ILKLEY residents can now embrace their sustainable fashion goals with the help of a skilled local vintage seamstress, who is bringing back the art of 1940s clothing repairs and teaching them how to mend their own wardrobes.

William and Tilda, an Ilkley-based business, is led by the talented Becky Davies-Downes, who has a passion for exploring the history and craftsmanship of clothing during 1940s wartime Britain.

Through her expertise in hand sewing techniques, she brings these traditional skills to life in a brand new sewing course promoting sustainable fashion.

Last year Becky was named an ƒ:Entrepreneur #ialso100 in 2021 in recognition of her inspiring entrepreneurial journey, which has involved running a business alongside a roster of other responsibilities.  Much of her work looks at the detail of how this was achieved, the lessons that can be learnt from the success of such schemes and how the past can influence our approach to a more sustainable fashion industry in the future.

Residents are invited to join the new 'Totally Hand-Stitched Making Do and Mending' course at St Margaret's Church Hall starting on May 4.

The course is inspired by the nostalgic Government-backed WW2 'Make Do and Mend' initiative, which encouraged people to repair and reuse their clothes during the austerity of wartime. The course aims to teach similar skills to promote sustainability and reduce waste in modern fashion.

The skills taught in the course are highly transferable and relevant today, and reflect the growing trend of conscious consumerism and a desire to reduce environmental impact.

Becky said: "I'm a firm believer that a sustainable approach to clothes is nothing new, we've done it before. And done it successfully. The 'Make Do and Mend' initiative from the Second World War, for example, encouraged people to repair and repurpose their clothes, and was hugely effective. By adopting similar strategies, we can promote sustainability and reduce fashion waste today. There's much to learn from the various initiatives implemented during the war, and I'm excited to see people embracing these skills and values once again."

With a professional background as a costumier, Becky’s recent work has taken her to prestigious venues such as The House of Lords and Downing Street, where she had the privilege of displaying her recreation of one of Winston Churchill's favourite garments, the siren suit, in a room once used by the man himself.

You can find out more about both sessions via Becky’s website or by e-mailing Becky directly at

Instagram - @williamandtilda