January Scrap Sale

dsc_2323-2

January is a traditional time for sales and this year we’ve got a record number of fabrics on our post Christmas sale rail, ranging from festive prints to fabulous funky designs, all at just £8.00 a metre. But now we’ve also decided to have a bit of a clear out and we’re selling off a huge range of our contemporary prints in a week long scrap sale!

dsc_2325-2

Given how much sewing gets done in the shop, it should come as no surprise that we have a vast stack of off cuts and scrap pieces from some of our loveliest prints, just sitting in a basket and waiting to be used at some point. So instead of making a million pencil cases we’ve decided to give you, our favourite fabric buying members of public, the chance to get your hands on some seriously good bargains.

dsc_2326-2

Now some of you maybe thinking of scraps as tiny, fiddly bits of fabric that you can’t do much with, but this is very much not the case; the average size of the scraps in our Scrap Sale are around 25/30cm square meaning you can make very good use of these pieces for small projects like purses, makeup bags, toys, dolls’ blankets and hanging decorations. Patchworkers will also be able to make good use of these for hexies, quilts, and making up larger pieces for bags and various other projects.

dsc_2324-2

All the large pieces in the sale are 10 for £5.00, and for those that are interested in the smaller scraps, they are 10 for £1.00 just for this week. Sale fabrics off the bolt are £8.00 per metre, and sale fat quarters are £2.00 each.

The Scrap Sale takes place from 10am Saturday 14th January to 5pm Saturday 21st January 2017.

New Year Classes

Happy new year crafters! We hope you all had a fabulous festive break and are ready to get back in the saddle and start some new sewing, knitting and crochet for 2017. Many people decide to take up a new hobby or commit more time to one they’ve maybe been a bit half-hearted about previously as one of their new year’s resolutions, so perhaps you’ve thought about learning to crochet or conquer your fear of cable knitting. Short winter days and long winter nights are the perfect opportunity to bag yourself some Me Time and get stuck into whatever craft floats your boat.

We’ve themed our first window of the year around all the various things you can make at the shop, ranging from stylish kimono dresses to cosy knitted hats.  So here are our new year classes for you to browse and decide which craft you want to get stuck into.

clair

Beginner’s Sessions
Choose from sewing, crochet or knitting as our expert team give you the lowdown on all the basics for your chosen crafts.
Beginner’s Sewing
10.30am – 1pm Saturday 7th January & 4th February 2017
Beginner’s Crochet
10am – 12pm Wednesday 11th January & 1st February 2017
Beginner’s Knitting
2.30pm – 4.30pm Saturday 28th January & Friday 24th February 2017

img_0662-2

Kid’s Stuff
Get ahead for warmer weather and practise your sewing skills on clobber for little people. Make a super simple reversible dress, the lovely Amelie dress with or without sleeves, or why not give our brand new reversible shorts pattern a go?
Reversible Dress
10.30am – 1.30pm Tuesday 10th January & Saturday 25th February 2017
Amelie Dress
10.30am – 2.30pm Saturday 21st January & 
Friday 10th February 2017

wristwarmers

Winter Knits
Feel like moving on from just knitting and purling? Make the leap to more interesting knitting with a super easy chunky knitted hat class; or why not try your hand at cables – they’re not as tricky as they look, honest.
Winter Hat
2.30pm – 5pm Friday 13th January & Friday 10th February 2017
Cable Wristwarmers

2pm – 5pm Saturday 4th February & Wednesday 22nd March 2017

alineclass

Selfish Sewing
Give yourself a break from doing things for other people and make yourself something to show off your sewing skills: our amazingly stylish A-line skirt pattern is a great make for confident beginners and the new kimono dress still looks hot to trot in winter.
A-line Skirt
10.30am – 2pm Tuesday 24th January & Wednesday 22nd February 2017
Kimono Dress
10.30am – 3pm Friday 20th January 2017 & Tuesday 28th February 2017

mandymunroequilt

Patchwork
Spend some time creating a beautiful heirloom or growing your patchwork skills in our classes with Mandy Munroe — choose from the basic beginner’s class, or get adventurous with the chance to Sew and Slash or learn ow to produce Log Cabin Birds.
Beginner’s Patchwork
10.30am – 3.30pm Saturday 14th January 2017
Sew and Slash
10.30am – 3.30pm Saturday 11th February 2017
Log Cabin Birds
10.30am – 3.30pm Saturday 8th April 2017

All classes are correct at time of publishing – more classes will be added as the year goes on, so check back for further dates and more classes being added to the schedule. Need more information? Pop into the shop, email us via the Contact Us form or ring us on 01233 612278.

 

Christmas and New Year Opening Hours

 

dsc_2110-2

Christmas is pretty much upon us now, and there’s nothing left to do but wrap up presents and start to indulge in the festivities. Unless of course you are a committed crafter, in which case you’re probably still wondering if you have enough time to make a hugely complicated king size quilt before Christmas Eve as well as knock up new pyjamas for all your children and your other half, plus knit each of your friends a hat. Well whether you fall into the first camp or the second, or indeed the third camp that is indulging in some purely recreational craft as part of the Christmas downtime, just in case you still need a last minute gift or a browse of the fabrics, here are our opening hours over the holiday period.

Thursday 22nd December 10am – 7pm
Today we are staying open for the last late night Christmas shopping evening as the town gets truly festive with a evening Christmas market. Lots of the usual suspects from the Ashford Farmer’s Market will be in residence, plus Father Christmas will be welcoming kids into his chalet for a present and a photo opportunity. The town will be in full festive mode and no doubt there will be some mulled wine and mince pies to indulge in.

dsc_2111-2

 

Friday 23rd December – 10am – 5pm
Christmas Eve – 9am – 3pm
Christmas Day – closed
Boxing Day – closed
Tuesday 27th December – closed
Wednesday 28th December – 10am – 5pm
Thursday 29th December – 10am – 5pm
Friday 30th December – 10am – 5pm
New Year’s Eve – 10am – 2pm
New Year’s Day – closed
Tuesday 2nd January – 10am – 5pm

hats

So if we don’t see you between now and 2017, we would like to wish you a very restful and warm Christmas and a happy new year from everyone at Emporia.

Fill your Stockings with Christmas Crafts

 

dsc_2039-2

We are so lucky to have a fabulous collection of local crafters fill up some of the nooks and crannies in our shop, and what better time to take a closer look at them than just before Christmas! With just over a week left, there’s still plenty of time to take some extra care with your presents and buy some unique, handmade gifts that will make the recipient feel even more special on Christmas morning.

dsc_2042

R&R
Richardson & Richardson have been with us for ages, providing the people of Ashford with their amazing laser cut jewellery and cards. For anyone with a passion for anything sci-fi, geeky or just plain out there, we have a fantastic selection of their amazing designs. Featuring pieces inspired by the likes of Harry Potter, David Bowie’s Labyrinth, and Jurassic Park, you can get necklaces, earrings and broochs, which will no doubt gladden the heart of some of your film fan friends or relatives. Similar themes also include unicorns, Christmas crackers, woodland animals, knitting, gothic scenes, and your favourite tipples all transformed into funky jewellery. Prices range from £10.00 – £20.00.

xmastable

R.J. Laurenson
Beautiful ceramic pieces inspired by the British countryside, Rachele has transformed her passion for hares, horses, butterflies and stags into gorgeously coloured tableware. Each piece has been layered with different prints of leaves, colour and animal designs creating an intricate and unique pattern. She has created coasters, trivets, over sized cups and saucers, as well as hanging hearts in both big and small. Prices range from £3.00 – £30.00.

rosie

POLLEN
The creator of POLLEN may well have moved to Australia, but she’s still supplying us with her amazing coloured wooden necklaces. Bright, beautiful and funky, these coloured beads come in a range of sizes and arrangements, and make for some seriously striking jewellery. Treat someone you know who likes things a little different from the norm. Prices range from £16.00 – £20.00.

purses

Rosanna Clare
Rosanna Clare works with recycled leather and wood to create yet more intriguing crafts: trinket trays, tasseled keyrings, purses, sketchbook covers, earrings, necklaces, rings and cufflinks are all part of her range. Using bright colours and simple designs, Rosanna makes the most of her materials to bring out the best in them. Treat yourself or the man in your life to something stylish and creative. Prices range from £8.00 – £18.00.

chevyguvara

HairyHand
Funky designs on t shirts and hoodies, for both kids and adults, HairyHand brings his humorous, tongue in cheek style to Emporia. Bag yourself one of these limited edition graphic pieces for anyone you know that appreciates witty designs on their fashion.

fatquarters

And if you’re looking for crafty stocking fillers, don’t forget our gorgeous range of fabrics can be presented in the very dainty packages of fat quarter bundles; plus we’ve got embroidery threads, pompom makers, wool needles, sewing scissors, hand sewing needles, rotary cutters, mats, rulers and our brand new sewing baskets if you know someone who would love to receive some crafty equipment under the tree.

There’s still plenty of shopping time left to get sorted before the big day itself, and don’t forget we’re open late on Thursday 22nd December for the Christmas Market which is happening right next door in Park Mall – come and see us during the day or between 5pm – 7pm next week.

Christmas Gift Orders

stockings

So now there are only 17 shopping days left until Christmas (and that includes Christmas Eve people!) we thought it might be a good idea to remind you that if you don’t have the time, skill or inclination to make gifts for your loved ones, we are here to help! Whether you are after something huge and extravagant or a small, simple gift, we can help you choose the materials, pick the design and make it for you, ready for you to wrap and place it under the Christmas tree to make someone feel special on Christmas morning.

ameliedress

All of Clair’s lovely sewing creations are available to order in time for the festive season, with the Amelie dress (£40.00) and the reversible dress (£35.00) for little girl’s being a very on trend gift right now.

reversibledresses

She’s just finished off making up a very funky reversible in skulls and Wonder Woman print, and the traditional Scandinavian style reindeers and snowflakes have been used on the sleeved version of the Amelie. Simple gathered skirts  (£20.00) are also just as pretty in festive prints like the navy and gold, or the bright stars on white.

alineskirts

For grownups,  you can treat someone very special to a glamorous kimono style dress (£60.00) in any of our fabulous print – we’re still loving that leopard print very much – or get your hands on an A-line skirt in midi (£45.00) or maxi length  (£55.00) to pair with a funky Christmas jumper.

leopardprintkimono

If your entire family is well stocked up on festive attire, why not bag them some new Christmas stockings (£15.00) with their name one? Or maybe give someone’s living room the gift of pzazz with a couple of cushions (£15.00)? Everyone needs to carry their own shopping bags with them these days, so why not make them a funky as possible and choose one of our fantastic bright and colourful prints to give someone a unique tote bag (£10.00).

group3-2

For those in need of a serious injection of warmth, head to the woolly section for hats (£14.00 – £18.00) and cowls (£14.00 – £42.00) for both kids and adults, headbands (£10.00 – £14.00), wristwarmers (£20.00) and knitted cushions.

img_0444-2

Available in a range of gorgeous colours and varieties of styles, there’s bound to be something that will keep you and your family warm over the winter. Go for matching big and little cowls, or kit your kids and your friends out in a rainbow of stripes and stitches. All knitwear is available in both 100% merino wool or acrylic alternatives.

img_0398-3

As long as you can get your request in by next weekend, we should have enough time to make your order for you before Christmas hits. For prices on garments, accessories and gifts see bold highlights above. Alternatively, pop into the shop for a chat with Clair or Lotte about precisely what you want and we’ll see if we can’t make your Christmas dreams come true!

Kits for Christmas

dsc_1925-2

Exciting news for those looking for crafty Christmas gifts this year as we launched not one, but three craft kit gift sets! Two from Emporia and one from Lotte Jamieson Crafts – take a look at these lovelies and then tell us you’re not inspired to give the gift of craft? Clair has expanded on her fabulous reversible and Amelie dress patterns, by presenting them in these fabulous sewing kits. Featuring the pattern itself and some exclusive fabric, which you can’t buy off the shelves of Emporia, you can give the gift of sewing to someone this festive season.

dsc_1919-2

The reversible dress kit comes with two beautiful fabrics that complement each other fabulously – a lilac heart print, and a blue flower and leaf print that features white, lilac and pale pink accents. Super simple and ideal as a first make for beginners, the kit will certainly make for a very happy Christmas morning for many aspiring sewers.

dsc_1920-2

The Amelie kit comes in a beautiful minty green featuring simple flower designs, and we think it makes the perfect transition from winter into spring. As the Amelie is little more complex than the reversible, we recommend giving this as a gift to sewers who know their stuff. And who know’s they might even have time to get on their sewing machine and having it finished by the time the Queen’s speech comes on!

_20161201_134438-2

The Christmas gift kits are just for sewing fans this year – Lotte Jamieson Crafts has launched a beginner’s knitting kit just in time for the chilly festive season.

_20161201_133019-2

Perfect for those who want to get to grips with making something a bit more on trend than your average scarf, the Irvine Cowl kit contains an easy to read pattern (featuring three different versions ranging from super duper easy to the enthusiastic beginner), knitting needles, 200g of Lotte Jamieson Merino wool and a branded tote bag which can be used as a knitting bag.

irvine-cowk

All you have to do is choose the colour of the wool from the range of 12 luscious hues in the shop and you could be giving a newbie knitter the gift of their dreams under the Christmas tree!

The Emporia Patterns Dress Kits are £35.00 each and the Lotte Jamieson Knitting Kits are £26.00 each. All three patterns are also available to purchase individually.

For more information or two see the gift kits for yourself, pop into the shop – we are open 10am – 5pm Monday to Saturday, with late night opening until 7pm on Thursdays between now and Christmas. We will be closing at 2pm on Christmas Eve.

The A-line Skirt Pattern is Here!

Finally after all our trialing in the classes and pattern testing over the summer, the Emporia Patterns A-line Skirt is here and ready to sell to all you eager sewers!

dsc_1847-3

Taking up residence alongside the kids’ reversible dress and the Amelie dress, this classic shaped skirt is the often the first bit of grownup dress making that students at our classes graduate onto. Featuring an elegant shaped waistband that sits higher on the natural waist, inset pockets and darts at the back, this pattern is excellent for teaching newbie sewers a few new skills without being too intimidating. The skirt only features four main pattern pieces, making it super simple to construct; plus it comes with easy to understand instructions that lay things out in plain English, so you don’t have to wade through loads of jargon to put it all together.

dsc_1846-3

Here are some of the versions we have made so far during pattern testing and just because we love it so much!

alineskirts

Go for full length for a more formal or elegant take, or rock the classic midi any time of year – with either sandals or boots – it’s an extremely versatile piece. You’ve even got the option of turning it into a mini skirt if the mood takes you, the choice is yours! Clair loves a big, bright print, making a strong statement, whereas I love a nautical look or something a bit off the cuff, like big black, white and red skulls!

alineclass

Customers have made all kinds of versions at our classes, including white with gold tigers, gold and beige stripes, retro style birds, ditsy florals and watery blue stripes, all of which proves it really is the most wearable and most versatile skirt.

The A-line Skirt pattern is now available in the shop priced £12.00. And if you still need a little hand holding with your sewing, we have spaces on the A-line Skirt classes throughout the rest of the year and into early 2017 – check out the Classes page at the top of the blog for more information.

Three Days at the Wealden Times Midwinter Fair

stand1

This week we are coming to you live from the Hop Farm at Paddock Wood as we host our stall at the Wealden Times Midwinter Fair! Surrounded by a whole host of fabulous other Kent based (and some further afield) businesses, there are Christmas trees, decorations, and a wonderful scent of orange and cinnamon from a stall just behind us – it is basically Christmas gift shopping heaven.

fatquarters

Fat quarters all tied up like miniature presents

 

We set up our stall on Wednesday this week and the hordes of Kent descended on us for the first time yesterday morning, at 9m sharp – no waiting around for these ladies, they mean business – and we’ve been rushed off our feet ever since!

faces

Traditional gurning selfie

Here we are in our stand which is located in the green marquee, at precisely G34 – we’ve crammed our space full of quilts, cushions, Amelie dresses and reversible dresses, plus Christmas skirts for that extra festive touch. And this week we’ve launched our very exciting pattern kits! Perfect to give as presents to those crafty types, the kits come with enough fabric to make any size of either the Amelie or the reversible dress, plus the pattern and extras. The fabric included in both these kits is exclusive to the kit package, making them even more special. Beautiful soft lavender and blues for the reversible dress, and a bright wintery green with springtime flowers for the Amelie dress – these two are sure to be waiting under the Christmas tree for plenty of lucky sewers.

Happy & Glorious and their peacock themed stall

As if that wasn’t enough to entice you to venture out to the show for the last day tomorrow, we’re also lucky enough to have a couple of our local business friends with us too! The lovely Happy & Glorious (our real life shop neighbour) is our Wealden Times Fair neighbour too! Here’s Kate and all those beautiful gifts at her fabulously dressed stall – just look at those peacocks! Kate is selling a whole range of British made products from ceramics and prints to silver jewellery and scented candles, and she’s just over the way from us on stand G15.

fablebase

Gorgeous prints from Fable & Base

Also just down the road from us in the red tent is our lovely friend Francesca from Fable & Base. Francesca runs her amazing printed fabric company in Whitstable, where she produces some truly fantastic, unique designs using old fashioned printing methods. Whether you want a bespoke print or fancy having a go and designing and hand printing your own pieces,  Fable & Base has the answer for amazing locally produced upholstery fabrics. And soon you’ll be able to get your hands on some of Francesca’s amazing designs as she will be stocking them at Emporia Fabric & Craft!

soup

It’s not all glamour – Clair had to sit on the floor to eat her soup…

The Wealden Times Midwinter Fair runs for one more day at The Hop Farm at Paddock Wood, from 9am – 4.30pm, so if you want to get your hands on some of our lovely crafts as gifts in time for the festive season, you know where to find us!

Getting Ready for Wealden Times Midwinter Fair

stagdresses

This week we have been prepping like crazy for the biggest show Emporia has ever taken part in – The Wealden Times Midwinter Fair! This time next week we will have been in resident at the Hop Farm showground for two days already, and about to embark on a third.

clairsewing

Asides from a massive amount of planning, writing lists and general organising and discussing, we have of course been sewing like mad things; Clair spent the vast majority of the week sewing tiny sleeves into tiny armholes and wondering if she needs to get her eyes tested again. She’s created a beautiful range of seasonally themed Amelie dresses and reversible dresses to sell at the show, and consequently the whole work area has been completely taken over by pattern pieces and machines set up with various coloured threads, so that she can swap from one project to the next at a moment’s notice.  It’s basically like a Brans Hatch pit stop, but with sewing instead of racing cars.

workroom

Asides from all the lovely dresses, we’ll be relaunching the Amelie dress pattern, introducing some new sewing kits, and launching a brand new pattern all at the Wealden Times – plus, there will be some exciting exclusive offers for everyone who drops by our stand. We’re very excited to be going and it definitely signals the start of the festive season – I imagine we’ll both take the chance to explore the rest of the fair and maybe bag a few Christmas presents while we ‘re there.

reversibledress

We’ll be joined by a whole load of other fantastic British based businesses selling all kinds of delightful goods, and in fact one of our Wealden Times neighbours will be our real life Park Mall neighbour Happy & Glorious! From clothing and kid’s toys, to homewares, jewellery and unusual stationery, there is set to be a plethora of unusual and luxurious goods on sale, alongside a delicious range of foodstuffs in the Street Food Cafe and the tea room. So if you fancy popping along and getting your festive spree on, head to the Wealden Times Midwinter Fair website to pre-book tickets or pay on the door on the day.

The Wealden Times Midwinter Fair 2016 takes place from 9am – 4.30pm Thursday 17th, Friday 18th and Saturday 19th November and we will be located at stand G34, diagonally opposite the ticket office. We hope to see you there!

Have yourself a Hygge Christmas

xmaswindow1

Halloween has been and gone, Guy Fawkes Night takes place this weekend and half term is nothing but a distant memory, all of which can only mean one thing – Christmas is well and truly on its way. And so this week we cleared away the autumnal colours and put our  Christmas windows in place.

xmaswindow2

Full of bright colours and soft textures, our main window this year takes inspiration from the Danish word Hygge, a buzzword which seems to have swept across Britain in the style of the Vikings, dragging us all into it’s cosy wake. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past six or seven months, or just perhaps buried under a pile of fabric, desperately sewing, you may not have encountered the word, so for those not in the know, Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) is the Danish embodiment of cosy, wintery, easy sociability – making the routine and day to day more special, taking delight in the small things, spending time with your family and friends without feeling like you have to cater for an entire army unit, or putting your pyjamas on after collecting the kids from school. Basically, it comes down to being kind to yourself, and others, and indulging in your own well being.

cardigans

So this winter you can see our Christmas winter is full of cosy designs, warm colours and patterns, comfortable clothing and bright prints to ward off the dark and cold of the early evenings. Even our Christmas wreath is made from soft and fluffy pompoms. Pyjamas are the obvious Go To for us when we think of comfort, so you can see three pairs of cosy pj bottoms in the window – featuring Christmassy fabric and super soft brushed cotton.

jumper

But day time clothes can also be comfy if you coordinate with warm wool – the brand new kimono dress is very easy to wear and fits beautifully over leggings and long sleeved funky thermals, match it with a chunky wool cowl and you’re good to snuggle on the sofa or serve up a Christmas meal to friends. Chunky cardigans and slouchy jumpers are your best friends during winter, just make them bright and soft, and pop them on over relaxed trousers or simple skirts to keep your comfort levels high.

kimonoxmas

If you’re thinking of what to buy your loved ones this Christmas, you can’t go far wrong with the Hygge concept for gifts either – cosy quilts, squishy soft cushions, warm woolly cowls and hats, bright acrylic necklaces, pretty patterned prints and soft jersey bracelets. And if you spy some things in the shop that you fancy for yourself, you can always make use of our Christmas Wishlists – simply pop your name and email address on a form, and fill in the boxes with a description of the items you like. Then you can send in your boyfriend/mum/child to the shop and we’ll help them make sure you get just what you want under the Christmas tree.

All fabrics used in the Christmas window are available at Emporia priced £12.50 – £16.00 per metre; the wool used on the models is available from £6.95 – £12.00 for 200g. The prices of the gifts varies.

Interview with Scott Randall of Hairyhand

chevyguvara

This week we take a little time to talk to Scott, the man behind the creative Hairyhand label, who has recently stocked up the Emporia rails with a range of printed children and adult’s clothes. Have a read and see just what inspires Scott, how his career developed and why he would be spending his days sat in a wood cabin if he wasn’t out there being creative.

Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Scott Randall aka Hairyhand Creative Agency, Creative Director, Art Director, Designer & Illustrator, Commercial Artist, and ‘Hairyhand’ is me as a solo designer/crafter/artist, all my personal stuff. Whereas Hairyhand Creative Agency produces ‘Creative’ for clients who require marketing services, so that can be any aspect of Branding, Advertising etc.

poloshirt

How did you get into illustrating?
I developed the ability to draw and model make when i was at primary school and I suppose the drive to create stuff has always been there.

Who and what inspires you to create?
I suppose having a creative brain I have a natural desire to ‘create’. Also, you could say that ‘problems’ inspire me to create.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Hard to say as it feels like my brain is totally saturated with work from the last 20 years, but I would say that I admire anyone who can come up with new ideas that actually work. A lot of my creative thinking has been greatly influenced by a creative agency called MotherLondon. I was also inspired by the work of Dan Flavin, a while back. He did lots of installations with neon tubes. And you could say that the stencil designs on my t-shirts are inspired by the likes of Banksy.

chevygreen

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
I made the leap in 2008. I was unemployed having taken a year out from work to get married and start a family, so needed to earn some money. I was aware that advertising is apparently a ‘young man’s game’ and at the tender age of 33/34, it would be tough, so rather than wait for someone to employ me, I decide to work for myself.

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your business?
A business plan – I regret not creating one, but at the time it seemed like I had to just get on and do. Funding.
Drive and determination. Ability.

Name three of your most popular designs.
Commercially, I suppose the Wonderbra advert I created as part of One Minute briefs – that got me a Chip Shop Awards nomination. The Chevy Guevara, Washroom Antics and the Evel Kenieval t-shirt designs are popular.

washroom

If you weren’t a designer/creative/artist what would you be doing with your time?
Chopping wood, living in a wood cabin.

Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
No, but I’m thinking of running some sort of design/advertising workshops, although I need to decide exactly how they would work. Every now and then I or the agency takes part in OneMinuteBriefs which is a great way to generate content for social channels. Every day a brief is set by @OneMinuteBriefs to advertise a random, generic product e.g. umbrellas or coffee. You’re then meant to come up with an idea to advertise it in just one minute. This can be an advert for a poster of any type of marketing execution. But the truth is, even though it can be done, I don’t think anyone actually spends just a minute.

honey

What’s new with your craft for 2016/17? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop this year and next.
I’m looking at getting a series of limited edition prints produced for some new/some existing t-shirt designs. I’m looking at turning the Chevy Design into a print, there’s also another design that’s not been published yet called Dinner’s Ready (Hi Honey, I’m Home) that I ‘m looking at getting turned into a print.

Thanks Scott! You can get your hands on Scott’s funky merchandise at Emporia now, with more exciting prints and designs coming soon.

Half Term and Halloween at Emporia

spiderwebblack

Autumn is well and truly under way now, the nights are drawing in and there’s a distinct chill in the air. All this makes us want to wrap up warm, drink hot chocolate and indulge in a little bit of cosy creative craft. So to that end, we’ve got plenty happening in the shop to keep kids and adults entertained over this half term. Read on for autumnal inspiration!

Half Term Kids Classes

gatheredskirts

Simple Skirt – £25.00, age 8+
Make your very own simple skirt from our range of fabulous and funky fabrics! Choose a print, sew your skirt and wear it over the holidays to impress your friends. Some previous sewing experience is desirable but not necessary.
11am – 12.30pm Tuesday 25th October 2016

trickbags

Halloween Trick or Treat Bag – £10.00/£20.00 age 4+/age 8+
Make your own spooktacular bag for collecting yummy Halloween treats this half term! Two different sessions mean that little kids can cut out shapes and glue them onto their bags, while older children can sew their own bags from some of our funky Halloween themed fabrics.
Over 4s – 11am – 12pm Wednesday 26th October 2016
Over 8s – 2pm – 3.30pm Wednesday 26th October 2016

pencilcases

Pencil Case – £20.00, age 8+
Pick a cool pattern from our range of fabrics and make yourself an amazing pencil case to start the new term with – the perfect way to impress your friends and your teacher!
11am – 12pm Friday 28th October 2016

spooktacular

Halloween Spooktacular – Free
Emporia is also taking part in the Park Mall Halloween celebrations as we are one of the shops involved in the Trick or Treat trail – kids can collect treats from all participating shops, win prizes for dressing up in their freakiest and most frightening best, and enjoy the street entertainment.
1pm – 5.30pm Saturday 28th October 2016

Adult Classes

peachbobble

Knit a Winter Hat – £32.00, 14+
Learn how to make your very own hat with this super simple session that teaches you the basics of rib, stocking stitch and decreasing – you’ll even get to make a big pompom to finish to sew on top. Knitted on really big needles with a lovely dense super chunky wool, this hat knits up amazingly quickly and will keep your head nice and toasty this winter. This class is perfect for beginners as long as you have a basic grasp of knit and purl.
2.30pm – 5pm Saturday 22nd October 2016

slashandsewmm

Beginner’s Patchwork – £75.00
This one off introduction to patchwork is run by renowned patchwork designer Mandy Munroe, and involves learning basic patchwork techniques including colour choice, rotary cutting and sewing blocks using modern methods. On the day you will sew four blocks and gain enough skill in order to continue sewing squares and triangles at home so you can finish off your quilt under your own steam.
10.30am – 3.30pm Saturday 29th October 2016

For more information on any of our half term classes, click on the Classes page or give us a ring on 01233 612278. Or you can pop into the shop and have a chat with us in person, we’d love to see you here!

October Bloggers Day

bloggersday

Today we participated in another Park Mall Blogger’s Day as organised by the wonderful Kate of Happy & Glorious. Several of the independent shops took part once again, and we were delighted to see a whole new crowd of local and Kent based bloggers come and visit us to spread the word about what we’re up to in this small corner of the world.

badger

Everyone gathered at Stag coffee shop first thing as Freddie (one of the owners) talked a bit about some of the exciting events planned we have coming up and Kate gave a brief rundown of the details of the day. With several activities taking place in different locations, the bloggers had a good chance to spend time talking to the owners and exploring the shops and the things they sell. Back to the shop and our first visitor of the day was Laura of Any Something who popped in for a browse and chat about all things sewing, knitting and crochet. Sadly she didn’t have time to stay for a workshop but she was very keen to come back another day to maybe take a class and get some more sewing inspiration.

badgewearing

Just to keep things interesting this time around we decided that we would host a couple of workshops for the bloggers so that they could get a small taste of the kinds of things we get up to when we take classes, and of the general crafty nature of the shop. Clair showed everyone how to make their own woodland inspired felt badges, with a choice of toadstool, badger or fox, and I demonstrated how to knit coasters to allow you to create a cosy autumnal feel in your home.

bloggersdaymen

Inside Martyn’s Thoughts and Midwife and Life undertook the task of getting to grips with the knitted coasters and did a sterling job – creating a simple and squishy drinks mat that can be embroidered with extra decorative motifs or replicated to create a series to scatter throughout your house, wherever a hot beverage may end up coming to rest. Everyone else opted to sew up some gorgeous foxes, with Innocent Charms Chats choosing to make a very cute little badger brooch. Much laughter ensued throughout the session as all the bloggers chatted with us about their blogs, what they write about and how much they enjoyed undertaking a crafty session with us. And it was a real pleasure to see three men (three!) sewing and knitting in the shop, proving that blokes can be just as crafty when they want to be.

katehappyg

Over at Happy & Glorious Kate hosted a papercraft workshop, where the bloggers could make their very own paper succulent in a sweet little terracotta plant pot. Not wishing to be left out of the proceeding Clair and I had a go at our own versions too – and we thoroughly enjoyed the chance to take part in a completely different craft, just for a change of scene.

succulentemporia

It was a really busy day, but good fun – if you’re a blogger on the lookout for some interesting events in Ashford, then keep your eyes peeled for the next bloggers days!

 

Christmas Fabric in Stock

stagadvent

We all know it’s coming, in fact some very well prepared people have been planning for this year since last year, but we know that for other people, even acknowledging that it’s getting closer can send them into a blind panic – so out of respect for those people and the fact that we aren’t even past Halloween yet, we’ll whisper it: Christmas fabric is now in stock at the shop. Shhhhh….

(And for those that are too excited for words that we are only 11 weeks from the big day itself, we say: Yay! Christmas fabric is in stock! Woop woop!)

Take a look at all these truly delicious festive prints and imagine what delights you could create with them:

xmascollections

This year we have three different styles: a traditional Scandi style collection, featuring reindeer, trees, hearts, stars and snowflakes in soft red, cream and grey; perfect for children and those that love penguins and polar bears, these cutesy icey scenes of skiing and snow will capture plenty of hearts; and finally our brights collection is just that – full of funky designs for a more modern take on the festive period, printed in super cool bright pink, turquoise, green and orange.

scandi

Obvious suggestions spring to mind such as stockings, Santa sacks, table runners and place mats, but what about sewing up some truly festive pyjama bottoms in the presents print, or with Rudolph’s head and shiny nose all over them? Clair is planning to make herself a kimono dress out of the bright stars on navy, so why not think outside the box and create some more festive outfits for yourself or your family.

brightspenguins

Last year we had several orders for the Amelie dress in the more traditional Scandi style prints and they looked insanely beautiful, just perfect for little girls who would love to open a swishy dress to wear on Christmas Day. But boys needn’t be left out – we think the snowflakes or hearts would make simply adorable waistcoats for the festive period. Or just imagine a one year old in a reversible dress covered in skiing penguins!

preprinted

If inspiration is not striking just yet or if you just fancy an easy life (quite frankly, who doesn’t?), then look no further than the pre-printed designs. Whether you want to make big stockings for hanging over the fireplace, tiny stocking bunting or simply knock up an advent calendar that you can use year after year, these fabulous prints take some of the hard work out of the process. The brights quilt panel could be turned into just that, a snuggly Christmas quilt, or you could create table runners or mats out of the paneled sections too. And who knows, while you busy sewing up one of these numbers, you may suddenly be struck by the perfect set of festive makes to get going with next.

adventcalendars

All our new season Christmas fabric is currently in stock and available to buy at £12.50 a metre. Pop into the shop for a closer look or phone us on 01233 612278 to ask us a question. And don’t forget, Christmas is only 79 days away …(Sorry!)

 

Witches, Wizards, Spiders and Skulls

halloweentable

October is here and Halloween is just around the corner, so this week we’re gearing up for our witchy themed window by showcasing our fabulous Halloween printed fabrics. If you’re planning on making costumes for yourselves or little ones, have some avid Harry Potter fans in your house or simply love a spooky print, you will definitely need some of these amazing fabrics in your life this autumn.

batsspiders

Nothing says Halloween more than spiders and bats, and these super spooky yet super cute little chaps are ideal for kids’ makes – try making some Trick or Treat bags with one of these, and line it with lime green or bright orange for a fantastic contrast. Check out the Amelie dress made up in the bat fabric in the window soon – it’s lovely beyond words.

spiderwebs

These beautiful spider web prints are so delicate they could almost be lace. Clair has already been making good use of both of them, making them into a kimono dress and an A-line skirt for the window, and they look amazing! But you’ll have to wait until next week to see them in person …

adverts

These adverts for various witch and wizardy style products are brilliant too – designed in an old school newsprint style, they are perfect for anyone with a penchant for unconventional Halloween prints. They’re a bit more subtle than your standard scary monsters and zombies; plus they’re perfect for anyone who loves Harry Potter as they are really very reminiscent of adverts for the shops on Diagon Alley in the Daily Prophet. Bags, cushions, curtains, blinds, quilts – all just the thing if you spend your night dreaming of receiving your Hogwarts acceptance letter by owl.

skulls2

In the same style as the advert prints are the poison skull symbols – in spooky purple and vibrant green – these would make some fantastically spooky pencil cases or more sophisticated Trick or Treat bags for older gothic-loving kids. Or you could go all out and make a full skirted dress for a Halloween party perhaps. So many  wonderful yet spooktacular Halloween options! (I am planning on making some knitting needle and crochet cases out of these, because I can then pretend they’re actually wand cases.)

We’ve also got appropriately spooky colours of wool in bright orange, zingy green, purple and grey if you fancy knitting or crocheting a mummy, some pumpkins or knitting a Halloween jumper.

All our Halloween prints are available in the shop now, priced £14.50 a metre – the mixed plains are £6.50 a metre.

Knitting Classes for the Autumn

wristwarmer

Despite the lovely hot weather of last week the first signs of autumn are already here – leaves turning red, getting dark by half seven and chilly misty mornings. All of which means only one thing to me – it’s time to get some serious knitting on. (Obviously those who know me well are perfectly aware that I knit all year round, but you get the gist.) So without further ado let’s get stuck into the new autumn knitting class list and see if I can’t inspire your knitting mojo.

begiinersknitcowl

Beginner’s Knitting
Have you wanted to learn how to knit for ages and ages and just haven’t quite managed it? Do you spend hours scrolling on Pinterest looking at all things wool and knitty related? Have you not managed to find any YouTube videos that actually show you how to knit instead of banging on about the kinds of wool they are using and holding their needles in the way of the camera? Then come and learn from me! I can teach you the very basic stuff that will set you out on the pathway to a lifetime of simple knitting pleasure. We will work with lovely chunky wool and big needles so it’s easier to see what you’re doing, plus it knits up much more quickly than the skinny stuff.

From casting on and knit stitch, to purl and casting off, we’ll knit some sample squares before starting you off on a simple cowl or scarf to take home and finish with your new found skills. Used to knit at school and need a refresher? This class is also great for those that want to revitalise old knowledge. The class costs £30.00 per person and includes a ball of yarn and a pair of needles.

hat2

Knit a Winter Hat
Learnt the basics of knitting, but haven’t progressed beyond square or rectangular things like scarves or cowls? Maybe you’ve just mastered the beginner’s techniques but want to get cracking straight away with something a little more challenging? Then this is the class for you. Using 15mm needles – even chunkier than our beginner’s session ones – we’ll knit up a super soft and super cosy winter bobble hat just in time for the colder weather. In this class you’ll be using knit and purl stitches to create rib, work in stocking stitch and learn how to shape your knitting with decreases. Plus, you get to make a fabulous giant pom pom to put on the top! Bonus. The class costs £32.00 and includes enough wool to make the hat and pom pom, plus needles.

wristwarmers

Cable Wristwarmers
If you’ve been knitting for a while and love the look of cables, but have never had the confidence to try them, then now is the time. This is a class for knitters who are pretty confident with their knit and purl stitches, and can work on skinnier needles as we will be using a gorgeous alpaca blend that knits up on 4.5mm needles. Using rib, stocking and reverse stocking stitch, you have the choice of making a pair of beautifully soft cable wristwarmers in either small, medium or large size, so you can keep them for yourself to wear this winter or give as a gift, perhaps for Christmas. And if you’re feeling confident, you can ratchet up the skill level by adding in more detail with a stripe of stocking stitch in between the cables.  Cables tend to look much more complicated than they actually are to knit, so why not conquer your fear and beat the cables at the own game, and get to work with some truly beautiful wool at the same time? The class costs £40.00 per person and includes enough wool to make a pair of wristwarmers, 4.5mm needles and a cable needle.

The first knitting classes to take place this autumn on these dates:

Beginner’s Knitting – 2.30pm – 4.30pm Saturday 24th September – still spaces on this weekend’s class!
Knit a Winter Hat – 2pm – 4.30pm Friday 30th September
Cable Wristwarmers – 11am – 1pm Friday 21st October 

For a full list of classes, times and dates, please click on the Classes page at the top of the blog. 

Clarke & Clarke Upholstery Fabric Now on Sale

clarkeclarke

Remember we introduced a small selection of  Clarke & Clarke upholstery fabric back in July – lots of lovely foxes, hares and woodland scenes – well, it’s been so popular that we’ve decided to branch out and get some more of their lovely designs into the shop.

countryside2

Renowned for their classic and innovative prints, Clarke & Clarke have been in the business of producing beautiful fabrics since the nineties as husband and wife team Lee and Emma Clarke create fashion led designs. Their fabric and wallpaper is available in over 90 countries around the world, and now we’re stocking them too.

countrysidefougeres

We’ve got two full ranges in stock, both with a countryside kind of feel, which is just perfect for autumn – plants, berries, animals, feathers and bird designs are all featured, alongside boats, butterflies, toiles, stars and classic script. And to accompany them there’s a range of woven textured plains, which will match up or complement the patterned designs. Fantastic for curtains, cushions, sofa or chair coverings, lampshade and table cloths – you could even make yourself a bag, create a play tent for your children, or sew an apron or two to match your kitchen blinds. Whatever you choose to make, we’re sure you’ll fall completely in love with these gorgeous designs.

countryside

Take a look at some of our favourites and let us know what you think. Or pop into the shop and scout out the whole range before you make up your minds which ones you like best.

countryside2

The Highlander collection of plains is £22.00 per metre, and Countryside and Fougeres are £24.00 per metre. The minimum order for any of the Clarke & Clarke fabrics from the pattern books is three metres; postage is £5.00 up to ten metres, after that postage is free. 

New Kimono Dress Pattern

Exciting news, people! A brand new pattern has just landed and we are really pleased to be able to show you the next Emporia Pattern – the Kimono Dress!

bluewhitekimono

Clair’s been busy, beavering away at the finishing touches to this pattern and we are now ready to show you the first Emporia dress for adults. Designed specifically with beginners and new sewers in mind, this easy to make and easy to wear dress features no closures, a super stylish Obi style belt, and handy in-seam pockets. Excellent for beginners or relative newbies to sewing who want to make something for themselves but are worried about progressing on to fiddly buttons or fitting with zips, this dress gives you the chance to make something that will fit you perfectly, regardless of how much sewing experience you have.

kimonohanger

It may look a little like a fancy hospital gown when it’s on the hanger, but once it’s on your body and you’ve tied up the belt, it transforms in a very cool but quite feminine dress, which can be dressed up on down, worn in summer with sandals or in winter with leggings, big boots and a cardy.

leopardprintkimono

Clair’s so pleased with her brand new design that she’s made two for herself already, and one for me! What do you think of our fabric choices? We’re nothing if not adventurous when it comes to choosing prints. And we are clearly loving the kimono vibe right now.

skullskimono

The Kimono Dress classes are taking place this autumn, but unfortunately the actual pattern won’t be available until some time next spring. So if you want to make your very own one for the coming season, check out the dates for the coming classes and sign yourself up.

Kimono dress classes take place on the following dates: Tuesday 4th October, Friday 25th November and Wednesday 14th December from 10.30am – 2.30pm. The class costs £85.00 per person, and includes fabric. If you would like to reserve a place on one of these, give us a ring on 01233 612278, email emporia.fabric@gmail.com or pop in and see us.

Crochet with Emma Jane

emmajane

Good news for crochet fans! The lovely Emma Jane who used to teach crochet at the old shop is back! After quite an extended maternity leave, she’s coming back to Emporia to share her crochet skills with anyone that wants to learn a new craft or brush up on their old one.

Giving beginners the low down on how to cast on and cast off, and become confident with creating your very first crochet stitches, this class will ease you gently into handling your hook and yarn, before you start on bigger and more adventurous projects. Emma Jane will not only demonstrate how to get to grips with the brand new stitches, but she’ll also talk you through the common stitch abbreviations so you can start to contemplate reading patterns. Plus, you’ll get technical handouts complete with those abbreviations, stitch reminder diagrams and a basic granny square pattern to try at home once you’re done.

crochetsquasres

This is a lovely relaxed class with Emma Jane, perfect for complete beginners or those that have attempted to teach themselves. The session costs £30.00 per person and includes your first crochet hook and a ball of yarn to get you started.

The beginner’s crochet classes for the autumn take place on these dates:
10.30am – 12.30pm Wednesday 7th September 2016
10.30am – 12.30pm Wednesday 5th October 2016
10.30am – 12.30pm Wednesday 2nd November 2016
10.30am – 12.30pm Wednesday 7th December 2016

If you would like to book a place on any of the classes, drop us a line on 01233 612278 or email us on emporia.fabric@gmail.com, or come and see us in the shop!

New Classes for the Autumn

clair

After much checking of dates, contacting teachers and general organisational madness over the past couple of weeks, our brand new, even more exciting than before, Autumn Class List is finally here! We’ve got so many different workshops taking place between now and Christmas, including half term and festive specials, that we’re sure there will be something appealing for everyone who loves a bit of crafty action.

emmajane

We welcome the return of the Beginner’s range of classes, with the Beginner’s Sewing session carrying on on the first Saturday of the month. Joining it are the Beginner’s Knitting sessions, where you can begin to create a basic cowl, on various days each month, and the Beginner’s Crochet carries on with Emma Jane, who is back after her maternity leave, to teach you how to cast on, cast off and become confident with the basic stitches. Mandy Munroe will be back to teach her Beginner’s Patchwork one day course again, giving you the chance to learn about cutting squares, sewing pieces and coordinating colours in order to create a larger quilt blocks.

dresses

The Reversible Dress and Amelie Dress are both back on the schedule, giving parents and grandparents, aunties, uncles and generous friends the chance to make beautiful dresses for some very lucky little girls. Both are available in sizes 1 – 6 and cover two different levels of sewing ability, so if you’ve moved on a bit with your sewing skills and want to make something a little more complex, the Amelie is your ideal next step, while the Reversible design remains a brilliant first time make.

alineskirts

Adult dress making comes in the form of the Pyjamas Class (great for beginner’s and those that want to graduate to trousers), Circle Skirt Class (again, great for beginners and those that love a retro look) and the new A-line Skirt, designed by Clair, which is the latest addition to the Emporia pattern range. There’s also a new addition to the skirt collection with the Simple Gathered Skirt Class, which is a great session for learning how to create a garment based around your measurements and get to grips with inserting a zip. Coming along later in the year is the Kimono Dress Class which is Clair’s first adult size dress pattern – sure to be just as popular as the kid’s dresses, this is a super stylish yet simple pattern which can be worn all year round.

wristwarmerhat

Two brand new knitting classes are being introduced this autumn/winter as Lotte invites you to knit your very first hat, and create some cables in the Wristwarmer Class. The Knit a Hat Class is a good next step for those that have taken the Beginner’s Knitting workshop and want to move on to shaping – created with super chunky needles and wool, your heads will be toasty in no time! The wristwarmer class is designed for those that are confident with knit and purl to learn a basic cable stitch, but if that’s too scary, then you can always join in with a plain stocking stitch version.

pursewalletworkshop

As a special one off for Support Sunday, we are opening from 10am – 4pm and the lovely Rosanna Clare (our resident leatherwork crafter) will be here for a really exciting workshop. You can join her from 12pm onwards to make your very own hand stitched leather wallet or purse, using traditional techniques on her vibrantly coloured leather. You can even emboss your own initials on the finished article!

pencilcases

We’ve also got October half term inspiration for the kids with a Simple Skirt and a Pencil Case class, plus loads more coming up for Christmas, with festive inspiration for all levels and crafts.

All times, prices, dates and age restrictions can be found on the Classes page at the top of the blog – if you’ve got a query, please do get in touch via email, phone, Contact Form or by popping into the shop for a chat.

 

 

Interview with Rachele Laurenson

instoreceramics

This week we take a closer look at the gorgeous ceramic art of another of our crafters, R. J. Laurenson. Here she talks about how she gets inspiration from the Kent countryside, why she loves working with textiles and how having a baby gave her the chance to get up to some serious craft.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rachele Laurenson, and I am a mixed media artist and a part time art teacher in secondary education.

How did you get into crafting?
I fell back into art after my daughter was born and her grandmother kindly agreed to baby sit for me to attend Adult Education. It started with French classes for a year and then I decided to do pottery. It was love at first touch! I spent many years making pots and progressed to the sculpture classes where we would have models to work from. I took my portfolio to the University of Kent and was accepted as a mature student on their Fine Art degree course. From there I fell into teaching but have always tried to keep up my own practice.

mapart

Who and what inspire you to create?
I am inspired by my surroundings; I live in a little village at the bottom of the North Downs, so I create lots of my art based on nature and local wildlife. I dabble with different mediums: ceramics, textiles, maps and stitch and always try to create layers in my work.

butterflies

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
I love Grayson Perry, who I was lucky enough to meet at the British Museum! I admire artists who are confident of their ability. I am very self-critical and feel like I am a ‘jack of all trades and master of none.’

heart

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
I haven’t fully made the leap yet. I exhibit with fellow artists biannually at the Horsebridge Gallery in Whitstable. It is always a tremendous success and inspires me to produce more art. I attend several markets and discovered Emporia through one in Ashford, which is how my ceramics came into the shop. I still really enjoy my teaching and love that I can have both sides of an art practice

xmastable

Name three of your most popular designs.
At the moment my ceramic tiles and plates are most popular. I use layers of stencilling and bright food-safe glazes with images of hares, horses, butterflies and birds over the top. They are unique, affordable pieces that are only made in limited quantities and are ideal as presents. When I do exhibitions, I sell a lot of textile pieces, which use old map. They are sentimental and nostalgic and people love seeing their local area exhibited in a gallery; I think it gives them a personal connection to the work. I have also been commissioned to make personal sculptures and ceramics for customers.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing with your time?
I love playing tennis and pottering around the house working on projects that I usually don’t finish.

textileart

What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop or at the Emporia market this year.
I am planning on continuing to create new ceramic designs and I have a market coming up in September at Hever Castle. Now that I am on summer holidays, I am looking forward to getting back into my workshop and spending some time on creating some new clay sculptures.

New Fabrics from Makower

tapemeasures

We took delivery of some delightful prints the other day, just right for some summer sewing inspiration. With themes of vintage tea parties, old school sewing and some nautical stuff for the kids (or anyone who loves a pirate) there is plenty to feast your eyes on!

Lovely bright summer bunting, and classic combo of tea and biscuits – pink and green go so very well together.

teabunting

teabiscuits

Plus cute, chirpy cherries – the best of all summer fruits and a classic print to boot.

cherries

Vintage sewing themes are always very popular – take a look at these gorgeous prints.

sewingmachines

Embroidery and all the sewing kit you could possibly need, plus vintage style logos.

embroidery

cottonreels

Cotton reels and buttons – good old fashioned sewing bliss.

buttons

Seaside fun for the little ones comes in the shape of fantastic sea creatures and pirates!
seaside

Fancy piratical bunting! Perfect for those pirate obsessed children’s parties.

piratebunting

And if you’ve had enough of asking your kids to tidy their bedrooms over the summer holidays, this could be the answer – a pirate pocket panel!

piratepanel

All Makower prints featured today are £12.50 a metre, available from the shop now.

Summer Sewing

sunshine

Summer is finally here! We’ve all been enjoying the warm weather and sunny days of late – picnics in the park, days the beach, barbecues in the garden and days out in the sunshine with friends – but the higher than usual temperatures have left us feeling a little bereft in the wardrobe department. And because of the utterly insane way the fashion and retail industries work, if you didn’t buy your summer clothes back in April when it still felt like it might snow any second, you can either now grab something in the sale (if you can find your size) or you simply have to work with what you’ve got. Unless, that is, you can sew …

This week, we’ve pulled together a few select patterns and fabrics to help inspire you to get cracking with some super duper summer sewing. Don’t allow yourself to be dictated to by what’s in the shops – make up your own mind what you want to wear and just how you want to look! From basic shapes to free flowing garments to help you stay cool, this little lot should be enough to get you started.

stripes

Agnes T Shirt by Tilly & The Buttons
T shirts are a staple in everyone’s wardrobes throughout the year, as they go with just about everything. Try out Tilly’s super stylish and easy pattern for creating a t shirt on a standard sewing machine – no need for an overlocker! – and you’ll be churning out all kinds of different variations in no time. We love a traditional stripe, be it in bright pink or more sophisticated navy.

flowers

Simple Gathered Waist Skirt
Super easy and super fast, these instructions for making your own gathered skirt should see you through the hot weather and into the autumn; go crazy with loads of extra width to make a very full, floaty skirt, or keep your costs down with a relatively slimline version. And while you’re at it, make one for a friend or your daughter – when something is this easy to sew, you’ll want to make more. We love a big print like these big flowers making a stark contrast to the black background, or bright summery yellow florals with pretty blue and coral touches.

spots

Doris Dress by Sew Over It
The latest release from the Sew Over It gang, the Doris is a lovely floaty number, that looks equally good as a mini or midi length. Featuring pretty decorative buttons and a tie waist, it’s lack of sleeves and wide skirt will keep you cool as the proverbial cucumber as you walk round the park or sip on a cocktail at the bar. In keeping with the SOI vintage style, we’ve gone for these amazing giant spots in vibrant green and teal to complete the look.

tigers

Loose Summer Trousers
Summer can sometimes make you feel particularly lazy, especially when it’s hot, so what better than pulling on a pair of trousers that feel just like pyjama bottoms? Loose summer trousers and pj bottoms share many of the same construction elements, so we’ve found you a good pyjama tutorial that you can simple adapt, depending on your taste. Elasticated waists, loose legs and cinched ankles – really simple to create and look very hippy chic when worn with a bright vest and gladiator sandals. Simply follow the tutorial and instead of hemming your trousers at the ankle, simply elasticate them instead to recreate that jogger look you see in the shops. Go for a big funky print like our fabulous Indian style tigers or some seriously bright geometric patterns, like this turquoise art deco pattern.

ikat

Floaty Dress by Threadcount
Featuring a flattering neckline, floaty skirt and an elasticated waist, this dress is just perfect for pulling on over a bikini at the beach or for heading out for an evening meal on a balmy summer evening. Easy to make and quick too, you can add this one to your holiday packing for sure. We’ve chosen a cool white cotton with bright coloured flowers, and a fantastic indigo ikat print for a more casual look.

anchors

Beach Bag
If you haven’t made it to the beach yet this holiday, then now is the time to make plans! But before you start cramming your flip flops and sun cream into your handbag, take an hour or two to make this fabulous beach bag so you have plenty of room to take all your beach stuff with you. Super bright flowers are a funky choice, or you could go more traditional with a cool nautical anchor themed version.

Kids Summer Holiday Classes

pencilcaseclass

The summer holidays kick off officially this weekend and so the time for finding entertainment for little people is nigh! If you are in possession of some crafty kids, or even those who have never thought about sewing but would like to give it a go, this list should give you some inspiration. While most classes are suitable for children ages 8 and up, there are some that start as young as four, so smaller siblings can get involved too. From making your own pencil case to take back to school in September or hand printing your own bag, there is plenty of sewing inspiration taking place at Emporia for the whole school holiday. Take a look!

Kid’s Beginner’s Class – £30.00, age 8+
10.30am – 12.30am Thursday 4th August
Get your child started off on their first sewing journey with this special kid’s beginner’s sewing session. Learn all the basics steps on our sewing machines, try out a few fancy stitches and complete a simple sewing project or two before you head home with your new found skills!

gatheredskirts

Simple Skirt – £25.00, age 8+
11am – 12.30pm Friday 5th August

Make your very own simple skirt from our range of fabulous and funky fabrics! Choose a print, sew your skirt and wear it over the summer holidays to impress your friends. Some previous sewing experience is desirable but not necessary.

Felt Monster – £20.00, age 6+
11am – 12pm Monday 8th August

Not all children get the chance to learn to hand sew at school these days, but when they do learn, they often fall completely in love with it. In this session, kids will have the chance to create their very own friendly monster from felt while they learn the basics.

cushions

Make a Cushion – £25.00, age 8+
11am – 12pm Tuesday 9th August

Make something to decorate your bedroom or to give to a friend or parent as a gift. Choose from a range of our lovely prints, and learn some basic sewing skills as you make a fabulously easy cushion cover.

totebags

Mini Tote Bag Printing – £20.00, age 4 +
11am – 12pm Wednesday 10th August

The fantastic Jaina Minton of Polka Dot Sundays is back once more with this super cute tote bag printing session. Open to children aged four and up, this is a great workshop in which allows kids to creative with printing their own designs.

Mini Tote Bag Printing – £20.00, age 4+
11am – 12pm Wednesday 16th August

Join Jaina once again for her fabulous mini tote bag printing session – see above for more information.

Simple Skirt – £25.00, age 8+
11am – 12.30pm Tuesday 23rd August

Make your very own simple skirt from our range of fabulous and funky fabrics! Choose a print, sew your skirt and wear it over the summer holidays to impress your friends. Some previous sewing experience is desirable but not necessary.

pencilcases

Pencil Case – £20.00, age 8+
11am – 12pm Tuesday 30th August

Pick a cool pattern from our range of fabrics and make yourself an amazing pencil case to start the new term with – the perfect way to impress your friends and your new teacher!

Fancy booking your little ones onto any of the above? Give us a ring to reserve a place or pop into to place a deposit for a guaranteed spot. Please note spaces will not be confirmed until a 50% deposit has been paid; unless your child has proven experience with a sewing machine, all age restrictions must be adhered to.

Our First Year in Park Mall – Special Anniversary Offers

This Sunday we will have been resident in Park Mall for one whole year! This is what the shop looked like when we had first moved in:

interiors

Our very first window displays were made in a crazy rush just in time for the shop launch, which was attended by the deputy mayor George Koowaree, and loads of excited sewers and creative types from Ashford. And the rest of the summer seemed to disappear in just as much of a rush as we spent our time moving furniture around, stocking up on new fabrics, buying in new products and sourcing our lovely local crafters. We also started working on our future plans for the shop, getting excited about all the possibilities being in our new location could bring.

windows

It seems like much longer ago than one year we moved out of the tiny unit on Bank Street and into our much bigger, lighter and more spacious unit here because so much has happened since last summer: we’ve expanded our range of fabrics hugely, introduced a whole lot more sewing equipment, started selling yarn and knitting accessories, and increased the range of classes we offer, including ones that use our very own patterns, which is probably the achievement we are most proud of.

dresses

Emporia Patterns started off with the cute and simple Reversible Dress which has been flying off the shelves since it was launched back in February; loads of you have made your own fantastic versions of this and we’ve been really pleased to have introduced lots of newbie sewers to the delights of sewing little girls dresses in our classes. We recently then added another girl’s dress to the range, with the slightly more advanced Amelie Dress. This too has proven very popular so we can expect to see more amazing versions from all our customers soon! And with more patterns currently under development, there will be more new releases hitting our shelves over the coming months.

prize

To celebrate all our achievements and our one year anniversary, we are having a flash sale this weekend – on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th all our full priced fabrics will be 15% off. We will be open from 10am – 5pm on both days, so if you’ve had your eyes on a particular print for a while, now is the time to pop down and bag it! And we will be announcing the winner of our very exciting basket of crafty goodies – and if you haven’t managed to enter the draw to win it, there’s still time before Saturday.

New Fabrics From Clarke & Clarke

westonbirtblue

We’re thrilled to announce that we now have some truly beautiful new fabrics from Clarke and Clarke in store! These gorgeous upholstery weight prints arrived at the shop yesterday and we’ve haven’t stopped cooing over them since then. Covered with hares, squirrels, horses. pheasants and leaf prints, they are simply stunning and we can’t wait to see what you clever crafters out there can do with them.

westonbirt3

Although the orange may look a touch autumnal (hey, it is July now, so we have to start planning ahead you know), the pale grey and beige version are perfect for all year round. And the warm blue version is just beyond pretty. We’re thinking not just small scale touches like cushions and bolsters, but long, extravagant drapes, and huge Chesterfield style armchairs covered with these magical looking animals. What do you think?

woodlandtrees

Also, some truly lovely Michael Miller designs arrived in the shop this week, all with a rather cute animal themes. From lizards and snakes to horses and woodland animals, these prints are bright and funky, and we’re rather excited by the more autumnal prints – they would make perfect Amelie dresses with sleeves.

snakeslizards

The bright and fun lizards and snakes would be fabulous for little boys shorts, and given how popular our current horse and unicorn prints have been with little (and big) girls recently, these new gallopy designs could be the answer to many small people’s dreams. Just imagine a reversible dress in blue and red horses!

horses

The horse panel has a slightly more sophisticated feel to it, not unlike a designer scarf – more thoughts about what you could make with this one please!

horsessquare

The woodland foxes and rabbits have a definite seventies vibe about them with their brown, mustard yellow and bright purple colour scheme. And who doesn’t love a fox wearing a hat and jumper?

foxes

My personal favourite is the nighttime foxes and trees underneath a starry sky and moon – just perfect for little girls’ skirts and dresses, or a beautiful sleepy baby quilt.

nighttime

All Michael Miller prints are £14.00 a metre, and the new Clarke & Clarke upholstery fabric is 140cm wide, and is also £14.00 a metre – all available in store now.

 

Amelie Dress Pattern Launch

ameliedresses

This week we are very excited to announce the launch of our next Emporia pattern – the Amelie dress!

It’s another little girl’s dress, but this time its designer for a slightly more confident sewer than our fabulously simple reversible dress pattern. It comes with a choice of design elements, either with or without sleeves, making it adaptable for all seasons. The pattern is available in ages 1 – 6, and has been tested out by various sewers in our workshops and by some of our valued regular customers.

rabbithorses

And now it’s available for everyone to take home and make themselves! Although it’s a bit more complicated than our first official pattern, we have aimed to keep all our instructions and guidelines as clear and simple as possible, so if you are a very brave newbie, you will still be able to understand everything you’re supposed to do. Clair has never been a big fan of too much jargon when it comes to pattern instructions, so you won’t find the instructions full of complicated terminology – just precise directions and clearly illustrated pictures.

patternenvelope

We’re very proud of our second pattern going out into the big wide world, and we’d love to see and hear how you all get on with it – all feedback is welcome as it helps us to make necessary changes and continue developing our patterns until they are as perfect as they can be. So if you’ve made, or are planning to make, an Amelie dress, then please do share your pictures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and let us know what you think – we’re excited to see just how many different versions are out there.

sailboatsperiodic

But if you don’t have the time or the ability to make your own, we do offer the making up service, as with the reversible dress – just choose your fabric from our fantastic selection, tell us the size you want and we’ll sew it up for you. An Amelie dress made to order costs £38.00, with sleeves or without; the pattern costs £12.00.

Father’s Day Makes – Free Patterns and Tutorials

Father’s Day is this weekend, and if you still haven’t sorted out a present for the old man, then look no further than our list of quick makes for ideas on how to make some special and much more personal gifts. The internet has loads of free patterns if you know where to look, so we’ve rounded up some of the best to help you get started.

washbag

Wash Bag
Grab some fabric in your dad’s favourite colour or with a suitable pattern that reflects his interests – check out our periodic table, camping prints or the Minecraft fabrics for a start – and make him his own fabulous wash bag with this easy free pattern.

pyjamas

Pyjama Bottoms
These are one of the easiest things to make for someone when you don’t have them in the room with you for fitting. Grab some of Dad’s existing pj bottoms to check for sizing, and then you can whip him up a pair just in time for this Sunday using this free guide.

Apron
If your dad loves a bit of cooking or is in the garden every weekend barbecuing, then this simple apron tutorial could be the answer.

ties

Tie
Make your dad a cool necktie, either for fancy occasions or for work, with this free pattern from Craftsy.

ipadcase

iPad Case
Get him some tech protection with this super easy iPad tutorial. Or how about a …

Phone Case
Make up a soft and cosy phone case for your dad’s smart phone, with this handy tutorial.

wallet

Wallet
Or how about a wallet? See how to do it here.

clairteaching

Book a Class
Is your dad a creative type? Maybe he’d enjoy taking part in a sewing workshop with us! Because we all know that sewing is for boys too, we’ve got loads of different classes that could spur him onto to finding his sewing mojo. Start him off with a beginner’s session or perhaps a patchwork class. Or if he likes the idea of sewing for someone else, you could book him onto the reversible dress class – take a look at the Classes page for a full list of all our available dates.

In need of fabric inspiration? Check out our previous post on Father’s Day Fabrics for a full run down of our top selling manly fabrics. Or pop into the shop and see what takes your fancy – we’re here all day Saturday from 10am – 5pm.

Enter our Anniversary Prize Draw and Me Made May Winner!

This week it’s a double whammy on the competition front – not only are we announcing the winner of our Me Made May 16 competition, but we’re also inviting you to enter our fabulous prize draw! Competition craziness!

So first up, who won the MMM title this year?

winner16

Big congratulations to Annette Battersby who made these adorable dungarees in some of our disty floral fabric for her granddaughter Amber. Annette wins her choice of a pattern and enough fabric from the shop to make it up. And thanks to everyone who took part – all the entries were fabulous, and we really enjoyed seeing our fabrics transformed into some wonderful garments. We hope to see you all again next year for some more of the same.

And now onto the next competition! Except it’s not a competition as such – it’s prize draw which celebrates our first anniversary of being in Park Mall. Yes, on the 17th July we will have been in our fabulous (newish) unit for one whole year, and so to mark the occasion we’ve put together a fantastically crafty and exciting bundle of goodies to give away, all of which comes to around £140.00 worth of products and materials from the shop. Take a closer look at what you could be getting your crafty mitts on:

prize

Included in the prize basket is: six Rowan Hand Knit Cotton balls in gorgeous soft blues and greens, two Knit Pro Waves crochet hooks in 4mm and 4.5mm, two sets of Brittany birch knitting needles in 4mm and 4.5mm, a copy of Knitting and Crochet magazine, a copy of the Sewing Made Simple bookzine, a large pompom maker, a glue pen, a rotary cutter, a selection of Pebble hand sewing needles, three cotton reels, and a fat quarter bundle of new Gutermann pinks, greys and blues. Not a bad selection even if we do say so ourselves! Whether you are a sewer, knitter, crochet fan or just an all round crafter, just think what you could get up to with all this lovely lot. And if you’re new to any or all of it, this could be your chance to learn a new skill or even donate some of the prize to a friend who you know will use it. Either way, we know we would love to win something like this, so we hope you all would too.

So next time you pop into the shop for fabric, wool, haberdashery or crafts, if you’re spending over £20, just write your name, email and phone number down on an entry form and you could be in with a chance of winning the whole kaboodle.

Entry into the prize draw closes at 5pm on Saturday 16th July 2016 – keep your eyes peeled for more information on events taking place for our one year Park Mall anniversary coming soon!

Father’s Day Fabrics

moustaches

Yes people, Father’s Day is only just over two week’s away so if you fancy making something creative and cool for Dad, then look no further for fabric inspiration! We’ve got a whole range of new prints which arrived this week, just in time to get you thinking about making something for your wonderful dad, whether he’s a gaming nerd, a science geek or a rugged outdoor type.

science

circles

Science Dad! Is your father the clever sort? Does he do algebraic equations for fun? Perhaps he’s always pottering away in his study, looking at figures, calculations and working out long winded formulas? Then these amazing fabrics are for him – make him a glasses case, somewhere to keep his calculator or go full on for Father’s Day and sew him a lab coat!

surfnautical

Surf Dad! Does your dad love the beach? Is he a real cool surfing dude? Maybe he loves a bit of sailing, or simply strolling along the seafront with the wind in his hair and the sun on his face. With these nautical style prints, you could make him a beach bag, a Hawaiian shirt or a sun hat.

skulls

Goth Dad! Is your father a friend of the dark side? Does he love nothing more than watching horror films, reading books about vampires and reminiscing about the days when he could strut about town in his 28″ waist leather trousers and Doc Martens? Go gothic for Father’s Day with these amazing skull prints. Make him a book bag, some gothic pyjama bottoms or perhaps a waistcoat.

minecraft

Gaming Dad! Does your father love to spend his time sitting in the dark staring at a brightly lit screen, angrily pressing buttons and fighting made up enemies? Or maybe he likes to design innovative new landscapes and buildings, or entire new worlds in a pixelated universe? Then get creative with this Minecraft print! Make him a wash bag, a cushion cover or a messenger bag.

rainclouds

camping

Camping Dad! If your dad loves to spend his time in the great outdoors, camping out under the stars and cooking in the open air, then these cute camping fabrics could be the answer. Why not make him a camping themed quilt to keep him warm by the camp fire, a duffel bag to carry all his camping essentials around in or a passport cover to take on his foreign trips.

Plus, we have loads of other inspiring Dad prints in the shop including the last bit of Star Wars, Captain America style stars, zombies and grown up tweed style patterns. 

Half Term Classes for Kids

Half term starts this weekend, so if you’re at a loss as to what to do with your kids next week, take a look at our classes for creative children and see what inspiration you can find to keep them entertained.

pencilcases

Make a Pencil Case
11am – 12pm Tuesday 31st May
Join Clair at this cool kids’ workshop for newbie sewers, suitable for 8 and up. Choose from our range of super funky fabrics and make your very own unique pencil case ready for the new school year. £20.00 per child – some previous sewing experience is desirable but not necessary.

bracelets

Finger Knitting Bracelet Class
11am – 12pm Wednesday 1st June
Lotte invites kids aged 8 and up to come and try their hands at making some bright and summery bracelets. Using the simple technique of finger knitting, children can make themselves or their friends these cool accessories with gorgeous coloured jersey. The class costs £10.00 per child.

airballoon

Make a Hot Air Balloon Fridge Magnet
10.30am – 11.30am Thursday 2nd June
The lovely Jaina is back with her fabulous decoupage class once more to keep the children of Ashford occupied this half term. Kids will get to cover a hot air balloon shape in brightly coloured paper, wrap a basket with string, and add a magnet to turn the whole lot into a fabulous fridge adoring piece of art! The class costs £12.00 per child and is suitable for 4 year olds and over.

gatheredskirts

Make a Simple Skirt
11am – 12.30pm Friday 3rd June
This class gives budding sewing enthusiasts the chance to make their very first garment for themselves or a friend. Clair will be teaching this simple class, where kids aged 8 and up can get to grips with sewing a gathered skirt in any of our fabulous prints. Choose yourself something bright and funky for the summer and be the envy of your mates! The class costs £20.00 per child.

All classes must be booked in advance, with a 50% deposit. Please take note of the age restrictions on classes as the sewing machines can be quite tricky for small hands to use. Come and see us in the shop or give us a ring on 01233 612278 for more information.

The Sewing Bee is Back!

contestants

Arriving just in time to keep our Me Made May inspiration going ahead full steam, the first episode of the new series of the Great British Sewing Bee hit our screens on Monday night, and we were all agog with excitement. More pattern matching, more tricky construction, a new judge and plenty of sewing dramas ensued and no doubt there will be plenty more to come as the series goes on. Whether you are a seasoned sewer, a complete newbie or somewhere in between this is compulsive viewing for anyone interested in having a nose into how other people sew.

One of the most obvious changes to the programme for series 4 is the removal of WI advocate and sewing expert May Martin, and the arrival of new judge Esme Young, a senior lecturer at London’s Central St Martin’s College and costume designer, just like our Clair! Any doubts that she wouldn’t be up to the mark were dispelled instantly as she thoroughly scrutenised the contestants’ bias cut tops and used the word “arse” to great effect when describing Angeline’s wiggle skirt from the final challenge. Her cutting edge credentials are also backed up by her Hackney studio which has produced garments for films like Trainspotting and Bridget Jones’ Diary.

judges

Patrick is back though and in a weird twist, is being much nicer to the sewers than he was last year – maybe series 4 is his turn to play good cop … And of course how could we not mention the ever delightful Claudia Winkleman! Mad as a box of frogs and always ready with a quick one-liner about dungarees or how she wants to force Patrick into a satin ballgown, Claudia is very much the jam in the judge roly poly, and we adore her for it.
angeline
The first episode is always a bit of a jumble when it comes to meeting the contestants and learning their names and backgrounds as there are so many of them and it’s more about what they’re making rather than who they are; we’re still very much at the stage of “the one that did the thing with the lace” and “the man with the big quiff,” but as the worst sewers start to drop out, we have no doubt we’ll start to pick our favourites, as well as remember some of their names. People to watch at this stage we think are Angeline for her fantastic wiggle skirt, Joyce for being such a speedy sewer, and Rumana for her simple but unusual obi skirt.
rumana
Asides from all the great sewing, there are always a few wince inducing moments, or scenes that make us feel marginally better because we’ve made the same idiotic mistake in a minute of non-concentration, all of which makes for fantastic telly. Stand out moments for us so far include: tut-tutting at so many skirts being made in the refashioning project, having a quiet titter (as well as a sympathetic Aww) when footballer Josh kept cutting out the same side of his bias top over and over again, and Duncan taking the shears to his final showcase circle skirt minutes before the end, and just hacking wildly into what we assume was very expensive silk. Anything that makes you shout at the television is good in our opinion, and we can’t wait for next week’s episode on children’s clothes.
josh
Feeling inspired by the Sewing Bee? We’ve got plenty of patterns in stock, including the brand new Doris from Sew Over It, classes aplenty and a whole wall and a half of fabric. Pop in for a chat, see what takes your fancy and you could be sewing up a storm in no time.

 

Sew Over It Patterns in Stock

patterns2

A very exciting package from London arrived this week, containing a whole world of pattern based inspiration – it was a big old box of patterns from the lovely people at Sew Over It!

This time we’ve got the entire collection on the shelves (or table actually) so you can choose from a whole array of exciting patterns, from simple to a little more complicated, including dresses, trousers, blouses and skirts. All of which means you could basically create yourself an entire wardrobe from this fantastic collection. And if you’re still in need of Me Made May inspiration, then check out the entire range and see what tickles your sewing fancy.

betty

Dresses
Many of you will know that the Sew Over It designs have been inspired by vintage patterns and styles; in fact two of the most famous patterns are named (and inspired) by the leading ladies of the classic Mad Men series. Betty, and the more recent addition, Joan, give you the chance to recreate a little fifties and sixties elegance with your makes, and let you pretend that you’ve spent the day flirting with John Hamm if you feel like it. Where Betty is big and flowy with a full circle skirt and no sleeves, Joan is super sexy and figure hugging, but either way they’re bound to make you feel fabulous; Betty is a super easy make, great for beginner’s, whilst Joan is a little more suited to those with a few more sewing skills.

teadress

More old school style comes courtesy of the 1940s Tea Dress, which should make you feel like your great aunt flirting with GIs in the village hall, and the Vintage Shirt Dress which is a little more fifties feeling. Both dresses are a great make for both winter and summer, as you can make it in lighter or heavier weight fabric to suit – terribly elegant as well as being very comfortable, these are a great designs that don’t use up too much fabric and will definitely become a staple part of your wardrobe.

wrapdress

Slightly more modern, but still retaining very classic and timeless elements, the Ultimate Shift Dress and the Ultimate Wrap Dress are both fantastic for beginners.

trousers
Tops and Bottoms
Perfect for summer and for layering in colder weather, the Pussy Bow Blouse is all great for the more advanced sewer, and the Ultimate Trousers can be made in so many different fabrics and altered slightly to give you as many pairs as you could possibly need. The Ultimate Pencil Skirt finishes off the collection as the perfect wiggle skirt, just right for sixties style vixens who fancy flaunting their curves.

doris

And finally, coming soon, the brand new Doris Dress, which is simply perfect for summer! A very easy make, this sleeveless, round necked dress with a simple tie waist, is just waiting to be taken on picnics or down to the beach, out to the park or off for a day trip somewhere hot and sunny. Only recently released by Sew Over It, this new pattern is destined to hit the Emporia shelves sometime next week – so keep your eyes peeled!

 

 

Me Made May Competition and Classes

patternwall

We’re one week into may already and Clair and I have been taking pics of ourselves in our me made garments to keep track of everything we wear – so now it’s time for you to do the same! Last year we celebrated with a giveaway competition to reward those of you who are out there sewing with our fabrics, and this year we’ve decided to do the same again, except we’re going bigger and better!

Indigo ikats would make perfect floaty skirts or loose trousers

Indigo ikats make perfect floaty skirts or loose trousers

If you have been busy making your own clothes with any of our fabrics, or making clothes for someone else be they your friend, neighbour, mum, dad, child or grandparent, all you need to do is take a photo of them in your fabulous creation and post it on Facebook, making sure you tag us in the description. Alternatively, you (or your mate) can come into the shop and we’ll take a pic of you to put on our noticeboard and we’ll enter you into the competition that way. Simples!

Summer brights

Summer brights

The options are endless – been on one of our reversible dress classes recently? Show us what you made with the pattern after you learnt the basics from Clair; been inspired by some of our funky patterns to make something for the summer? Crack on with it now and get to wear it and enjoy it during May, as well as being in with a chance to enter the competition. Perhaps you’ve gone home with some of our bargainous vintage fabrics and have knocked up something with a suitably vintagey pattern – get out that camera and show us! All we ask is that the fabric came from us and that what you’ve made is a piece of clothing for a human being. (although, if anyone has made a dog coat or a pair of trousers for a goat out of our fabrics, we would absolutely love to see it, but that would be a different competition altogether.)

Greys and mustards are very on trend right now

Greys and mustards are very on trend right now

So, you’ve made your dress (skirt, shirt, jacket, pyjamas, blouse, waistcoat etc) and you’ve taken a photo and shown it off to us and everyone else – what next? You can either sit back and wait for the end of the month when Clair and I will decide who walks off with the prize of a pattern from the shop, plus enough fabric to be able to make it, or you can carry on sewing! There’s nothing to stop you from entering again – and in fact given that it is Me Made May, we’d really like it if you made some clothes for yourself and then actively wore them. And we’d really, really like it if you thought about signing up for Me Made May officially and made a little pledge about how often you will wear your self made clothes throughout the month – even if it’s just once or twice, or you made one item that you can wear lots like a pair of pyjama bottoms, it still means you are participating and celebrating your sewing skills.

Tilly and the Buttons, and Sew Over It

Tilly and the Buttons, and Sew Over It

And if you’re looking for a little inspiration, we’ve got plenty of patterns in the shop from Threadcount, Tilly and the Buttons (currently only £10.00 each) and the entire collection from Sew Over It is due to arrive at the beginning of next week – so now you have no excuse not to get making. Feel like you need a little hand holding to get you started? Fear not! There are plenty of classes taking place during May that will get you happy and sewing in no time. Take a look!

Feature panels make for stunning dresses

Feature panels make for stunning dresses

Me Made May Classes
Saturday 7th – Beginners Sewing £30.00
Tuesday 10th – Reversible Dress Class £45.00
Wednesday 11th – Beginners Sewing £30.00
Wednesday 18th – Amelie Dress Class £50.00
Thursday 19th – Pyjama Bottoms Class £45.00
Tuesday 24th – Reversible Dress Class £45.00
Thursday 26th – A-line Skirt Class £45.00

All these lovely classes with the lovely Clair, and a whole load of new fabrics which have arrived recently just waiting to be transformed into something special for the summer. Come and join us for Me Made May and see if your talents can’t win you a prize!

Competition entry closes at 5pm on Tuesday 31st May 2016 – the winner and runner up will be announced on Monday 6th June 2016 and will be contacted by email or phone. The judges decision is final.

 

Interview with Lampshades by Weird and Gilly

maplampshades

This week we take time to talk to Lampshades by WeirdandGilly, who have recently moved into the craft corner at Emporia with their iconic map lampshades. Producing a wide variety of geographically themed lampshades and other gifty items, they also like to make use of our funky fabrics to cover some of their shades. From their best seller map fairy lights to their huge standard lampshades in unusual prints, the ladies talk about what inspires them to create and how they came up with their business name.

Who are you and what do you do? 
We are Janine (Weird) Frost and Nicola (Gilly) Gillham and we make lampshades. During our making sessions our children were often present and one of them joked that we should call ourselves WeirdandGilly from the song Ziggy Stardust, which references his mum’s surnames, and his mum’s friends weirdness! The name stuck and serves as a tribute to David Bowie fans, as they are the ones that ‘get it’!

How did you get into crafting?
About four years ago we both had part time jobs in the same playgroup, which conveniently combined looking after our own similarly aged young children with earning some money. As the children grew up we knew it was time to move on from the world of pre-school children. A lifelong interest in handmade items, and the desire to have unique items in our homes, lead to learning the technique of lampshade making.  We both agreed that the thrill of producing a handmade professional looking item was addictive.

mapfairylights

Who and what inspires you to create?
We are mainly inspired by pattern and colour which we then visualise onto a lampshade, it is very much driven by our own personal taste, with the occasional wacky idea thrown in.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Lush Designs of Greenwich for their characteristic hand drawn imagery transferred on to lampshades; Cream Cornwall, whose work is inspired by the colours of sea, sky and land, who produce lampshades and other products using these designs; Sarah Moore, winner of The Great Interior Design Challenge and Presenter of BBC1′s Money for Nothing, for her creativity and enthusiasm for upcycling.

mapbrooch

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
We went forth to a local craft fair on Father’s Day in a working men’s club in a fairly remote area, naively worried that we didn’t have enough stock. We had plenty of complimentary comments, but absolutely no sales. Needless to say we were not deterred and convinced ourselves that we had ‘launched’ in the wrong location on the wrong day! Thankfully we were right, and this initial event turned out to be our only ‘zero’ sales experience.

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Ruler, tape measure, pencil, enthusiasm and patience!

birdlamp

Name three of your most popular designs.
Our map lampshades – made from original vintage maps – are one of our most popular products, and in a bid to use the leftover map scraps, we have other products including strings of mini lampshade fairy lights, coasters, map bunting and brooches.

Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
We have recently embarked on an exciting new venture, together with four other traders from Faversham Market -we have signed up to trade in a hut in Whitstable Harbour Market. It is looking likely that we will be trading from May 2016 so do come and pay us a visit next time you are in Whitstable.

What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop this year.
We are in the process of developing more of our popular map products, and planning to do some fabric printing and then using this to make some truly unique lampshades.

Getting Ready for Me Made May

mmm16

Now that the school holidays are just about over and we can finally sit back down at our sewing machines without a horde of fiddly fingered little people constantly poking and prodding at our bobbins and pins, etc, we suddenly realised that May is only three weeks away! Which means The Great British Sewing Bee returns to our screens! Hurrah! But not only that – it also means that we get to celebrate the sewing skills of everyone by taking part in the fantastic scheme that is Me Made May, which calls for an even bigger hurrah!

For those not in the know, Me Made May 16 is a fantastic celebration of sewing and self-made wardrobes which was set up by avid sewer and blogger So Zo to encourage people to not just make clothes, but actively wear them with pride and enjoy the sense of achievement that comes with it. Ever since she first came up with the concept in 2010, more and more sewers from around the world have signed up, whether they have been sewing for years or just a few months or weeks, to create a truly global community of like-minded crafters. And once again for 2016, we are joining in with hundreds of other people to take part and make our self-sewn (or knitted, crocheted, woven, etc) pledges.

zoewinner

Last year’s winner, Zoe, modelling her fabulous dress.

Last year we ran a competition to celebrate the creative month, where we asked anyone who had sewn some clothes for themselves (or a child, friend or relative) with our fabric to send us a photo of themselves wearing it, or even better come into the shop and show us in person. We love to see what you all make with our fabrics, so this gives us an even bigger excuse than normal to be nosy! The winner then received a voucher to spend in the shop, and in 2015 it was Zoe with her fabulous Tilly and the Buttons dress made from our gorgeously grown up pretty Gutermann collection.

ccmmm15

A selection of my MMM wardrobe from last year.

We also charted our own Me Made May wears throughout the month so we could look back at the end of the process and see just how many items of our self-made wardrobe we could actually put on, and not just in May, but the rest of the time too. Which is kind of the point for MMM for us – it reminds us that we do have quite a few sewing skills to hand and we do actually own quite a few hand made garments, which we could be wearing much more often. It also gives us the requisite kick up the bum to actually get on with several projects that we’ve been contemplating for a while – I for one have been meaning to make a second pair of culottes for about three years now, so if I haven’t even started some by the end of May 2016, you are all allowed to come into the shop and pester me about it until I have finished them, whether I like it or not. Zoe is keen to state that MMM is not about forcing yourself to churn out as many items of clothing as physically possible throughout the month, but if you need a little incentive to get going, it is the perfect excuse.

chmmm

Clair’s MMM makes and wears.

So what do you do now? Well, decide what you want to pledge, ie. what you’re going to wear and when, then head over to the official site, and sign up, along with all the other sewers, knitters, crocheters, upcyclers and stitchers. And if you have your own blog or Instagram page, you can share your makes/wears with the tag #MMM16 and grab the official badge to put on your site from So Zo too. Clair is pledging to wear a self made item every day of the month, and I will be wearing something homemade every day I’m in the shop and at least two other days of the week too, so you can keep an eye on how we’re doing throughout MMM. Once you’ve made your pledge, let us know your plans and what last minute sewing you’re planning on doing throughout April and May – and don’t forget to enter the competition!

Interview with Jenni Rogers

braceletturquoise

This week we take some time to talk to one of our newer crafters, Jenni Rogers, who makes the most stunning silver jewellery. Having spent large amounts of her time travelling the globe and discovering new ways of life, Jenni settled on a career in jewellery making with silver and precious stones after she had her daughter. Take a look at her fantastic designs and read about how she goes about making them:

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Jenni Rogers and I make jewellery for living.

How did you get into crafting?
My partner and I went travelling and ended up in Nepal where we got really sick. After a year in Asia I would have thought our tummies would have been up to the local food, but no! So we spent a few weeks sitting in a garden chilling and buying lapis, turquoise and Tigers eye and experimenting with making jewellery. Years later I started making Swarovski jewellery and taught myself the basics. From there I went on an adult education course a few hours a week and learnt silversmithing techniques.

amoniteearrings

Who and what inspires you to make your designs?
Me, really – when I sit down and look at the metals, that’s when I start feeling inspired. And, of course the stones I use.

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
It just happened, there was no decision really. I just started selling to mates, then went to a local fete and put my duvet cover on a table and got it all out (how bad is that?!) and it just progressed naturally.

bracelets

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Well, with anything you do, you have to have passion: there’s no point in doing something day in day out unless you’re passionate about what you’re doing. Cash, determination, and being prepared to work seven days a week. I can’t think of a fifth!

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Anyone who makes anything beautiful to the eye. If you smile when you see the craft, whatever it may be, it’s done its job.

earrings

Name three of your most popular designs.
Small pendants, hammered bangles and reticulated rings. I personally love the stone necklaces which encorporate things like African opal, turquoise, ruby and sapphire.

If you weren’t a jeweller what would you be doing with your time?
No idea! Before I started making jewellery I was packing parachutes for a living at Headcorn airfield, where I also ran a veggie cafe later on. I then went travelling the world with my partner Chris who is a skydiving instructor. I was getting pretty fed up with that and was booked on a course to go and train with Monty Roberts on a horse whispering course, when I found out I was pregnant when we were in Malaysia and it all stopped. When my daughter was three I started making jewellery again, she’s now 15.

bracelets2

What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you at the Emporia this year.
I’ve been working on some poppy seed head designs recently, which I’m going to turn into cufflinks, rings, earrings and pendants. I plan on using some uncut sapphires and using natural casting techniques this year too. I’ve also been experimenting with merchandising so you can expect to see my market stalls looking a little different this year too.

Jenni’s beautiful silver jewellery has been on sale at Emporia for just over a month now and already it’s proving extremely popular with our customers. If you haven’t been in to take a look in person, then now is the time to do so, and if you’ve already seen what’s on display, then fear not as new pieces will be arriving in April.

Easter Craft Classes

bunnyeggs

Contrary to what you might think, Easter isn’t just about having time off, eating chocolate, and watching the telly – there’s also plenty of opportunity for getting crafty! We’ve got several exciting classes taking during the run up to Easter weekend and over the school holidays too, including a chance to try some delicious locally handmade chocolate. Take a look at our line up and see what takes your fancy …

freshchoc

Chocolate Tasting – 12pm – 2pm Wednesday 23rd March 2016
Not strictly a class or a workshop, but still very much worth turning up for. Cocoa Belle invites you to sample some of her delicious chocolate in the shop just in time for Easter weekend. Come and try some of her amazing flavour combos and treat someone you love to something different this Easter.

eggbunnies

Decoupage Bunnies – 10.30am – 12.30pm Thursday 24th March 2016
Join Jaina for a delightful adults decoupage class where you can make two of these super cute fabric decoupage decorative hanging bunnies. A lovely easy class that requires you to have no specific skill, just a bit of patience and a steady hand. £30.00 per person, fabric and supplies included.

Kid’s Easter Egg Bag Making – 11am – 12pm & 1pm – 2pm Friday 25th March 2016
Kids can get ready for the Easter weekend with these two Good Friday classes – little ones can decorate a bag with felt cut outs or pom poms, while the older ones can make their very own bags to go hunting for eggs with. £12.00 per child – booking is essential.

rabbitpens

Kid’s Rabbit Pen Workshop – 10.30am – 11.30am Wednesday 30th March 2016
Jaina returns again to help keep kids busy over the Easter holidays. Children over the age of four can can make their very own enchanting Easter Rabbit egg pen in this lovely decoupage class. Spaces must be booked in advance – £12.00 per child.

Beginner’s Sewing – 10.30am – 12.30pm Saturday 2nd April 2016
Not just for Easter, this beginner’s session should get you off the starting line and starting to make easy projects such as pencil cases, cushion covers, headbands, simple skirts and lots more. The class costs £30.00 and is suitable for anyone over 8.

pencilscases

Kid’s Pencil Case Class – 11am – 12pm Monday 4th April 2016
Clair will be teaching special kid’s class es this Easter holiday to give parents a break and keep children entertained. Kids can make their very own pencil cases in this Monday morning class. £20.00 per child, suitable for 8+.

cloudskirt

Kid’s Make a Simple Skirt Class – 1pm – 2.30pm Thursday 7th April 2016
The second special kid’s sewing class invites children to make themselves a super simple skirt. Suitable for over 8’s only, kids can choose from any of our fabulous cottons to make a unique addition to their wardrobes.

If you would like to book a place on any of our Easter classes, give us a ring on 01233 612278 or email us via the contact form. Alternatively come into the shop and pay a 50% deposit to guarantee yourself a space.

Interview with Cocoa Belle

bars

This week we take the time to meet another of our newest crafters, and this time it’s Katie from Cocoa Belle of Folkestone. Just in time for Easter, this talented chocolatier has filled several of our shelves with her imaginative and delicious chocolate based treats. Take a look at her interview to see what it takes to make be in charge of a deliciously creative business.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Katie and I am a chocolatier and run Cocoa Belle, making handmade chocolates in Kent.

How did you get into crafting?
From a young age I was always in the kitchen and reading cookery books, and in 2010 I started a cake making business making celebration and wedding cakes whilst working full time. It was when I was making cakes and sometimes working with chocolate that I fell in love with it. In January 2015 I completed a three month chocolate training programme and shortly after left my day job and set up Cocoa Belle!

chocsmarket

Who and what inspires you to create?
I get my inspiration mainly from what I like to eat or drink and try and work this into my chocolate creations. My other love in life is travel and some of my chocolates are inspired by my adventures abroad. I once tried mango with lime, chilli powder and parmesan cheese – and it worked! One day I will make a chocolate version. I also listen to my customers about what they want and am always willing to give new ideas a try.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
None chocolate related, but I really admire people who can paint. I have come across many really talented painters since Cocoa Belle started.

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
I made the leap in April 2015 and it was the scariest and most exciting thing I have done. Every day brings a new challenge.

freshchoc

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Support – Someone needs to be able to give you the confidence in what you’re doing and push you further. Having your own business also takes up a lot of your time. Your friends and family need to support you in every way.

Self-belief – If you don’t believe in yourself, that will come across when you are trying to sell your product.

Passion – I work very long hours at key times of the year and wake up early and stand in the freezing cold and rain every weekend at markets. If it wasn’t for the fact I love what I do, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Hard Work – Its not just making the product, it’s also creating good packaging, selling, doing the accounts, stock control, marketing, meeting with stockists, and quite often waking up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea.

Confidence – You need to be able to sell your product and to do that you need to talk to people. I often see people at craft fairs who don’t talk to customers at their stall, and so they don’t sell anything despite it being a great product. People like to know about the producer as well as the item.

Name three of your most popular designs.
The Lemon and Lime bar. Most people tell me they are unsure the flavours will work before they try it, but it’s very citrusy and refreshing, and it’s by far my best seller. The Rose Bar – turkish delight in bar without the squidginess – and the Salted Caramel Discs – the sweetness of the chocolate followed by the salt that melts on your tongue – ate also very popular.

If you weren’t a chocolatier, what would you be doing with your time?
I would be doing something creative and most likely with food. Or travelling the world.

boxedchoc

Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
I run several workshops for both adults and children. The children’s ones are generally for birthday parties where they make chocolate pizzas. For adults I regularly run chocolate truffle workshops or one to one tuition, as well as hen party chocolate making sessions and corporate workshops.

What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you at the Emporia this year.
I am working on a new range of chocolate bars with more unusual flavours – watch this space for things like salt and pepper, wasabi, and strawberry and pink pepppercorn.

And if you would like to try some of Katie’s amazing chocolate combos for yourself, you can get your hands on her Easter eggs, flavoured bars, and fresh chocolate truffles now. Plus, there will be a special chocolate tasting session taking place at Emporia on Wednesday 23rd March around lunchtime – keep your eyes on our Facebook page for timings – so pop in and try out her amazing flavour combinations and see if you can’t satisfy your Easter egg cravings all in one.

Interview with Rosanna Clare

purses

We’ve been lucky enough to welcome several new crafters to our collection recently, so for a few weeks you can find out more about their work and what you can expect to find on the shelves of Emporia. This week we take a closer look at Rosanna Clare’s brand new recycled leather and wood jewellery and bags, and see what inspires her to run her business the way she does, as well as why she made the leap from teaching D&T to children to going solo as a professional crafter.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rosanna Clare Gethin and I am a designer and maker of all things wood and leather! I have 10 years experience of teaching Design & Technology in various schools across the UK, and I also undertook a two year stint at an international school in Switzerland teaching children how to make products in wood, metal, plastic and textiles. However, I have also been making leather bags and accessories for several years on the side. I decided to take the plunge and quit the day job to do this full-time in the summer of 2015. So far, so good!

How did you get into crafting?
My mum is a painter and picture framer and my dad is very good with all things DIY (his dad was a carpenter and he has a lot of his old tools), so arts/crafts are in my blood! I have two sisters and remember times when we were all sat round on a rainy day doing crafts like painting, drawing, papier mache, making clay sculptures etc. that my mum had shown us how to do. I always liked art & design at school and being brought up in a creative household, it was inevitable that craft would be part of my adult life.

triangleearrings

Who and what inspires you to create?
My friends and family are a great inspiration to me. I have four nieces and nephews and love to make them crafty gifts. I like to think that although they might not fully appreciate a handmade teddy as a two year old, they will treasure it in years to come (more so than an Xbox!). I have always loved Art Deco and geometric shapes and these often feature in my work.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
There are too many to name but there are many designer-makers whose work and ethos I admire. As I like to use upcycled materials and offcuts in my designs, I look to other designers who have been successful doing a similar thing: Orsola de Castro is the founder of From Somewhere, a company that makes clothes out of recycled offcuts of luxury materials; Peg and Awl based in Philadelphia, make products such as childrens’ swings from reclaimed wood; and I love the natural beauty and craftsmanship of the work by artist Andy Goldsworthy.

red-purse

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
I have only just started, am no expert and still learning but I would say:
Support: having supportive friends and family is essential! Especially for times when you feel like giving up, having people who care giving you words of encouragement and advice is essential.
Research: this is important in every aspect of starting a business but particularly in pricing your work and how to do it. If you don’t price correctly and fairly (to yourself!) then you won’t have a business. (I’m still learning)
Planning: write a business plan! This sounds scary but doesn’t have to be. Just a simple one page document to start off with, stating your aims and objectives for your business, rough budget and expectations over a period of time. And keep updating and referring back to it, there is no point writing one if you never refer to it.
Social media/good photos: I’m no technology whizz but the web is an amazing tool for any craft business. Get an online shop going and post good photos of your work (or hire someone to do it for you); this is essential if you want people to buy your products online.
Determination & passion: Okay, I know this takes me six but I think these two go hand in hand and, in my opinion, you can’t have one without the other. Anyone can start a business but making it a successful one takes time and hard work, and if you are not determined and passionate about what you do then you will find it very hard not to give up when times get tough.

Name three of your most popular designs.
This is a tricky one as they tend to change on a regular basis but one of my most popular items is the waxed cotton and leather tote bag. I also make some brightly coloured coin purses which have been very popular. My range of earrings, both the leather tassel ones and laser cut oak studs, have sold well.

waxedct

Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
Yes, I run some workshops up in Camden and have done some smaller workshops in my studio teaching people to make bags and leather accessories. I have also run a workshop with the local WI which was a refreshing change from a class of 30 teenagers.

What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop this year.
I will be continuing to bring new and exciting stock of bags and jewellery to sell at Emporia as well as hopefully running some leather workshops there too.

Thanks Rosanna! We’re so excited to have your lovely pieces on sale at Emporia, and we’re sure there are several lucky mums around Ashford who will be getting their hands on some of your unique pieces this Mother’s Day. And if you’re still not quite sure what to get for your mum, pop into the shop this weekend and check out some of other talented crafters’ wares, who we will be interviewing here on the blog very soon!

Reversible Dress Pattern Launch

raildresses

This week we are very, very excited to announce the launch of our first dress pattern! Clair has been working on this beautifully simple and oh so cute little girl’s dress for quite some time now and it’s finally all finished and ready to take home.

piratesstarwars

Back in May last year, Clair decided that she wanted to create her very own line of dress patterns and this was her first idea: a simple pattern, perfect for beginners that will allow sewers to show off not one but two gorgeous prints in one lovely little dress. Having worked on a prototype and developed it to fit a couple of small children we know, it then went off to be graded and pattern tested.

adelaide2

Once the other sizes were available, we held classes at the shop for people to make their own version under Clair’s tuition, which gave us the chance to take a look at the instructions and make alterations where necessary. Everyone who has attended the class has given us invaluable help in making sure everything was right and ensuring that the long process has been much more enjoyable. So many customers have been asking to buy the pattern for such a long time and we’ve had so many compliments about the dress, that it is really fantastic to finally be able to release it into the wild and give the sewing community the chance to start making their own Emporia Reversible Dresses!

dresswall

To celebrate the launch we are filling our shop and the window with as many different versions of the dress as we can to show off all the variety of patterns and prints you can use. Classes will still be available for those that need guidance, but for everyone that wants to take it home and sew it themselves, now you can!

patternenvelope

The Emporia Reversible Dress pattern is now available to buy from the shop for £8.00, in age 1 – 6. A reversible dress class takes place at 10.30am on Saturday 16th April 2016 – the class costs £45.00, please ring to book or pop in and see us in person to reserve a place.

Germany Part Two

trolley3

And so day two of our buying trip dawns bright and chilly and we head down to a fabulous breakfast at the hotel, where amongst other things, one can dine on the oddly named “Smacks” breakfast cereal. As we eat our fresh fruit and yoghurt, cold cheeses, smoked fish, and sausage balls, and drink our hot chocolate, we start to pull together our wish list of Swafing fabrics. There are a couple of areas we are certain to spend a lot of our time in, but others we are not so definite about, so we know there will be plenty of discussion on foot, as well as plenty of rushing back up and down the stairs to either replace or grab a bolt we have changed our minds about.

hotchoc

German hot chocolate, which comes with a portion of cream, peculiarly, on the side …

Soon enough the minibus comes and we are on the starting line, our scanner in hand and today’s trolley bearing the Emporia name: some of the others (namely Paul, from Fabrics Galore) have been here since 8am and we are now raring to go. Taking a quick squiz at what he’s already stacked on his trolley, we rush off with the likes of Tracey from Eastbourne and Kerry from Chatham at our shoulders as we all go about the very serious (but very enjoyable) business of choosing new fabric.

trolley1

One side of trolley based excitement …

This year we spend much more time looking at the upholstery section, which includes a few more linen and cotton blends, heavier weight pieces that have become more popular in the new shop – we look at styles featuring maps, animals silhouettes and simple polka dots. There’s also quite a bit of time spent dithering about with the fleece and faux fur as it’s very cold outside and we know that people at home are probably suffering from the chills of winter too. It’s all so soft, squishy and warm that we can’t resist chucking a few rolls on the trolley.

trolley2

The other side of exciting …

Next stop is the corduroy section; Clair has been longing for some of the needlecord for simply ages, so now her chance has come to take a good long look at it all and make a few choice decisions. Unfortunately, it was all just too lovely, and there much was much crying of “But I want that one too!” before we finally narrowed our selection down to a few brighter prints, some for boys, some for girls and some for everyone. And of course, there was much of the obligatory fabric dance which must be done by either of us while we debate what we might make from a particular print for ourselves. I’m not sure the factory workers were particularly impressed by this or the hysterical laughter coming from behind the shelving in the basement …

catsetc

Crazy cats, dogs and horses, that sadly didn’t make the grade …

There then followed more decisive selections from the jersey collections (a few key styles making a welcome return, plus some fabulous new ones), some very exciting sweatshirt material (which may sound like a contradiction in terms, but we promise they’re good’uns), and a quick stop at the bizarre animal print section, from which we returned with only one slightly bonkers print, which was a very special customer request. A few more unusual one offs got bunged on the trolley at the last minute, before the minibus heralded the end of our buying and decision making and we went hotel-wards once more.

tulips

Tulips from Amsterdam …

The following day was spent mostly on trains once more as we journeyed into Amsterdam for a few hours. There we found the obligatory tulips, which were a most welcome burst of colour on a grey winter’s day, a delightful fancy lunch in the Bijenkorf (Amsterdam’s equivalent of Selfridges) and a spot of touristy gazing at the beautiful 17th century architecture all whilst wearing our hand-knitted bobble hats. Then it was onto the plane, where all of us buyers from the South East end of the country slept like tired children at the end of a hard day’s play.

hats

Bobble hats and the canal …

There may not have been any snow on this year’s trip, but it was no less exciting than our first venture to Germany. We can’t wait for our new stock to arrive so we can start making and showing off all our amazing new fabrics to you lot, so you can feel just as inspired too. Keep your eyes peeled on the blog and at the shop for when the first deliveries start arriving …

We’re All Off To Germany!

swafingsign

Last week you may have noticed there was a devastating gap in your inbox, a fabric-shaped hole in your social media activity, a lack of pictures of all the best prints to inspire your creative mind and get your sewing hands itching – and that is because Clair and I had sneakily skipped off to Germany once more on our much anticipated fabric buying trip.

charandclair

Just as ridiculously excited as last time …

You may recall the absolute giddiness with which we approached the trip to Nordhorn, which is located just over the border from Holland, last year. It was very much like an exciting school trip, which unfortunately involved getting up at 4am, where we would be able to spend all our time talking to like minded fabric addicts and run amock along the rows of beautiful bolts at the factory, fantasising about what we would be able to make with everything on the shelves. And much as we were determined to be a teensy weensy little bit more grown up about the whole thing year, we pretty much failed, and were just as giddy and just as school-childish, getting over excited by the new collections and constantly gibbering about which ones might make the best pyjamas.

swafing1

Colourful bolts of loveliness …

The only significant differences this year were that we knew we wanted to come home with more than just new jersey, so instead of going to the hotel for a chat and a cup of hot chocolate when we arrived, we headed straight to the factory to get started. Being up since four in the morning and not eating a great deal during the day doesn’t really prepare your mind terribly well for making sensible decisions and being able to focus precisely on what would go down well in the shop. So knowing that we needed to do a full run of the entire factory and see precisely everything that was available, we started on the mammoth task of recceying all three floors and running up and down all the aisles, cooing and oohing at everything until we basically made ourselves completely fabric blind.

swafing2

Lots of amazing jersey

Since last year Swafing have finished building a brand new processing plant which means that they now carry a much wider range of fabric styles, so this year we faced the prospect of looking at and potentially buying: jersey, cotton prints, fleece, faux fur, corduroy, linen, flannel, toweling, velour, wool, upholstery fabric, oilcloth, vegan leather, lace, lycra, satin, and a whole load of other less exciting stuff like bondaweb and interfacing.  Once again the big rolls of fleece looked all too inviting as we succumbed to terrible choice paralysis and simply wanted to lie down under a table or hide inside the goods lift on our trolley. (Fun fact about the Swafing goods lift – if you are rather tired and not concentrating on how it actually works, you can stand outside it with your massive trolley full of fabrics getting in the way of all the people who work there, repeatedly pressing the button and not getting very far, until a kind German man appears and tells you to press and hold, and then steers your wayward trolley into the lift for you, before walking off whilst clearly thinking to himself that those ladies look a little bit crazed behind the eyes.)

riverside

The very comfortable Riverside hotel …

There is such a thing as too much choice sometimes, and when you are low on energy getting carried away is all too easy and making acute decisions is not; this then lead us to making the most sensible decision of the day – to have a bit of a sit down and a nice cup of tea, in typically British style. After a restorative brew we were able to start thinking a bit more productively and actually put a few bolts on the trolley in a more organised fashion. But soon it was time for the minibus to take us back to the hotel for a night of pizza, wine, and endless discussion about fabric shops with all the other buyers.

wine

And relax …

Tune in next week, lovely readers, to hear more about what we actually bought and how we wowed the crowds of Amsterdam with our matching bobble hats.

 

Brushed Cottons and Funky New Prints

tigerbirdgold

This week our fabulous funky brushed cotton finally arrived just in time for our first pyjama making workshop this weekend. Alongside some very cute designs that are destined to keep the legs and bottoms of both children and grownups cosy this month were some extremely delicious cotton prints that we can’t resist sharing with you now. Take a look at all the gorgeousness now on the shelves in the shop and see if how hard it is to resist rushing into town and grabbing some lions or tigers or zebras (oh my!) to make into something comforting and warm.

brushedcottonnew

These are our new super duper brushed cottons: perfect for little and big kids, and dare we say it, even adults. Cute zebras and lions, marching soldiers and nighttime stars, all in lovely soft flannel, on the bolt at £16.00 a metre.

It’s not obligatory to make your pjs out of brushed cotton, you can always go for smooth, cool cotton instead – how about a pair in these funky zebra or leopard print numbers?

animalprints

Or try something a little more romantic, with these pink and red apples, or some big blooming roses.

roseapples

It’s not all about pyjamas though. More new prints could be turned into some fantastic creations, as clothing, accessories or homeware. Fans of all things gothic should appreciate these potato print style skulls, available in pink, blue or grey backgrounds.

skullmix

Red, grey and white make for a bold skull print mix, while the scratchy line drawing version from Michael Miller is ideal for serious statement pieces.

redskulls

These gold and plain mixes are just wishing the days away until we hit warmer weather – the turquoise would look amazing against tanned skin we think.

golds

Whereas these raindrops are much more appropriate for the current weather, but no less lovely.

raindrops

And finally we are completely in love with these gorgeous soft grey and mustard gold tigers, peacock feathers and birds. Feast your eyes on how well they all go together! We’re thinking amazing double quilt, making use of some of the gold and taupe stripe too. Just amazing.

goldgreyquiltmix

If you missed out on this weekend’s pyjama bottom making class, fear not as there is another one coming up soon – book yourself a place on Saturday 27th February and you could be making yourself or a friend a fabulous pair too. 

 

Meet the Staff – Raquel

raquel

This week we take some time to have a chat to Raquel who has been successfully running the show for us on Saturdays since well before Christmas. Coming from a home interiors background, she has shed a different yet equally creative eye on the proceedings at the shop, and her enthusiasm for all our lovely wares has been a delight to witness – read on to hear her take on what’s what at Emporia.

Who are you and what is your position at Emporia?
My name is Raquel and I am the Saturday manager, working alongside lovely Millie.

What have you been doing since you started?
I started working at Emporia back in October last year. Working only once a week is a little tricky as it has taken me a while to get to grips with the versatility of the business, as Emporia is so much more than a shop selling beautiful fabrics. I have assisted with some of the children’s sewing parties which has been so much fun! Also meeting the local customers and helping them choosing anything from the shop, from fabric to wool or presents has been a highlight as I really enjoy chatting and everyone is very friendly.

What else do you do with your time?
I have a very active three year old boy who keeps me on my toes constantly. Recently we moved from London to Ashford so getting used to the country life has taken my s lot of my attention. We have a massive garden and I have been busy just keeping it tidy. Also I have been making curtains for all the rooms in the cottage where we live as each of the windows seems to be a different size, but it has been great getting my sewing machine out of the cupboard.

raqueltables

What crafts do you like to do?
I make fabric handbags for family and friends in a patchwork style; every one is different and I customise them according to taste. It’s a bit of a hobby and I enjoy making them although is time consuming. I also love upcycling old furniture, giving the pieces a new lease of life. I worked in a paint shop for ten years so I became quite knowledgeable about the techniques as well as getting very into choosing the right colours to achieve a beautiful result. Recently I have been working on a nest of tables and I am pleased with the outcome of both. Painting is very relaxing!

Are there any fabrics that have caught your eye so far? Do you have any plans to make anything with them?
There are so many I like! Anything bright catches my eye and I love some of the children’s fabrics, but my favourites are the ones with a retro feeling about them. I have never tried using patterns properly and I would love to get into it and maybe make something simple for myself like a skirt or a dress. I see Clair wearing amazing clothes she makes with fabric from the shop and I get so jealous, it makes me want to start a competition to create the new Emporia uniform for the staff, so watch this space!

floralbrights

We’ve got loads of classes taking place at the shop currently – which ones from the spring 2016 list inspire you?
I am very fortunate working on Saturdays when many of the classes take place so I have been watching and wishing I was one of the learners. I would like to sit down with Mandy for the patchwork class as I could definitely do with learning the technique properly to use it on my fabric handbags. Also the pyjamas workshop sounds like my cup of tea and would be great to make them for presents or treats.

Thanks Raquel! A competition to design a staff uniform eh? Only if it can feature pyjama bottoms …

(And if you’re interested in making your own pj bottoms, or some for a friend or child of yours, pop into the shop for more info on the classes taking place on Saturday 30th January and Saturday 27th February 2016.)

New Collections from Makower

newcabinet

A very exciting couple of parcels arrived at the shop this week, containing our very first proper delivery of new fabrics for 2016. Following on from our visit to a very chilly Henley back in November, we were thrilled to rip open the packing tape and get our hands on some of the brand new collections that we order a couple of months ago; some of them may seem a little summery for this wintry weather we’re having right now, but there’s nothing like looking forward to spring and warmer days to inspire you for your first makes of the year.

newselection

Including a gorgeous range of ever popular nautical designs, fresh spring colours, funky new polka dots and Scandi style florals, we’re sure there are plenty of prints here that will spark your sewing imaginations.

nauticalselection

We simply cannot get enough of the beautiful seaside and nautical inspired collection: sea shells, star fish, beach huts, sail boats, signal flags and life belts, all come together in bright red, soft blues and greys, French navy and linen cream to create these luscious designs. Alongside the standard prints, there are also pre-printed bunting outlines and a panel of beach huts, which are just perfect for super easy and quick makes.

nauticalpanelquilt

Clair has already created this lovely lap quilt, backed with the pretty star fish in navy and cream.

travel

Already thinking about jetting off to foreign climes for a little hot weather break? Take a look at the vacation collection for some holiday inspiration – vintage style illustrations of mopeds, sunglasses, passports and stylish ladies are all printed in sunny greens, corals and blues, with hints of red and orange. The airmail stamps are the ideal extra to add to this quirky mix.

rabbitspixels

More spring colours and cute designs come courtesy of the rabbits and pandas in pink and green; pair them with their matching pixel square prints for a gorgeous, fresh take on baby quilts and clothing for little people.

floralraindrops

These amazing Scandinavian style big print floral designs and their leaf counterparts are just crying out to be used in all sorts of creative ways. Little girls dresses, bags, culottes, funky quilts, cushions, bunting – the list just goes on and on. We can’t wait to see what you lot come up with for these prints.

giantspots

The final new collection is a fabulous range of giant polka dots which will blend with all the other new collections is just the icing on the cake. Take a look at all these beautiful colours and we are sure you’ll instantly fall in love with at least three of them.

And if you’re on the look out for some more wintry style fabrics, fear not – our long awaited selection of brushed cottons are on the way soon! Perfect for using in our pyjama bottoms workshops on Saturday 30th January, these will be making a big impact on the shop, so keep your eyes peeled for news of more exciting deliveries!

New Year Sale!

Happy New Year to all our customer and welcome to 2016! We hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a well deserved break, with lots of eating, drinking and general merriment. We were closed for a whole week and a half, which was very lovely, but now we’re back and itching to get on with our new year projects. There’s a whole host of exciting classes scheduled between now and March for you to get stuck into, and we’ve got plenty of exciting things planned for the shop too. So all in all, we’re hoping that 2016 brings all of us lots of inspiring and exciting sewing projects.

And for those of you on the hunt for a bargain or two, we have loads of unusual and interesting prints in our January sale at £8.00, and all of our Christmas fabric is currently £6.50 a metre – so if you like planning ahead, now is the time to get inspired for the next festive season, or just add to your stash while the going is good!

Take a look at our sale collection and see what you can make from these reduced babies!

downton

musiccollection

And here’s all the Christmas stock, in case last month is too long ago to remember what we’ve got …

scandicollection

snowflakesetc

 

All sale fabrics are on sale at their reduced prices from now until Saturday 30th January 2016.

 

 

Last Minute Christmas Gifts and a Happy New Year!

fatquarters

Right, there are approximately 36 hours until Christmas Day dawns so if you’ve not got all your Christmas gifts done now is the time for a little constructive panic shopping. But fear not, we’ve got a few little extras hidden up our crafty sleeves, so if you need to bung a few extras into someone’s stocking or drop a couple of hints for the stressed out shoppers around you, read on …

bags

Our beautiful gift bags are perfect for quick fix presents – made from a range of gorgeous and funky fabrics, and full of lovely goodies, these will make someone very happy on Christmas morning. Choose from Wonder Woman, large bird prints, geometric florals, Star Wars or colour blocked butterflies; we’ve filled them with matching wool and super chunky knitting needles, crochet hooks and yarn, magazines and rotary cutters, merino wool and pattern books, but you’re welcome to fill a bag with as much or as little as you like.

magazines

Magazines are always a good bet and if you love sewing or patchwork, these babies will sort you right out. Pretty Patches comes crammed with masses of projects for all skill levels, and will certainly keep crafty types occupied over the holiday period; Love Sewing is the ideal magazine for those that want to get creative with their clothing over Christmas as it comes with a free paper pattern and instructions in the magazine itself for a whole load of other makes for you and your loved ones.

sewingtins

Our new sewing kits in large and small are cute and full of useful stuff: scissors, pin cushions, needles and thimbles. Just right for those that need a bit more organisation in their lives.

reversibledresses

Feel like giving a small girl an extra treat? Bag a reversible dress for anyone from the age of one to six from our range of fabulous fabrics – Bat Girl and festive gnomes are just two of our favourites.

headbands

Want to give a loved one a handmade gift but really don’t have the time? Grab a cable knit headband in a funky colour and give someone the gift of warm ears for Christmas.

Really can’t decide what to get? A fat quarter bundle is always a good answer – have a rummage through our massive selection and mix and match for yourself, or choose a pre-matched selection if you are in a real rush.

So all that’s left to say now is we hope, whatever presents you manage to get or make, that you have a very merry Christmas and a super happy New Year! See you in 2016!

New Classes for 2016

class

Christmas 2015 is nearly upon us – presents have (mostly) been bought, gifts have been lovingly created, the trees are up and the lights are making everything feel festive, Christmas songs are on the radio and it’s the last day of school before the kids are released and the holiday starts to feel more like a holiday. So what better way to spend those frantic last few days before the Big Day itself than by contemplating which lovely, calm and soothing workshops you can undertake in the new year!

We’ve got a whole host of classes, new and old, which will inspire your creativity and keep you sewing well into 2016 – take a look at the list of highlights below or click on the Classes page to scruntenise the whole shebang. And there.s still time to add in a few more sessions, so if there’s something you’d really like to see on our schedule, do get in touch and let us know – we might be able to make your crafty wishes come true!

reversibledress2

Clair’s Designs
So many people have asked for the patterns to Clair’s gorgeous little girl’s dresses that we’re introducing both the Reversible Dress and the Amelie Dress as workshops this year. The reversible dress is suitable for beginner’s due to it’s very simple but effective design, while the Amelie dress might be best for those with a little experience. However, both can be made from any of our beautiful and funky fabrics to create something special for a very lucky little girl. The classes cost £45.00 per person and take place on Wednesday 20th January (reversible) and Saturday 12th March (Amelie).

slouchybag

Mandy Munroe
Renowned patchwork designer Mandy is back at Emporia for a whole host of different classes in 2016, from beginners (16th January) through to more advanced sessions later on. Give yourself the chance to learn new skills with the intermediate session on Free Form Cutting (9th March), or try out a variety of applique techniques, both free hand and on the machine in a bunting workshop (23rd January). There’s also the traditional Log Cabin class (17th February) and the contemporary Sew and Slash class (12th March), and a chance to make a very trendy slouchy patchwork bag (27th March). All Mandy’s classes cost £60.00 per person – for more details on dates and times, take a look at the Classes page.

circleskirt

Aye Aye
Melissa of Aye Aye clothing is also coming back for the beginning of 2016 with two Circle Skirt classes on Saturday 30th January and Saturday 12th March, so you can make yourself a super swishy retro style skirt. And if you’d like to learn the basics of various sewing techniques then her Beginners Sessions will see you get to grips with the likes of zip insertion, buttons holes and other tricks on Saturday 13th February.

melissacowl

Knitting
There’s more knitting to be done in 2016 as the tide of newbie knitters carries on sweeping across the nation with their passion for chunky yarn and cables. Beginners sessions (£25.00 per person) take place on 30th January, 27th February and 5th March, with solo sessions available to book on weekdays by appointment. Fancy getting to grips with cables? Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll attempt to schedule in a cable class where you can make a cable cowl or a super soft merino headband – email lotte.jamieson@gmail.com for more info and potential dates.

All classes require a 50% deposit to book a place – phone us on 01233 612278 or email emporia.market@gmail.com for more information.

Interview with P O L L E N

pollen1

This week we shine the spotlight on the maker behind P O L L E N jewellery, which has been on sale in the run up to Christmas here and is proving enormously popular. Take a look at what crafter Verity says about inspiration, determination and balancing work and creativity.

Who are you and what do you do? 
My name is Verity Keniger. I’m a designer currently focusing on my jewellery line called Pollen. Pollen is a continuing exploration in tactile jewellery born from my inherent attraction to colour, shape and texture.

How did you get into crafting?
Whilst I grew up I developed an interest in design and led me to feel like I have an innate sense of colour and composition, and as a consequence I’ve studied photography, design and illustration over the years. I am also a keen printmaker though this is not something I am focusing on right now, although you can however find a few of my prints at Emporia.

rosie

Who and what inspires you to create?
I’ve found that being happy in life has allowed me the freedom to work creatively. My design ideas are fuelled by nature, travel, swimming, food, my partner, my dog … all the things that make me content.  I used to struggle working creatively and would get really unhappy and stressed, and eventually I had to put it all to one side. With jewellery design I have found a way to channel my inner aesthete and enjoy myself too! I am directly inspired by shape and colour which is as simplistic as it sounds I suppose but it materialises in my designs in a very meticulous, considered way.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
I am lucky to have a lot of friends who are creative and they inspire me immensely – knowing the person and the
dedication needed to be creative can be just as inspiring as the work itself. I am influenced by traditional art and craft – I like that there has always been a need for creativity in human society. I also admire mid-century modern designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Olle Eksell and Enzo Mari attracted to their simple, bold shapes, colours and patterns.

bracelet

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Support – I couldn’t have come as far as I have with Pollen if it weren’t for the unfaltering support of my mother and my partner. I can’t thank them enough for keeping faith in me and not pressuring me to get a job that actually pays
money!

Time/financial stability – Over the years I have tried to combine my creative pursuits with working other jobs to pay
the rent and had varying success. I am in a unique position right now to focus all of my energy on Pollen. I wouldn’t
say this applies to everyone and is rarely possible but I’m certain it’s what every designer would like when they are
starting a new business.

Social media – If you want to create a successful business then developing online presence is a must. It takes time you
probably would rather be spending creating, but what’s the point of making if no one see it! Instagram is proving most rewarding for me as it’s so visual and instant. It’s also very buoying to be given positive, objective feedback when I’m sitting at home alone in my bedroom.

Determination – My determination comes from a part of me inside that feels what I’m doing is right. I’ve always felt
disheartened and truly unhappy having to work in ‘normal’ jobs I’ve had little passion for. I still occasionally doubt what I’m doing but I try to work through these times because I enjoy my life and believe with hard work and time it WILL go somewhere.

Networking – Again, as I mostly work alone it’s good to be able to connect with people who are in a similar boat. It’s mostly online, but combined with day to day interaction and inspiration, I feel this will open a lot of doors including new stockists, online sales, craft events. But I think it’s also important to connect with and meet people locally, in the real world!

necklace2

Name three of your most popular designs.
I would say my pastel-coloured Sorbet necklace, my mixed size Ball necklace in pink/mustard/umber/livid and the 4
Ball necklace in grey/turquoise/mustard/rust. The simple Moon necklaces are also proving to be a hit. My loom
bracelets tend to do better online and the bangles I’ve made for a long time are always popular. I find people respond differently through different outlets though and people have such varied taste so I never can tell!

If you weren’t a jewellery designer, what would you be doing with your time?
I would love to be studying nutrition. It’s the other main interest in life and I am always wanting to learn more about
healing through food.

What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you in the shop or at Emporia this year.
With Pollen I am continually exploring and working on ideas as I go. I am going to Morocco soon which I’m certain will provide a lot of inspiration to work with. I plan to make a dedicated website for Pollen next year and also hope to be making prints again.

necklace

The gorgeous P O L L E N ball necklaces and bead bracelets are selling like hot cakes currently at Emporia, so if you fancy getting one for yourself or a friend, you need to get your skates on! And Verity has informed us that the last day for you to put in a request for a custom order of colours is Tuesday 15th December – you can pop into the shop to place an order with us any time before then.