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Hand Sewing for Couture Bridalwear

Hand Sewing for Couture Bridalwear

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Rowena Luke-King


This intermediate hand sewing course is inspired by the work of 'Les Petite Mains'; the collective of seamstresses who stitch by hand from start to finish and with meticulous attention to detail, the garments and accessories of 'Les Ateliers Couture'. Suitable for anyone looking to perfect their hand sewing skills, by the end of this course students will have produced a series of hand stitched reference samples on silk; a finished wedding dress in quarter-scale, and a quarter-scale tailors dummy to present and photograph it on.

Week 1 will start with a day to get to know each other whilst making the miniature tailors dummies, visiting the college library to explore volumes of 1960's Vogue and starting to make a variety of 'typically bridal-wear' hand stitched fabric flowers.

For the rest of the week we will explore decorative techniques such as embroidery on tulle; sequin, bead and appliqué lace; make samples of the different types of seams, hems and fastenings best used when working with silk, and visit the Clothworkers Centre at the Victorian & Albert Museum to examine a selection of hand stitched vintage wedding dresses, kept in the museum's archive.

Week 2 will see students choosing from a selection of original 1960's wedding dress patterns that have been reduced down to quarter scale; deciding on which fabrics to use; checking the measurements of their tailors dummy against those of their pattern and making adjustments to the pattern where needed, before laying out and cutting in cloth.

Whilst learning how to follow a garment construction guide, students will work independently as they fit and stitch together the components of their dress. There will be demonstrations on how to create fullness with padding and layers of bridal tulle; how to attach 'Rigelene' and 'Crin' for shaping and extra support and how to 'bag out' linings. On the last day a backdrop will be set up so that photographs can be taken, of each finished quarter-scale wedding dress presented on it's own quarter-scale tailors dummy.

Other topics covered:

  • how to keep a construction journal
  • identify fabric with a burning test
  • make and attach rouleau loops
  • layer fabrics to create a particular tint of white
  • dye with tea and coffee for a more vintage look
  • and how to increase your quarter-scale pattern to full-size and vice versa.

Level: Intermediate

Entry requirements: Confident hand-sewing skills

We recommend that students who have never stitched by hand before prepare themselves by also enrolling on Hand-Sewing for Couture and Bespoke Fashion.

Please note that students will be expected to continue with their hand-stitching between lessons, so please allow time to do this.

Please also note that we will not be making full-scale or corseted wedding dresses on this course and we will not be using sewing machines.

As a note of interest: Throughout history, costume designers and couture designers have often worked with scaled down patterns to generate ideas and/or present their work. This course is taught in a standard UK size 12, reduced down to quarter-scale.

For more information about this course please visit:

Please bring to the first session: Notebook and pencil. Pair of small sharp scissors. Pair of medium size fabric sheers. Box of clean pins. Selection of household needles. Real white cotton. Thimble.

Tutor Description

Rowena Luke-King has had an extremely diverse career in design. She has worked as a designer and colour consultant for textile design studios and leading retailers such as Marks & Spencer and NEXT. She has produced collections of clothes, accessories, hand printed fabrics, greetings cards and wrapping papers for a number of stores including Fiorucci and has worked as a stylist in the music industry (stage clothes that she created for 'Adam and the Ants' have been exhibited in the Victoria & Albert Museum). Rowena studied fashion and textiles at Central Saint Martins and is currently involved in sourcing vintage fabrics for the fashion industry. 


Please bring to the first session: 

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Pair of small sharp scissors
  • Pair of medium size fabric sheers
  • Box of clean pins
  • Selection of household needles
  • Real white cotton
  • Thimble

Please note that all fabrics will be provided for you 

Available dates

If no dates are showing then please Enquire about this course and we will contact you when new dates are published.