We Make London fair...we make too much...

Catching up on some blogs on Sunday evening this post made me laugh for its utter accuracy as to the 'morning after' feelings that can come about after a fair. Luckily for us, we came somewhere in between the 'not a sausage' and the 'selling the whole stall out' varieties. I covered my table and travel costs and made a little extra on top of that...but ultimately (like I didn't already know this before I did it) it made me re-realise that I really don't enjoy doing fairs, even when in a beautiful building, surrounded by the nice people. I had the most lovely day with Joanne (pictured above lovingly arranging a doorstop) and Helen, and was utterly delighted to meet throughout the day with my sweet-laden sister, greatly-missed Lisa (who had the sweet surprised look of a mole to find herself out after being holed up writing her book for so long) and her lovely Al, Mary and her lovely little girl, Mr Joleo and adorable baby Fitz and Helen's husband and then her sister, who stole all the height in their family. Rather it's the lead up to a fair that I really dislike and which makes the whole thing feel a bit too much.

I find that in the run-up to a fair I feel that I've never made quite enough and so am constantly pushing myself to make more and thinking 'oh gosh...and I really ought to make a few of those too'. Whereas, in my shop I fill it with the things that I'd want to buy and for custom orders I love thinking about what the recipient might find most lovely, with a fair I lose all my confidence and spend much of my sewing time trying to imagine what might sell well in those few hours that my things are on display for and my thoughts on second-guessing what this well-selling item might be fly around my head wildly making me feel quite dizzy...and because I don't normally think in such a salesy way the whole thing feels most discombobulating. Does that make sense?

What's so funny about this feeling of needing to make more is that when we arrived at 10am and attempted to arrange our combined stock onto the table, we realised that we had an obscene case of overcrowding and many duplicate items had to be removed. We had somehow forgotten in the run-up that we'd taken a table together so that there would be no need to make things in such vast quantities. Oh dear. However, what I did delight in was that with Joanne and Helen to provide some balance, I reverted to sewing almost entirely in red and pink; something that I forced myself not to do at my last solo fair in an attempt to avoid looking insane and like I should have plaits in my hair that reach down to the floor (which is how I imagine the freaky lady who wants to sew everything in pink would look...oh dear, that's me without the hair length or plaits then...sometimes I want to run away from myself).

Anyway, moving swiftly on, I am delighted to have a tutorial of mine featured in the winter edition of the online UK Handmade magazine - their layout is always so crisp and minimal that to have something of mine in their lovely pages feels quite magical to me. It's a simple tutorial for this matryoshka needle case, which can be made either by hand or on the sewing machine and which I was hoping might be a nice Christmassy gifty thing that people would hopefully enjoy making. I only saw it on Friday, so haven't had a chance to read it, but I did see that lovely Pipany is being interviewed, so can't wait to sit down and read the whole thing cover to cover.

I also appear (I'm sorry, I shall go to ground shortly, I promise) in the rather wonderful Sew Hip magazine (December edition) this month - they asked if I would like to be the subject of their 'Introducing...' feature on the back page and I was delighted, not least because I love answering either/or questions (although some of my words have come out a little muddled, so I come across a little oddly at times, but really what's new there...I've just been talking about having floor length plaits). I will hopefully have a tutorial featuring in there the following month...and perhaps an article sometime after that - thankfully both were written and handed in last month, so now I'm left with just the fun part of waiting to see if they really will appear in print.

And finally, Saints & Pinners, who I mentioned at the end of my last post, saw the wreath that I'd shown and asked if they could feature it on their homepage and 'Make This' section of their website...which is most flattering. Hurrah! Bizarrely, both magazines that I appear in this month also feature one of these wreaths on their pages, so they are obviously becoming a very popular thing to make (if you haven't already, do give one a try as they are really easy and are a nice break from the sewing machine). Here's one on my living room door, with newly decorated Christmas tree twinkling in the background - yes, it's entirely silver and white...Mr Teacakes tactfully suggested that this might be the year when I chill out a little and permit myself to invest in some colour, an idea which both appalls and delights me in equal measure. I'll let you know how I get on.

We've had the most lovely relaxing Sunday, full of decorating, funny poems, making things, Christmas carols (replaced quickly by Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker as the whole family seems to have a low carol threshold), mince pies and Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf Stories, which make us all howl with laughter. It has been most restorative and, for me, went some way to making amends for the distracted half-mother that my children had been left with in the couple of days before the fair.

I hope you had a lovely weekend. x

P.s. my doors...I find them distressing - why would someone make a door with lovely solid wood for the frame and then use strange infill panes for the other bits? It makes me feel pained whenever I look at them. I'd really like to paint them a very matt Farrow & Ball creamy colour...but I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of sanding them back if it looks hideous...especially when Mr Teacakes is adamant that they look fine just the way they are. Does anyone else have these doors...do you have lovely pictures of them looking dreamy and wonderful in shades of milk and mushroom that you could share to give me courage?

Anyway, that's quite enough from me...


  1. Hello Florence and thank you so much for the mention. I saw your beautiful needlecase in the magazine and thought it was truly beautiful. It is such a great magazine isn't it and something about the way they produce it makes me feel so very calm.

    I think I would be the same as you about fairs, enjoying the meeting of friends, but worrying myself to a frenzy about the stock side of thing. It is differnet when it is somehow behind 'closed doors' isn't it? Well done for taking part though and pleased to hear you made some profit as I have heard of many who have not covered tble hire this year. By the way, your wreaths are absolutely gorgeous! The best of colours and so cheery. Hope you got my long (!) email re: noths x

  2. Hello Florence, I don't think I would like craft fair selling much either. On-line selling is great as long as products are well photographed - it's a lovely treat having something beautiful winging its way to you through the post. Partly I feel like this because I know my own behaviour at craft fairs. Most of us look (we love looking) but don't buy, which I'm sure is v annoying! It isn't because I don't like what I see - far from it; I like everything but can't decide or haven't got the available funds. People touching everything must be annoying too - grubby little paws must give you apoplexy! On the other hand we like to touch it to see how it's made etc. All in all, well done for braving the experience, I think I would stay at home! It's lovely to see you getting the coverage you deserve - you make gorgeous things with excellent attention to detail. I will seek out the Sew Hip article. You do make me laugh sometimes too - love the depiction of yourself with floor length plaits. I really enjoyed the on-line mag which I read about on Pipany's blog and didn't know about - well worth a read, so everyone should go and take a look; I was delighted to find your lovely needle case as I have a matryoshka obsession and can't find all the lovely fabrics I keep seeing online.

  3. Florence, I have emailed you again. Hope this one arrives! x

  4. I know exactly what you mean about getting ready for a fair. I tie myself in knots trying to guess what customers might want and never get it right. At my last fair i sold mostly brooches, yet the one before i sold mostly hangers!

    I sell at a Bazaar once a month which is more than enough and i think i do it because i've got to know the other sellers who are all lovely and it has a great atmosphere. Selling direct to the public itself isn't so much fun as many of them have little respect for your items. I usually do well enough to buy my Hubby dinner with my 'fluff' money so it's not all bad!

    Well done to you though. Your table looks great.

    X X

  5. Hi Florence,

    It was nice meeting you at the craft fair. I understand what you mean about how tiring the run up can be. We were selling cakes last year and we were baking till 3am in the morning. However, it was so satisfying when people came to compliment our cakes.

    My daughter absolutly love your pencil holder, she has been busy showing it off to everyone.

    I'll get a copy of the Sew Hip Mag and have a read of your article.


  6. Wow! You've really wowed everyone with your wreath, but no wonder, it's fresh and lovely.
    I say, are you going to share a tutorial for your lovely matriochka? Or show us the inside, I'm very intrigued...it's just perfect.

  7. Yummy lavender - I don't blame you for not being able to tell what I was referring to in that long and rambling post, but the tutorial for the matryoshka needle case is something that I wrote for the online magazine UK Handmade - you can go and visit it right away and will find it on page 28. Sorry, I wasn't trying to withold the tutorial...I just don't think I can publish it on my blog until they've moved onto the next edition of the magazine at least.

    Siobhan - he he to the grubby little paws, but no, I always feel pained for people when they are so polite and mindful that they don't touch something when they obviously want to. I did have one hairy moment when a little boy with marmite encrusted fingers was encouraged by his adoring father to paw one of my bibs...miraculously he was so well encrusted that none of it actually came off on the bib...and he was rather lovely anyway.

    Lisa, you have my admiration to sell once a month... I think once a year is all I could manage, but what a lovely way to use the proceeds!

    Mary, I'm so pleased that she liked the pencil roll - she really reminded me of my own daughter who is just as shy and cautious...but who also would have loved taking all those pictures. So lovely to meet you both.

    Pipany - thank you so much for your lovely message and also for resending the email - I am off to reply right now!

    Thank you so much for all your lovley commenty goodness. x

  8. I just love your posts as I am hopeless at sewing and love your makes!

  9. Would it appal you to know that we have coloured lights on our Christmas tree? I must say I do favour a white light, but it was all they had left at asda last year when we realised that ours had broken.

    It was a lovely day on Saturday, and I was so pleased to be there with you and Jo. We must organise a fun day out not involving any selling soon!

    Well done on all the features! xx

  10. Yay! I'm glad my post made you smile! It comes from bitter (well, not that bitter)experience, apart from the sausage bit...and the raging success bit...Ho hum.
    I can also relate to that stomach-churning pre-fair panic: the last time I did a fair (last year's Xmas Wemake: lordy!) I was making things the night before - a completely pointless exercise that just made me knackered and stressed. Perhaps we've both learnt a lesson! ;-)
    Gorgeous blog, and work, by the way :-)


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