fashionwear
- 5 Where to go wild swimming in the Cotswolds
- 6 Meet the new Devon stars of Channel 4 series
- 7 Nigel Haworth to return to The Three Fishes in Mitton
- 8 Win £500 of English wine from Lyme Bay Winery
- 9 10 places to visit in South Derbyshire
- 10 Win a picnic hamper from Booths
Once I realised it was the stitching that I really enjoyed, I set up Bridal Alterations Maidstone with my family's blessing. I diversified from just bridal gowns to altering mother-of-the-bride outfits and the like as well. I absolutely love my job - it's great to have the opportunity to work on different projects all the time and meet beautiful brides. It's a special moment when I achieve the perfect fit and the bride sees herself in her wedding dress, knowing that she can relax on her wedding day. It's very seasonal, however, as the majority of weddings in this country happen between May and September, so I am extremely busy in the summer months and not so busy over the winter. But that's a great time for me to work on adapting or 'recycling' wedding dresses and wedding outfits so that people can gain a few more wears out of them.
A typical working day?
I am a business owner and mum with four children, two of whom are very young twins, so there's a great deal going on all the time. Generally, I'm at my machine by 9am. The day can consist of a number of projects so I may be preparing to stitch, stitching, finishing and pressing garments, meeting clients or chatting to bridal stores. In the evenings, once the children are fed, I might see more clients for bridal, prom or mother-of-the-bride dress fittings in my garden studio. I often work late into the night stitching as that's the quiet time when I can really concentrate. Don't worry, I'm a night owl!
You in five years?
I love what I do and I know I'll do it until my back gives in or my fingers can no longer take the hours of intricate work! But I do have plans to diversify. I am creating a training course at the moment alongside a very talented lecturer, specifically for sewing within the bridal industry rather than the more generic courses out there. We want to make it as detailed as possible to give students the specific skills they need. The aim is that students will gain certification at the end of the course. I also have big plans to set up an Association of Bridal Seamstresses: like most industries, there are good and bad seamstresses and a bride doesn't have a second chance with her expensive wedding dress. The Association would allow brides to find accredited seamstresses as well as providing support and assistance to those in the industry - the training is just the beginning of offering a way to support this specialised sector of tailoring in its fight for perfection.
Marks out of 10 for job satisfaction?
10/10. You can't be in this industry with anything less really. I love what I do and being a part of someone's magical moment is an honour.
Get in touch
Nicola Leverington, The Wedding Dress Surgeon