The Handmade Fair 2016 – our schedule!

Craft lovers will be delighted to learn that tickets for The Handmade Fair are now on sale for September 2016! Having gone from strength to strength, Kirstie Allsopp’s three-day fair is back for its third consecutive year between 16-18th September on The Green at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey.

the handmade fair logo

I’ve gone along with my sister for the last two years, and it is invariably always a fun day out. You can read about my experiences at the inaugural event in 2014 here, and also at last year’s event here.

Picnic benches

As with previous years, your ticket price (£32) grants you access to 1x Grand Makes, 1x Skill Workshop, and 1x Super Theatre session, and additional Skills workshops (spanning Accessories, Celebrations, Home & Garden, and Upcycling) can be purchased on the day (subject to availability). You can also roam the shopping tents that are not to be missed – especially if you’re a sucker for crafts like me.

The Handmade Fair Shopping Tent Shelley Makes

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The Handmade Fair 2015

You may remember back in May, I told how excited I was to get tickets to the second of Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fairs, held on The Green at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey.

The Handmade Fair 2015

Whilst the weather was not as bright as last year, that didn’t stop us enjoying yet another fantastic event. I always find the craft community so friendly, and Kirstie’s crowd was no exception!

Super Theatre tent

Our first session of the day was a Grand Makes with wirework artist Lucy Elisabeth. Lucy was brilliantly bubbly to help wake us up, and showed us how to make our own heart-shaped wire photo-holders.

Using a single wire of aluminium (1.6mm) we used our thumbs to straighten out the wire before we moulded it into its new spiral-heart inspired shape. I loved how easy it was, and the fact that within a short space of time, I’d already made something that I could take home and display with pride.

Chiara Perano

Next up was the Calligraphy Sign-Writing Super theatre with Chiara Perano, the founder of Lamplighter London. I had heard of Chiara before and been keen to try out one of her calligraphy workshops in London. After seeing her talk Kirstie through the calligraphy motions, I’m now desperate to.


Chiara explained how calligraphy should be treated less like hand-writing, and more like an art form, with each letter carefully formed by creating light upward strokes, and heavy downward strokes. If the nib feels scratchy on the paper, the key is to relax and stretch your hand so you have a softer grip.

After a quick sit-down and a bellini, we headed to our first Skill workshop in the Upcycling tent – learning how to upholster a drop-in seat cover with the Ministry of Upholstery. It was here that I was able to feel very smug indeed as I recognised Annie Sloan before she was formally introduced.

Upcycling tent

Sat in rows at our tables, we were shown how to cut the sponge to cover our wooden seat, and then how to nail the fabric to the back in order to create a crease-free front, and a neat and tidy corner pleat. The best part was being able to make a lot of noise with our banging and hammering!

After lunch, and a leisurely peruse around the Shopping Tents, we headed to our final Skill workshop of the day – flower crowns with Kitten Grayson. I must admit, I had thought we would be making crowns using fresh flowers, but actually we had a selection of wire flowers from Hobbycraft to choose from.

I think there is definitely a knack to this, and I wasn’t too quick at grasping it, but the essence of it is that you cut your flowers down (we had scissors, but you could really do with some wire cutters), and then use a thin wire to wind the stalks onto a thicker wire, to hold them in place.

Kitten showed us how it’s best to start with small flowers on the outside, and then build up to the bigger flowers in the middle. Once done, you just cut the wire headband to size and twist it together at the back of your head. Whilst some people’s crowns looked fantastic, I did feel a bit of a plum in mine!

Upcycling tent

Towards the end of the day, after we’d done all our shopping, we took some respite in the Mollie Makes tent with a cup of tea, a slice of cake, and some colouring-in pencils. Perfect!

If you like the sound of this event, but you missed this year’s show, you can also experience the magic at The Handmade Christmas Fair in Manchester Central between 20-22 November.

It promises to be just like Hampton Court, but indoors and Christmassy!

The Handmade Fair 2015 – tickets on sale!

After half a year of anticipation, I was over the moon to hear that tickets were once again on sale for the second of Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fairs at Hampton Court Palace.

The Handmade Fair 2015

My sister and I attended the inaugural event last September, and have been keenly awaiting tickets for the 2015 event ever since – which promises to be just as good, if not better!

As soon as I received my discount code from the Hobbycraft Club, I was on the phone to my sister asking her to consult the schedule, for at the Handmade Fair you can book yourself onto your choice of workshops. Last year, we attended the Mollie Makes mash-up, attempted ‘world pom-ination’ with Rosy Nicholas, and make chandelier ear-rings with The London School of Jewellery.

Picnic benches

This year the programme did not disappoint, with plenty of variety for keen craft-bods, and craft newbs alike. In the Super Theatre, you can observe masterclasses in everything from bread baking to upcycling. In the Grand Makes tent, you can try your hand at tibetan poetry bunting making, and block printing, and in the Skills Workshops you can learn new crafts spanning Papercraft, Textiles, Upcycling, and Seasonal Workshops. New to the skills line-up this year is the Wedding workshops, which includes everything from stationery marbling to creating DIY flower crowns.

Making floral hair pieces

Whilst it’s lovely to sit around in the sunshine at Hampton Court and grab a coffee, last year we found that ‘busy is better’, and as such, this year’s schedule is more jam-packed than ever. Here’s our proposed line-up (providing we can book additional places at the Skills workshops on the day):

10.00 – 10.25: GRAND MAKES: Wirework with Lucy Elisabeth
11.00 – 12.00: SUPER THEATRE: Chiara Perano and Calligraphy Sign Writing
12.30 – 13.30: SKILL – Upcycling: Upholster a drop-in seat with the Ministry of Upholstery
15.15 – 16.15: SKILL – Wedding: Flower Crowns with Kitten Grayson
16.45 – 17.30: SKILL – Papercraft: Lino Printed Stationery with Zeena Shah

Believe it or not, this still leaves time to book additional workshops (don’t worry, Origami, I’ve noted that we can squeeze you in after lunch). But on top of all this, there’s also the excellent shopping villages and stalls packed with craft suppliers (by golly, did I spend a lot last year!).

In the shopping tents

In conclusion, I wanted to spread the word that The Handmade Fair is back, and urge you to book your tickets if you haven’t already done so, as it’s set to be another genuinely brilliant event.

Pop the date in your diary now: Friday 18th – Sunday 20th September. Will you be going?

The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace

On Friday, my sister and I headed to The Handmade Fair at the beautiful Hampton Court Palace. Running over three days, we were excited to attend the opening day of this inaugural craft event!

The Handmade Fair

We kicked off the day with the Mollie Makes Mash-Up in the Super Theatre, where Mr. X Stitch, ‘the Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery’ and Deadly Knitshade, ‘one of the country’s fearsome guerilla knitters’, went head to head to debate which craft was the coolest – knitting or stitching?

Kirstie at Mollie Makes Mash-Up

Considering that both crafts notoriously have a ‘fuddy duddy’ reputation, both craftsbods were keen to set the record straight. In a series of playful rounds, they took it in turns to present some of the coolest and quirkiest works in their field. After each round, the audience voted. As Kirstie said from the outset, “If you don’t like things that are interactive, then you’re going to have a miserable day!”

Picnic benches

Without fuss, Kirstie Allsopp introduced the sessions in the Super Theatre, and chaired the discussions with some of the famous talent such as Cath Kidston. We spotted her a few times walking around in high wedge heels, or my favourite spotting – driving her crew around in a golf buggy!

Just before lunch, we attempted #WorldPomination with Rosy Nicholas in the Grand Makes Tent, who showed us how to make pom poms using the latest gadget. I can safely say it is very easy, and also quite therapeutic, as you sit there winding wool around the pom pom device. After a long day, my sister and I looked at our pom poms (tied to our bags) with pride. Simple things!

What use are pom poms you might ask? Well, I plan to use them for gift wrapping, and to make decorative pom pom garlands. My sister wants to create Christmas tree bauble-esque decorations. The soft-wool pom poms also make fantastic stress balls, or, as my sister and I quickly discovered, they make a fantastic (less painful) alternative to conkers, if you enjoy abusing each other.

Origami flowers

In the afternoon, after a yummy duck wrap, we sat down to a chandelier-earring making Skills Workshop run by the London Jewellery School. It served as a great introduction to jewellery making, introducing the tools you use such as round-nose pliers, and how to do basic joins. Though I’m not sure I’ll wear my creation, I now undersand what I should be doing for next time!

On top of the full experience package (£29) we signed up for an additional 30 minute calligraphy workshop (£10) in the afternoon. In hindsight, I would have loved to book a place on the upcycling workshops run by the inspirational Out of the Dark and Annie Sloan – perhaps next time!

Elsewhere on site, there were a number of exhibitors to explore, including a Hobbycraft tent, where you could buy a huge range of Kirstie craft kits (from candle-making to sewing projects), and Women’s Institute wool. After buying my pom pom maker with glee, I was drawn in by a fascinating felting demonstration – the lady made it look genuinely easy, and said that it was easy. Who knew?!

Hobbycraft tent

There were also two large shopping tents – East and West, which, unlike many of the craft stalls at Hobbycrafts (ExCel), were full of genuinely unique sellers and businesses; the quality was great, and the stalls looked fantastic. There was something for everyone, and it wasn’t over-crowded. All the exhibitors were pleased to talk to you about their work, and there was a fantastic sense of pride. One lady joked, after the many hours of prep, sweat and tears, “I don’t really want to sell any of it”.

In the shopping tents

Near the entrance, visitors could stop by the Mollie Makes cafe (a media partner), where they could sit down with fellow crafters for tea, cake, and a bit of craft chat, and sign up for a special taster subscription of Mollie Makes. I did, and can’t wait to get reading. Also, the event show guide in itself (£5) is like a craft magazine, with some cool tutorials in there – worth a buy!

Further up the field, Etsy Business School were on hand with a series of talks on how to set up an online shop, how to get the most out of social media, and how to take beautiful product photography. Although I blog and craft for fun right now, it was great to see so many people with a keen interest in selling and promoting their wares. I also fell in love with Etsy shop Neon LDN.

Unlike Hobbycrafts, the fair was also attended by brands who did a great job of engaging the crafting audience. LUSH, for example, had an on-stand fresh flower hair artist, Harriet Parry, who taught visitors how to create fresh flower floral hair pieces using beautiful flowers, as used in LUSH products. As you’d expect, the stall smelt great, and everyone left looking great too.

Making floral hair pieces

I knew in advance of the show that I had better take a lot of cash, as I had a sixth-sense that there would be some amazing wares to buy. I wasn’t wrong. I left the show with a bag full of cotton from Sconch, pom pom makers, and a super-cool tool called a gyro-cut, which is effectively a scalpol, but that you can create effortless curves with. Again, the mind boggles!

Overall, there was a lovely, chilled out atmosphere all day. The fact that the workshops were ticketed meant that there was no competitive pushing or shoving, and everyone was helpful, like-minded and supportive. All in all, we had a really great day out that has given me the confidence to pick up some new crafts, affirming the event slogan – “Everyone has a craft they can do!”

Origami flowers

Considering that we attended the first day of the first ever show, my sentiment is overwhelmingly positive. I think it will be onwards and upwards for Kirstie’s show next year, and no doubt the exhibitors will have some learnings to take forwards to make it even bigger and better. It really was a fabulous job done by all, and a very enjoyable day – as Kirstie would call it, ‘a triumph‘.

Fresh flowers

If you plan on going next year, my advice would be to take lots of cash (I had to sit down for a good ten minutes working out if I had lost some money or spent it – I had spent it), and do come prepared for the elements. As with the Hampton Court Flower Show, with the show taking place outdoors, you are of course slightly reliant on the weather, so be prepared for rain or shine!

Same time next year, Kirstie? Pretty please!

The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court

The highlight of my day today was buying tickets to The Handmade Fair, a brand new craft fair presented by Kirstie Allsopp, sponsored by Hobbycrafts, and in association with Mollie Makes!

The fair takes place on 19th-21st September at the beautiful Hampton Court Palace in Surrey. The best thing about the fair is that you can tailor your experience to your craft preferences!

Handmade Fair

When you book, you’ll have the chance to select the specific Skills Workshops and expert talks that you want to attend (as below), and they all look fantastic! There’s a fab line-up of experts from Cath Kidston to PaperPoms, as well as an on-site Etsy Business School – sounds pretty cool, right?

Ticket includes:

  • A Skill Workshop of your choice
  • A session in the Super Theatre with an expert crafter
  • A Grand Make with 250 fellow crafters
  • Access to The Handmade Fair Shopping Village

Kirstie at Hampton Court Palace

Take a look below to find out the kinds of activities and talks you can be involved in. Choosing was incredibly difficult, as they all look so great! If this doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will…

Skills Workshop (1 hour):

The Skills Workshops offer the chance to learn a completely new skill or refine one you already know and love. All of the experts leading the workshops have been hand-picked by Kirstie and the Handmade Team. Classes are split into six skill tents, as follows:

Skill Workshops — The Handmade Fair

  • Food Decoration – this yummy tent will give you the chance to perfect your icing skills, create fun marzipan characters or add beautiful flowers to your cakes
  • Jewellery – the jewellery tent is hosted by the London Jewellery School, who will be on hand to show you how easy it is to make beautiful and unique jewellery in under an hour!
  • Papercraft – from whimsical pompoms to intricate papercutting, experts will show you the pleasure of working with paper, making beautiful things of your own
  • Seasonal – the seasonal tent is there to help you on your sleigh – create unique gifts for friends and decorations for your home from christmas crackers to glitter baubles
  • Textiles & Yarning – covering knitting, crochet, sewing and cross stitch, our Textiles & Yarning Tent has a workshop to suit every level of crafter
  • Upcycling – learn how to recover tired items of furniture that could be lying around your house right now, or create a unique wooden toy present.

Despite being drawn to tissue tassles, I’ll be in the Jewellery tent making Chandelier Ear-rings for my sister’s birthday! It will be great to hear other peoples’ experiences in the other tents too.

Everyone has a craft they can do

Super Theatre (45 minutes):

The Super Theatre, hosted by Kirstie, will bring together the amazing people she’s worked with over the years. The sessions provide the chance to hear the latest craft trends, find out insider secrets from experts, and see how some gorgeous designer products are made. Options include:

  • Mollie Makes Mash-UpMollie Makes, the leading title in the craft market, will be bringing two crafts together to mash them up and see how they both collide!
  • Pinterest Super Pinners – meet the ‘Super Pinners’ who have hundreds, thousands, even millions of followers and will inspire you to up your game
  • Crafts Council – join Kirstie in conversation with Annie Warburton of the Crafts Council, about the importance of Craft and Design in education and its critical impact on future generations
  • Kirstie in conversation with Cath Kidston – your chance to hear Cath’s inspiring story, from humble beginnings to global fashion & interiors super brand
  • Kirstie Allsopp, Nick Ashley, Sasha Schwerdt and Cath Kidston – Kirstie hosts a panel discussion with three key people about their days working with British interior icon Laura Ashley

Despite being a huge Pinterest fan, I’ve elected to go to the Mollie Makes Mash-Up!

Grand Makes (30 minutes):

There’s nothing better than learning and sharing crafts with fellow enthusiasts. In the mass makes tents you’ll be taught how to craft something in a few minutes for your home, for a party, or as a gift.

Choose between #WorldPomination with Rosy Nicholas, or Gift-Wrapping with Jane Means. I’ve opted for #WorldPomination which promises to teach you how to make pompoms in minutes and inspire you with ideas on how to use them. We’ll also be trying to set a new world record!

World Pomination

The fair looks to be more interactive than the Hobbycraft fair at ExCel that I recently attended, so I can’t wait to be inspired! I found out about the fair via the Hobbycrafts Club newsletter. You can also get exclusive pre-sale tickets by signing up to the The Handmade Fair mailing list. When you sign up, you’ll be sent a free downloadable craft, courtesy of Mollie Makes – a lovely touch!

Pre-sale tickets are available now until 27th April (£29), however there’s a limited number available, so do book early if you don’t want to miss out! Normal tickets will be on sale from June.

I really can’t wait! Bring on September! #HandmadeFair

The Handmade Fair