Our aim is to make designing, sewing and fashion as inclusive as possible through:
- A competitive non-profit price structure for our courses at £7.50/hour including all materials for children of school age and excluding materials for adults;
- a bursary fund to enable disadvantaged children and adults to attend our courses*;
- Volunteering and offering free courses to refugees in collaboration with the Helen Bamber Foundation
- For students struggling to pay the fees, we also offer tailored installments scheduled to make it easier to budget their finances;
to encourage creative quality bonding time and intergenerational learning/interaction we offer discounts to parent/grandparent and child/grandchild joining courses together;
- Providing opportunities for homeschooled children in our day classes with introductory offers for new students;
- Creating a platform for innovative and entrepreneurial students to trial their products and support school fundraising etc;
- Supporting especially teenagers through a variety of opportunities such as Duke of Edinburgh Awards, Year 10 work placements etc.
- Providing an education geared towards application of academic skills in a practical way with particular success with children with special requirements such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, eating disorders;
- Maintaining close links and running workshops and events for and in collaboration with local schools, community groups and charities at subsidised fees;
- Providing working space for young designers at affordable prices (£6/hr studio use);
- Supporting people in Higher Education by offering 25% fee discounts;
- Providing job opportunities to fashion and textile design students and young designers
- Reaching a wider audience through collaborations with large companies and institution e.g. co-hosting design competition with e.g. LEGO based on three-dimensional modular design in fashion; long-standing support from fashion labels such as Ted Baker; co-running events with e.g. The Jewish Museum
*applications need to be submitted with written proof
The founder and director of Little Hands Design, Astrid Jacoby, was born and grew up in East Berlin. She says:
“I grew up in a culture where making and repairing was seen as normal, often a necessity and something that was both practical to learn but also extremely enjoyable. It was an original make do and mend culture.
When I moved to London, the level of commercialism that came with design shocked me. Practical skills seemed unfashionable and, so it seemed to me, looked at as something separate from being creative and even worse, not linked to the so called academic skills.
I started Little Hands to get first children and then adults using their hands again; to be curious about practical problem solving through designing and making and to see making as a way to apply their academic skills. After all what is any knowledge worth if we can not apply it in any way?”
How we do it
Aged mixed classes:
We are quite unique with our aged-mixed approach with 6-18 year olds, sometimes even their carers as well, designing and making clothes and accessories alongside each other. Parents often comment that this provides an exceptional, judgemental-free environment which is particularly important for the adolescent years.
Addressing perceived imbalance in current education system:
Why do we value the so-called academic abilities more than creative skills and definitely more than life skills? You just have to look at where textiles as a subject is being taught – primarily at state secondary schools with GCSEs and A-levels often taken by apparently lesser able students.. There are hardly any private schools in London offering textiles…
Although a new A-level in ‘fashion’ has recently been introduced in the hope of making this subject more interesting to schools and pupils, there is a real prejudice against creative subjects in the National Curriculum.
We positively encourage parents and carers to join the same courses as their children. In our adult classes we take great pride in the wide range of ages from very young professional women, stay-at-home mums to pensioners. We are striving continuously to increase the percentage of male students in our classes.
Save the childhood:
We support the ‘Save the Childhood’ movement. We “seek to provide environments that maximize children’s innate capacities
and learning potential.” So that every child has affirmed the value and importance of diversity and feels nurtured in positive and self-affirming values, dispositions and mindsets.
Self-sustained business model not relying on state funding:
As a community interest company we strive to enable our stakeholders to access and enjoy our courses through maintaining very low costs and raising bursary funding. We do this without any additional aid either from the Local authority or from Government and have been doing this for the last 16 years.
We put the life back into life skills!
By learning the rules, you can break the rules! We have developed our own methods, tricks and tips to create pieces that can run head to head with the ‘Professionals’…
Let’s do it the Little Hands’ way!!!
Little Hands Design approaches the fashion industry from the opposite end of the garment creation process. Rather than a focus on research, conception and design drawing, Little Hands finds its niche in providing students with practical skills and a way of approaching problems which enables them to find solutions for themselves. Our work is project based, the skills and the way in which you are encouraged to approach any difficulties along the way are universally transferable. You will learn to work things out for yourself and find your own solutions rather than merely providing you with steps which you blindly follow and forget immediately. You gain a practical approach and a deep understanding of how designing and making works, acquired through trying and doing and questioning what you do and how you go about it. The skill set gained at the courses is invaluable and means that when you begin to design you are constantly thinking about how what you imagine or draw can be realised. Some would say that this limits your creativity, but an individual well informed of what is possible when dealing with different materials is actually far less limited, as at the end of the day people can’t say to you: ‘that design can’t be made’ (and if they do, you turn around and say: ‘yes, it can if you do X, Y and Z’).
We enjoy having a platform to help each individuals’ unique style to emerge instead of working with the confines of ‘what is in’ or ‘trendy’. Get personal with your projects and see what you CAN DO!
Having been at Little Hands for many years and also having experienced the 16-18 year old courses offered by universities which I’ve been anticipating for years, I’ve discovered a real appreciation from everything I have learnt at the courses. Little Hands sits in a niche in the education side of the Fashion Industry which I feel is idiotically overlooked by so many who want to go into fashion. Little Hands is not about teaching you how to imagine and draw pictures which give a feeling of a garment without getting anywhere close to what it will actually look like, it is about providing you with invaluable skills both physical and mental which enable you to follow through in the design process and actually realise your ideas.
Little Hands teaches through a series of projects, but you build up a set of skills that is transferable from project to project both within the course and outside it, as well as having something physical at the end of the day (or week) as a reward for your efforts. The teachers never answer the question ‘what do I do now’, you have to make a suggestion and in doing that you’ve had to think for yourself about what you’re doing and why. This develops a much deeper understanding of garment construction and also a way of approaching problems in anything which breeds curiosity, an open mind, and someone who is ready to think for themselves and come up with their own way of solving things.
I frankly can’t stand most of the people I meet at fashion college courses now and I have Little Hands to blame for this. I simply can’t understand how these people who have probably never made a garment in their life think they can design clothing! I’ve never worked with bricks or cement; I shouldn’t be trusted to design a house, so why should we trust someone to design clothing if they’ve never worked with fabric and thread? How your design is made is not someone else’s problem, it’s yours and you may not yet know how to solve it, but if you’ve been to Little Hands you know how to approach the challenge.Helen