Tales of the Gypsy Dressmaker is the much-anticipated memoir from Thelma Madine, the dressmaker and breakaway star from Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, the hottest show on TV right now.
From 200 ft trains to 20 stone skirts, hundreds of LED lights to thousands of Swarovski crystals, gypsy girls spend their childhoods dreaming of fairytale dresses. Thelma is the woman who makes these dreams come true.
Left with nothing, after a messy divorce, Thelma has come a long way from her humble dressmaking beginnings, making and selling dresses on a market stall in Liverpool. Back then she knew nothing of gypsies. Until one day she was asked by a traveller to make some dresses like the ones in `Gone with the Wind' and before she knew it had dozens of other traveller women gathering around asking for similar ones. A few years later she was asked to make a wedding dress for a young traveller... then she was hit with the request for a 107 ft train and 18 elaborate bridesmaid dresses. And she hasn't looked back since.
It hasn't been an easy journey though and behind her warmth, compassion and hardworking nature, Thelma is hiding a life of struggles and personal heartache: a journey that includes financial breakdown, a four-month stint in prison and a very unhappy relationship. But career-wise she has gone from strength to strength.
Now the dress designer favoured by gypsy brides all over the country, Thelma has become a much-loved and trusted figure for many within the often misunderstood traveller community. Here, for the first time, alongside the full truth about her own life, she will tell tales of her experiences of this extraordinary world and reveal the fascinating stories of some of the many travellers she has met. From strict childhoods to teenage pregnancies, extravagant weddings to secrets and lies, and the truth about money and men, Thelma - a natural storyteller - will reveal a culture full of drama and contrasts.
In a narrative packed full of highs and lows, setbacks and triumphs, crystals, mechanical butterflies and sparkling little lights, this book will shock, move and amaze and bring Thelma and the secretive world of travellers to life.
Thelma Madine is the star of Channel 4's Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and Thelma's Gypsy Girls. She has been working with travellers for over fifteen years. After being left with nothing after a messy divorce she started making and selling dresses on a market stall in Liverpool. One day a traveller woman asked her to make some dresses and before she knew it she had dozens of traveller women asking for the same thing, and so began her dressmaking business. Thelma now owns Nico's Dressmakers in Liverpool and is the designer favoured by travellers around the country, many of whom travel hundreds of miles to have her make their wedding, christening and communion dresses. Thelma lives in Liverpool and has four children (a son and three daughters), the youngest of which still lives at home with her and her partner Dave.