This webinar marked the publication of a new Froebel Trust pamphlet - packed with practical advice about sewing with young children. It features special guest, Esme Young and the pamphlet authors - Sharon Imray, Tracy Thomson and Jane Whinnett. Recorded on 31 January 2023.

"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..."

Special guest speaker, Esme Young (The Great British Sewing Bee), opens this Froebel Trust webinar by sharing her experience of learning to sew.

During the webinar, recorded in January 2023, three experienced nursery school headteachers 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", write Sharon Imray, Tracy Thomson and Jane Whinnett MBE

A new Froebel Trust pamphlet - free to download

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).

Download a free copy of 'Sewing with young children'

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