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.

cassettefabric

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.

glassesandelephantsfabric

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!

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Interview with Cakes and Catwalks

Halloween-cupcakes

This week we have another sneak peak into the life and craft of one of our regular contributors, today it’s Emma Jane Faulkner of Cakes and Catwalks. She gives us the low down on her long lived passion for baking, why she loves the history of crafting, and her secret desire to become a swing dancer.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Emma Jane Faulkner, I’m a baker and crafter, I teach crochet workshops in Ashford and bake bespoke cakes to order for weddings, celebrations and commercial events.

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How did you get into crafting?
I’ve always been creative artistically and in the kitchen, and it’s something my family nurtured in me from a very young age. Some of my earliest memories are of baking home-made apple pies with my mum. My grandmother was a talented seamstress and knitter – when I was six years old she taught me how to knit. I reconnected with knitting 10 years ago when I embarked on a degree in fashion-textile design, specialising in knitwear design. An 86 year-old lady taught me how to crochet while I was on a design internship; she had endless patience and I’ve been hooked ever since (no pun intended!).

Who and what inspires you to create?
My belief is that when you make something yourself (whether baking or crafting), you can often make a better version than you can buy. In an increasingly digital world, I find working with hand-crafts particularly rewarding.  I love having skills like knitting, crochet and embroidery which would be recognisable to people who lived hundreds of years ago; there’s something very humble about being able to make useful or beautiful things from a little hook and some yarn.

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Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
There are so many, the Internet is a wonderful source of inspiration and a great place to discover and connect with crafters around the world. I’m a big fan of blogs such as design sponge and oh happy day which are filled with creative ideas.

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
I decided early 2013 that I wanted to start my own business and chose to make the most of my creative skills. It’s a tough transition and very hard work, but working every day doing things you love is incredibly rewarding, I especially enjoy the journey of teaching, and I wish I’d made the leap sooner.

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Good business acumen – If you don’t know how to manage your finances and stock control as well as market yourself and identify opportunities, you’ll struggle.
Know your prices  – It’s tough surviving in a throwaway market where customers are used to buying mass-produced products from cheaper shops. Stand your ground, understand that you need to pay yourself an hourly wage and respect the skill that goes into the craft you produce.
Find your USP (unique selling point)  – You need to make sure your product fills a gap in the market: find the unique element (the materials, your skills, the purpose of the product) and market it.
Learn to be strong – At some point, someone might be rude or negative about your business. You may even have ideas or designs stolen by others. Starting your own business is an emotional journey, so it’s hard not to take this kind of behaviour personally. You need to learn not to and rise above the situation.

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Get onlineLearn how to use social networking sites that apply to your business. Follow the brands you love and see what they do well (and what they don’t), so you can build your brand through your social presence and connect with others.
Understand copyright – Never copy or ‘borrow’ from another person’s designs, or profit commercially from something you haven’t designed or created yourself. Have faith in your own creativity and run with it. Make sure you add copyright to images of all of your work; you can’t stop other people ripping you off, but you can add a deterrent.

Name three of your most popular designs.
My most popular cake are my three-tiered Christmas cake, a classical guitar cake I made for a commission last year and my Halloween cupcakes.

If you weren’t a crafter/baker, what would you be doing with your time?
I do actually have an alternative career plan, but it’s quite boring. So I’m going to go with something fun, and say I’d train to be a professional swing dancer.

guitar-cake

Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
I am currently running beginners’ crochet workshops at Emporia at the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise in Ashford.

What’s new with your craft for 2014? 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 have big plans for 2014, but unfortunately they’re all under wraps at the moment! I’ll be running more crochet workshops in Ashford, introducing new themes and projects.

If you’re inspired to take up crochet, click here for more info on Emma Jane’s classes run in our very own shop. And you can visit her blog for some delicious looking pictures of funky cake designs and recipes for making your very own baked treats.

Sewing Club and Getting to Know Your Machine

sewingmachineclub

Well, January is more than half over and it’s not too long til payday now, so here’s the perfect opportunity to shrug off those winter blues and get sewing! We have two new sessions for sewing enthusiasts, those with some experience and those with virtually none.

First off we are welcoming newcomers to the sewing world to come in and have a two hour session in the Getting to Know Your Machine class. Did you get a (new) machine for Christmas, and you’re not quite sure how to get going? Have you been inspired by the likes of the Great British Sewing Bee and want to get cracking with your first ever makes? Maybe you haven’t touched a machine in years, but you are keen to get back in the sewing saddle. If so, this is the class for you. Taking place from 11am – 2pm on Saturday 15th February 2014, the session costs £40.00 and is suitable for all ages from eight up. Bring along your machine and we’ll have you happy and confident, and letting your sewing skills loose on the world in no time.

And for those that have already got their sewing groove on but seem to be stumbling on certain things, we have the weekly Sewing Club. Kicking off from Thursday 23rd January 2014, the drop in sessions take place from 10am – 1pm, and it’s the perfect place to bring your machine and your current sewing gripe and see if we can help you out. Putting in zips, undertaking button holes and lots of other techniques will be demonstrated every week, so that you can gradually start to build up your machining skills. The cost is £10.00 per person, and you can stay for an hour, or stick around for the whole session and chat to the other sewing fans, and share your troubles and advice.

Sally from The Sewing Machine will be running both the course and the drop in club, so whatever your sewing skills are, you can join us and learn plenty of useful new stuff. For more information or to book a place on the class, give us a ring or call into the shop.

Crochet Classes at Emporia

crochetsquasres

Exciting news, Emporia fans! The very first of our crochet classes kicks off this month as we welcome Emma Jane from Cakes and Catwalks into the shop to teach a series of four sessions on learning to crochet. Perfect for beginners and those who have tried their hand before, but never quite got the hang of it, Emma Jane will be on hand throughout each class to talk you through the moves and make sure you don’t get your wool, or your knickers, in a twist. Classes take place from 6.30pm – 8.30pm, starting on Monday 13th January for four weeks.  The cost is £60.00 per person which includes all materials, use of tools, stitch counters, handouts and of course, tea and cake.

For more information , or to book your place, visit http://cakesandcatwalks.eventbrite.co.uk/

p.s. – we will also be hosting some sewing classes at Emporia very soon, and things are just being finalised, so keep your eyes peeled for dates and booking details.

Welcome to the Emporia Blog!

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Hello and welcome to the brand new Emporia blog! We are kicking off the New Year with lots of crafty goodness, as we reopen the shop for business after a much needed Christmas break. Following on from the success of the past year’s Emporia Craft and Vintage market and the launch of the shop, we have now decided to break into the exciting world of blogging! Here you can follow our activities online, get sneak previews of new fabrics and arrivals in the shop, and check out our new classes, which will be starting very soon. We will also be carrying on with our regular knitting and sewing groups, so if you fancy a little bit of craftiness to get your New Year off to a creative start, you can follow us by clicking on the handy little button to your left, or sign up to get Emporia blog posts sent right into your inbox, so you can keep up to date with everything that’s going on in the store.

Emporia Fabric & Crafts is open for business again from 10am – 5pm from Wednesday 8th January 2014.