Couture Techniques Autumn 16 Term Theme!

We loved watching everyone come up with designs inspired by LEGO last term, it was so inspiring, teachers were bowled over by all the amazing outcomes. See the results of our competition on the blog term time & summer holiday winners! 

This term’s theme is a little different, rather than a design challenge we want to put our student’s attention to detail to the test and encourage a little bit of finesse to their making skills,  we are taking inspiration from Haute Couture techniques!

What is Haute Couture?


As you might have guessed Haute Couture is French! Haute means “high” or “elegant.” Couture means “sewing.” But, not any old designer can be Haute Couture, there are strict regulations. (Technical bit!) They must belong to the Syndical Chamber for Haute Couture in Paris, they must show collections of 35 separate outfits for day and evening wear twice a year  and employ 15 or more people.

Who is Haute Couture?


You’ll have definitely heard of some couture designers Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and Pierre Cardin. Watch this amazing video from Chanel to find out more!

Often these design houses have their ready to wear range that we see on the catwalk (still too expensive for many of us!). Then they also have their Haute Couture range where each piece is made from scratch for each extra special customer. It usually takes from 100 – 400 hours to make each piece, with 3 fittings and almost all the work is done by hand not machine! The items cost between £20,000 to over £100,000 for 1 garment! Workers often specialize in one area, such as feathers, fabric, buttons, shoes, etc. They train and stay with the couture houses for years and years!


Many designers these days lend out their creations to celebrities to wear on the red carpet, this enhances their brand and even though they are not selling the pieces the recognition is priceless. There are only 2,000 women in the world right now who buy couture clothes; 60% of them are American and only 200 buy them regularly!  Haute Couture is a £1 billion industry.

Little Hands Couture


How on earth can we do that at Little Hands I hear you asking?! Well we’re not going to spend 100’s of hours on pieces but we can use couture techniques to make our clothes look extra special. Adding lace is a couture technique, bound button holes or welt pockets, adding a bias binding trim! It’s all about that little extra detail that makes your garment look extra special!

There will be prizes at the end of term for people who take on the couture challenge, our competitions are never based on natural ability or ‘prettiness’ we give prizes to those people who really push the boat out and challenge themselves! It’s a competition against yourself not the others around you.  Even a six year old can have a go at being a couturier for a day!



Modular Lego Competition Summer Holiday Round!

You can check out the winners of our modular design competition from the term time and previous holiday classes on our last blog. The design challenge was so successful we carried it on into our summer holiday classes. These students, some who had never really sewn before had an intense week to come up with their designs and then make them into reality! We had some brilliant ideas taken from lego to finished item.

One of our favourite things about this design challenge was to play with LEGO and then get inspired and try out design drawings. We gathered into to groups to talk through the ideas and give feedback! This is how designers work in real fashion houses, there is a big team of designers who bounce ideas off each other. Some found this difficult in the beginning but it really made them look at ideas differently and learn how to give and receive constructive criticism.


When students get involved with competitions we always say they aren’t in competition with everyone else, they are in competition with themselves and we don’t always choose the prettiest items but the ones where students have pushed themselves and come up with amazing ideas and tried out things they thought they could not do!!!

With that in mind here are our winners!

Overall Winner  – Great Technical Details – Scarlett 9



Scarlett came up with design from her LEGO straight away using the building block idea to create a patchwork off the shoulder T-shirt with detachable decorative patches. With feedback from her friends she furthered her idea to have a detachable sleeve.

She worked incredibly hard for 2 & 1/2 days sewing her patchwork, making a top, putting a zip in for the first time (a tricky zip at that around the arm hole sewn into stretchy jersey fabric!). Then followed hemming every seam accurately and hand sewing on her decorations! We were super impressed with her design and dedication!


Stylish Design – Raffaela 11




Raffaela had only done a little bit of sewing before her holiday week. She hand-picked all of the pieces to go on to her skirt and it took her a number of afternoons to sew them on exactly where she wanted them! We saw her sewing skills improve over the week and it really nurtured her design eye. She decided it might be too much to cover the whole dress so stopped at the skirt and we think that works perfectly! She also adapted one of our readymade patterns to create the dress.


 Individual Design – Juliana 11


This was Juliana’s first time at Little Hands but she has had some experience sewing before. Her design was inspired by fire and water. She carefully cut out each flame/drop of water and sewed around the outside to stop them fraying. We were impressed with her attention to detail and dedication to her design, it took her nearly the whole time she was here and she always had a smile on her face!


Runners up

It was a very tough call we wish we could give prizes to everyone but these are out runners up.


Starter 6-8 year old – Theodore  6


Theodore had never used the machine before! He designed the patchwork blanket usingLEGO and was determined to make a blanket for his room. We warned him it would be a little challenging but he worked really hard to get it finished, handpicking every fabric and pinning and sewing every seam on the machine. He understood the concept of how to pin patchwork really well (something much older students sometimes struggle with!) Very impressive! It’s also lined!


Simple & Effective – Elena 14



Elena came all the way from Italy to join us for her holiday week! She got stuck right into the competition and totally understood the concept even though her first language is Italian not English! She chose bold stand out colours and shapes and to create a simple but effective modular belt. We think it looks great with the monotone outfit, letting the belt really pop.


Congratulations everyone! On to the next competition, couture techniques!!

Modular Lego Competition Winners Term Time!

Last term we ran one of our most popular competitions ever! The task was to think like a professional designer and use the modular (building block) idea from lego as the inspiration for your design. Check out our inspiration page on Pinterest. It could be modular like patchwork with repeated pieces sewn together, or larger pieces that are multi-functional with detachable segments, like shorts that could turn into trousers etc. 

The designs that our students came up with exceeded our expectations, they really let their imaginations run wild! We had so many entries it was hard to narrow it down!  We eventually came up with a shortlist and sent it to our guest judge, Duncan Titmarsh who is UK’s only certified LEGO Builder! See the kind of things he makes on the Bright Bricks Website.

Drumroll Please, here’s who won! Congratulations everyone who took part!!

The Overall Winner – Amber 11

What We Said:
See design above! A little hander for a number of years, Amber really used her imagination with Lego and turned it into an amazing woven dress! She cut and wove all the individual strips. And even patched the skirt together to get the effect she wanted. Very self motivated and hard worker, it took her nearly the whole term and she stuck it out with a smile on her face! Fantastic development from drawing to dress.

What the Judge Said: 
Great combination of Lego construction and fashion. Clever and unique use of weaving strips of fabric.

Great Teamwork! – Clara & Esme 9

What we said: 
 Little handers for 3 & 1 year respectively. Came up with the cape design with LEGO and decided to work in a team to make one each! It can be a cape, and they have left armholes to wear as a dress with a belt. Modular in two ways with patchwork and multiple uses.
What the Judge Said:
Great concept of wearing the garment in multiple ways. Practical and interesting. Has many uses like Lego bricks.

Clever Design –  Eleanor  11


What we said: 
Little hander for 3 – 4 years. A very accomplished sewer! Loved the cogs and little extras in the lego, we were really impressed with the journey from LEGO to drawing to design. Probably one of the best ‘designing with lego’ eyes she really got the idea of imagining it as a ‘final outcome.’ She instantly saw it as a backpack with cogs and stuck with it, the cogs are made from leather and actually turn with each other! Concealed zip on the back of the rucksack.
What the Judge Said:
 Clever use of cogs, like representing interlocking Lego bricks. Simple but great design. Great journey from Lego to design to piece.

Adult Prize – Margerita

What we said: 
One of our adult students who loved the idea of putting together ‘modules’ to create a stunning effect.  She used a dressmaker’s pattern for the skirt and made a matching cardigan. Quite complicated pattern and she made it look effortless!
What the Judge Said:
Impressive sewing and assembly. Nice that the skirt has a matching jacket. Great angular shapes like in Lego.

Great Concept – Zoe 13


What we said: 
Has been coming to our classes for many years. A very thorough and thoughtful student.  She came up with the bag idea using the clear LEGO bricks and decided to go for it! Made it into a fantastic final design with patches and clear sections.
What the Judge Said:
 Impressive journey from concept to bag. Clever use of clear fabrics to represent the transparent bricks.

And the Judges favourite Runner Ups!


Chaya -8 


What the Judge Said:

Unique idea of ‘wrapping’ the garment around the body. Pieces have been connected together like building a Lego model.

Kaya – 9


What the Judge Said:

Great journey from design to piece. Nice representation of connecting LEGO bricks through sewing pieces together.


Paloma – 10 


What the Judge Said:

Cool technique of connecting leather shapes together. Really nice neat shapes, well cut out.

 Layla – 8

Layla Tues 1.jpg

Layla made her lovely t-shirt for her little sister! Great use of cut out shapes and free hand embroidery! (A technique she had never used before).

Well done everyone who entered for all your hard work and effort! This terms prizes will go to those focusing on couture techniques, let’s get started!!

Why Sewing Is The Hottest New Trend For Teens! + 50% Your D of E Skills!!*

So, you think sewing is just for Grandma’s or small children? Well, it’s time to think again! Sewing, dressmaking and fashion design are the perfect hobby to escape or compliment your school studies. If you love clothes, love fashion, love art and design it’s about time you looked into it!

Love Clothes 

If you love clothes and shopping, you are not alone, teens are a huge market for fashion brands. But, do you often find you can’t find clothes to fit, or they are just not the right style? Or you find the perfect dress then two weeks later all your friends have the same one? Big no no!

If you make your own they fit you perfectly, you can use fabrics you love and be totally unique. At Little Hands we pride ourselves on keeping up with the trends and provide loads of designer inspired projects for a fraction of the cost, just look at our version of the Kylie Jenner favourite, Fendi Furballs!


The fabrics we have here are also designer! As we are a non-profit organisation we run on generous donations! And boy we have good ones e.g. the International Design House Ted Baker send us all of their scraps, offcuts and leftovers each season. Plus, fantastic swimwear design Orlebar Brown to name just two.

Learning Skills For Life 


Not just how to sew a button on, (which is also very useful for life!) But, designing, making, maths, geometry, problem solving.  You name it – you’ll experience it.

It’s a great place to try out skills for GCSE DT/ textiles or art. (Just check out this vid on our you-tube channel of free machine embroidery in action.)

Then if you’re really serious about it you can add your Little Hands work into your portfolio for A level and even university applications. Even if the creative industries aren’t your aim having something like sewing and design on your CV shows the breadth of your interests.

Duke of Edinburgh Award


If you are aiming to get your D of E you can complete your skills award with us! You need to do at least one session a week for a whole term, and we’re sure you’ll fall in love with it so much you’ll stay for much longer than that!

Once you get really good you can also volunteer here helping to teach younger children and  prepare the lessons. This can count towards your volunteering D of E.

Join Our Community!


It’s a very good way to make friends in a non judgmental environment and have a quiet space where you can focus on yourself and not constantly on Instagram/Snapchat. (Although we do have those things so we would encourage you to follow us! @littlehandsdesign for Insta @diyfashion for Snapchat.)

You get to use the best materials and gain expertise from renowned teachers and instructors for only eight pounds an hour. This money will go purely into keeping the business running and contributing towards our refugee classes that we run weekly and providing those who cannot afford our classes with the opportunity to come.

The community spirit we have built up was shown to us just before the summer when we ran a crowd funding campaign to increase the number of bursaries we can give to disadvantaged kids and adults!  We are so chuffed with the generosity shown by our Little Hands’ community and have smashed our target so we can now actively support those in need!

*if you are on free school meals or have extenuating circumstances you may be eligible for a bursary meaning you can get up to 50% off the term fee. Give us a call on 0207-4310573 or email for more information.

What are you waiting for?!