On Saturday the 19th of September my daughter and I drove to London to experience Kirstie Allsopp’s ‘The Handmade Fair’ at Hampton Court Palace. We had a lovely day, but also came away with a few niggles & tips, so I thought I’d do a review of The Handmade Fair to tell you all about it!
For anyone who doesn’t know, The Handmade Fair is a 3 day event with talks, workshops, and ‘grand makes’, as well as stalls selling handmade supplies and finished items – with lots of stalls doing demos too. We won the tickets from Hester’s Handmade Home on Instagram, though I did see quite a few people running giveaways for the tickets in the run up to the event!
They were entry-only tickets, which meant I’d have to pay extra to go to any of the talks, workshops, or grand makes. I didn’t bother upgrading our tickets as my daughter couldn’t join in with the crafting – children under 12 couldn’t participate in workshops due to ‘health and safety’ reasons. It seems a shame that they don’t have at least one child-friendly workshop a day, as my daughter is a super keen crafter, and it’s good to nourish the next generation of creative minds!
We didn’t make it to the fair until 11.30am, as we got stuck in a ridiculous amount of traffic – the last little bit of the journey from the M3 to Hampton Court should have taken 15mins and actually took 1 hour and 45 minutes! The last 30minutes was driving from the full-up green car park to the further away blue car park. I may have cried a little bit when they said the green car park was full. I know the Handmade Fair organisers can’t help the traffic (there was extra traffic because of rugby and other events), but you would think they could find a venue with a bigger car park for all the attendees. It wasn’t like they were using the grandeur of Hampton Court Palace at all, as the Fair was over the road from that, on ‘the green’ which, let’s face it, is basically a field. A new, more accessible venue next year please?!
Anyway, rant over. We made it to the fair eventually, and wandered around to start with, checking out the lay of the land. This was made easy due to the colourful and iconic signposts:
We spotted that a couple of tents were doing free workshops, but it wasn’t the right time to start one, so we went for a look around the shopping tents. We found lots of lovely stalls – here’s a few of them:
Top left = Cool Crafting (where we got some cute wooden buttons / pendants), top right = The English Stamp Company (where I bought a stag stamp), bottom left = Ruby And The Crow (where we bought some gorgeous ribbons), and bottom right = Peach Blossom (where we didn’t buy anything though I was seriously tempted as it was all so pretty!).
We popped by a couple of the stalls doing free workshops – Craft Asylum and Janome, but their next workshops were full. So we continued our wander and stopped by the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint tent, where you could paint the furniture pictures on the wall. Little Miss really enjoyed this. Someone had already painted a bit of blue on this side-table, but she painted the rest green and orange, then I added white polka-dots to the blue bit. We were there for a while!
(Speaking of Annie Sloan paints, I just saw THIS BLOG POST by Kat at Housewife Confidential, re-doing a piano stool with pink and yellow paint, and it looks awesome!)
After that we headed to the Press Tent, where Louise from the BLoved Blog was running an Instagram #InstaPrettyParty workshop for bloggers and other interested people to attend. Louise was lovely and inspiring, and she’d set out a very pretty worktop to kick-start our ideas for flat lay photography:
Little Miss was very well behaved – while I listened to the workshop she was doodling in my notebook, looking very pretty against the tent backdrop:
Though her floral dress didn’t match the wall paper quite as well as Louise’s:
I wrote a post (HERE) back in May about how I was interested in using photo props and experimenting, so I really loved this workshop. Louise also gave great tips about scheduling your instagram photos and what times to post them, etc. It was fun to be in a room of other excited bloggers too! The BLoved Instagram account is HERE if you want to see some of their photos.
After this we visited the Mollie Makes tent, where Little Miss did a bit of colouring, and I browsed the books and picked up a free banner-making kit. It was also somewhere that you could get a cup of tea and a bit of cake, though when we were there they had run out of teacups!
We headed to the Craft Asylum tent for the next workshop but it was full again. So we ate a bit of our packed lunch, then went back there again for the next workshop – arriving half-an-hour before it this time to be sure of our place. A queue formed behind us so it was definitely the right decision – if you want to attend a free workshop, get there at least half an hour beforehand!
The tent was decorated beautifully with paper lanterns and rosettes:
The lovely Katie Skilton (who I met at Creative Exchanges in April) was running the workshop to make a paper rosette. Me and Little Miss made one as a team – I did the dangerous craft knife bits, and she did the fun sticking and stamping:
We also bumped into Dorothy Wood and Suzie Candlin who I’d last seen at Creative exchanges too. It was really fun spotting people who I knew and introducing Little Miss to them!
By now we were beginning to feel tired, so we had an afternoon super-treat of a pancake for Little Miss, and Churros for me. Another tip – make sure you do a lap of all the eateries before you choose where to eat, as there are so many delicious things to pick from. We made good choices – wow they were yummy:
Then we wandered around the stalls some more. We thought about going back to the Sizzix or Janome tents for the free workshops, but decided we didn’t want to spend the rest of our time waiting for a spot and then doing the 45min workshops. So we just spent a bit more money instead! We’d gone to the fair with a £50 budget (hubby actually took my cards away and made me take cash, very sensible of him), but we managed to get a lot of things for our money! Some were chosen by Little Miss, and some by me:
The banner kit is the free one from the Mollie Makes tent, and the Reloved magazines were in a £5 goody bag with some ribbons and buttons. The Craft Asylum deal was the best in my opinion, and 4 stamp sets and / or embellishment sets for £10! We each chose a stamp set and a embellishment set from there.
When it was time to go we stopped by Hampton Court Palace for a look. Little Miss was unimpressed – unless a Queen lives there then it’s not really a palace, apparently! She did like playing in the wooden carriages outside, and we took a few selfies of course:
Then we walked back to the car park… which I admit didn’t seem so far away now that we weren’t in a hurry! Thankfully there was no traffic on the way home, so we got back at a reasonable time, feeling very happy with our purchases and our mummy & daughter date!
The best bit of the day? When Little Miss looked up at me (I think it was when we were in the Annie Sloan tent) and said:
“Mummy, this is just the perfect place for us to be!”
My heart just melted. There’s my girl!
We would definitely go to The Handmade Fair again. But I’d love them to include a workshop that kids can join in with. And I think a new venue with more parking would be good, but I guess they need to make sure it’s accessible by public transport too. I did consider taking the train but it cost more and would take longer (when there’s no traffic). Perhaps I might brave the train journey next year.
Did you go to the Handmade Fair? Would you like to?
I hope you have a lovely, crafty, day.