A POPULAR television programme has fuelled the revival of a traditional skill.

And Keighley is at the forefront of meeting demand.

BBC show The Great British Sewing Bee is credited with helping to spark renewed interest in work with textiles.

The series sees amateur sewers take on various challenges in a quest to be named Britain’s best home sewer.

Retailers have consequently reported a surge in sales of dressmaking patterns and sewing machines as a new generation battles with bobbins, pins and pinking shears.

Ready to satisfy the fresh appetite for knowledge is the Keighley College Textile Academy, which is offering a range of courses.

“Textiles have always been a massive part of Keighley’s heritage – with skills handed down through the generations – and the town’s factories used to hum with the sound of sewing machines,” said Charlotte Meek, course leader for the academy.

“After a period in the doldrums, the textile industry in the UK and in Keighley has been growing in the last ten years and this growth has led to a skills gap – which the academy was set-up to help plug.

“The Great British Sewing Bee has ensured that sewing is firmly back in fashion.”

The latest offering from the academy is a Level 1 qualification, designed for young people aged between 16 and 19 looking for a career in fashion or textiles.

It provides students with the basic skills and knowledge needed to start in the industry, with the opportunity to progress to a Level 2 apprenticeship.

“Manufacturing in the UK is growing and textiles is no exception,” adds Oxenhope woman Charlotte, founder of the hugely-successful The Stitch Company.

“The textile academy has strong links with local manufacturers, a growing reputation for excellence and a range of courses to suit all tastes.

“The Level 1 is perfect for students at school, looking to develop a career in the fashion and textiles industries.

“Whether you are a complete beginner just wanting to make yourself a skirt and give dressmaking a try, or are looking to start a career, we will have a course to suit you.

“Our highly-skilled teachers are passionate about textiles and the industry they work in.

“As well as the Level 1 full-time course, the college offers a number of Level 2 and 3 apprenticeships in fashion and textiles with local manufacturers and short courses to train unemployed students into work.

“Those looking for a more relaxed introduction to textiles could try dressmaking sessions which are open to all levels on Tuesday evenings.”

For more details, e-mail textiles@keighleycollege.ac.uk.