The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show

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Last Friday Clair and I took a trip to London to one of the craftiest shows going – The Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Olympia. Given that it has been a whole month since we ventured off to Germany, we thought we deserved another little outing, so we popped on the slow train and made our way over to one of the biggest gatherings of fabric, wool, and knitting and sewing suppliers in the UK.

Neither of us were sure quite what to expect having never attended one of these kinds of shows before, so we were very pleased by what greeted us: a vast amount of independent sellers, all gathered under one roof and showcasing their very best products. Having made our way into the centre, we found ourselves surrounded by all kinds of innovative crafts, a plethora of wool and fabrics, new and vintage patterns, workshops, craft magazines, sewing machines and basically everything you would need to set yourself up with one crafty obsession or another. It was a little overwhelming to say the least, but it was also very exciting to think that we could spend the whole day indulging ourselves by window shopping (and actually shopping) at the stalls and talking to loads of like minded people.

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Alexander Henry designs at Fabrics Galore

There were lots of other independent fabric sellers like us on site, and although lots of them had similar stock to us, there were also loads of different prints for sale too. Sewing cafes, fabric shops, and haberdasheries all had plenty of variety in the prints, including lovely stuff from Michael Miller, Riley Blake, Copenhagen Print Factory and Makower to name a few. We were also delighted to bump into our friend Paul from Fabrics Galore, with whom we spent lots of time on our trip to Germany. He was extremely busy selling lots of crazy and amazing prints by Californian designer Alexander Henry inspired by all kinds of things, including Japanese tattoo designs, half naked cowboys and pictures of the Virgin Mary. His reduced price Liberty was also walking off the shelves as people snapped it up for summer dresses and skirts.

Quite a few other stallholders grabbed our attention as we walk around the site, and many of them were kind enough to let us take some photos and have a chat with us about their products. So, for those of you who didn’t make it to the show over the weekend, here is a little snapshot of some of our favourite makers from the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show.

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Fabulous knitty creations from Sincerely Louise

Sincerely Louise is the fabulous lady behind these amazing knitted taxidermy heads. She has not only created the cutest version of a fox stole you could possibly want, but she’s also gone all out in creating a full on knitted tiger rug. Louise herself was manning her stall and showcasing her stunning knitted creations and told us that she very much enjoyed what she did, and was more than happy to share the love of her hand crafted heads with her patterns and kits. Personally we loved the tiny polar bear and hedgehog slippers best of all.

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Vintage designs from Sew La Di Da

Gorgeous vintage inspired patterns were on sale from Sew La Di Da, and Clair and I fell completely in love with their beautiful designs. From 1930s style gentlemen’s waistcoats to fifties fashioned full circle skirt dresses with sweetheart necklines, these patterns are simply to die for.

We were really inspired by the clever tools and simple techniques from MiY Patterns, which give people the chance to take measurements and design their own well fitting garments. Ideal for anyone with the confidence to get mathematical with their sewing. Plus, they sold some seriously cool sewing shears necklaces.

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Hamilton’s incredible fruit and veg buttons

The most amazing buttons were on sale from Hamilton – these tiny little pieces of haberdashery heaven were made by one lady, using just her own hands and some Fimo. How ridiculously cute/insanely intricate are these cucumber, tomato, strawberry and apple slices? Simply astonishing.

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A prize winning horse

Other things that were fascinating to look at were the quilts which were on show from The Quilters Guild, and of course the knitted farm, which featured the most fantastic shire horse, who had won third prize in the knitted farm competition (personally, I think he was robbed and should have come first, but best in show was taken by a turkey), and the Crochet Jungle, where newbies could learn the basics of crochet and contribute to the green fronds that were strewn all around the ceiling.

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Beautiful quilts

All this, plus workshops aplenty and the chance to meet Mr X Stitch himself, made for a very inspiring and very exciting day. Now we can’t wait for the next one in September …

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New Classes and New Stuff!

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It’s a bit of a mish mash this week as we round off the summer holidays and get ready for a new season, that we hope will be full of even more crafty loveliness and even more sewing. We’ve got some spiffing new fabrics and buttons to show you, and a sneak peak of the new workshops that are coming your way from September onwards, so if you love the anticipation of new things and getting excited at counting down the days, then read on, dear friends, read on!

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Brand new fabric hot off the press from Makower are these fabulous autumnal coloured sewing themes. Covered with cute little sewing machine drawings and tape measure patterns, these are just itching to be turned into any kind of sewing paraphernalia, like a machine cover, a needle case or perhaps a pin cushion.

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These delicious yellow buttons are exactly the same colour as butter and we think they would look perfect as decorations on bags or right up the middle of a big snuggly cardy.

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Melissa from Aye Aye has been busy again with a new selection of makeup bags. Lined with waterproof fabric, her three new additions to the shop come in this fabulously funky green and grey geometric print.

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Since we got all hot under the collar about felt a couple of weeks ago, a few of you got in touch and said that yes, you would like to see some felt in the shop – so here it is! Lovely chunky felt charm packs, in gorgeous jewel like colours are crying out to be transformed into keyrings, little felt animals, badges and more. 15 squares of felt, along with two wooden buttons are £8.99 each.

As the summer holiday is very nearly over, we are starting to think about September and what will be happening in the shop. Despite Clair not returning until the end of the month, we are gearing up for more classes and workshops, including making a simple skirt, children’s clothes courses, and more sewing stuff. We are also branching out into the world of wool, as Lotte Jamieson starts some beginners knitting sessions. The shop will now be open on Mondays from September, and all day on a Wednesday giving you even more time to spend browsing our fabulous fabrics and stock.

We are also looking at hosting kids’ parties, so if your little one loves sewing and crafty stuff, they could be having their next birthday at Emporia! And of course, there will be the return of the Emporia Vintage and Craft market to Park Mall on Friday 19th and Saturday 20th September.

The blog is on holiday next week, taking a well deserved break – but we shall be back and raring to go for the start of term on Wednesday 3rd September. See you soon!

Summer at the Seaside

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The sun is shining at last (hurray!) and this week all we can think about is going to the seaside. The cool breeze, the sound of the waves and the seagulls, the feel of the sand between our toes and the lure of the ice cream. Sadly the sun will probably have gone by the weekend when we can actually make it down to the beach, but at least we can enjoy thinking about it all now. So to that end, we’ve gone and found all the lovely nautical stuff we’ve got in the shop so you can share in our seaside obsession.

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First up is of course our selection of amazing fabrics – reds, whites, blues, spots, stripes and more. The beach huts and sailboats are delightfully retro, and the anchors are perfectly jaunty. You can also capture the spirit of the sea with these fantastic seagull and bird prints, which would make for beautiful sundresses, skirts or how about a pair of sailor style culottes? All inspired by the sea and just waiting to be transformed into a special summer make, all prints are between £11.00 – £14.00 a metre.

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If you want nautical themed trimmings to adorn your beachy creations, we’ve got these fabulous large red anchor buttons, and the large transparent coloured four-hole buttons for 60p each, which look delicious enough to eat. (But please don’t eat them, no matter how much you are tempted!) Plus, the tiny black and white anchor buttons are perfect for adding a nautical accent for those that don’t want to go too over the top. You can also finish off your sewing with these simple ribbons to make a rosette, a bow or even just as edging. Perfect for accenting colours in your chosen fabric or as a contrast, they are 90p per metre each.

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And if you are looking for seaside themed gifts (don’t forget Fathers’ Day is this weekend) then check out this haul of beauties:

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Both seaside themed bags are £15.00, the mini pirate coloured bunting is £6.00, the glasses cases are £5.00 each and the lighthouse print is £15.00. And if you are really going all out with the nautical stuff this summer, then why not get the kids on board too, with this super cute anchor and stripe dress from Aye Aye (who else?) for £15.00.

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There’s plenty more seaside inspired loveliness going down at the shop, so if you can’t make it to the beach this week, haul anchor and make the beach come to you with some nautical sewing. Aye aye, Cap’n!

Welcome to Vintage Corner

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This week we thought we would share with you the lovely selection of vintage items we have been collecting over the past couple of months. Every now and then some very kind customers pop in and donate various different bits and bobs from the past. Just the other day a lovely lady came in with a beautiful old cotton reel to sit alongside our vintage sewing machine in the window, because she thought it looked like it belonged there. What amazing customers you all are!

So now we have been on the receiving end of these fabulous donations for quite a while, we’ve created our very own vintage corner, where you can get your hands on some truly unique items if retro is what floats your boat.

We’ve got quite a stack of patterns, including those super duper prom dress we showed you a month or so ago, alongside various other designs from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Prices range from £4.00 upwards.

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There’s also a collection of various vintage fabrics (see top pic) in funky old school patterns or simple delicate designs. Obviously they are all one offs, so what you see is what you get, but some pieces are large enough to be able to make skirts or dresses from, and if you are into making kids’ clothes or smaller stuff, then there’s plenty to choose from. Prices for the vintage fabrics start from around £5.00 per piece.

And if you don’t want to go to the bother of making anything yourself, Aye Aye do a smashing range of make up bags in vintage fabric, so you can always get yourself one of those instead. The small bags are £6.50 and the larger ones are £8.00.

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Those of you who love a rummage will be delighted to take a closer look through the button jars and cotton reel bowl, as there is a multitude of delicious old fashioned designs and colours waiting to be taken home and used in some brand new project. Take a look at these shiny lovelies:

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 The buttons are 10p for small, 20p for medium and 30p for large; and the cotton reels are £1.00 each.

And for anyone who loves a bit of retro knitting action, you can get your hands on a pair of some truly retro needles in a variety of sizes, and colours, for a £1.00 too.

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Springtime Florals

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For anyone who hasn’t been staring at the calendar and counting down the days to the second bank holiday of the spring, only breaking off occasionally to look out of the window and see if the sun is coming out/staying out/visible at all, you might not be aware that May is very nearly upon us, and therefore spring is well and truly under way. With Easter (and lots of chocolate – mmmm) now under our belts, this weekend we get the first of two (yay!) May bank holidays, which can only raise our hopes for warmer weather and the chance to get sewing some seriously summery outfits.

Floral designs always start to get more prominent in fashion around this time of year, but for 2014 designers seem to have gone a little bit Chelsea Flower Show crazy as flowers, birds, butterflies and exotic coloured prints are simply everywhere in the shops. For those of us who like to make our very own unique fashions however, we have plenty of floral inspiration in the our own shop.

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Check out the three different colour ways from the Kimberly’s Garden collection (£14 per metre): pink for a slightly more subtle look, purple for something a little braver, and we think the red yellow and blue design simply shouts Spring is Here!

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Makower have a couple of grey and pink blossom prints from their Temptations range (£11 per metre) which would look amazing as skirts, sleeveless tops, dresses or anything you can think of for the spring/summer season. Those who like their Makower prints a little stronger should look to the yellow and grey florals from Modern Folkloric range (see top image) and (also £11 per metre) for striking outfits or to make bags and accessories – yellow bird print tote bags anyone?

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More stylistic flower designs with a distinctly retro feel are available from the Michael Miller Dahlia Medallion pattern and these funky little numbers from the Copenhagen Print Factory (both £14 per metre), which have only been in the shop for a week or so. We can’t help but think that  the blue, yellow and grey print would make the perfect pleated skirt a la Sewing Bee. You may need Patrick Grant on hand to help you measure out the pleats though …
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And for the icing on the cake, we have these delicious looking flower buttons to grace whatever flower power inspired item you make, at just 24p each.

Funky Fabrics and Beautiful Buttons

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Well, put on your sunglasses and wheel your sewing machine into the garden – it seems that spring is here at last! (Or it was yesterday at least.) It’s only just over a month until Easter and the clocks go forward in just three weeks’ time, so we at Emporia are starting to get a quite excited by the prospect of longer days, sunny afternoons and more opportunity to sew in natural daylight – it’s time to put away your headtorches and angle lamps, ladies and gents, and get all the brightness you need from our latest arrivals in the store.

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We’ve had some fantastic new stock come into the shop over the past week or so, and it’s all simply perfect for brightening up these early spring days and putting a bit of sunshine in your sewing. First up, this simply amazing Riley Blake neon bright cassette tape print just screams summer with its good old fashioned 90s retro theme; it’s also spot on for anyone who actually remembers using these old school recording devices – taping the Top 40 on the radio, whilst trying to edit out the DJs anyone? No? Just us then.

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Speaking of old school, fans of funky prints can also get excited about these Michael Miller printed spectacles in yet more brights called 20/20, while the elephants (Romp, also by Michael Miller) are feeling the zingy colours of spring in turquoise, purple, lime and orange.

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Kids’ prints are always useful around Easter if you fancy a spot of chick themed sewing, or some delightful jungle themed line drawn animals in bright, bright blue.

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Asides from all our delicious new fabrics, the newly stocked button table is full to bursting with loads of lovely colours, designs and pictures all waiting to be oohed and ahhed over by you. Giant red anchors, tiny green flower shapes, dinky trains and boats, yellow and orange polka dots, and wooden butterflies are just some of the beautiful buttons we’ve got on sale to accompany yet more ribbons and trimmings in a rainbow of colours and themes.

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What more excuse do you need to come in and have a good old butchers at all our lovely new things? None! we hear you cry, so roll on springtime!