Couture sewing and fitting workshops from award-winning designer Terry Fox can help you improve your skills immeasurably. And they are brilliant fun, too…
Terry Fox is addicted to fashion. She created her first collection at age ten – selling stylish Tressy doll outfits to the girls at school – and hasn’t stopped since. Terry has loved every minute of her 45 years in the sewing and bridal industry, from her early days working for Dame Zandra Rhodes and the Emanuels (who famously designed Princess Diana’s wedding dress), to selling her own designs around the world.
“The Emanuels introduced me to couture,” she says. “We made gorgeously-constructed gowns, and I fell in love with the mystery of the couture world. Couture is art – the clothes tell so many stories, from wedding dresses to iconic suits.”
Terry believes that while creativity is important, you also need to pluck up your courage. Her great moment came when she created a few dress samples and a sketchbook of ideas and headed to Harrods to meet the buyer. “I was petrified!” she says.
The buyer loved them and ordered a collection from the sketches. “I picked myself up off the floor and went home and made them. A few months later I had a wedding dress in the Harrods window with my name next to it – what a moment!”
You’re probably familiar with Terry’s own collections. But now, in addition to creating bespoke, one-of-a-kind wedding gowns, evening dresses and occasionwear, she’s launched The Academy of Couture Sewing
and Creative Textiles.
In hands-on workshops, Terry shares her passion for sewing – and her secret tips for exquisite couture creations and fine fittings. There are fabrics galore and plenty of individual inspiration and support. “I love seeing the ‘lightbulb moments’ when something just clicks,” she says.
For years, Terry ran Liberty London’s prestigious sewing school, so she knows how to deliver amazing workshops. She offers inspirational days for brides-to-be and hen parties, serious sewing workshops for experienced seamstresses, and training for boutique owners.
“All the workshops are fun, but pretty intense,” says Terry with a smile. “I believe in value for money!” Her warm personality is infectious, and she’s bursting with energy and enthusiasm, from her stylish red locks to the flash of her nimble fingers as she aligns a seam for a perfectly tailored fit. It’s obvious that she’s still delighted by all things fashion. Even her cat is named Miss Shabby Chic!
Terry’s industry workshops for boutique owners and their teams can help you win orders and build positive relationships with brides, dress designers and manufacturers. In these challenging times, it’s more important than ever to provide quality service and a personalised experience.
Terry knows the bridal business from every perspective, from the bride to the boutique owner, the designer to the manufacturer. “I’ve been in this industry for so long, I want to give something back, to share my knowledge and experience.”
In ‘The Wedding Dress Experience’ workshop, boutique owners learn to do personality profiles, with seven tips to help a bride choose ‘the’ dress. You’ll pick up useful techniques to keep the bride focused – which can improve your sales pitch and get the till ringing.
“Pins mean sales,” says Terry emphatically. That’s why her ‘From Fit to Finish’ training is invaluable for boutique owners and sales advisors, even if you have a seamstress on board for the actual alterations. You’ll learn how to fit, pin and measure, so you can capture the bride’s imagination and help her visualise your sample as the perfectly-fitted dress of her dreams.
Then there are the ‘Couture Workshops’, designed to help experienced makers perfect their techniques. Of course these are BYOSM (bring your own sewing machine). Learn about the construction of full-skirted gowns, soft silk skirts, bias satins, French seam inlays, chiffon hems and perfectly positioned godets, fishtails and trains. And there’s flawless finishing, from fine piping, binding and mitreing, to zip placement, rouleau loops for covered buttons, spaghetti straps, hand-rolled hems and more.
And ‘The Collection’ workshop is a masterclass of Terry’s ten favourite everyday techniques, from setting in a sleeve to a professional zip placement.
Terry loves every dress she’s designed, but has a soft spot for one spectacular gown. “The bride wanted so much detail, which suits my storytelling style. Her dress is my greatest achievement, made with 100 metres of plain silk organza, embellished with hand-cut lace appliqués and diamanté beading, and all in just three months. I worked night and day to get it ready in time.”
While some brides want a dramatic, showstopper dress, others prefer a more understated look. “I love seeing a bride find her own unique style,” she says. “A dress that’s just right for her personality and character – and her budget.”
What about Terry’s own guilty pleasure? It’s her elaborately-decorated corsets. “Each corset is an individual, a bit boho and definitely theatrical. I adore them.”
Terry’s seen every kind of wedding, from extravagant days with every luxurious detail styled by professional planners, to stunning events where the bride and her friends and family have done it all themselves. “There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate the big day,” she says. “I’ve even made a dress for a ‘geek wedding’. The wedding date was, of course, May the Fourth (be with you). It was amazing!”
Her top tip? “A moodboard. I actually do moodboard workshops,” she says. “I love them! There’s so much gorgeous stuff out there, and the moodboard keeps the bride on track with her colour scheme and mood, whether it’s romantic and whimsical or kitch and theatrical.”
So, what’s in for 2019? “This year we’ll see all the glamour of the Golden Age, with a contemporary, minimalist twist,” says Terry. She’s definitely noticed the influence of the two beautiful royal weddings in 2018.
“I’m seeing a shift towards a clean, tailored cut with a minimal aesthetic. No lace – nowhere to hide,” she says. Terry loves this look, with beautifully sharp seams, finely tuned to the contours of the body.
“This style,” she says, “relies on quality fabrics and outstanding craftsmanship, with a construction that defies the possibilities of the cloth itself – pure couture!” You can feel her excitement.
Everyday fashions are also finding their way onto the ivory catwalk. “I’m seeing higher necklines, like turtle, bateau and jewel, co-ordinated with long sleeves of all descriptions: finefit, gathered and relaxed into deep button-down cuffs.”
She’s also seeing flattering halterneck styles, thanks to Meghan Markle’s elegant evening wedding dress. Beautifully slim and simple silhouettes paired with long veils, capes and detachable trains, which add to the regal drama.
If Terry were getting married tomorrow, what would she wear? “Ooh, I’d change my answer every week,” she says with delight. “If it was still cold, I’d choose a mermaid style, not too full in the hem, with long tight sleeves and a high turtleneck. I’d embellish one side of the neck, coming down to the front and both cuffs with my signature 3D effect, created from cut lacework, small pieces of fake fur, tiny feathers and cord, embedded with vintage pearls, mother-of-pearl, crystals and diamanté. All to give texture and an illusion of fake fur.” She stops for air.
“I really haven’t thought about this at all, have I?!”
Many different types of people flock to Terry’s workshops, but they all share the same passion and love of style, fashion, fabric and construction. They want to learn to produce a professional – and beautiful – final result. And that makes Terry very happy indeed. “Now I’m doing everything I love most – designing, creating, making and sharing!”
Sign up for a course at The Academy, and leave buzzing with knowledge and inspiration…
The Academy of Couture Sewing and Creative Textiles
Workshops, 10am-4pm, Farnham, Surrey (less than an hour from London), or at your boutique.
Arrive from 9am for coffee or tea, then dive in at 10am sharp. Beautiful fabrics are prepared and ready for you. Refreshments are provided, and there’s a lunch break (though lunch is not included).
Couture and sewing workshops 1, 2 or 3-day workshops, BYOSM (Bring your own sewing machine!)
Masterclasses on couture, design and stylish dressing. You can perfect hand-stitching and machine techniques to get the perfect fit, from creating a boned bodice to the finishing details.
Mixed-media workshop for brides
Farnham, Surrey, Creative inspiration to create moodboards, journals, scrapbooks, stationery and decorations, working with beautiful fabrics, plus stamping, stitching, paints and collage.
Hen parties and groups
Terry can organise a venue or travel for a tailor-made workshop making fabric corsages or pretty headbands and hair clips.
The Signature Academy
5-day comprehensive workshop.The ultimate class in creating beautiful and professional gowns for weddings and elegant occasions. Work through a design brief for your own dress, a client or your own collection. Includes full-sized practical work.
See the full list of courses at