Sewing, paper craft, baking, upcycling, embroidery, felting, scrapbooking, jewellery, quilting, DIY, cake decorating, decoupage, knitting, art and teddy-bear making (my favourite!). And that’s just for starters. Yes, on Saturday I went to Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair on the green at Hampton Court Palace and have come away totally inspired. Who knew there were SO MANY crafts out there? So many projects, so little time… The sun was shining as my sister and I made our way to Hampton Court early on Saturday morning and when we arrived we were greeted by decorated marquees, colourful circus tents, giant pom-poms and bunting galore! Kind of what you would expect from a Handmade Fair, but I never imagined that all this craftiness would actually be there, all in one place. It was just like the prettiest wedding you’ve ever been to, multiplied by 100!
The organisers had got the tone of the fair just right; it felt like a local village fete crossed with a very chilled-out festival. Not too big, and not too small. Juuuuust right. There were plenty of free activities to get involved in, music performances in the vintage tea room and lots of space to chill out with a snack. Noone was in a hurry and it never felt overcrowded. I think the nicest thing about the fair was simply knowing everyone there had the same interests as you; even if you enjoyed different disciplines, the essence of your hobby was the same: creating something with your own hands.
Even though visitors tend to pre-book their workshop, skill sessions and talks in advance, I was pleased to see that it is possible to buy tickets to each session on the day. There’s a chalkboard beside each marquee with a running update of how many tickets are left for each session so if you’ve found yourself with a spare hour you can buy a workshop ticket for £5 and join in with the next project. I saw all kinds of sessions taking place throughout the day, including icing biscuits, lampshade making, upcycling with Annie Sloan paint and bunting-making to name just a few. I would have liked to be at the Fair for an extra day so that I could learn even more and the best bit was taking your creation (and a real sense of achievement!) home with you at the end of the day. My favourite session was with Louise from B.Loved who hosted an #InstaprettyParty, showing us how to style photographs for Instagram. It was great to get an insight from this famous stylist and blogger into techniques for improving lighting, organising an image layout, adding tags and creating a beautiful gallery feed. Even the marquee that Louise had curated was gorgeous, with floral walls, vintage furniture and sparkly accessories – I could have lived in there quite happily! The shopping village was really top-notch; there was practically everything you would need for any craft project and, to be honest, I wanted it all! I invested in some teddy bear accessories, including eyes and a squeak, and had to drag myself away before I bought another new teddy pattern. My sister and I were also treated to a gorgeous piece of jewellery by British producer Victorious Bee. We each picked out a delicate silver bracelet with ethically-sourced semi-precious stones from the ‘Say Something Special’ birthstone range. After chatting with the maker and swooning over this stunning handmade collection, I already know what piece I want for Christmas so I’ve left a not-so-subtle note for my husband to point him in the direction of their website!
And I guess you would like to know whether Kirstie was there? Well, the answer is YES! She was working hard all day in the big top, hosting Super Theatre sessions, getting involved in demonstrations, interviewing professionals and joining in with tutorials. And when she wasn’t on stage, she was whizzing around the fair from one DIY session to the next so it was lovely to see her ‘in real life’ and be a little nosy about what she was wearing (a big flower crown styled by Kitten Grayson who also did workshops on making your own in the wedding tent!). So after a long, fun day of crafting and inspiration we skipped off home, laden with our projects and purchases stowed away in pretty paper bags. I can only describe it as a lovely day and one that I’ll definitely be repeating next year. I definitely have enough project ideas to keep me going until next year, that’s for sure! If you missed the event, don’t worry – it’s all happening again in November in Manchester and tickets for The Handmade Christmas Fair are on sale now!
Were you at the Handmade Fair this weekend? What did you get up to and what crafts were your favourites? Let me know by leaving me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy, I’d love to catch up with you!