Handmade By Mrs H (that's me!)


Ok, so when I signed off my post yesterday I fully intended to come back and do this post after a short break. But I got distracted, I forget by what...possibly laundry or cleaning or something.

Anyway, so while we were away with the rellies my mother in law (step mother in law...?) got me all exciteable. Yes I'm blaming her! She knits and had been thinking about us getting together to do a craft fair come Christmas time to earn ourselves enough for a holiday or some treats or something. I've decided on something to spend the money on already but I'm going to keep it to myself for a while. No, it's not shoes!

So we talked about what sort of items to make and what sort of market we should be going for. Dus' dad has quite luxurious taste in things and put forward the suggestion that rich people always have money, even in a recession and maybe those are the people we should be aiming for.

Me, I'm quite a cheap date....I'm good at shopping frugally and probably have different money values to others because of being in the financial situations I've been in so this was an alien suggestion to me. However, Dus reminded me that when we first met and he was living and working in central London that he'd happily pay £6 for a cup of tea.....£6!!!!!!!! FOR A CUP OF TEA! (this is the man who now uses tea bags 3 times before he puts them in for composting!) Anyway, so his money values were just so different as he was earning a good wage and living within his means. Me, I've never paid more than £1 for a POT of tea and I'd expect two people to be able to be sated with that one pot too.

Enough of my cheapness....it's not quite the quality I'd hoped it would be! So, my mother in law (the other Mrs H) got me all fired up and enthusiastic and I already had ideas in my mind of items I could make to a good standard. But that's the thing about little old OCD me. I understand that handmade items have a certain 'charm' about them and if they're too perfect people question whether they have been handmade. But wonky seams.....uh uh, not for me thank you. Patterned fabrics that don't match up...nope, shoddy workmanship...you can keep it. So I'm happy to aim for the luxury market as I know that I have such high standards I'd be able to satisfy that couture quality of goods. It just means that the 'seconds' that someone else would probably say was ok and extra 'charming' end up going to my friends and family or being re distributed into my life. Or cut up and the innards being put back into other items as in the case of the 'four little satin purses' (Let us not dwell on these things...they're not pretty!).

On the way back from Mr&Mrs H (Snr)'s house we stopped off at my mums to break up the 6 hour drive. To you Americans reading, 6 hours might be nothing...but for a girl who can't go 45 mins without needing to stop for the 'services'....6 hours is a long way!

My mum lives in Luton which is quite near to London (22 minutes on the train as they keep trying to publicise!) and has a thriving fabrics trade. There's an area of town called Bury Park and when I was growing up it was always known as the asian area as the communities were sort of split into different areas. Nowadays everyone just lives everywhere, but back then families and cultures stuck together. I remember going down the main street and shop after shop had the sari fabric flowing from rails on the streets in front of the store fronts and it was like some elaborate parade of colours. Anyway, I digress....Now my mum being the kind of lady she is always knows someone who knows someone who knows someone. And it just so happened that she knew someone directly who had a stall full of end of line factory rolls of fabric. I guess he just goes in and buys whatever they have left at the end of production and then sells it on cheaply. This fabric was....wait for it....£1 a metre! And good quality heavy décor weight too! I bought myself 35 metres of it just to support the local commerce......oh and to get myself a whole stack of fabric!

They had some gorgeous silks (yes...£1 a metre...pure silk), satins, canvas, tweeds, woven doodgimaflips and everything. No fashionably printed cottons but never mind....I can get those elsewhere.

The car was properly weighted down on our way home as mum had been to another of her 'contacts' and emptied out his warehouse of fabric he had left over too! She hadn't done this for me...don't go thinking 'awww what a selfless lady'....she is just as terrible for coveting fabric as I am and I have learnt at the side of her how to differentiate between the qualities of fabric and the values of materials. Anyway, she was very selfless though as she let me go through ALL of her stash and take out what I wanted with no discouragement at all even though I made off with some true gems!

Gosh, I do rattle on, don't I? So the long and short of it is that I returned home with tons of inspiration and enthusiasm, far too much fabric and a very weary husband. Apparently 35 metres of décor weight fabric is heavy...who knew?!

Whilst we had the break during Easter without any of our childrens/youth clubs I took advantage and got sewing with little delay and have posted all of the pics on my facebook page. I would post them here but I'm sure you've seen them all already and are pretty fed up of them by now. If not then click on Handmade By Mrs H to go to my page and click like!

This week though, I surpassed myself and made a bag I was so pleased with I almost didn't send it to the intended recipient! How naughty is that?! Anyway, it's a luscious bow bag (the designers name not mine!) from Robert Kaufman and super lush!

Look at that bow!! I've made it from décor weight fabric and it's pretty chunky/heavy. I don't think I'll use any interfacing in the bow points next time.

The lining is a gorgeous grass green and has a zipped pocket that I added to the pattern...the original had no pockets! What's the point of a bag with no pockets?! Anyway, I managed to sew the zip in upside down so the zipper will always be in the opposite place to where you think it will be....good job this wasn't for sale! I think the next one I make I'll add a couple of slip pockets in too on the other side. I also need to get me some white tape for my labels as pink doesn't go with every colour I've finally realised!

The bag also has two side pockets one on each side which I wasn't going to do on any future bags but they did add stability and detail and as Dus said, if you're going to charge £80 for a bag, you need added value!

So there we are, I'm spending all of my 'working hours' (9am - 4pm cos of all the clubs) sewing and hoping to have enough stock to do some craft fairs before Christmas. I'll still do the Christmas one with the other Mrs H which will be the main one but it'd be nice to get some practise in first!

I'm on the hunt for craft fair tips though..how many items to take, how to display them, what to take etc so if you have any or even go to any craft fairs and are able to take sneaky pics of tables set up etc....I'd be ever so grateful! :D

Uh oh....time for Kidz Club!

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