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A day in the life of a seamstresses HANDS Johanne Bertaux-Strenna

February 6, 2015

One of the interesting things at SEAMS is that I get to meet so many people who use our product and it is always fantastic to hear that SEAMS Hand Cream is being used effectively by the people it was created for. From Designers to new mums to make-up artists I would like to share with you some of their hands on stories.

One of those people is the talented Johanne Bertaux-Strenna, a seamstress at Selfridges the luxury store on Oxford Street. Her daily role is to tailor fit designer garments so that clients can walk away with made to measure outfits, her hands are a fundamental part of her role. As she herself said “they pin, write, cut, touch…my hands do the talking!’ I caught up with Johanne to hear how she takes care of her hands and to discover how SEAMS has helped improve the condition of her biggest asset.

Intrigued by the fashion world from childhood, Johanne Bertaux-Strenna always knew she would have a career in the industry. That path led her to the London College of Fashion where she studied costume design and obtained a BA in 2010 after a foundation year in art and design at Central Saint Martins,  Johanne is now an integral member of the alterations team at Selfridges the home to designer brands and thousands of esteemed customers. Here’s her hands on day-

As a fitter and tailor… my work mainly involves fitting men’s, ladies and kids designer garments – everything from jeans to intricate ladies designer wear. My job is to pin them accurately to make the fit more personal, in the workroom I carry out a variety of alterations as part of a team including shortening of trousers with a variety of finishes.

Being a seamstress was something I always wanted to do… I had always wanted to design and make clothes. I remember drawing fashion sketches when I was 10 and organising makeshift fashion shows with dresses made from bed sheets in my cousins’ attic in Corsica! I spend every summer there with my family.

Working for somewhere as well known as Selfridges… means that we attract a variety of customers, so we strive to provide stellar customer service and expert advice, fast. It can be quite trying physically and especially on the hands!

Each day… I start in the Alterations work room on the 5th floor with whatever alteration we have in store for the day. In the meantime I can be called out at any moment for a fitting at any department within the store. That will involve a short discussion with the customer in front of a mirror to understand what the customer wants and the work that needs and can be done, then I pin the garment and fill out the appropriate paperwork. Then it’s off to another fitting or back to the workroom! It’s a job that demands extreme accuracy and attention to detail.

Seamstresses hands SEAMS Hand Cream

I am so happy in my role… I love working as part of a talented and multicultural team, I love the contact with customers from all parts of the world and all walks of life, I love being able to work with such a varied and exciting selection of brands and seeing how they look on different body shapes!

I have to say I am most satisfied… when I establish a great connection with a customer, for whom the sales assistant / personal shopper and myself have found a great garment for. I remember one Oscar de la Renta dress – which involved several layers of tulle and chiffon – I spent one hour pinning it because I had to shorten each layer separately! I had a great conversation with the customer and when I’d finished the dress looked perfect on her, as though it had been custom made.

The most difficult alteration’s… are taking in the centre back seam of certain trouser waists, these can be tricky because of the number of pieces involved, the label that needs to be unstitched and re-stitched etc. Certain types of turn-ups can also be difficult.

My hands are an extremely important part of my role… they do the talking, pin, write, cut, touch.

The problems my hands have… is that I often get painful small nicks, cuts and scrapes on my skin, cuticles and fingertips.

If my hands are properly moisturised… and hydrated then I feel more comfortable and confident. I really like the fact that SEAMS is absorbed quickly, which means I can get straight back into work.

Touching fabrics all day… dries my hands, some fabrics are more tough than others and some have dyes which can be quite irritating – certain types of denim for example.

For my daily hand care routine… I try to apply hand cream every time I wash my hands, and in the morning before I head out and in the evening before I turn the lights off.

SEAMS Hand Cream has really helped my hands… it seems to have sealed my cuticles, and smoothed over the little nicks and cuts I have from pinning and hand sewing, particularly on my fingertips. The texture is especially great; it’s non-greasy and easily absorbed and the scent is very subtle and pleasant.

My favourite part of the day… is when my head hits the pillow and I review my day in my head before falling asleep, especially if I’ve had a good day.

My least favourite part of the day… is waking up on a chilly and dark winter morning.

In 2015 I am hoping to… improve my men’s bespoke tailoring skills and complete the first part of the Bespoke Tailoring Course at Newham College. I want to visit Japan, start aerial hoop training again and do something with my voice!

In my spare time… I do a lot of yoga and meditation, I dance if I can and sing, I meet up with friends and family and I like to go travelling.

I am inspired by… confidence; enlightened, curious and inquisitive minds; music; photography; painting; literature; performance…

I have one motto in life… difficult takes time, impossible just a bit more.

Always keep SEAMS close to hand

Karen J Gerrard




The SEAMS Story So Far.. A day in the life of a bloggers HANDS Stephanie Toms cocochicblog
The SEAMS Story So Far..
A day in the life of a bloggers HANDS Stephanie Toms cocochicblog

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