What the students say
The course has been a whole new experience for me. I have learnt so much in such a short period of time and it has opened my mind in so many ways.
It is very practical and you will have the chance to experiment with many historical techniques when making your garments.
In the process of making garments you learn so much about costume making, finishings and practical issues for theatrical proposes. It also gives you a glimpse into different periods of time even if it is not the one you are working on.
The small number of students helps to build community and form bonds for life-it also gave me the opportunity to have a placement where I experienced first hand the production of a major musical, with hundreds of costumes and costume changes which made the experience even richer.
I have nothing but thanks for this incredible 15 weeks, which went by too quickly.
Cecilia Martinez Carlevaro 2022
I came to the course with a background in running wardrobe. I really wanted to start working as a maker but didn’t have the skills to even know where to begin with big period costumes. I completed the summer course in 2022 and have never regretted it! The course is really intensive and Pauline and Sil really push you out of your comfort zone which is great.
Since leaving the course I have used the skills I learnt working as a maker for theatre and supervisor for opera, neither of which I could have done beforehand.
Pauline has great contacts and has helped me with work since leaving the course. There is also a community of past students all willing to help each other out. I made friends for life on the course, and have the confidence to tackle projects I wouldn’t have considered before!
Myfanwy Holland 2022
This course was the one thing I knew would jump start my career and it has absolutely done that.
You learn more and physically create more in this 3.5 month course than you would in a three year university course and it’s an incredible price as well. I have not met someone who is as dedicated to her students or to their success as Pauline is. She is the person to get you started when it comes to networking in the industry and knowing where to go to look for work.
This school and Pauline are well known in the industry and taking this course will absolutely open doors for you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been sewing for years and have already gone to uni or if you’re looking for a career change and just learned to sew a year ago. Pauline has seen it all and you’ll be better for having this knowledge and these skills in your repertoire.
Anabelle Eckstein 2021
I enrolled in Pauline’s course back in 2019, after longing for a career in costume but completely bewildered as to where to start. Doing a degree in costume wasn’t an option for me, so after a lot of research, I stumbled upon the Northern College of Costume.
It looked exactly what I was seeking for- a course that would equip me with all the necessary skills to start a career in costume without having to spend three years studying for a degree.
Pauline’s course proved to be all of that and more. The course exceeded my expectations and I’m still surprised at how much you can fit in a course in such short time. The course -set in the beautiful city of York- is well-structured, with small groups and Pauline is one of the most gifted teachers I’ve ever come across.
Her love for what she does is evident and she truly wants every single one of her students to succeed. I’m always grateful for her continuous and ongoing support.
Evita Panteli 2019
What a fantastic experience! Even though I took the course as a mature student with a lot of previous sewing experience I learnt so much. Learning how to recreate period costumes for theatre, TV, films etc. was very interesting. Each section of the course allows you to enhance your skills and learn new techniques, especially men’s tailoring and pre-20th century ladies’ wear. Pauline is an exceptional teacher with a vast amount of knowledge and organizes the course around everyone’s skillset. She is a kind and generous person and during the covid pandemic, put all the safety checks in place, so we were all able to complete the course with minimal disruption. I now work Freelance and through Pauline’s recommendations and links in the industry, I have been able to use the skills I’ve learnt to build a small customer base.
If you are interested in making historical dress and learning new skills this is the course for you.
Julie Baxter 2020
I only have wonderful things to say about my time at the Northern College of Costume. I made some amazing friends from the course and just had the best summer in York. Pauline is such a great teacher and lovely person and Sil who taught us the tailoring section of the course was also fantastic, they’re both just so knowledgeable. I can’t believe how much I learnt in such a short amount of time and if I could do it all over again I would! Pauline actually helped me to get my first trainee role after the course and since then I’ve worked almost non-stop on multiple different films and TV series, for netflix, prime and apple TV as a maker but also on set as a standby. I don’t even know where I would’ve begun to get into the world of costume without this course and I loved every minute of it!
Amy Vint 2021
If you’re looking to develop your period sewing skills whilst building a costume portfolio covering a wide range of techniques and eras I cannot recommend this course enough. After graduating in 2020 with a costume degree but no path forward I felt totally lost, but coming to York and having Pauline as both a teacher and mentor was the best thing I could have done. Not only did I learn loads whilst living in a costume “bubble” but had a group of like-minded peers to lean on and take advice from. Since finishing Pauline has continued to be a brilliant source of support in terms of networking and finding further opportunities, I”ve now worked at The Royal Exchange, The Chester Storyhouse and even on Outlander! and am confident that I can only continue to grow from here.
Leah Bradbury 2023
I first heard about the Northern College of Costume and the costume making course run by Pauline Chambers from a new friend who shared my love of historical costume. I kept looking at the website, becoming more and more desperate to attend which each new look. From the first time I asked Pauline for information, she was enthusiastic and helpful, and, after unexpectedly being offered an interview, I was overcome with how she seemed even more lovely in person. The dream came true when I was offered a place on the course which began in January 2023, and continued on as the course progressed. My experience was very limited before I began, but I have learned so much, and my confidence has gone on the same learning curve as my skills. Pauline is an astonishingly good tutor; she is intelligent and perceptive in how she teaches, and can subtly redirect when noticing that you may be struggling. She is also hugely supportive, and I have never experienced a tutor so determined to do all she can to help her students gain contacts and pursue their careers with costume. Pauline also gave her previous students, including me, the opportunity to assist her on a costume commission, an invaluable experience which allowed us to put into practice what we had just leaned.
I just couldn’t recommend this course highly enough; if costume is the path you want to follow, or you are wanting to gain an invaluable insight into professional costume making, this course, together with Pauline, will give you everything you need – and you’ll have a hugely enjoyable experience at the same time.
Michelle King 2023
I completed Pauline’s course in 2019 and can highly recommend it to anyone with a passion for costume. The course initially attracted me because it focussed on historical costume which I am particularly interested in. The short intensive nature of the course also appealed to me – I had just completed an HND in costume and didn’t want to waste another year or two studying. I have to say I think I learned more about costume making in those 15 weeks than I did in two years of college! We covered everything from bustles and corsets to draping and tailoring techniques.
Whilst you can’t cover every historical period, I do feel that the training we got gave me such a good grounding in the techniques that I would be able to tackle anything now. Pauline is a great teacher with a wealth of experience in the industry to share. She was so helpful and supportive throughout the course and she continues to offer help and guidance even now. I learnt so much with Pauline and I’m so proud of what I achieved with her but most importantly, the course gave me the confidence to believe I could actually make this my career and I am so grateful for that.
Eleanor Johnson 2019
This course has been an absolutely wonderful experience and one of the best choices I have ever made.
Even without having a previous background in technical sewing and costume-making to compare this course with other ones – structurally or in terms of intensity – it was clear to me from the start that Pauline’s course is unique in many ways.
Short, yet thorough and effective, and realised in a context of family-like atmosphere and personalised approach, it was an exciting challenge that left me full of knowledge, skills and friends. The direct links to the industry are also a big plus. I would say that Pauline’s students are already part of the costume-making industry by the end of the course, due to the work at the college which simulates actual working conditions (very useful!), the interaction with various professionals and the work experience opportunity offered as part of the course.
Pauline is a lovely, selfless, positive and warm person and a very skilled and engaged teacher. And she’s always there to remind you that this job is supposed to be fun as well. Oh, and York is not too shabby either!
Stella Tanis 2019
I did the summer 2019 course & the only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner !!
Pauline is a fantastic teacher (and person)! The course is short but intense. However, because of the small number of students, we always had help and guidance when needed. We learnt, made and laughed a lot ! Along with the guest tutors and work experience, it helped me build up the confidence and some of the essential skills, experiences and contacts I needed.
Although the current situation (Covid) has not been kind to the industry, or my career, since finishing the course I have been lucky enough to have worked at the Manchester Royal Exchange, on-set and to continue sewing for a living.
Pauline has always been there for me when I needed help or advice (even after the course).
Thank you for everything !
Amy Wilkins 2019
What is unique about Pauline’s course is its intensity and practical nature. You are totally immersed into learning the art of costume construction, receiving 7 hours a day of tuition from seriously experienced professionals. The course has a practical drive, but Pauline also teaches you what is required to be successful outside of the technical skills. She is an amazing teacher with an endless knowledge of the craft and the industry. The college is light and spacious and has an extensive reference library of books and DVDs. It is situated bang in the centre of York, and we often made trips to local shops and talks as well as visiting the Castle Museum archive. After our tailoring project the course was paused due to lockdown. Pauline then re-equipped the studio and implemented every social distancing measure necessary to ensure we could return to complete it. The time flew by and I wish I could do it all again.
Leo Tyler 2020
When Covid first hit in March, we had to cut short our course and we were all devastated. But in June Pauline completely reorganized the workroom to adhiere to new government guidelines and keep us safe. This allowed us to finally come back to the classroom and finish our course, which was an incredible and unique experience. I’ve never learned so much in such a short time. Pauline is a wonderful teacher and the sweetest person, alway there to help and guide you.
The course boosted my skills and confidence and opened the doors for me to work in amazing productions such as Lord of the Rings.
After the course Pauline was always very helpful, sharing contacts and helping me out to get in the industry. I don’t think there’s a better place in the UK to develop costume making skills, and the way the course is set perfectly reflects the way the industry works, preparing the students for their future careers in the best way possible. Three years after completing the course I still remember the time spent in York with fondness and wish to come back to do shorter courses.
I’ve already recommended the course to many people, 2 of which have become students and told me they absolutely loved it.
he time spent in York with fondness and wish to come back to do shorter courses.
I’ve already recommended the course to many people, 2 of which have become students and told me they absolutely loved it.
Lucia Gomez 2020
Completing Period Costume Making at Northern College of Costume has not only given me skills I will use for the rest of my life but my confidence and enthusiasm for making increased tenfold. Pauline’s teaching style is unique and flexible – she adapts to meet her students needs whilst continually challenging and encouraging self development. Highly recommend to anyone with an interest in advance costume making. Please let me know if you do run any short courses
Samantha Griggs 2020
I had the most wonderful summer in York creating costumes and making new friends. Pauline is a fantastic teacher who is happy to share so much knowledge of the costume world with you, I felt like I learnt a huge amount in the 15 weeks and was able to leave with a portfolio I was proud to show in interviews. Pauline set me up with a work placement at the West Yorkshire Playhouse straight after finishing the course and since then I have been working non stop! I have worked for Glyndebourne Opera, Royal Exchange Theatre, Royal Opera House, Warner Brother film Studios, Love TV Productions (Bake off the professionals), Shepperton film studios and have successfully embarked into the world of freelance where I make for various shows including Harry Potter and the cursed child, Les Miserables and Matilda. I would have never had these opportunities if it wasn’t for the Northern College of Costume, it truly is a fantastic course!
Emily Buckton 2016
My theatre costume journey started with volunteering to be part of the costume team for the 2016 York Mystery Plays. I really enjoyed being part of the team, measuring the cast, making the costumes and dressing the actors at the performances in the Minster. I had many conversations with the other members of the team and Pauline’s course was mentioned again and again. I wrongly presumed the course was held in another city and was overjoyed to hear that the Northern College of Costume was based in my hometown. At the time I was working as a School Business Manager in a large primary, but I had always sewn in my spare time and I decided to have a career change.
I was accepted on the January 2018 course and loved every minute of it. It wasn’t a walk in the park, but I have learnt so much and made some lovely new friends. The course is very thorough and intense, but I learnt so much and now when I sew I have so much more confidence. I now manage a studio on Airbnb and help the Rowntree Players, a local amateur dramatics company, with their productions. To date I have collated and sewn costumes and head dresses for two pantos and one contemporary stage play. Now I am working on a ‘lighthouse’ themed dress for our dame as part of this year’s Sinbad panto. Luckily (almost) anything goes in panto!
Jackie Holmes 2017
My four months at Northern College of Costume was one of the the most enjoyable times of my life. Completely immersed learning something you have a passion for, with like-minded people and inspiring tutors… what’s not to love? Since completing the course I’ve worked two summers at Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre and at York Theatre Royal. I worked on costumes for Snow White at London Palladium last year and have done some freelance making. As a more mature student, I would certainly say it’s never too late to follow your dream and the college is a fantastic place to start. It’s like joining a big family.
Sandra Martin 2018
I came to Northern College of Costume without any formal training in costume or fashion. It’s fair to say that I owe my career to Pauline and the other tutors at the college. Not only did I learn a staggering amount of sewing skills, but the structure of the course in itself is the perfect preparation for working in the industry; your fellow students become your colleagues and the beginning of your professional network. The encouragement and support to challenge and push myself throughout the course is what has lead me to where I am today, working in theatre, TV and film as a cutter and tailor.
Dennis Jensen 2017
I came to the course with a degree in costume and a couple of year experience already under my belt and it was exactly what I needed. I was looking to indulge in making the kind of costumes I so far hadn’t had the opportunity to proffesionaly, and to fill a few gaps left by an art school education. Pauline and the other guest tutors were fantastic, sharing both their technical knowledge and their advice for surviving in the world of theatre and film costume. Through the course I went straight into a work placement at the Storyhouse Theatre in Chester where I was subsequently employed as a costume assistant and will be returning in the new year. I will be spending the Christmas period supervising my first professional show at the Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham. I can’t reccomend the Northern College of Costume enough, it was a great experience which has given me a wonderful network I know I can always call upon for help and support.
Lydia Hann 2018
I completed Pauline’s course in Autumn 2016. The course was all I could have hope for and more. The teaching was of a high quality from a variety of tutors and allowed me to further my technical knowledge and cement preexisting skills. The remit though is wider than just sewing skills, Pauline teaches you what its like to work in the industry and how to be successful. Everyday I’m working I use the technique and general advice she gave me. Also the people you do the course with act as the beginning of a network of contacts which is essential for finding work and gives a good experience of team work. Rather than having to go through 3 years of university the course acted as a springboard into the industry, since leaving just 5 months ago I have worked in pantomime, the Royal Exchange, Manchester, on touring musicals, and now I’m working on a BBC2 Drama. Its a whirlwind and all thanks to Pauline!
Chloe Moore 2017
I enjoyed this course no end. It’s fast paced and intense, designed to mirror the schedule in a theatre workroom. The small number of students works well – Pauline and her guest tutors have the time and energy to give support when needed. Throughout the process of making my three period outfits i learnt many practical techniques. Alongside this I found that my confidence grew. I began to make quicker decisions and more often without consultation. Believing that you are capable really helps and crucially the course enables this.
Since completing the course in May 2016 i’ve been making costume consistently for my local museum. From Celtic Capes to Monks cowls to a host of animal costumes for their Natural History exhibition. I also enjoyed two stints of work experience initiated by Pauline. One at the Crucible Theatre, the other making a 18th century waistcoat for an Opera North production with a brilliant freelance costume maker.
Janet Heap 2016
I loved this course. Despite coming to it with around 50 years of self-taught sewing experience (I am one of the course’s older graduates), what I gained from it beyond technical skills was the faith that I simply “could”. With that I developed a certain fearless ability – the ability to discern when perfection matters and when it does not, the ability to see the potential for intentional design in a “mistake,” the ability to improvise something beautiful from not always promising materials. It was such a privilege to learn from a master costumer (Pauline) and to spend 15 glorious weeks in the company of the self-proclaimed “fabric geeks” who were my fellow classmates. I loved every moment, and recommend it without reservation to anyone who wants to challenge herself or himself by taking their existing talents into a whole another direction!
Hermina Joldserma 2016
To take Paulines course was a life changing decision for me. Not only did I have fifteen great weeks, it also kickstarted my career.
Pauline is very caring, helpful and knowledgeable and I could not have wished for more from her or the course. I have not been without work since finishing the course and have worked on some very exciting shows and screen productions.
If you are wishing to work with costume I can´t recommend this course highly enough. I am proud to call myself “one of Pauline’s”and it’s a label well recognized in the industry.
Sofia Olander 2016
This course kick started my career and changed my life. I moved to the UK from Canada specifically to take this course in 2013 and to make a career change. In just 15 weeks I learned more than I did in years of University. All the projects were selected to not only teach us invaluable techniques but to produce an impressive portfolio which I’m proud to show off at interviews. Pauline’s professional connections meant that I headed straight into work experience placements at some top theatres. In the months to come I have consistently found that Pauline’s ex students are highly respected professionally and her course has a terrific reputation for turning out talented costumiers. I’m now working as a costume maker in television and am looking forward to building my career in the years to come. Not only does Pauline pour all of her expertise into this course, but also the caring, attention and heart of a truly great mentor. Additionally, our guest tutors were highly experienced and passed on invaluable advice and skills. This was one of the best summers of my life, where I met life-long friends, quickly built up a professional network and established myself in my dream career. Worth every pound and every minute.
Martha Wellend 2011
The course at the Northern College of Costume was wonderful and inspiring and I have fond memories of my summer in York, being creative and learning all about the world of costume. The course at the Northern College of Costume was wonderful and inspiring and I have fond memories of my summer in York, being creative and learning all about the world of costume.
Emma Thompson 2006
I attended the costume construction course at the Northern College of Costume in the summer of 2016. Pauline Chambers devised the course which includes visiting tutors and trips to exhibitions and for buying fabric and a detailed daily timetable. There was a wonderful camaraderie and work ethic in our group fostered by the gentle and generous encouragement of Pauline. She has seemingly endless patience with her students, always ready to give more of her time when it is needed. She manages to create a warm supportive atmosphere where all her students are able to produce their best work. I met like minded people on the course and learned many new skills along with the confidence to use them once the course had ended. I cannot recommend this course highly enough.
Sue Lowen 2017
I graduated from University feeling underwhelmed with their teaching and student support, feeling lost with no clear career path. Pauline’s course was fantastic, I couldn’t possibly recommend it enough. I did the course in January 2016, her first winter course, and loved every minute. Pauline’s teaching and knowledge are second to none, and she doesn’t hesitate in passing it on to her students. This course provides a wealth of practical costume making skills in a time frame realistic to the industry.
Pauline brings in guest tutors for specific skills such as hand sewing and a short bootcamp in working in TV and Film, who also have years of experience and contacts. I’ve not stopped working since completing this course and have worked in TV, film and theatre. Pauline’s course is worth every penny, and I can’t thank her enough for all the wonderful memories and friends I made on this course.
Harriet Towne 2016
Before attending the Northern College of Costume I had previously dropped out of 2 costume degrees because of the lack of practical teaching. The NCC provided me with exactly what those University degrees had been missing – a purely practical and realistic approach to costume making taught by tutors who are still working in the industry themselves. I found the small class size perfect as it meant the tutors were able to give us all a lot of attention and guidance. I attended the college in 2008 and have been working as a costume maker ever since. I have worked in theatres such as Shakespears’s Globe and the Royal Opera House and made costumes for productions all over the World. The course gave me the perfect start to my career and I really can’t recommend it enough!
Aislinn Luton 2008
I completed the course in 2011 and have been working as a costume maker/assistant/supervisor ever since in theatre and TV. Pauline is such a wonderful tutor and is so passionate about the costume industry (as are all the tutors on the course). The course covers so much, it’s thoroughly enjoyable and it goes very quickly. You get so much one-to-one tuition that you simply don’t get on a degree. Pauline has a great reference library to use while your there and the workroom is light and spacious. The course provides all the essential skills you need to begin a career in costume and is highly regarded in the industry for the high standards it produces in its students. It is an absolute must for anyone that wants a career as a costume maker.
Jo Sims 2012
Without the costume making course at the Northern college of costume, I don’t think I would be working in the industry I always wanted to. The skills and advice I gained from the tutors has been invaluable to create a portfolio of beautiful costumes I am very proud of. The course was all practical, solely focussing on my skills as a costume maker. This prepared me for what was to be expected of me when working professionally in the industry. It was worth every minute and every penny because now I have a job that doesn’t feel like being at work all thanks to Pauline and the northern college of costume.
What lovely work and fine craftsmanship – this first class intensive costume course is going from strength to strength, turning out professionals with skills that meet the industry’s needs – the level of commitment should be an inspiration to us all.
Former tutor, Mabel Fletcher College – ‘Mabel’s’
Since finishing the course I have worked in various workrooms and on a variety of shows as Maker, Wardrobe Mistress and Dresser.
Liz Hodgson 2016