Jacquie Nairn, our in-house tailoress is cut from increasingly rare cloth. At 15, she left school to train as a tailor with local company, Dorwards of Galashiels.
When she began her apprenticeship she wasn’t even trusted with thread, instead she was told to follow broken lines with her threadless needle through thick dark Melton cloth later, over, and over again until her needle skills met the required standard of perfection – “we had our work thrown back at us if it wasn’t right”.
Five years of strict, rigorous training later she qualified and joined the large number of homeworkers who supported the Scottish Borders famed textile industry. And there she stayed until she was persuaded – these days you’d call it headhunted – to become the in-house tailoress for A Hume at our shop in Kelso.
Back then she worked on a stately Singer treadle machine – “I spent the whole of my first day just working out how to thread the needle” – and her pinking scissors never left her side. All her work was for ‘kent’ (familiar) faces, either locals or fishermen and shooting folk who returned year after year.
Fast-forward 27 years and Jacquie is plugged in to the joys of electricity and tailoring technology.
Today, due to A Hume’s online boom and our free online alterations service, Jacquie may never clap her eyes on a customer – they hail from the world over – but she can fashion a sleeve or hemline, shoulder or waist, to their exact specification.
On Jacquie’s worksheet at any one time there might be a Tweed jacket bound for Stockholm, trousers for Hawick and plus twos for Herefordshire.
It’s really all about embracing technology as a means of maintaining traditional standards – “People seem delighted to find a service that has disappeared from their local area. It’s unique. I don’t know anyone else that does it and it works very well. People who use the service come back again and again. I’ve never had a complaint.”
Some people who benefit from Jacquie’s skills might never have experienced anything like it before, especially if they’re young. Recently she’s seen a surge of interest in tweed amongst younger men and women drawn by an enthusiasm for all things vintage, a mix and match aesthetic that says tweed works with pretty much anything, old and new, town and country. The contemporary colourings and cut typified by the likes of Magee fit perfectly with this fashionable, eclectic look.
Jacquie draws huge satisfaction from introducing a new generation to a proper fit. She says younger customers can’t believe their luck to stumble on a skilled professional who’ll ensure their new tweed jacket fits like a glove and it’s free.
Now you don’t get that at Jack Wills!
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