There are bustling Sunday markets, indulgent foodie fairs and rocking summer festivals; add to the lively atmospheric elements of these exciting events a hearty dose of creative energy and you have The Handmade Fair, presented by the DIY queen herself Kirsty Allsopp. This yearly feast of all things crafty is held in the wondrous grounds of Hampton Court Palace, impossible to miss with it's bunting held high and buzzing hive of fellow makers uniting.
This was my first year attending the event and boy was I not disappointed. Albeit a rocky start to the day arriving upon London with a wake of destruction in our path, it was the day of the unfortunate train accident leaving the entire transport network in chaos for the whole weekend, ALSO making us miss our very first (and highly anticipated) workshop... This did not discourage our excitement though, as we commiserated the loss of our tote printing session by partaking in several of the ridiculously scrumptious food vans (hello deliciously rich coffee and pastries!)
The Handmade Fair boasts shopping galore with two 'villages' jam packed with small businesses exhibiting all manner of handmade delights ranging from beautifully scented candles to vintage clothing to devilishly good brownies (chocolate and peanut butter, with peanut brittle...) to dressmaking patterns to embroidered cushion kits, there was so much to see and take in (and buy!). If you are lucky you may even spot a familiar face or two amongst the sellers, I had several fan girl moments when meeting and sharing a giggle with so many creative people, the work of whom I have admired and continue to be inspired by, such as the super friendly Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons who so kindly signed her book for me, the gorgeously charming Genevieve from Floss and Mischief, Hannah Bass who chatted to us about her stunning cushions, Kirsty Gadd displaying some textiles goodness, and the bright and sparkly Zeena of Heart Zeena fame. There were heaps of new companies and makers I had the pleasure of talking to and can't wait to follow their progress and see what they create and produce next!
Of course, what would a handmade fair be without a little DIY action? Throughout the day there were continuous workshops available to sign up to (ahead of time or on the day), including a class that we found fascinating- wire flower making, something neither my mum or I had ever tried before, hilarity and naughty school children giggles sang from our corner of the tent but resulted in some seriously epic flower pins and a want / need to run off and start creating things immediately!
There were also talks throughout the day in the Super Theatre, we signed up in advance to the talk with Kirsty Allsopp and Patrick Grant and boy am I glad we did as it was the quickest sold out feature of the weekend, I wonder why... We enjoyed hearing about Patrick's background and his unusual route to tailoring, he offered some great advice to young sewers and was inspiring in his humility and proves that if you have enough gumption and drive that you can achieve all kinds of goals and Kirsty was, of course, her usual witty, stylish self!
All in all it was a fantastic day, inspiring, fun and yes a little tiring after running about like a hyperactive child on Christmas morning (sorry mum), but I can't recommend treating yourself to a ticket enough and will be first in line to attend next year! My top tips for making the most of your visit would be to avoid booking the first workshop of the day (just in case) // travel light but do take a roll up tote bag or two for all your goodies // get involved in the spontaneous free workshops scattered about the grounds but sign up early to avoid full classes // wear comfy shoes but do feel free to spice up the rest of your outfit, you are among fellow eccentrics so go bonkers if you please! // Check the weather before you go, this is still England and we were super grateful of our brolly but even more so of the free plastic, log flume ponchos they were handing out. I styled the crap out of mine with frizzy drizzle hair and a shit tonne of sass // but mostly, soak up the atmosphere and ENJOY!
Keep your eyes peeled for a follow up post containing the goodies I scored on the day and for more info on my favourite exhibitors at the event!