Event location
Event type

Join us for a free online event all about inspiring young children to learn to sew - with special guest speaker Esme Young

A webinar for all those who work with and support young children - educators, parents, carers and all those interested in early childhood education... and, of course, sewing!

Opening the event we have a special guest speaker, Esme Young, who will be sharing her experience of learning to sew and teaching others to sew.

Guest speaker - Esme Young

Esme is a judge on BBC 2’s ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’. At age five, Esme was asked to write in her notebook but instead she filled it with drawings - the only way she knew to express herself. At seven, when it was discovered she was partially deaf, she found refuge in her sketchbooks. Shortly after Esme made her first garment and a passion for sewing and designing was born. Last year, her bestselling memoir, 'Behind the Seams: My Life in Creativity, Friendship and Adventure', was published and her story is a reminder that it's never too early, too late or too soon to pick up a needle and start stitching.

Tuesday 31 January 2023
7pm to 8pm
Free online webinar


This free webinar marks the publication of a new Froebel Trust pamphlet - Sewing with young children - a free to download guide packed with practical advice about sewing with young children.

Now available to download for free

Watch a recording of this webinar

This event was recorded and is now available to view for free via our webinar library

Watch now

Esme will be joined by the pamphlet authors - Sharon Imray, Tracy Thomson and Jane Whinnett MBE - who'll be discussing how educators and carers can support young children to become autonomous learners through sewing.

During the webinar, Sharon, Tracy and Jane - all experienced nursery school headteachers - will introduce a Froebelian approach to sewing. Froebel, inventor of kindergarten, believed that children learn through first-hand experiences and self-activity. He stressed the importance of children being given freedom to learn by doing things by themselves, with guidance from adults.

"Sewing transcends geographical cultural, boundaries and is an essential part of what makes us human", writes Sharon Imray, Tracy Thomson and Jane Whinnett MBE

Join this inspiring webinar and find out about:

  • starting sewing and young children's development
  • practical tips for setting up a sewing area in your school or early years setting
  • the importance of creative expression.

"Experimenting with stitches is a bit like scribbling and early mark making... Sewing requires integration of all areas of children’s development to plan and carry out their ideas using small co-ordinated movements using tools..."

There will be an opportunity for all those who attend the webinar to ask questions to the authors and to Esme during the event.

About Esme Young

Esme Young is one part of BBC 2’s ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ judging duo, joining the show in 2016. The show follows a group of talented amateur sewers who, along with Patrick Grant, encounter different sewing challenges each week. The programme is hosted by Claudia Winkleman and is watched by 3.4 million viewers.

Esme, along with four passionate women about fashion, opened a London based shop called ‘Swanky Modes’ in early 80’s. Their clothes appeared in magazines and newspapers including Vogue, Nova, Honey, 19, ID, The Face, Boulevard, Interview, The Sunday Times, Express, Mail, and the V&A Little Black Dress Book. Swanky Modes’s clothing was photographed by renowned photographers such as Helmut Newton, David Bailey, Nick Knight, John Swannell, Neil Kirk. The iconic shop attracts a diverse clientele and has been visited by Julie Chrtistie, Toyah Wilcox, Princess Julia, Midge Ure, Bette Bright, Viv Albertine, and Grace Jones.

In the mid 80’s Esme started doing work with independent stylists and costume designers which led her to opening her own studio. She began working with various talent on films, adverts, pop videos and made bespoke clothes. Esme typically makes costumes for a film’s leading actors. This meticulous process involves understanding the context, the cultural and the fashion references of the film’s time and setting. She utilizes her broad set of skills by providing advice, sourcing fabric, collaborating with the costume designer, fitting and producing the garments. Some of the high profile campaigns Young has worked for include: Tia Maria (with Iman), Levi’s, Boots No 7, Marlborough, De Beers, Pretty Polly tights, Max Factor, Yardley and Rimmel. She has also been a part of an individual commission for Phil Collins, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Cher and Jane Asher. Esme mentored and taught designer Ashish until he became a professional fashion designer. Following his success, she worked on his London Fashion Week collections, cutting patterns and creating the shape of the designs, making the toiles and doing the fittings. Young developed sewing and pattern cutting techniques for underwear and swimwear which commenced her to work on special projects for ‘Triumph underwear’ and ‘L’Oreal’.

In her free time, Esme teaches Innovative Pattern Cutting for graduates and professionals students at Central Saint Martin’s College. Esme uses hands on experience of design, pattern cutting and clothes making to move students’s imagination and help them interpret their drawings so they can develop the designs into actual garments.

About the pamphlet authors

Sharon Imray is Owner of Poppies Pre School, Laurencekirk, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She is a graduate of the Froebel in Childhood Practice course from the University of Edinburgh. She has been a sewer for most of her life and shares her love of sewing and creativity with the children and practitioners at Poppies Pre School. She has a published chapter in the award-winning book Putting Storytelling at the Heart of Early Childhood Practice, Routledge (2020).

Tracy Thomson was Head of Tynecastle Nursery School and is currently Head of Hailesland Early Years Centre in Edinburgh. She is an Art graduate and has completed the Froebel in Childhood Practice course from the University of Edinburgh. Tracy has taught throughout the early years in primary school before specialising in nursery. She has joined the Froebel Trust funded Froebelian Futures project in Edinburgh and has been awarded an innovative Froebel Trust grant with a focus on sewing.

Jane Whinnett is a tutor on the Froebel in Childhood Practice course at the University of Edinburgh. She is an endorsed Froebel Trust Travelling Tutor and has previously served as at the Froebel Trust. Jane was Head Teacher of two local authority nursery schools in Edinburgh. She is author of the Froebel Trust pamphlet Froebel’s Gifts and Block Play Today. She has published chapters in Early Childhood Practice: Froebel Today, Sage (2012) and co-edited the award-winning book Putting Storytelling at the Heart of Early Childhood Practice, Routledge (2020).

Free resources

Our pamphlet series

Take a look at other titles in our popular series - packed with practical ideas for everyone who works and plays with young children.
All free to download and share.

Learn more