The Little Hands Design Summer Camp

The Little Hands Design Summer Camp

Stephanie Steele Tuesday, 20 October 2020

We first met Little Hands Design when they contacted us at the start of 2020, and from then on have learnt more and more about this amazing not-for-profit sewing school in North London. Georgie came along to our networking event (when they were physical, but literally presented on the evening Boris shut the country down) to explain to us how engaging children in sewing can empower other children and also adults for generations to come.

With their summer camps, and in fact all Little Hands Designs courses, young people will learn sewing skills alongside a topic of sustainability; for the summer camps, the children focussed on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal No.10 - Reduced Inequalities. We were asked to make comment on the final pieces, and we gifted some sustainable fabrics and gift vouchers so that the 'winners' could continue on their ethical sewing journey.

You can read our full comments and see all pieces right here in the Little Hands Design blog article. But here we share a few of our thoughts on a selection of makes, and the overall topic.

Comment on the theme

This is a wonderfully apt UN Sustainable Development Goal to focus on (10: Reduced Inequalities); and the UN’s remarks on solidarity through COVID strikes a chord. While we have focussed on our own issues at home and within ourselves – because we’re human and it’s our fight for survival – it has meant that other issues have been left out of the media, or that developments have fallen flat, as more “important” actions are taken.

However, as with climate change, it is always necessary to look holistically and understand where to reduce inequalities for the good of everyone. It is uplifting to see how poetically these young people have considered inequalities around themselves. These actions and events that we have been privy to can affect us without even knowing, and can be with us as we move forward in life, so the act of creating something to highlight the feeling is a really beautiful positive step.

Winning entry

Ukrainian bag.

D designed a bag linking to her favourite Ukrainian song about a swallow, and used appliqu´ and embroidery in her designs to represent the highly embroidered clothes traditional to Ukraine. She told the story of Anne of Kiev who became queen of France when marrying King Henry I. King Henry was a weak Monarch before marrying Anne and she was the one that made decisions and made the kingdom powerful. D was inspired by how powerful Anne of Kiev was and how she made her country powerful and influential.

Judge’s Comment 

Love the effort in re-creating a full traditional outfit. The bag looks very well made and with intricate detailing like the rope strap and piping. Very interesting story about that powerful queen – hopefully the King didn’t take the credit for her work! They were awarded 1st prize for the skill, how ready it is to go as a bag and put-togetherness of the whole look.

Other entries

Textile container.

This represented the five countries of her heritage: India, UK, Sweden, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Kitts & Nevis. Making a flag to represent each one, using applique, reverse applique and machine embroidery and hand embroidery, as well as choosing fabric for the main container that represented the indian textile industry. C’s story was on gender equality in sport where a girl protests in various ways about all male games that are ranked higher and not having mixed teams. The story indicated a girl that pretended to be a boy in a match, but her excellent skills are not applauded when she is discovered, and the Coach points this out to the team.

Judge’s Comment:

A lot of skills involved with this bag, and a lot of heritage to fulfil! The use of the flags and the background fabric serve to showcase the countries of heritage, but also how perhaps they’re all interconnected. They were awarded 2nd prize for the amount of work put in here to create the container, and clear understanding of the materials. Here you can see C with the prize of paisley tencel - potentially a favourite colour!

Slogan pillowcase.

Her story is about a friend of hers that is Black, and once in the park got left out because of his skin colour. Her textile piece has the flags of both of her parents heritage and hers.

Judge’s Comment:

We love the little drawings here, and how great they would be blown up as prints on t-shirts and accessories like protest clothing. They could be especially beneficial for wearing on the streets and in the park as reminders to others. Thoroughly appreciated those little graphics and the story they tell!

Fancy box.

L's story was about a girl that was judged for wearing ‘fancy’ clothes. She thought that it would make her feel equal in society but was treated badly for selling farm goods in fine clothes. She realised she did not want to be like the people in fine clothes and would rather be genuine and treat people fairly and decided to burn her fine clothes. She made a box to represent this with ‘fancy fabric’: ‘It will make you gain false popularity, but you will be respected’ and ‘ragged fabric’: ‘You will be looked down upon but at least you can be true to yourself’. L’s story reflects on how much we judge on appearances. She also made a textile container that represented her half American heritage with an embroidery of a yellow rose.

Judge’s Comment:

Really interesting to hear this story and how L felt different textiles evoke different personalities. We hope that whatever clothing she wears, they feel content and comfortable! Appreciated the additional work in creating a textile container with binding and embroidery too! They were commended for understanding the qualities and use of textiles to tell a story.

About Little Hands Design

Georgie Rees is the Managing Director and Teacher for Little Hands Design. This is a charity that teaches climate change to children through fashion and textiles, teaches sewing skills via make-from-scratch, upcycling and repair. They also teach wider topics around sustainability and the environmental impact of fashion.

Georgie started as a freelance teacher with Little Hands Design. She did a stint in the fashion industry and felt her skills were literally being wasted as she witnessed the damaging effects of throwaway fashion. She then returned to Little Hands and recently took up the mantle from her colleague Astrid as Managing Director.

“I finally feel my skills are in a good place - I’m really passing on my knowledge and it’s really exciting to see children get as excited about making clothes as I did at school.”

Little Hands Design run courses

After-school clubs
Holiday clubs
Politics club
Adult courses
Green Stitch Social Club

The Green Stitch Social Club aims to equip people with simple sewing skills to allow them to be more sustainable and waste-free in their everyday lives. e.g. teaching how to sew a tote bag or reusable make-up remover pads.

In the courses, the children have a different focus topic each week, which gets them to engage with different aspects of the industry or wider issues. They have a call-to-action, e.g. using kitchen waste for natural dyes.

Engaging young people in sustainable fashion

Listen to Georgie's presentation on this topic, along with resources that you can use with homeschooling your kids/homework, use when running courses for young people, and even educating yourself on how to engage others. Find the lesson here.


Instagram: @littlehandsdesign

Address: courses run from London School of Mosaic, 181 Mansfield Road, London NW3 2HP