Event · workshop

The Handmade Festival

I had an absolute ball this weekend at The Handmade Festival (https://www.thehandmadefestival.com/) hosted by Kirstie Allsopp! I attended on the Friday and it was such a lovely day. The festival takes place in Hampton Court and it was a beautiful sunny day to be walking around outside (thanks late summer sun!). My friend and I decided to pre-book all of our workshops so we would have a schedule for the day, and also some guaranteed sitting down! In total we booked on four workshops throughout the day and they were quite evenly spaced which left plenty for time for browsing the shopping zones and other tents hosted by some familiar names such as Sew Yeah Social Club (https://sewyeah.co.uk/), Mollie Makes (http://www.molliemakes.com/), and the London Craft Club (https://londoncraftclub.co.uk/) amongst others. Lots of these tents were hosting their own workshops too, which you could just attend on a first-come-first-serve basis or sign up to on the day. Next time I might consider booking less workshops in advance so I can participate in these instead. There was also an amazing food tent which had loads of stalls selling delicious produce like honey, wine, cakes and sauces.

The first workshop I attended was Indian block printing. It was my favourite of the day. The tutor from The Arty Crafty Place ran us through how to apply the paint to the blocks to ensure we wouldn’t get a blobby result and the need for a printing mat to provide a soft surface to help the block make full contact with the fabric. There were a variety of blocks for us to share and we used four paint colours during the class. We started off with a piece of practice fabric before moving on to the tote bag provided. As the fabric paint dries immediately we were able to print both sides. There were lots of assistants walking round, giving advice and showing us examples of items that had been printed. They also told us that by heat sealing the printing with an iron it would then be safe to wash it too. I can definitely see myself incorporating this technique into future work.

The second workshop I attended was felting. We made a flamingo. At the beginning of the class Steffi from The Makerss (https://www.themakerss.co.uk/) said that by the end we would be addicted, but I’m not sure it’s the craft for me! The main shape of the flamingo was formed using a wire armature made from a pipe cleaner. The various coloured wool was then formed around the wire and manipulated into shape using the felting needle. The eyes, wings and legs were attached by punching the needle through both layers of the wool at the place where you wanted them to join. I was amazed at how easily the wool joined together and stayed in the shape it was formed into, but I did wish I had an extra pair of hands to hold it all steady!

The third workshop was Honey Hand Reflexology. We started the session talking about the importance of bees and honey and which kinds to buy to get the best health benefits. We then made an exfoliator using honey, cane sugar and coconut oil. It smelt delicious and we all used our scrubs on our hands straight away. It left my hands so soft. I have quite dry skin generally so I will definitely be using it throughout the winter. Katharine from Bee Potion (https://www.bee-potion.com/) said that we could also use it on our faces. The second half of the session was dedicated to hand reflexology. We had a hand map and Katharine talked us through each of the pressure points as we gave each other hand massages. It was very relaxing and my hands felt lovely afterwards!

The last session of the day was a talk hosted by Kirstie Allsopp with the gardener Charlie Hart. He was very amusing and talked about his move to the country and how his decision to become and gardener and transforming his own garden helped him through his grief over his parents’ death. He also talked about how it can help with anxiety and gave some good gardening advice to questions from the audience.

In between all these sessions we browsed all the amazing stalls. Some were selling handmade products such as jewellery, ceramics and art and others were selling craft supplies. I made quite a few purchases of craft kits so expect lots of blog posts about all of them in the near future!

I bought:

• Indian block printing kit from The Arty Crafty Place (https://theartycraftyplace.co.uk/)
• Cushion cover knitting kit from Stitch and Story (https://www.stitchandstory.com/)
• Mosaic kit from Rachel Shilston (https://www.rachelshilston.co.uk/)
• Pom-pom rug making kit from Multipom (https://multipom.com/)
• Woven necklace kit from Stitching Me Softly (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/Stitchingmesoftly)
• Fox embroidery kit and Sunset punch needle kit from The Modern Crafter (https://themoderncrafter.co.uk/)

I was really excited to see some of the companies and individuals I follow on Instagram. It was great to meet them in real life and see their products. I did see a few people I recognised from Instagram attending the festival, it was a bit like celeb-spotting! I didn’t go up and say hello to any of them though as I didn’t want to seem like a stalker!

I had such a great day out and I will definitely be putting it in my diary for next year.

subscription box

‘Butterfly Purse’ MakeBox

The MakeBox for August was a kit to make a velvet butterfly purse. I was really looking forward to this box arriving because it seemed a bit different to other projects that I’ve had before and others I’ve seen online which I’m not signed up to (it’s only a matter of time, I think I’m addicted to subscription boxes!). I’ve never made a bag like this before with a clasp but the first part of the project was embroidery which I’m fairly at home with so I was pretty confident about it.

Inside the box was:

• Pre-printed velvet fabric
• Cotton lining fabric
• Embroidery threads
• Purse clasp
• Chain
• Embroidery hoop
• Transparent thread
• Needles and pins
• Decorative postcard

I started off embroidering the butterfly using the hoop to keep my work taut. At first I followed the same pattern as the picture using the teal thread for the edges but I decided to include the veins on my butterfly using a split stitch and then filling in each section using a satin stitch and the other coloured threads. That’s one of the things I love about craft; it’s great to have instructions to follow but there’s always an opportunity to add your own twist on something and make it your own. Sewing the butterfly was probably the longest part of the kit and I did it over several days. It’s quite a large design.

Once I’d finished that it was time to cut the bag shape out of both materials. After that I had to create a seam to form the bottom part of the bag. Once this had been done on both the outer and the lining I then slotted the lining inside the outer. I then had to sew the two together along the top part of the bag. I did this using a whip stitch which was eventually hidden by the clasp.

Attaching the clasp was the hardest part! I had to tack it to the bag to hold it place before sewing it on using the transparent thread. Well! I wish I’d had another pair of hands, I felt like I was wrestling with it. It was so difficult holding it in place whilst trying to sew at the same time. There were a few choice words at several points during this part of the project… However, when it was finished I felt really proud of myself. It was a really rewarding project and I’ve made something that I will actually use. I’m not sure I’m in a rush to repeat the experience though!

Also included in the box was a sweet little postcard which had pre-made holes so you could embellish it with some embroidery too. Another motivational piece for my inspiration wall!

You can order past boxes from the website (https://www.makebox.co/) if you think you’d like to have a go at this too.