Head of Bespoke Sewing Room,
Training and Pastoral Care
Kath was born in Yorkshire and began her career in 1980 sewing jackets for a company called Meradina whose largest client was Marks and Spencer. She moved to Gloucester in 1987 making sportswear for Wimbledon and Lilywhites, and sewing the VIP bespoke shirts at Turnbull & Asser for 12 years. In 2009 Kath answered my advertisement in the local paper, and we started the Gloucester factory together which has grown from 5 to 30 since opening in 2010.
Kath and I both have a passion for tiny seams and no one else stitches their seams as we do; single needle with just one line of stitching sewn close to the inside seam to create the neatest, simplest but strongest join, using 18 stitches to the inch. Do compare the seams on your Emma Willis shirts to other shirts and let us know if you see why we think they are so pretty!
Kath also prefers to rely on free hand rather than guiding machinery as machines can break and hold up production. Therefore we use no Seamer, Hemmer or Closing Machine and
perhaps this gives our shirts their hand made, individual look, relying on the experienced eye and judgement of the machinist.
Kath trains all our new arrivals and as one lady commented who attended our free Sewing Classes “ If I had been taught at school as Kath has taught me to sew I could have been a brain surgeon.”
Bespoke team, Fronts and shoulder joins.
Karen was born in Gloucester and began her career in 1992 learning how to sew every part of a shirt with a local company.
She joined the Emma Willis team in 2009, specialising in sewing the shirt fronts and shoulder joins.
Karen's passion for sewing started as a young child watching her mother sew collars at home in their utility room. She remembers how she and her siblings were amazed at the speed of their mother's sewing and would sit under the sewing machine collecting the collars.
Karen's mother started her sewing career at 16 years old and at 14 Karen started helping her sew the collar stiffener pockets on the inside top collars during her school holidays.
Karen's sister Christine runs production and her two nieces Emma and Chloe also work at Emma Willis in finishing and sewing respectively.
Seamstresss, Embroider and Weaver.
Helen Pritchard joined Emma Willis in 2015 having graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a degree in Decorative Arts, specialising in Textiles and Embroidery in her final year. Helen has spent her first two years at Emma Willis training in the advanced sewing techniques of bespoke shirt making, with the guidance of Head Seamstress Kath Muir, who has over 25 years of experience. With her passion for handmade work, Helen has also learnt to knit the Emma Willis Merino Wool Walking socks on their Antique Victorian Sock Loom, as well as mastering embroidery. Helen embroiders all of the monograms for our bepsoke customers, each letter hand drawn, transferred to the fabric and then delicately hand embroidered.
"I have always loved sewing ever since I was little, and it's now a dream come true that it is my career. Every single process in our factory is done completeley by hand with so muuch care and attention to detail. I think that's what sets an Emma Willis shirt apart from others, they really are totally handmade. I really love making beautiful things, so the best thing about my job is spending every day sewing, knitting and emroidering beautiful things!"
Bespoke pattern maker, cutter and Tie maker.
Sam joined Emma Willis in 2014 and was trained by Kath to make a shirt the whole way through. During this time Sam also learnt how to sew nightwear, boxer shorts, embroider and the first to learn how to make ties in our Factory. Before joining Emma Willis Sam completed an Art foundation at the University of Gloucester, focusing on textiles. She then completed a BA (Hons) Fashion Design at Falmouth University. Sam has always had a keen interest in textiles, and knew the practical side of design was the right area for her work in.
"As a Bespoke cutter and Tie maker, my job can be varied. For the bespoke cutting side of my work, I take measurements that have been sent from the shop and transfer them onto paper to create a fantastic fitting garment. As a Tie maker I get given, sometimes unusual fabrics to create a strong wearable accessory. I enjoy seeing the process of a flat pattern be cut in the finest cottons and silks and then turned into high quality garments. It is very rewarding when a customer is happy with their shirts, knowing that you have worked hard to create a perfectly fitting garment."
"...The use of high quality fabrics and quality finished, but also that our shirts are made in England, in a beautiful town house. Emma's charity Style for Soldiers adds a sense of meaning to our shirts, knowing that you have aided someone in a small way to their recovery."
Swiss Cotton Oxford Shirts
All of our shirts are handmade in our Gloucester workrooms to the highest shirt making specifications, matching patterns at the seams, cross stitched buttons holes, Mother of Pearl buttons and single needle stitching.Shop The Collection
Mr Porter visited our English Shirt Factory in the centre of Historic Gloucester and filmed the process of an Emma Willis shirt being made by our team of skilled cutters and seamstresses.
Style for Soldiers
Style for Soldiers
In gratitude for the courage and sacrifice of our servicemen and women, Emma Willis makes complimentary shirts, walking sticks and hosts reunion parties for those she has met at Headley Court.