Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Kirstie Allsop's The Handmade Fair, Hampton Court

Last Sunday I attended the third and final day of The Handmade Fair organised by Channel 4's Kirstie Allsopp. The Handmade Fair is a three day event based in Hampton Court which provides two huge tents full of stalls which contain a variety of products and also a plethora of demonstrations, workshops and classes. The entire thing is organised by Kirstie Allsopp who is known for her Channel 4 programs on various arts and crafts.

The Super Theatre and picnic area
As we turned the corner onto Hampton Court Road, the tips of the Super Theatre tent could be seen.This was the main site for the demonstrations taking place. I would strongly recommend that if you go next year, book all your classes and workshops in advance! When booking, the sessions are divided into demonstrations, grand makes and skills workshops. Naively I thought I could just turn up and buy a ticket but most things were sold out. 

A timetable for all events is provided in advance on the Handmade Fair website so you can ensure there are no clashes between everything you want to do. And plan into your visit the free talks and demonstrations. Its amazing what you can get for free such as a photography demonstration for product photos for craft sellers or loads of different sewing classes by Janome where you get to try it yourself. 

The West Tent Shopping Village

There were two huge white tents containing all the craft stalls from a wide range of different craftsmen and women. The tents were absolutely crammed with people all excited to buy some new yarn, kits and discover new things to try. It was great! My only comment was that some of the stalls were squashed together in narrow aisles so it was difficult to have a proper look at what was on offer. Hopefully that won't be the case next year. 

The Handmade Fair annual was available to buy at the entrance of the Fair and it was incredibly helpful when navigating the tents, checking the timetable and also had a few free patterns to try, courtesy of Mollie Makes magazine. 

A few stalls I have to mention as the people were so friendly and their stalls were great are:

Felin Fach

Beautiful, Welsh made blankets, scarves and cushions. They are all made from local Welsh wool so there is a very low carbon footprint and they support local industry. Also everything was so soft! Looking forward to buying a blanket when I have the funds. 

Photo from

Little Tins of Loveliness

These are so adorable! Great for gifts for Christmas or birthdays or anything really. Does what it says on the tin (bad joke I know!). The lovely ladies of this company have created tins that contain all you need to complete a project from felt animals to embroidery to lavender filled fabric fish. Worth a look!

Photo from This is the felt terrier kit.

Ben Rothery
Buy this guy's illustrations! They are absolutely stunning. Below is one of the illustrations I saw at the Handmade Fair. After looking at his website, I wanted to buy everything, if only I had enough wall space!

Photo from

Linladan Embroidery

If you like embroidery, this company does a lovely range of colours. It also has a unique story behind it which makes it particularly interesting.

Photo from
Blacker Yarn

Based in Cornwall, Blacker Yarns are currently celebrating their 10th anniversary with a new, one off yarn called Cornish Tin. This is a limited edition yarn which may already be sold out. I was lucky enough to get a skein at the fair, very excited! The ladies at the stall were delightful and so helpful. They are enthusiastic about their brand and were more than happy to spend ages with me looking through their different yarns and how they can be used. I'm looking forward to using my new skein and posting the results on here. No idea what I'll do with it just yet!

My lovely Cornish Tin yarn in Pengenna green

A few others to mention:

Apologies for the sheer number of links! I had to rein in my enthusiasm and my list of people to put on here. A few I haven't mentioned here will appear later on my blog in the from of workshops to try around the UK.

Did you attend this year? Let me know in the comments below :)

Friday, 7 August 2015

How to wind a bobbin

Once you've threaded your sewing machine (Click here for the tutorial), the next step is to wind a bobbin. There are two options for this in terms of thread - either match your top thread and fabric so it blends in or put a different coloured thread on your bobbin for a subtle contrast. 

1. Find a bobbin to wind your thread around. Most sewing machines usually have a few supplied with them when they're bought. 

2. Place your chosen reel of thread on the metal shank on the top of the machine as highlighted in the pictures below. The shank can be pulled upwards to supply a more stable place to put your reel. 

3. Loop the thread around the metal circle on the top of the machine.

4. Push the thread through the hole in the top of the bobbin and place the bobbin on the metal shank closest to the front of the machine.

5. Push the bobbin towards the white plastic thread stopper on the right hand side. 

6. On the side of the sewing machine is a big wheel which is used to manually move the needle up and down. Pull this out until you hear a click. This will stop the needle moving while you wind the bobbin. 

7. Hold the top of the thread to prevent it tangling and press down on the presser foot to start winding your bobbin. 

8. When the bobbin is full, release the pressure foot. Push the bobbin away from the thread stopper and cut the thread. 

9. Your bobbin is ready to use!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

How to thread a sewing machine

Threading a sewing a machine is a simple but essential part of getting started with machine sewing. Below is a step by step guide on how to do so:

1. Choose the thread you would like to use for sewing. Place it on the metal rod on the top of the machine. There should be a slight 'click' as the reel is pushed into place.

2. On most machines the route the thread needs to take is usually numbered on the side of the machine but not always. 

3. Place the thread through the metal hook on the top of the machine and down the slot next to it which runs down the side of the machine.

4. At the bottom of the slot, allow the thread to curve around the plastic where is is marked with a '2' and a curving arrow and bring the thread back up to the top of the machine. 

5. At the point marked '3', wind the thread around in a U shape which will hook it around the metal hook that moves up and down through the hole labelled '3'. 

6. Lead the thread back down towards the needle. Underneath there will be another metal hook labelled '4', thread through this.

7. Thread through the needle, ensuring the thread is pulled through from the front to the back as shown.

8. Place the thread through the foot and off to the side to ensure its out of the way when you start sewing.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Loop Knitting

Name: Loop Knitting Shop
Address: 15 Camden Passage, Islington, London, N1 8EA
Opening times: 
Monday Closed, Tuesday-Saturday 11-6 except Thursday (7.30), Sunday 12-5
Phone no.: 020 7288 1160
What it stocks: knitting and crochet patterns, wool, yarn, haberdashery, knitting needles, crochet hooks, ribbon, buttons, vintage buttons, bag handles and a lot more.
Visited: No but planning to this summer
Classes: Yes - knitting and crochet
Bought a product: Not yet!
Comments: I have been drooling over the wool in loop knitting's online shop for a while now, there is a mind boggling range of just about every wool you can think of. The haberdashery department looks just as good. 

Sunday, 12 July 2015


Name: Clothkits
Address: Clothkits Ltd, 16 The Hornet, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 7JG, UK
Opening times: Monday to Saturday 9.00am - 5.30pm  Sunday Closed  
Phone no.: 01243533180
What it stocks: Fabric, wool, kits, knitting needles, crochet needles, haberdashery, sewing patterns, sewing machines, books. 
Visited: Yes
Classes: Yes - sewing, dressmaking, patchwork, knitting, crochet, home accessories, children's classes.
Bought a product: Not yet.
Comments: Beautiful shop that is a joy to wander around. I only had ten minutes to spare as I was moving but couldn't resist going in when I passed by. The staff were really friendly and the fabric was gorgeous. They have some really unusual kits as well as the more standard stuff. Great if you're looking for something that really catches the eye.