Yesterday I went to Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace with my lovely friend Sally. We booked the tickets an absolute lifetime ago (ok April, but it seems like forever) so we’ve been looking forward to it for ages. We also decided to treat ourselves to the VIP tickets, meaning we’d get a few nice extras thrown in, like a goodie bag and afternoon tea with Kirstie Allsopp. Hurrah!
What a long day! I’m in Birmingham, so the journey down to Hampton Court Palace was a long one and I had to get up at 5am to catch two trains, the tube and another train. It wasn’t so bad though, the worst bit was getting to the first train station in the pitch black when it was foggy… eek!
All Handmade Fair tickets included a talk in the Super Theatre, a Grand Make and a Skills Workshop. It seemed a shame that the VIP ticket didn’t include maybe an extra Skills Workshop, but it was still plenty to pack into our day anyway.
Unfortunately we missed our train to Hampton Court, so we missed our Super Theatre session which was to be a talk by a curator from the Victoria and Albert Museum about wedding dresses. The first thing we went to, after checking out the VIP tent (sponsored by Radley) was our Skills Workshop: needle felting. I’ve never tried it before but have seen Kirstie do it one one of her programmes and it looked like fun. We all made a little bird decoration and it was so easy to do, but really satisfying too! Essentially, you cut your shape from felt, tease out some merino wool, lay it on top and then stab away with the needle. A great stress-reliever I reckon! I was really pleased that I made the bird decoration and an extra little bird that I’m going to turn into a brooch. What do you think?
Then it was time for lunch. We were VERY excited about this as Kirstie herself was coming along. Lunch was lovely; salmon sandwiches, scones, macaroons and prosecco. Everything looked so pretty too! [The VIP tent was great, we had a cloakroom to use, and refreshments available all day. I almost forgot, we had goody bags; inside we had some Annie Sloan chalk paint and wax, a Sharpie, some vouchers and stuff, a full-size LUSH product and a show guide. It was very nice!]
Kirstie came in and had a chat about the Fair itself, the crafts she loves, her family and then took some questions from everyone. She came across as so friendly and down-to-earth… we loved her! She said that one of the things she was trying to do with the Fair was make it so that once you’d bought your ticket, you could have a day out without spending any more money as she knows how frustrating it is to take your family out somewhere and spend a fortune. Well she totally achieved that, whether you’d bought a VIP ticket or the standard one, you could have easily had a great day without spending any extra.
Unfortunately, the closest I got to Kirstie was when I walked past her to get a cup of tea! I’m so sad I didn’t meet her properly, especially as she was exactly like I expected her to be. I understand that she must have been super busy all day though. I tweeted about it on the way home, and she replied! That totally made my day, lol.
After lunch, I had my Grand Make and I’d chosen to do Gift Wrapping with Jane Means; to be honest I’d only chosen that as I’d bought my ticket on pre-release so unfrotunately not everything had been announced and this seemed to fit in with my other times better. I thought Jane was lovely, but I didn’t really pick up any tips I hadn’t already seen her do on TV before. I did make a bow though:
I had time for some shopping once my makes were all done. There were two shopping tents and they were pretty huge. I thought the selection of crafts avaiable was fantastic; there were finished pieces you could buy (and there were some absolutely gorgeous things) but also the materials to make your own things too. I almost bought myself a starter kit for needle felting because I enjoyed it so much, but I think I’ll wait until closer to Christmas and then we can make some decorations. What was lovely about buying people’s work, was being able to talk to them about it and how they’d created it. Everyone was so friendly. I was good though, and I didn’t buy much. I bought this awesome Christmas decoration from Love and Lovelier, she’s on Etsy so go check out her shop!
The only other thing I bought was a beautiful earring dish from Jo Downs. I’d seen her work in Fowey, Cornwall, when we were on holiday in 2012 and loved it then, so I had to get something. I think I was very restrained really with my spending!! I did come home with a few business cards though, so some online shopping might need to happen soon.
Here’s a (pretty rubbish) photo of how beautifully the tents were decorated. Everything was just so pretty.
After a spot of window-shopping, we had two Etsy workshops planned: one on photography and the other was how to optimise your shop. I thought the photography workshop, by Photocraft, was excellent. Even in just around 40 minutes, I’ve picked up some great tips to use, so here’s hoping my photos get better!
I think the best parts of the Handmade Fair were how well-organised it was and how friendly everyone was. It seems crafters are the nicest people and everyone was very chatty. I had about ten people stop me to tell me they loved my Retro Sweetie Skirt, some of them even chased me to stop me, so that was lovely! I really do hope that the success of this event means it’ll become a regular thing, I would certainly go again. In fact on the way back to Euston, we were already planning our return visit.
I mean, how could you not enjoy an event where someone practically forces you to have prosecco and strawberries before you go home?!
Did you go to the Handmade Fair? What did you think of it? I love to read your comments 🙂