The Handmade Fair

Last weekend I popped along to The Handmade Fair at Hampton Court. The fair launched last year, and I believe is the brainchild of British Queen of craft and selling houses.. (not two things I would have put together either); Kirstie Allsopp.

I was rather excited about the venue itself, as I had never been to Hampton Court Palace, and I thought the fair was to be held there. Well, it kind-of was.. but in an ‘over the road and on a big patch of grass’ sort of way. On the plus-side, I was able to walk past the entrance to Hampton Court Palace, and if I had had more time, I’m sure I would have had a good mooch around. As it was, the fair itself had SO MANY things to look at and explore, that I didn’t have time to look around Hampton Court Palace, which is a testament to how brilliant the Handmade Fair was!

There were two enormous shopping tents; both of which contained lots of wonderful items – both tools and materials to make things yourself, and finished articles from talented crafters. I was particularly impressed with Toft Alpaca teddy bears (seriously, I was so so tempted to buy one!); I made a cheeky little purchase from Acorn & Will – whose stall looked incredible, and I also picked up a few Christmas presents for my nearest and dearest. Of course I also bought some fabric, as there was a terrific selection there! Although – at the moment I am WITHOUT A SEWING MACHINE. Gasp. My current one is being serviced, and my new one has not yet arrived from Germany; so I am in a weird sewing-machine-less-limbo at the moment.

One of my highlights of the day was attending Poppy Chancellor’s paper cutting workshop. Regular readers will know a few weeks back I purchased the Huerta Bow Blouse from Tara Starlet, of which Poppy designed the print for. I wore the blouse on the day, and Poppy was so excited to see me wearing it!

Me & Poppy Chancellor, wearing my blouse which Poppy designed the print for.

The paper cutting class was really good fun, admittedly it was trickier than I had imagined; and I was the only person in the class that had never attempted paper cutting before, or even used a scalpel! But I really enjoyed it, and have even bought my own cutting mat and blade to carry on honing my paper craft at home.

My paper cutting attempt. Yes, it's not perfect, but not bad for a first attempt.

My paper cutting attempt. Yes, it’s not perfect, but not bad for a first attempt.

It was also lovely to meet Tilly from Tilly & The Buttons – and of course I remembered her from the Great British Sewing Bee!

There was so many things to see and do, one of the things I wanted to do was have tea & cake in the Molly Makes Café, but of course it seemed EVERYONE else wanted to do this too, so there were no seats available.

There was a great, varied selection of food and drink available, and of course tea. There was also a lovely Art Deco styled Airstream, which I did want to sit in drinking tea, but sadly they did not serve tea!

Overall I had a great day, there was a great variation of classes and workshops to participate in, lots of sellers with high-quality products and great food and drink to choose from. The whole area had been thoughtfully constructed with covered walk-ways in between tents, and underfoot boards to walk over to provide an even walkway (and to protect ones shoes from the British weather soaked grass!).

I do however have one niggle: The walkways in the shopping tents were so so narrow, that they quickly became congested. This made it tricky to actually LOOK at sellers wares in a relaxed manner, not to mention if you had a pushchair with you; or were in a wheelchair, this would not have produced such a happy shopping experience. I understand events need to fit in and sell as many stall spaces as possible, but I feel on this occasion the walkways were of such a narrow width to prove detrimental to mine (and others I’m sure) shopping experience. Perhaps if the walkways had been wider, I would have been able to browse & see more products, which may have resulted in me making more purchases. So, hopefully next time the walkways shall be wider!

I attended on the Friday, but the fair did run for three days over the weekend, with a varied timetable for each day. Were you able to attend the Handmade Fair? What did you think of it?

Until next time dears, (and hopefully by then I shall have a sewing machine back in my work studio! I’m having withdrawal symptoms!) xx


A Modern Magazine for Old Fashioned People

A little while ago, Mat got in touch with me and asked me if I would like to review his latest venture; In Retrospect magazine. I have been aware of the magazine for about a year, indeed the magazine started life as an online publication back in May last year.

Being one of those people that loves nothing better than sitting down with a good magazine or novel; accompanied by a deliciously hot cup of tea, I of course assented to his request with zest!

I already had issues 1 & 2, so Mat sent me issues 3 & 4 to complete my collection and get me up-to-date (which of course also helps me to assemble this review with a greater deal of accuracy for you dear readers!)

The ethos of the magazine is: ‘A Modern Magazine for Old Fashioned People’. That is to say, if you are interested in any aspect of vintage, (including, but not exclusive to, fashion) be it transport, furniture, culture, re-enacting, music and dance; then you shall find something within the pages of In Retrospect to suit you. This is where I feel In Retrospect magazine definitely stands out against other publications of the vintage genre.

Regular features include:

  • In Focus Debates – past debates have included ‘Born in the Wrong Era?’ and ‘Are the 90’s Vintage?’
  • Fashion spread – typically 10 pages per issue
  • In Fashion Spotlight on Reproduction Brands – past brands featured include ‘Bow & Crossbones’ & ‘Dovima’
  • In Focus – Photography spotlight
  • In History – features on fashion history, biographies of movie stars, cooking, etc
  • In The Pink – holidays & locations
  • In Style – past features have included ‘The evolution of the 20th century dress shirt’ and ‘A history of men’s underwear’
  • In Person – interviews with people ‘on the scene’ – performers, singers, burlesque
  • In Style – fashion, sewing & knitting tips, hair & make-up
  • In The Know – upcoming events, book reviews, television

As well as having great content, the magazine also holds an aesthetic charm. A good sturdy A4 size, the cover is matt finish, whilst the inner pages are a lovely glossy 100gsm (and it has that terrific ‘new magazine smell’; which I love!)

Whenever a magazine releases two size versions, I always go for the larger size. For example, I believe Marie Clare sometimes offer their magazine in a standard A4, and a ‘travel’ size. Whilst I acknowledge the convenience of a smaller size, to me it just feels better to have an A4 magazine. So on that score, In Retrospect definitely gets a big thumbs-up!

Each issue is around 100-125 pages, which is more than enough to keep you reading for a good while.

 In Retrospect really succeeds in knowing what it’s readership will be interested in, and presents a good, rounded selection of articles and features in each issue. I believe part of it’s success, is the fact that the magazine is created and written by actual vintage enthusiasts. People who genuinely love the vintage lifestyle, have a fascination and a passion for eras gone by. All the articles and features appear very well researched and written to me, indeed some of the writers are fellow bloggers who you may be familiar with already – Gemma Seager of Retro Chick, Theodora Burrow of Theodora Goes Wild, G M Norton of Norton of Morton, and many more.

Articles which I particularly enjoyed, include Shona Van Beers (yes, the founder of Heyday! clothing) feature on ‘Cool Comfort – how beach pyjamas helped make trousers acceptable as women’s wear’, and Katrina Simpson’s ‘Murder Abroad – a new twist on an old favourite’ in which she explores the murder mystery novel, both of which appear in Issue 3.  Articles in the current issue which I loved were Sophia Wyeth’s ‘A Living Work of Art – the decadent dreams of Luisa Casti’, and (amongst others) the ‘Born in the Wrong Era’ feature, debated by Ava Aviacion, G M Norton & Mathew Keller.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend getting your hands on a copy! For those of you who would like to view a bit more of the magazine before deciding to buy, you can view selected articles online over on their website here.

The Details:

In Retrospect magazine is published in the UK 4 times yearly, with shipping options available worldwide. Subscriptions start at £12 for 3 issues (UK), and go up to £43.20 for 6 issues (International). The cover price is £4.50 per issue, in addition to subscription options, individual issues may be purchased, including back-issues. To view all these options, click here.

*This post contains affiliate links. I was given two issues of In Retrospect magazine to review for this blog post. All opinions are of course my own.*

Also – apologies for the slight lack of blog posts lately, I pulled a muscle in my arm during yoga class a little while ago (doh!), so I have been unable to type for any long periods of time.

Until next time dears, and happy reading!