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We have mooooved!

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We have mooooved!

*sniff*

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All packed.

 

But don’t worry! It’ll all be ok! You can STILL keep in touch with news, updates, sewing classes and special offers over at Reddskin. 

It’s been a blast! Don’t go changing.

Peace

x

F-F-F-Fashion!

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Greetings!

A little Forest Hill Fashion for y’all.

The first is by Videographer and all round good egg Aaron Seale.  Featuring designers Madeleine McIndoe, Reddskinbags, Walterworks, Taslima Khan and The Middle Clash. 

The second is a short featuring my designs by Media production company IndieVisual

Feeling blessed.

Peace.

K x

Forest Hill Fashion Week Sept 2013

Picture the scene.  A skinny ten year old girl lying on the floor in her mothers bedroom. Underneath her slight frame a brightly patterned length of folded stretch chiffon in purple and pink. A borrowed felt pen in hand and an oversized pair of forbidden dressmaking shears nearby. She wriggles as she hastily tries to draw her rough outline from ankle to underarm on either side of her body. Stops briefly to listen to sounds of her mothers soft footsteps – just in case she is caught in the process of fabric butchery – especially as said fabric happens to belong to the unsuspecting adult. Reassured, markings complete, the excited youngster carefully cuts a hole for her head on the centre fold of the fabric and threads a needle with novice hands. Finally, rough back-stitch and half an hour later, The Most Beautiful Kaftan In The World is born.

Ok so it wasn’t perfect. I (yes the youngster was me – how did you guess?) had completely  overlooked the fact that I would need to actually move around in my creation so it was a little tight on the legs. But, oh, when I raised my arms and shimmied (hobbled) down my mothers bedroom catwalk, I felt like the most celebrated fashion designer slash model alive!

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Upcycled full skirt in progress

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African print caplet almost complete

Fast forward 40 years. Having rejected ‘Fashion Designer’ as a viable career (too competitive for my inherently ‘lazy’ nature ) I chose Dance instead. Go figure. I continued to design and sew clothes for myself and later, my family, whilst a pursued my teaching career.

In February 2013 the first Forest Hill Fashion Week (FHFW) took place and I was lucky enough to become involved with my business Reddskinbags. September 20th – 25th 2013 saw our second event, it’s bigger, brighter and altogether more glamorous sister.

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Model fitting time! Nathan 🙂

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Reddskinbags collection ironed and ready to roll!

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Reddskinbags creations awaiting their matching outfits

A Live catwalk show took place at The Horniman Museum and Gardens in Forest Hill. The evening kicked off five days of talks, demonstrations and workshops related to craft and fashion. On the evening of Friday 20th September a magical Horniman conservatory was alive with vibrant stalls showcasing the creations of local talented designers, most of whom also had their unique designs in the show.

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Fun times at the Reddskinbags stall!

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Display of delight

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Magical Horniman Museum conservatory

For my part, I had (finally) taken the plunge and designed a tiny collection of four pieces to accompany my bag designs. Undoubtedly, THE best decision I’ve ever made. It was a fan-TASTIC evening. The Forest Hill area exploded with Fashionistas and their friends eager to find out what the fuss was all about and support a wonderfully exciting event.

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Backstage calm before the storm

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Almost show time!

So much energy and enthusiasm converged to display a warm community spirit that was a pleasure and a privilege to witness.  A huge thank you to Penelope Else, the visionary and driving force behind Forest Hill Fashion, and to the human dynamo Charlotte Cameron who organised the Catwalk Show and Cherrelle, bubbly stylist extraordinare.

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A giggly Belle Studio and Awesome Aaron doing their thing!

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Models in full Reddskinbags effect! Eeeep!

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Model Layla works the runway

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African model elegance – capelet and matching clutchbag

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Upcycled skirt and matching handbag.

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African print drop crotch trousers, tie and rucksack

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‘That’ skirt.

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Encore! Encore!

These photos are a teensy snippet of my part in Forest Hill Fashion Week. There are many more pictures of the designers, characters and their work by London Photographer Sara and Belle Studio. Have a look. Take your time. Is ‘history in the making’ too grand an observation? Who knows?

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The unstoppable Charlotte Cameron – Catwalk show coordinator and all round good egg!

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Cherelle the Super Stylist!

How FHFW will evolve only time will tell. It wouldn’t have been so successful without the time and efforts of many brilliant volunteers – take this as a Big Fat Thank you! *holds applause card up for a very long time*

What are the next steps for Reddskinbags?

As usual … watch this space!

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A little hashtag action. You’re welcome!

K x

Forest Hill Fashion Week!

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Forest Hill Fashion Week!

I was lucky enough to have been involved in Forest Hills very own Fashion Week, scheduled to coincide with London Fashion Week. “Who needs LFW when you can have FHFW?” was the strap line. It took place during half term from February 15th to 19th. Gosh it seems like an age ago now!

Penny, Louise and their trusty team of SEE3 volunteers worked tirelessly to produce A Fashion Week to remember! After a Sunday afternoon of photoshoot fun the posters of volunteer models arrived in local shops and outlets. It’s me!

50 and Fab!

50 and Fab!

It all happened so quickly! The first I heard that I was on a poster was when the boys at the school I teach in started saying ‘Miss! We saw you in Sainsburys!’. Huh?

We even made in to Time Out!

Forest Hill makes time Out!

Forest Hill makes the Time Out website!

The Week kicked off with an opening night at The Sylvan Post, a wonderful restaurant and bar converted from the old Forest Hill Post Office and with many of the original features. That Friday also saw the opening of a new pop-up shop in Forest Hill Love Ur Look run by stylist and businesswoman Ronke Fashola. This quirky outlet has lots of beautiful outfits and gifts to suit many budgets. Ronke will be taking her fabulousness elsewhere very soon so don’t miss out!

Cute leather bag in Love Ur Look

Forest Hill became a happy hive of activity! There were fashion upcycling workshops and craft workshops as well as events and sales in lots of lovely local shops. I ran a free Corsage making session at Forest Hills newest Art gallery The Montage. We had great fun turning scraps of fabric into fabulous accessories!

Corsage making at The Montage

Corsage making at The Montage

My next workshop was at the same venue teaching keen newbies how to upcycle a plastic bottle into a beautiful bangle. Maria Ramil Photos popped along to take photos some of which you can see in her funky slideshow .

Bottle to Bangle crafters

Bottle to Bangle crafters at work!

Corsage workshop by Reddskinbags Karen_-5

Slowly does it…

Later that day I was able to squeeze myself into one of my favourite shops Stag and Bow where a knowledgeable Pascale was teaching how to make a detachable collar. I joined a group of women with a range of sewing abilities and had a grand old time chatting and creating. I’m thrilled with the result too!

Antique lace and hand beaded collar with African batik trim!

Antique lace and hand beaded collar with African batik trim!

Sunday evening saw Soul Train event at Art Gallery and workshop space Canvas and Cream who were also celebrating their first birthday. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun! It must have been my lucky night because not only was I handed a free glass of prosecco as the 20th person to arrive but I also won a goodie bag for being ‘Best Mover’. Oh yeah!

On Monday (I do hope you’re keeping up here) , on the way to the Catwalk Show dress rehearsal, I popped in to Stag and Bow again (I can’t keep away) to browse the Twisted Vintage sale. They make delightful pieces upcycling discarded or broken pieces in to delectable jewellery. This piece of gorgeousness is now one of my favourite bracelets in my collection. Because I’m worth it of course!

Twisted Vintage upcycled bracelet of beauty. Mine.

Twisted Vintage upcycled Bracelet of Beauty. Mine.

The final Catwalk show was filled with fabulous fashion creations and outfits from local designers and shops including, Best of Both Boutique, Doopodoopo, Bunka, Stag and Bow, Love Ur Look, Twisted Vintage, Katherine Harrison, The White Room SE4 and so many more! It truly was a night to remember. For me not least because it was the first time I had seen a selection of my bags ‘in situ’ on the catwalk. I’m definitely hankering for more of that fashion action.

Tweed and African print Boston bag with outfit from Bunka

Tweed and African print Boston bag with outfit from Bunka

Upcycled Coffee sack - hessian and African print Weekend bag in da house!

Upcycled Coffee sack – hessian and African print Weekend Reddskinbag in da house! Jacket by Christopher Ran

You can see more pictures of the Catwalk Wrap Show here

The worlds first Forest Hill Fashion Week was over almost as quickly as it began. I thoroughly enjoyed filling my half term with fashion and craft and creating. Frankly I cannot wait to do it all over again!

What? Did you think that was IT?

Missed it? Want to catch the next one? Follow @SEE3PortasPilot on Twitter and Facebook or sign up to their email newsletter .

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Bottle to Bangle in under 60? GO!

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As you may know – I’ve been bleating about it enough – I decided to give up alcohol for the the not so jolly month of January. So instead of enjoying a glass of wine whilst cooking, or watching TV… or breathing, I have been drinking virtuous ‘Mock’-tails and cordial with LOTS of fizzy water.

I’ve accumulated a fair few plastic bottles even in the past seven days as you can imagine. I couldn’t possibly let them languish in the recycling bin without an attempt at using them up, now could I?

So here, for your delectation and delight, is my Easy Peasy Upcycled Bangle Tutorial!

You will need;

1 plastic 1 ltr cordial bottle.

1 felt pen (sharpie’s are good)

1 pair sharp kitchen scissors

1 pair Fabric scissors – not the same as above or you’ll blunt these.

A smidgen of masking tape or Sellotape

1 Strip of medium weight fabric (cotton) 50cm x 7cm approx.

1 needle and  some thread.

A sewing machine. – if you don’t have one you can  hand sew using small running stitch.

1 clothes peg

1. Mark around the bottle. Pierce it and cut along markings
Lean on me

2. Cut a 3cm wide ring from the bottle. Cut through the ring so it opens out. I was able to get 6 rings from a cordial and a washing up bottle (see below)

3 plastic rings

3. Cut a strip of fabric 50cm x 7cm. If you want a wider bangle then the formula is width x 2 + 1cm + 1cm. The 1 cm is for the seam allowance. So a 5cm wide bangle will need a strip of fabric that is 50 cm x 12 cm. Get it? Just trust me.

Long strip of fabric

4. Right side of the fabric facing down, press one short edge over (towards you).

Press 1 short edge

5. Then (still with right side facing down)  fold the fabric towards you and press along the middle.

press along the middle

6. Open  the fabric out completely – including the short pressed edge – and pin the long edge right sides together. Machine stitch the long edge just under 1 cm (8 or 9 mm) in. Note: It doesn’t matter what colour thread you use – no one will see it!

sew along edge

7. Trim the seam to half its width. Just makes it neater and the next bit is much easier.

trim edge

8. Attach a safety pin to one end of the fabric

attach safety pin

9. Use the safety pin to push through the opening. The fabric should turn as you shimmy up the inside. Magic!

peek-a-boo!

10. Remember the short edge that you pressed? Well tuck that under and in and press the (now right way round) strip of fabric flat.

press flat

11. Grab your plastic strip. Snip or round the corners of one of the plastic ends so it doesn’t ‘snag’. Place the peg on the other end of the plastic and push the rounded edged end through the fabric ‘tube’. Start at the fabric end that is folded under.

feed plastic through fabric

12. Now. Leave an opening so that you can see the plastic. Check that the bangle will go over your hand and then tape the ends securely. (I have large Sasquatch hands so I only overlapped slightly but you may need to check.)

A couple of layers of tape should do it.

secure ends with selllotape

13. Almost there – Eeeep! Guide the raw edge under the folded under edge. (You’ll be glad you ironed it now!) Choose thread to match your fabric (if you have it) and slipstitch – small stitches  on one half and then the other – the seam together. Doesn’t have to be super neat. I did it in about 10 stitches inside and out.

slip stitch ends closed

14. That’s IT! You’re done! How long did you take?

Finished!

Naturally I made a few more. I couldn’t help myself!

Ta-DAAAAHH!

Sasquatch hands modelling newly upcycled bangles. You like?

Pretty!

Do have a go. Use any fabric. Let me know how you get on!

You can sponsor me here when you’ve finished too if you like!

Only 3 weeks and 3 days to go! *gasp*

Crafty, creative fun anyone?

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A couple of months ago I was approached by Joanna at Canvas and Cream, our new Art Gallery in Forest Hill, to run a craft workshop for a hen party. The bride to be and her friends and family were due to descend upon this gorgeous space for bubbly, tea and baked deliciousness one Saturday in September. Corsage making was to be the icing on their proverbial cake.

Crafty parties  are an original way to celebrate any occasion with friends or family in the comfort of your home. The best part is that you don’t need to have any sewing experience, just a willingness to nurture your creative spirit and some mates to share it with!

Mine all miiiine!

So let me see…crafting….AND cake? How could I refuse?

Now many of you already know that I have been a teacher for a looooong time so you wouldn’t think that this kind of gig would daunt me would you? WRONG.

Teaching a class of 30 pupils, whilst extremely challenging at times, could no longer be described as daunting. Teaching a room of your peers, some of whom will probably have consumed at least one glass of a bubbly beverage is an entirely different matter.

My lovely daughter gave me advice on the drive over: ‘Mum, you’re fabulous! It’ll be FUN!’

*gulp*

Drawing around the corsage template before the cutting commences!

I needn’t have worried at all.

The lovely ladies were seated, fairly sober and eager to get started. Some ladies were avid sewers and some had little experience but all wanted to find their creative side which was the most exciting part!

Where to start?

I gave a short demonstration and before I knew it they were reaching frantically to choose from colourful scrap fabrics and embellishments.

All in an hours work!

It matches my dress!

An apt bridal theme.

I was impressed by their enthusiasm and the combinations they all came up with and I think that they surprised themselves too! I hope that they all had a great afternoon…I know that I did!

Oh…and the cakes were delicious too!

To rummage or not to rummage?

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I’ve always been a sucker for a bargain and it’s no secret that I LOVE clothes. So when Penelope – genius founder of Frockcycle – invited to me join her and Paulina Palian – fabulous fashion designer – on a visit to a recycling warehouse I jumped at the chance.

“Don’t forget the gloves…” read Penny’s last message.

Eh?

We arrived in the blistering heat (yay Summer!) to be greeted by a spectacular sight – hundreds of clothes items drying in the sunshine.

Our mission was to find some fashion faux pas’s for a Frockcycle event on Saturday 28th July. This exciting day is for anyone who wants help and inspiration to transform an beast of a garment into beautiful creation.

Chris Carey Collections is a family run business in South East London whose mission is to recycle unwanted clothes responsibly. Clothes are sorted in to sections according to value or condition by knowledgeable staff. Once signed in (it’s worth calling first) you can take your pick then pay by kg or item, depending on the items, on departure.

HOW many clothes?

So, gloves on and sporting a fetching neon vest (no pictorial evidence…you MUST be joking!) The Frockcycle Three were ready to rummage!

Except for one thing… I had forgotten how truly rubbish I am at the rummaging part. Pun intended. You see I’m more of a ‘Clothes in neat colour-coded rows on rails’ kinda gal if I’m really honest. *Diva face*

So whilst the Dream Team Penny and Paulina filled their recyclable sacks with all sorts of fabulous finds, I leant more of a critical eye. I’m really good at that!

I DID find this over sized skirt though…

Fabulous colours in this ma-HOOSIVE skirt!

However I wear it as a vibrant top! I LOVE it!

Skirt as Top? Why Not!

Come along and have some fun at Frockcycle…or have a go yourself at home! Trust me – an afternoon trying your old clothes on backwards and upside down is the new shopping! (and with friends and wine – hey it’s a party!)

What about you? Do you dive in regardless and rummage?

Are you a Diver… or a Diva?

Getting shirty!

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Last week I posted this fabulous idea on my Facebook page. Many commented on how ingenious it is and joked about the difference between the size of the model and some our not-so-svelte figures!

That’s the trouble with Ingenious Upcycling Ideas. When it comes to clothing would you reeeeeally go out in public wearing any of it?

So last Thursday, getting ready for my Live Jazz fix at Jazz:Refreshed , I decided to put this to the test with my own version catchily entitled ‘Man’s shirt as a TOP for meeeeee!’.

First I needed to find a shirt big enough to fit comfortably around my…ahem…’friends’. Half an hour and knee deep in shirts later I finally settled on a large white man’s dress shirt. (the first shirt I’d picked as it happens – typical)

Ironing is SO last year!

I didn’t even bother attempting to fasten the top button (stop laughing) but settled a good 3 or 4 down the front (I said stop laughing!)  I accessorised with a pretty brooch which also served to help me feel much safer. No popping button incidents for this Ms thank you very much!

Can you see what it is yet?

Next it was all about the sleeves as belt part. I did try tying them as a halter neck but unfortunately the fabric hung in such a way that it drew WAY too much attention to my upper body – SO not necessary.

…view from the back!

Finally my hair went up in an orange silk wrap, I added my favourite jacket and a slightly nervous smile and I was off!  If I’m honest I did feel a little self-conscious at first but once my chief stylist (teen) had given her seal of approval I managed to relax.

Teens’ patience wears thin…

Quick before I start laughing again!

What do you think?

Now are you ready to give it a go? Do let me know how you get on!

Reduce, Reuse, Re…what ARE you wearing?

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Over the past few months I have met some really interesting crafty (verb not adjective) people. This year I have made a concious decision to seek out new creative ventures whenever time allows. So when I stumbled across Penelope Else asking for local people with sewing skills for a new venture she was starting I emailed her straight away.

Frockcycle is an event that takes place at Canvas and Cream, a brand spanking new Art gallery slash workshop space slash restaurant in Forest Hill, Sarf East Londinium. The main premise is to up-cycle your old unwanted items of clothing in to fashion desirables with a fresh eye and a handy pair of scissors. All you need is enthusiasm – no previous sewing experience is necessary! Penny runs the show – the first part has involved trying clothes on upside down or backwards – mad fun!

Helpers are on hand to transform the clothes into new fashionable creations. If you need extra crafty items then Pascale from local ‘purveyors of craft haberdashery and history’ Stag and Bow, is there with her array of goodies. Oh and did I mention that you can buy cake and there’s a bar? Perfect.

During the last session Paulina Palian brought along a pair of bright orange trousers and an old orange vest then practically grabbed and pointed me in their direction.

Happy feet!

She knew full well that I wouldn’t be able to resist their vibrant colours (clever woman that). It was her suggestion that I play with the idea of combining them both to make a bolero jacket. In between helping clients I started the venture but ended up taking it home where it sat on my mannequin for a week whilst I pondered and got on with the business of ‘life’. Once I’d started again, after a lot of pinning and tacking it finally began to take shape.

See what I did there?

When 2 become 1.

I added some vibrant African batik cotton with a golden overlay to the edge.

That’s better!

I used the same fabric to create a semi-Cape effect to the back of the jacket.

Super cape in the making!

Next I cut the sleeves, added elastic and pushed them up my arms. Now I was on a roll! Finally I cut a length and sewed it just inside the pockets for a little definition – although sadly my photos haven’t picked this up *tiny sob*.

Avec orange necklace accessory

I was so pleased with my efforts I test drove the outfit the very next day!

Superwoman and her cape!

Tah-Daaaaah!

Your turn!

The next Frockcyle event is on Sunday 28th July. You can book here. Come along, bring your old fashion faux-pas, meet some new interesting people and most of all have some FUN!

Do YOU have any fashion regret-tables?

Or have you turned an unwanted item into an object of desire?

Oh go on, DO tell!

The trouble with boys…?

“You teach Textiles? In a boys school? To boys? Do they like it?”

I have always encountered near incredulity when mentioning my specialist subject to others. I actually trained as a dance teacher many hundreds of years ago (must be the green tea). I became accustomed to surprised reactions to the fact that boys even did dance at secondary school. Throughout my career I have been fortunate enough to work in schools where the Performing Arts are cherished. Schools that actively encourage both sexes to express themselves through this medium from Year 7 (1st year) up through GCSE and A level Dance. Extremely successfully too. Then bits started to fall from my body and a fabulous opportunity to teach textiles came tumbling into my lap. What was a girl to do? Sorry, I mean, what was a girl – who LOVES sewing, designing and creating with fabrics – to do?

This year class Year 8/TY2 have the pleasure of my company. Last year I taught my Year 7’s to sew by hand and they took home puppets they had made based on fairytale characters…

Glodi and Prince Charming

and sock monsters upcycled from old socks…

Eden and his socky - Stripy!

after the best part of a year. This year my task is to teach them how to use a sewing machine…. in SIX weeks!

*Rolls sleeves up*.

On friday at the beginning of the lesson as I finished taking the register and 21 eager faces looked at me expectantly . I announced the introductory lesson topic… ‘The History of Sewing’.

One lone, brave boy (we’ll call him X – for Xtremely foolish – shall we?) summed up the mood of the class “We’re sup-POSED to be doing sewing! Not HISSSS-tory!”

Don’t you just love children?

Once I had re-established the ground rules for expressing one’s opinion out loud, we continued. I displayed a script on the whiteboard and invited volunteers to read out a paragraph each. It was full of exciting facts about the history of sewing. I am serious by the way. The boys became particularly animated when learning about early thread made from animal sinew (true) and French tailors rioting back in the 19th century in uproar at the possibility of losing their jobs to industrialisation (“like the Summer riots in Lewisham miss!” Hmmm)

Once complete, I handed out envelopes which contained slips of paper with the same information. The class were given two minutes to arrange the paragraphs in order. Cue much hilarity. I noted (smugly, I admit) that X seemed to be having a great time motivating his group to finish quickly. Next came the quiz part. I read the questions and the first member of each group to hold up the relevant slip and read the correct answer gained a point. Simple, yes? Have you ever taught 12 year old boys?

Actually it was good fun…well I had fun stretching out the anticipatory silence before reading out a question reeeeally slowly. Isn’t that the point?

What am I trying to say? It doesn’t matter whether the subject is deemed ‘traditional’ or not, boys and girls will enjoy it because, believe it or not, they love to learn. And if they can have some laughs along the way….you’ve got them hooked.

Here’s the best bit…I hated Design and Technology at school! Funny that…

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