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WE'VE GOT SEWING DARN TO A FINE ART; LIVING LIFE TO THE FULL Making clothes is back in style, helped by TV shows such as the Great British Sewing Bee and a backlash against the throwaway fashion culture. MARIA CROCE talks to two women who have made sewing their business.

EMMA NUGENT EMMA Nugent is one of just a handful of corset makers in Scotland - helping women create the perfect silhouette with the right underwear.

Now the mum-of-two is looking for an apprentice to pass on her skills.

the when Emma set up her business Victorian Values 20 years ago making corsets and wedding dresses but she scaled it down for five years to raise her daughters, who are now 11 and six.

sees in Icreated privilege But she has a repetitive strain injury in her shoulder and is looking to train an apprentice.

Her fascination with corsetry began when she tried to find the right underwear for her own wedding 20 years ago.

Emma said: "I couldn't find anything that would give me a good shape and hold me up.

"I was making my own wedding dress and I wanted it to be strapless."

She made her own corset and then went on to pursue her love of period costume by researching Victorian era clothes.

Emma, who is in her 40s and lives in Carmunnock, near Glasgow, with husband Paul, had always made her own clothes.

She wanted to create Victorianstyle dresses but found they weren't sitting properly and realised it was because they weren't supported by a proper corset underneath.

Emma said: "If you look back, it's the corsetry that usually dictates the shape of a garment - whether it's a corset or a 50s corselette, a waspie or a Wonderbra.

"So I started seeing if I could make corsets."

She looked at original corsets in museums but changed the designs to be suitable for today's women who are a different shape and size.

Since launching Victorian Values, Emma has created corsets, evening wear and wedding dresses for hundreds of women.

She said: "My custom-made corsets not only fit perfectly, they are constructed to be comfortable, to give amazing support and an outstanding silhouette that also boosts the wearer's confidence "Seeing my corsets and dresses fit a client like a glove and watching their reaction when they first see themselves in something I have created is a real privilege."

But years of working at a sewing machine have taken their toll and she has developed a shoulder injury.

Emma decided to seek advice on taking on an apprentice and contacted Business Gateway Lanarkshire, part of a Scotland-wide network offering support to start-up firms and those looking to expand.

She said: "Because I want to take on staff and needed to find out more about social media, I went to Business Gateway.

"The service is a fantastic resource and my adviser has been incredibly supportive. As well as getting advice on how to update my website, I attended all the free social media courses they offer to bring me up to speed as, moving forward, those platforms will help me grow my business further.

supportive. As well as getting advice on how to update my website, I attended all the free social media courses they offer to bring me up to speed as, moving forward, those platforms will help me grow my business further.

"For the past five years raising my children has been my focus, although I've taken on select commissions and worked with "For the past five years raising my children has been my focus, although I've taken on select commissions and worked with stylists on period drama inspired fashion shoots. Now I'm ready to push the business again but years of sewing and carrying toddlers has left me with a repetitive strain-type shoulder injury.

"Painkillers can mask it but I know my days of endless sewing are over.

"I Iove what I do and I have 20 years of experience so by taking on my first apprentice and hopefully a second later in 2016, I can pass on my knowledge to someone who already has an understanding of sewing techniques - whether they're in their 50s, have been made redundant or simply want a change of career.

"It's an exciting opportunity for someone and for my business." ? For more information go to www.victorianvalues.co.uk I'm stitching to bring women together FRANCESCA McKay loves sewing - but what she enjoys even more is how it can bring women together and boost their confidence.

She studied and taught dressmaking in Italy where she lived for seven years before returning home to Scotland to set up her business Learn to Sew Glasgow in June.

Francesca, 25, from Barrhead, near Glasgow, said: "I realised I could use sewing and dressmaking to follow my passion of bringing women together."

She travelled to Italy at 17 where she learned dressmaking and then taught it at the same school.

Francesca said: "It wasn't like a normal college - we'd sit around a big round table. There were women of all ages and from different walks of life.

"When we were in there to learn dressmaking, something magical would happen in the room. What we were doing became less important.

"We laughed a lot and cried and shared our experiences big and small together.

"I think a lot of women need that and don't get it."

Francesca wanted to run her own sewing school and launched it with support from Business Gateway Renfrewshire after returning to Scotland last year.

She's now expanding by taking on staff and running more classes.

Francesca said: "I think it's important to keep these traditional skills alive.

"You can save money if you can repair things. And if I see a dress where I like the material but don't like the cut I can change it.

"I'd never run a business so I knew I would need some help. My Business Gateway adviser has helped me get my head round a range of start-up issues."

She runs classes for women and children and set up Learn to Sew Glasgow as a social enterprise. It means she can use some of the profits to teach to vulnerable women who have faced difficulties to help them boost their confidence and make friends.

Francesca said: "Learning a new skill like sewing is fantastic but all of my classes provide a chance for people to come together, make new friends, laugh and feel empowered.

"Sewing is a silly little thing but I see how it can give women a big confidence boost. When you make something and it looks good there's such a feeling of satisfaction.

"The way I learned to sew it had to be very precise but I've abandoned that. I like sewing to be fun and it doesn't matter if it isn't exactly perfect.

"While we're sewing, other things will come up and we let off steam.

"If you're given a confidence boost, it changes your attitude towards yourself slightly. It's one step to changing your attitude to yourself in the bigger picture." ? For more information, go to www.learn2sewglasgow.comorfacebook.com/glasgowsewing.

?To find out how Business Gateway can help your business call them on 0300 013 4753 or go to or visit www.bgateway.com

Watching the reaction when a client sees themselves in something I have created is a privilege

CAPTION(S):

CLASS ACT Women learning to sew

MATERIAL GIRL Francesca set up social enterprise to teach sewing in Glasgow

BOUDOIR COUTURE Red-hot corset

PERFECT FIT Emma's intricate corsets are made to measure

SEW TALENTED Emma has been making corsets for decades
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 6, 2016
Words:1223
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