Obituary: Ann Ladbury, dressmaker

Ann Ladbury, who has died at 88, was to dressmaking what Delia Smith was to domesticity, teaching a generation of television viewers the secrets of making glamorous yet inexpensive clothes for every occasion.

Ann Ladbury

Ann Ladbury, who has died at 88, was to dressmaking what Delia Smith was to domesticity, teaching a generation of television viewers the secrets of making glamorous yet inexpensive clothes for every occasion.

A native of Balham, south London, she had followed a family tradition – her father and grandfather were tailors in Savile Row and Berlin respectively, and her great great great grandfather made clothes for the Viennese Royal family, at the court of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I.

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Graduating from the Regent Street Polytechnic with a City and Guilds qualification in cookery and needlework, she had intended to be a domestic science teacher, and taught at Redditch Grammar and Bromsgrove College. But she was discovered in the 1960s, at a time when the fashion industry was taking off after years of austerity, by BBC producers who wanted someone to present programmes on making garments step by step.

Her programmes began with dressmaking for beginners, and were accompanied by books of dress patterns.

She went on to host Making Clothes for a Children’s Wardrobe and Weekend Wardrobe, while also writing for fashion magazines and putting on shows in department stores throughout the country.

In the 1970s she was a regular on the long-running ITV afternoon series, Houseparty.

Through her TV appearances she met the late John Harris, a producer of Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective on TV, who became her partner of 22 years.

In 2009, she moved to a cottage in Gargrave, to be closer to her family in Ilkley, and upon discovering that her talents were still in demand, became active in giving talks and demonstrations throughout the Dales, as well as performing with a local choir.