CELEBRITY STYLE ICON OF THE MONTH: AMERICAN ADDITION

TAYLOR SWIFT’S FOURTH OF JULY PARTY

 Usually for our Style Icon Blog we would focus on one celebrity and take a look at their outfits over the past few weeks. However, when Taylor Swift hosted her Independence Day Party, we couldn’t help but lust over her notorious Girl Squad and their incredible outfits!

With her celebrations involving the likes of supermodels Gigi Hadid ( see our double denim workshop ) and Karlie Kloss, in addition to her new boyfriend and actor Tom Hiddelston, the day was destined to be both full of well known faces and stars and stripes. Other major game-players included the singers Ed Sheeran and Ke$ha as well as model of the moment Cara Delevigne.

As expected, all the guests very much got into the American theme, with stripe and star motifs dominating both swimwear and day wear. Swift even went so far as to wear a bikini with the word America blazened across her chest! If that isn’t dedication to the cause then we don’t know what is!

What we love about Swift’s Party and the subsequent outfits is how fashion can also be used to express pride and patriotism. It has been used here to invoke a sense of pride in their America history yet the outfits are still modern and very much in vogue. Little Hands wants to do something similar. Every day we endeavour to make you into better designers by using both traditional and modern methods to produce clothing that you can wear both today and in the future. We love experimenting with logos and patterns and prints like Taylor’s squad does and also love seeing how fashion can bring people together.

Take a look at our gallery for a little bit of 4th July inspiration from Tay and her girl squad. Whether Tom Hiddleston can pull of an I Heart TS tank top is another question but I guess people get a little crazy when they fall in love eh?!

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Great Party – Great Community – Great Contributions!!!

We had such a fun day on Saturday celebrating Little Hands Design 15th  anniversary -we  can’t quite believe ourselves how far we have come…  Here are our top twelve highlights of the day:

  • Huge thanks to the ladies of our free refugee class who came with home-baked cupcakes which they donated to our fundraising cause and then ran our cookie decoration stall!
  •  ‘Old Handers’ Etti and TJ who had joined Little Hands at the age of seven and are now young adults teaching the 6-8 year Tiny Hands groups, kept everyone busy with friendship bracelets!
  • Our two little elves Ben and Anou were very convincing in selling raffle tickets and guiding the Belsize Village crowds to our studio!
  • Little Hands teachers Jaime, Aga and Loredana were super busy making Festival Hairbands and super cute tutus and generally making everyone feel welcome!
  • Abi from Bright Bricks was overrun by eager kids AND ADULTS keen to play with LEGO!!!
  • Amber could not believe her luck winning the LEGO design competition having come to the party in her prize winning super dress!
  • Megan (coat) and Hendrik (dungarees) were super proud to win the ‘Projects of the term’ for the under 10 year old girls’ and boys’ category respectively and so was Aya in the teenager category – Lilly-Ella does not even know she is a winner yet!
  • Rodrina was our raffle queen – and picked Zoe for first prize (whole term free weekly class; Chelsea second prize (free mini-workshop for her and three of her friends); Joane third prize (free drop-in class)
  • Maneesh from Ark Academies was super excited to find out about our Duke of Edinburgh opportunities and wants to link up with Little Hands!
  • Ken from the Chicken Newspaper wants to run a Little Hands  design competition for his readers in the next issue
  • IT DID NOT RAIN – in fact sunshine was upon us the whole day with a sudden heatwave !!!
  • Astrid, the BOSS LADY, was very happy and grateful for all the positive feedback and support from parents, students, the Little Hands team ….What a great community we are!

10 DAYS TO GO and already halfway there!!! Please continue to support our endeavour to raise enough money to support 30 disadvantaged kids and expand out refugee work by sharing this and considering a small contribution to:

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/LittleHandsDesign-bursaries-and-refugee-work

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15th Anniversary Street Party!!

Little Hands Design is turning 15 and we are celebrating by hosting a Summer Street Party on Saturday 16th July!

We want you all to come!

It will be a jam packed family event with free design activities, competitions and refreshments. As well as our birthday celebration the aim of the day to make as much money as possible for two causes that are close to our heart. Our bursary scheme which provides disadvantaged children the opportunity to attend our classes, which they could otherwise not afford and our design classes for refugees which we run weekly with the Helen Bamber Foundation.

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Date:
Saturday 16th July

Time:
1pm – 4pm

Location:
Our studio 67 Belsize Lane, NW3 5AU.

The day will include:

Prize giving to current our students for our termly design competition. This term is in association with the LEGO company. See what our creative young minds have been up to!

Interactive workshops with LEGO and other sewing & design activities, like tutu, dream catcher and bracelet making.

Cakes, drinks and biscuit decorating.

A raffle with the top prize – a whole term of free sewing lessons!

More information on our bursaries and work with the Helen Bamber Foundation.

Just Giving:

If cannot make it on the day we have also set up a Just Giving site to help us raise our target of £1500. This amount will support an additional 30 children on bursaries and mean we can expand our refugee class. (Donators to our Just Giving site are also entered into the raffle.)

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/LittleHandsDesign-bursaries-and-refugee-work

If you would like more information about our work with refugees we have written a blog here:

https://littlehandsdesign.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/helping-those-who-need-it-most-refugee-classes-at-little-hands/

Helping those who need it most: Refugee Classes with Little Hands Design.

Help support our work with disadvantaged children and refugees, by clicking the link below! Thanks!!

https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/LittleHandsDesign-bursaries-and-refugee-work

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Every Thursday, a group of women sit in a room together, laughing and sharing their thoughts of the week over a needle and thread. Week in, week out, they turn up on time, armed with their ideas for new designs and a burning desire to create a new outfit. These women are Little Hands students but do not come to our Belsize Park Studio. These women cannot be named and their faces cannot be shown because they do not feel safe to be exposed **. These women are refugees and thanks to our partnership with the Helen Bamber Foundation, have been an integral part of the Little Hands community for over two years.

These women do not have it easy. Alexandra tells me that she cannot afford to even use public transport for her only means of survival is her weekly food voucher. She has been attending our classes for two years now, having once been locked up in a detention centre that she describes as the

“worst place ever”

Zara is in a similar situation; with little money she cannot travel and she is becoming increasingly worried that she is wasting the precious years of her life worrying too much and is scared that it is affecting her health.

Magda left Malawi twelve years ago and has only last week received her papers. She is now required to find new housing but her lack of children means she is not a priority for the council. She has only 28 days to find a new home.

However, these three brave women all have one thing in common; their newfound love of design. Despite a Helen Bamber therapist’s referral for all three of them, having interviewed them over the course of the class, I learn their passions are far deeper than just a referral.

Zara is originally from Pakistan and initially came to England to study at the West London Fashion and Design College but changing circumstances meant that she was unable to leave the country once she had finished. She tells me that this class makes her feel good about herself and helps her to see that she is not a “useless person” and that she is still capable of making things.

Madga feels very similar. She tells me:

“ I love seeing fabric turn into clothing and that amazing feeling I get when I finish something. It’s a sense of achievement”.

Alexandra goes as far to tell me that this class is the most interesting part of her week. In other words, these women may use our classes to help them through the week but it also revitalises a passion of their former selves. It revitalises their entire personality and self worth.

I ask them how our classes make them feel.

“Uplifted and invigorated” says Alexandra.

“ My mood improves, my teacher is patient with me and I love everything I’ve made- my dress, my bag and my scarf”.

Zara tells me that everything she makes feels special and that for once in her life, she is starting to feel special again too. Magda also feels proud, both of herself and of the skirt she has just made herself. All three of the women wear what they make on a regular basis. Alexandra carries her bag wherever she goes, Zara is wearing the dress she made last month and Madga informs me that she wears the pyjamas she made, every night in bed. What Little Hands is doing is invoking a sense of pride in these women and has created great friendships between the group.

We all meet up now several times a week and are also going to other classes together”

These women deserve friendships. They deserve the pride they have lost over the course of the past few years. And finally, they are starting to realise that for themselves.

Astrid asks a member of staff from Helen Bamber what her opinion on the various classes they offer is and the response was overwhelmingly positive. She explains that these women and men previously felt isolated in their surroundings; some are unable to speak the language and knowing very few if any people in their neighbourhood. However what the classes can offer them is not only new skills but a something enjoyable to participate in amidst the week full of appointments with doctors, therapists, solicitors and the Home Office. She also remarks that making clothes, painting etc. itself has become an integral part of their emotional recovery.

“ Many are using our creative classes as a way of overcoming the traumas they have been through and reconnecting with the people they have left behind”.

The conversations have also shifted from discussing problems to planning meet ups to discuss new projects and fabrics. “ Would we love to expand?” she asks, repeating my question to herself.

“ Definitely. It’s given these women purpose”.

They all burst into laughter when asked what their funniest moment in class has been. The words “quality control” all leave them in fits of giggles, as does their recollection of Astrid’s face when they surprised her for her birthday. Astrid’s fondest memory of spending time with the women is more bitter- sweet.

It was when Magda said that sewing bought her closer to her mother. She told me she was no longer able to go home but because her mother used to sew for her when she was a young girl, it felt as if they were re-connected again”.

Of course the weekly visits are much more significant than just teaching how to sew. It’s about enhancing positivity and the sense of community and helping them have a future. When asked about their future, the women were uncertain. Magda is fortunate enough to have a plan and is in the midst of applying to colleges for an IT Degree. However for Zara and Alexandra things aren’t so clear.

“ You can’t have big aspirations in our situations” says Alexandra. “ I can’t think more than a week ahead because It makes me too upset”. Zara agrees- “ You have to stay positive purely because you can’t let yourself think too far ahead”.

However we want these women and men to have a future and we want them to feel proud of what lies ahead.  We want them to embrace their talents and use it to provide them with both the financial and emotional support they deserve.

The session gradually closes to and with the group’s laughter resonating in the air, Astrid packs up her materials and heads back to the Little Hands Studio in Belsize Park.

** Please note, names have been changed to preserve the security of these women’s identities.