Fashion: Vulgar, Empowering, and More

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From an early age, women of all backgrounds have heard the same word: no. Don’t say that, it’s crude. Don’t wear that, it’s too revealing. Don’t sit like that, it’s not ladylike. The list goes on. The cycle repeats. In the end, women are left with only one question: why?

The way women present themselves has been scrutinized throughout history. Those who dared to step outside the norm were called crude, raunchy, and vulgar. “The Vulgar: Fashion Redefined,” an art exhibition at the Barbican from October 2016 to last February, “is the first exhibition to consider this inherently challenging but utterly compelling territory of taste” according to the Barbican.

The definition of what’s vulgar is subjective: something that was vulgar 50 years ago is probably not considered vulgar today. Judith Clark and Adam Phillips, the creators of The Vulgar, question this complex phenomenon in their exhibition. The Barbican says “the exhibition exposes ‘the vulgar’, like its counterpoint ‘good taste’, to be ultimately all about perspective – something to fear and something to enjoy.” The Barbican also says the exhibit considers how “what was once associated with vulgarity is re-conjured by designers to become the height of fashion.” Perhaps vulgarity and fashion are more closely linked than people think.

Vulgarity may be fluid, but society is still rigid. Those who choose to step outside the norm are taking a fashion risk. Today’s fashion magazines are filled with articles that list fashion risks for women to test out, subtly telling women what they’re not “supposed” to do. An article from Bustle titled “11 Fashion Risks Every Woman & Feminine Person Should Take In Their Lifetime” tells its readers to “wear a crop top, no matter your body type,” “try an intense lip color,” and “go sans bra.” Who knows: in 50 years, these “risks” may seem as absurd as having to wear tight corsets and skirts that go past the knee.

Fashion is often full of restrictions and arbitrary expectations. NY Mag editorial director Stella Bugbee says “women are under so much more scrutiny and so much more self-imposed pressure to look their best and to translate that through clothing” than men are. Society’s fashion rules are constantly changing, so perfecting the supposedly ideal look can be exhausting. It’s time for society to give women a break.

Ironically, fashion can be used to defy its own limiting rules. In a 2014 Vogue article, Maya Singer quotes writer Lucy Grealy, who says “”having a sense of style is not selling out the sisterhood.” A sense of style can be empowering for women. In 1993, Senator Barbara Mikulski and Senator Nancy Kassebaum protested the fashion rule that prohibited female senators from wearing pants. According to The Washington Post, the two senators simply “wore pants and told female staffers to do the same,” but that’s all it took to create change.

Getting dressed in the morning is stressful for many women, but that’s not how things should be: the need to be cute and pretty is learned, not inherent. It’s time we stop teaching little girls to be self conscious about their bodies and start empowering them. At Little Hands Design, we teach our students to develop their personal sense of style and self confidence. We encourage our younger students to express themselves through fashion and leave negativity behind. Girls who come to class at Little Hands can make anything, whether it be a mermaid tail or a customized Judo outfit.

Slowly but surely, women are tired of hearing the word no. Women are taking advantage of fashion’s unpredictable nature to stand up for themselves. The once rock solid foundation of vulgarity is starting to crack. Hopefully, one day, the concept will completely fade away.

 

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This Student has been Sewing with us for 6 years and She’s Still Going Strong!

Some of our students start with us when they are teeny tiny and grow up with is into amazing sewers! Here’s a little diary from one of our loyal students!

I first went to Little Hands on a school trip when I was in Year 3. Now, nearly six years on, I go every week and continue to sew at home. Over the years, I’ve learnt a lot of helpful skills, and not just how to sew.

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You first learn basic machine skills, like learning how to thread and sew straight and curvy lines. There’s a free choice of what you want to make from the board, and you get support from the teachers when you struggle.

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Also, you develop the ability to think for your self, as the teachers help you to work out what the instructions mean, rather then telling you and not letting you learn. We learn lots of techniques on finishing projects, even a beginner can make their project look professional.

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There are a whole range of projects and techniques to do, so you not only don’t get board of doing one thing over and over again, you can make things that you wouldn’t normally make and enjoy it.eleanor-tues-2

Also Little Hands encourages creativity by introducing free design projects, where you can either start with a half made garment donated by Ted Baker or your own imagination and create something.

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It could be something to wear, or to use, or just for decoration. Also, the projects aren’t set, you can add extra finishes or decoration in any way you are able to.

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Another good thing at Little Hands is that you can work at your own pace. It doesn’t matter how slow or quick you are, you’ll get the support you need.

I’ve really enjoyed working at Little Hands and have created lots of great things.

If you’re a little hands student and you want to share your story get in touch and you can write you’re own diary blog!

Atheleisure Competition Winners!

Our sports and atheleisure competition has been a runaway success, quite literally! Our students are now out and about getting active in their very own custom made sportswear! From hoodies to gymnast suits, this term has really captured the imagination of our young and active sewers!

First of all we want to say a  huge thank you to fantastic UK based stretch fabric wholesaler  Freidmans who donated offcuts of their amazing brightly coloured and super shiny lycras! These really made the projects pop!!

Lycra Fabrics Freidmans

 

Noa Natas hols???

 

We are also excited to announce the judges this term from are from local Belsize Park branch of luxury sportswear brand Sweaty Betty! Sweaty Betty with their unique and fun take on sportswear making it fashionable in day to day life as well as at the gym, have been a huge inspiration this term.

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Our competitions are never based on natural ability or ‘prettiness’ It’s a competition against yourself not the others around you.  We put people on the shortlist who have really challenged themselves or we’ve seen amazing improvements in design or making skills! We had some amazing entries, it was tough for the Little Hands Teachers to narrow down the short list. 

 Here it is, are you on it??

Shortlist 

A – Custom designed leggings and running top – Age 14

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T – Hooded Poncho, Leggings and Outfit!- Age 9

Theresa comp hoodie and leggings

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R – Customised Poncho – Age 10

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Own design 2 layer top – Age 11

Eva Marriot Hols

K + O + R Group gymnastics suit – ages 9 & 10

team hols kali, raf and oliva

C – Customised poncho – Age 12

Clara Simon hols

G -Poncho with lining – Age 11

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D + I Base Ball Caps Team work – Age 10

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E- Tennis skirt with free machine embroidered decoration – Age 13

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Teamwork comercial pattern hoodie – Age 9 – 10

Scarlett & Jessie

E- Commercial Pattern Top – Age 12

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L – Running Outfit – Age 9

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Here’s what the judges have to say: 

We loved all of the entries so much and we are so impressed by what has been achieved by a group of such young girls! The variety and creativity is amazing to see and we are so glad Sweaty Betty as a brand has inspired your sewers/designers to push themselves, try something new and create beautiful pieces from it. All the outfits that have been created are totally fit for purpose and some have really shown great commercial awareness in terms of colour pallet, design and practicality.

The Winners

First Prize!

A !

What we had to say:

A used our patterns as base for leggings and running top and adapted adding different sections and different colours. Made herself a new pattern. Top is reversible!! Worked out how to change pattern with very minimal help from teachers. Well sewn and fitted to body. Has been a student for about 4 years. Advanced sewing skills, design are beginning to matching up, has been a little shy in the past to stray away from patterns and instructions, so we are very impressed she is letting her imagination run!!

What the judges had to say:

We chose this outfit firstly because of the design – they have clearly taken a pattern as a base and adapted it to work for them. Good commercial colour palette that would sell. Also highly practical – here at Sweaty Betty we love a reversible garment. 


Second Prize!

E!

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What we said:  E Used her own commercial pattern from home. It has interesting details and a bit of a tricky pattern She showed great accuracy with this project! Sometimes gets over excited to finish but worked hard to make this perfect using decorative stitches. has been sewing for about 6 years. 

What the judges said: Using her own commercial pattern from home is very creative and we like the idea of choosing a style that is slightly different. It has been effective in this case. The colour way is complimentary and the shape works well too.

 

Third 

L!

We said: Used our pattern for both but worked very accurately and carefully something she has struggled with in the past, rushing to finish or getting bored half way through. Worked hard to make it neat and perfect!

The judges said: We love the bold matching outfit as a combination! It is very Sweaty Betty and it is very practical in terms of use for a runner.

layla tues running outfit

Runner Up

K, O & R

K and O and R – Group gymnastics suit – age 9 and 10

We say: Used our pattern, chose fabrics well. O has sewn before but first time at little hands, K and R have been coming during hols for about a year! Warned it would be quite a challenge but were very keen and tackled it like pros! used a range of techniques between them. Putting in normal and invisible zips, sleeves, k made matching shorts. They worked really well together helping each other when they got stuck and the results are amazing and they all fit perfectly.

The judges say: We are impressed with how well they worked as a team to make a variety of outfits (matching shorts as well as leotards). They have shown good use of product knowledge, using the right fabrics that look professional. 

 

Runner Up

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We say: Used our pattern and adapted making sleeves longer, good choice of fabric. is really developing good design skills and personal style! Student for about 2/3 years.

The judges say: We love the shape and design on the poncho, the colour way works well and we think it would sell. They have also understood the right fabric that is needed for this kind of garment.

Runner Up

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We say: For hoody used our pattern but patched the fabric together to make them fit, great choice of fabrics and sewn quite well. Also made her own superhero leggings with elastic at the waist and made a running top and shorts – very accurate sewing and skills really improving. Student for 4 years. Worked really hard this term! We were very impressed!