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Monday, 21 September 2015

The Handmade Fair 2015

Warning: This post may contain a lot of exclamation marks but not surprising as this day involved a very high-on-craft excited B. 

In it's 2nd year the Handmade Fair took place over the sunny weekend of 18th-20th September 2015 and was once again hosted by Kirstic Allsopp adorned in larger than life flower crown and scooted around the fair in a decorated golf cart. This year the fair was situated on the Green opposite Hampton Court Palace, Surrey. More accessible and a bigger, organised more established event in comparison to last year- it's hard to think it's a relatively new show but undoubtedly very popular with everyone and anyone with a love of craft and being creative!

This annual fair has a kitsch, vintage shabby chic vibe (think bunting and pom poms galore!) and is not predominantly female- there were lots of men who did not look like they were being dragged around as bag holders. The Fair hosts a huge range of skill workshops teaching all sorts of different crafts including: Yarn & Textiles, Seasonal, Fashion Accessories, Upcycling with Annie Sloan (the chalk paint lady),  Papercraft, and Wedding with Hobbycraft with experts on hand to guide you through the particular skill and make. All tools and materials are provided in these workshops. There were two large shopping tents to buy handmade gifts as well as starter kits, accessories, tools, books - just about everything you need to learn new skills and make beautiful pieces of art and craft yourself! With experts, makers, bloggers and sellers on hand to give demos and answer your questions.  You can book in to the 'Super Theatre' and sit in to talks and demonstrations with Kirstie and various well known Crafters which is a great time to gain tips and knowledge on all sorts of projects and find out about the latest Craft trends and techniques. There is an Artisan marketplace of handmade gourmet food and drink and plenty of food carts to keep you fueled throughout the day, including a rather lovely 40s tea room complete with live music, tea in miss-matched china cups and delectable cakes and food.

A great place to visit in a group of friends but equally fun on your own and meet like-minded people at the various workshops and 'Grand Make'. You can tailor the day to suit you. I would reccomend buying an all-inclusive ticket for £29: you get entry into the fair, the fair guide and tickets to your choice of 'Grand Make', 'Super Theatre' talk and 'Skills Workshop'. Booking before the show day will make sure you get a place in your desired crafts however I wouldn't suggest booking too early as new more exciting workshops become available closer to the event but you can buy more tickets for sessions for a discount on the day.

I would reccomend getting their early to fit everything in (unless you have booked more days) and to not feel rushed. Space out your workshops carefully so they don't overlap and leave you time to go to the loo, have refreshments and get some shopping done!

Find your skills workshop/super theatre tent and start queuing at least 10 mins in advance in order to get the best view of the demonstration and best colour wool/material etc.

Take it slowly - when Kirstie cuts that ribbon it's easy to feel the need to run towards the most exciting looking tent like your scouting out the best rollarcoaster at Thorpe Park. There is time to fit it in in a day but will be more enjoyable if you take it easy.

Expect to socialise with neighbouring Crafters- everyone is super friendly, like-minded and you can do a bit of networking and learn from others.

It's an outdoorsy event (there is a cloakroom) although all workshops and shopping is under tents/canapes make sure you wear comfortable clothing and footwear- some people even wore handmade garments with a vintage style.

Bring a camera. You can take pictures throughout and a notepad and pen to take down making notes, references and people's social media contacts.

Bring cash- there are cash points but it charges you £2.49 for each transaction.

M Y   D A Y  &  H A U L

I went on the last day (20th Sept) and got there crazy early so was in the front of the line to see Kirstie Allsopp in her finery welcome everyone to the fair and cut the ribbon to officially open it- a nice touch although perhaps less anti-climatic if you are an Allsopp fan! This year because the fair was tried and tested and boasted lots of high quality unique, boutique-y makers and their handmade goods I felt that it was lacking in start-ups, student businesses and help for those wanting to start selling craft. For example Etsy, the online craft market place was not at the fair this year and there was a lack of focus for bloggers and would-be sellers which was a shame.

Free to explore the grounds I made a bee-line towards the shopping tent to find Tilly (former Great British Sewing Bee contestant and blogger from Tilly and the Buttons) at her stall. After a little chat I bought her first book: Love at First Stitch- which looks like it will be very useful to learn techniques on 'simple' garment projects with a lovely laid out pictorial step by step instruction. Her blog is invaluable too and I love her vintage quirkiness! She also personally signed her book for me!

Then it was time for my Skills Workshop to learn Wirework with maker Lucy Elisabeth here I made a heart-shaped wire frame! The Grand Make is a mini-project demonstrated to a large tent-ful of people, you learn simple techniques and come away with a finished make. I bought some gold aluminum wire to make some more at home.

I then had some time to shop and find Lisa Comfort from Sew Over it (another sewing idol!). I bought a Pattern Master- for adjusting and making patterns for dressmaking and some more fabric to make my next version of the Betty Dress.

Then it was time to sit in a demonstration at the 'Super Theatre' where Lisa Comfort (fab name!) accompanied by Kirstie. They made a simple Cowl Neck Dress. I learnt lots of dressmaking tips  from the master herself!

My last workshop was with I Make Knots where I met a lovely woman from Australia who taught be to knit using chunky T-shirt 'wool' as well as to finger knit!! All tools and material is provided and being the last day there was opportunity to take home more wool and needles. It was unfortunate that various workshops happened at the same time in the same tent and a block printing workshop that involved A LOT of thunderous banging and hammering was next door to our quiet knitting class which made the hour quite disruptive!

Bracelets and finger knitting.

Ready to finally get to grips with the needles.

Then it was time to rinse my bank account and go shopping! I decided to take it easy but wish I had done more workshops. I overlooked the opportunity to do more workshops and missed out on a flower crown workshop *sad times*. It was unfortunate that there was not a flower crown market stall like last year where the workshop would have been advertised.

More Shopping Impulse Buys:

(L-R + centre)
  • I have wanted to try rag-rugging for awhile and finally got myself a latch hook! It's a great way to use up fabric scraps (which I have alot of!) and will be a mindless TV watching activity that will stop me from biting my nails!!   
  •  Block Printing Hedgehog stamps....well obviously I had to buy them so from now on all birthday/christmas presents will be wrapped in printed hedgehog paper!
  •  Tweed is a nostalgic texture/fabric for me as my dad practically lives in a tweed jacket so it's a comforting homely fabric and I love all things Autumnal and woodland so felt the need for this cushion cover set in my life (despite the price).
You will be coming home with things you've made, things to make at home, a whole host of new knowledge and ideas (and a crippled bank account). 

Hugely reccomend booking tickets for next years event!

Ticket Costs: Entry in to the show is £15 but the best recommended ticket is the Full Experience ticket for £29 (Includes 1 x Super Theatre session, 1 x Skills Workshop and 1 x Grand Make of your choice and everywhere else!) VIP tickets are available for £95 where you get more options and more of a chance to meet Kirstie in the flesh.

The Fair is held opposite Hampton Court Palace, Surrey KT8 9BU. And a very short walk over the bridge from Hampton Court Train Station.

Find Out more on the Fair HERE

Pom Pom Border