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- Francesca Smith -
Apprentice Trouser Maker
Francesca SmithChittleborough & Morgan
• Born - 12/01/1994
• Mentor – Joe Morgan, Head Cutter
• Education - Newham College

What is your role at Chittleborough & Morgan?

I am an apprentice trouser maker.

 

When did you first become interested in tailoring?

It was when I was finishing school having done textiles that I knew I wanted to sew. I looked at all the possible avenues I could take and discovered Savile Row and bespoke tailoring.

 

What is your educational background?

I went to Newham College and undertook the pre apprenticeship bespoke tailoring course.  I completed the level one and level three of the course; I was there for one and a half years. It is quite easy to get into Newham College but what they teach you is very valuable I already had some knowledge of how to sew from doing textiles at school, but Newham College teaches you more of the bespoke side of tailoring.

 

Who gave you your first tailoring opportunity?

Chittleborough & Morgan gave me my first shot. My tailoring teacher at Newham informed us that they were looking for someone so I came here straight away and they gave me a chance to take on work experience for a few days a week. I was here for a year doing work experience whilst I was still at college until they gave me a permanent apprenticeship.

 

What is a day in the life at Chittleborough & Morgan like?

I arrive in the morning and there is always something to do. I could be doing the baste, altering between fittings or finishing some trousers. Sometimes I may have to stop what I am doing and help on something else if it is more urgent.  Sometimes I visit Chris; a tailor based in Soho, I will pop over and watch him work on some trousers if he is doing something interesting and I have the time.

 

Is there anything you had wished you had known before you started this journey?

Well I can’t think of anything I wish I had known but I do remember what I thought Savile Row would be like before I came to work here. I thought it would be a stuffy, strict and slightly scary environment; I honestly didn’t expect it to be so welcoming. I hope that perception of the Row changes because I think that is a preconception shared by many. The tradition and heritage is all here along with young, fun and talented people, so looking back I wish I hadn’t been so worried about that.

 

What has been your most exciting moment at Chittleborough & Morgan?

It would have to be the Sheep on the Row event late last year. I made some trousers for our model Jamal, they were Loro Piana dark blue flannel trousers and I also got the chance to do some lovely black braiding along the top of the bands, and around the edge of the fob pocket flap.  It was so exciting to see something I had made modelled at such a cool event, Jamal looked amazing in his suit and everything came together so well.

 

What are you working on right now?

Right now I am working on a trouser baste, it is a navy woollen herringbone with side forward pockets and dachs waistband.

 

Why did you choose to make trousers?

It was between trousers and waistcoats. I really don’t like making jackets; I am really bad at making the sleeves. When I did jackets at college, sleeves and I didn’t get along and I prefer the quicker process of making trousers. Don’t get me wrong I really do respect the coat makers and what they do, but these hands are so much more suited to making trousers.

 

What advice would you give to anybody that wants to get into the bespoke tailoring industry?

Get yourself accustomed with bespoke tailoring through places like Newham College or  undertaking work experience; in doing this you can see if this is something you really want to do. If you get onto the course or obtain a few weeks work experience and are certain this is something you wish to pursue, then just work hard and show your talent.