Brand New Fabrics


We’ve had so much brand spanking new stuff come in over the past couple of weeks that it’s difficult to remember what’s what, but we’ve singled out some of the loveliest bits to show you this week. More delicious fabric has never before been seen in one blog post we assure you. Hold onto your hats people, it’s going to be a roller coaster ride of newness!

First up are these super cute animal prints featuring cats, dogs, chickens, sheep and pigs. Their funny little faces just shout out to be made into bedroom curtains or bags for small people to carry their bits and bobs around with them. Available in blue or white backgrounds, we can see them being loved to death by the under sixes as they point out the different animals and make the appropriate woof or baa noises. Quick chorus of Old MacDonald anyone?


Butterflies feature in these gorgeous pink, turquoise, peach and yellow patterns from Makower. Ideal for bedding, quilts or decoration of any sort, these butterflies are perfect for grownups and little ones alike.


Speaking of grownups, we’re absolutely in love with these domestic goddess fabrics; covered with sewing machines, needles, cotton reels and lovely ladies wearing their trim little fifties dresses, these delightful retro style patterns are fantastic for anyone with a passion for vintage sewing. It makes us want to have another rummage through the vintage pattern collection next to the cutting table again, and see if we can’t whip up a little number by Vogue before teatime.


More domestic bliss comes courtesy of these handbags and shoes on a bright pink background, and a collection of dinky little domestic appliances – featuring whisks, scales, jugs, colanders, rolling pins and other kitchen paraphernalia.


The cooking themed one would make an amazing patchwork creation with these babies – gorgeous cupcake prints (just sold to a woman to make an apron – good thinking!) and these fifties style baking signs. Just right for a Great British Bake Off fan. All hail Mary Berry, for she will grace our screens once more this August!


And for those of you who like to be really super duper organised, we had our first set of Halloween prints arrive a couple of weeks ago. Lovely little Draculas, ghosts and Frankenstein’s monsters, alongside cheeky black cats and grinning pumpkins – they would make a very cool Trick or Treat bag; and the gloomy grey spiderwebs and boggly eyed spiders are spot on for decorations for 31st October too.


As always, all fabrics are priced between £11.00 and £14.00 a metre, with everything available in fat quarters.

Don’t forget – only one more day to use your 10% off voucher!

Patchwork Mini Quilts


Anyone feeling inspired by the Beginners Patchwork course due to take place in August? Lotte Jamieson certainly is, as only this morning she delivered a little bundle of cute, cuddly mini patchwork quilts to the shop. Made from a selection of some of our most gorgeous fabrics, these quilts are perfectly proportioned for little people and anyone who loves things in miniature.

Inspired by her daughter’s desire to drag her bed quilt around with her, Lotte’s  mini quilts are small enough to stuff in a changing bag or bung in the bottom of a buggy without taking up too much room. Plus they are backed with fleece rather than cotton, which not only makes them warmer in colder weather, but also infinitely more snuggly. Great for wrapping up bears or dolls, putting over your head and playing boo, or just plain old cuddling with, these quirky little patchwork pieces come in a variety of different themed colours and patterns, made with modern simple styles which allow the beautiful designs to be the centre of attention.


Fresh yellows and turquoises complement the soft purples of this dreamy horse riding landscape – if your little one loves the idea of galloping through meadows in their sleep, this could be just the thing to send them off to bed with.


Bright orange, purple, green and chocolate brown make for an autumnal mix, alongside the cute squirrel, birds and leaf patterns in this vibrant square and rectangle quilt. A bit funky and seventies feeling, kids whose parents are old enough to remember the last time these colours were fashionable will love these retro prints.


Piratical types will keen to get their hands on the sailor style mini quilt, which features boats, stripes, stars and all things nautical – mixing up large and small panels, this one is backed with a dense navy blue fleece, making it perfect for seaside themed bedrooms or kids who want to captain their own ships.


Smaller patterns and a softer, more delicate colour palette come together in this bird and flower themed mini quilt – pale greens with ditsy roses, pale pink stripes and floaty bird silhouettes make for a serene design. Perfect for mini princesses with a love of all things pretty.

There are only a few of the mini quilts available in Emporia right now, but we know that Lotte has plans for more, so if you would like to get your hands on one, but are desperate for it to feature a particular fabric, we’re sure she would be happy to oblige. All mini quilts are £23.00 – for more information or to order your own quilt, pop into the shop or give us a ring on 01233 612278.

Welcome to Vintage Corner


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.


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.


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:


 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.




Make an Alternative Prom Dress


You may remember back on episode four of the second series of the Great British Sewing Bee the contestants got to make their very own version of a prom dress. Lynda took the title of Garment of the Week for her stunning but simple strapless corseted number and there was a good mix of styles and fabrics all round. Given that the first of the spring bank holidays is under our belt and summer shouldn’t be too far around the corner, we figure now is a great time to think about making alternative prom dresses for the wedding season and for any balls you might be lucky enough to get invited to.

We’ve got a lovely selection of some vintage patterns (£5.00 each), and of course some amazing fabric to go with it, so if you are tempted to create your very own retro inspired alternative prom dress, take a look at these little beauties and see what stunning creation you can come up with.

First up, these three lovelies from the fifties (see above) are perfect for anyone wanting to channel Betty from Mad Men series 1: full skirts, strapless bodices, or sailor collar style necklines will make for some very glamorous dresses indeed. Just beware that the Vogue pattern more than likely contains a million or so pattern pieces – one for experienced sewers only!


Flirty sixties fashions give you the option of maxi dresses for full length coverage or for those more inclined to flash a bit (or a whole lot) of leg, you can opt for the mini. Which do you prefer, Elizabeth Taylor or Jackie O? If only the hairdo came with the pattern … Finally, the patterns from the seventies invite you to go backless or show off some cleavage with a plunging neckline; and for a seriously alternative alternative, throw out the whole concept of the prom dress and make yourself a prom playsuit with this full on funky flared number. Imagine that in super slinky satin – miaow!


To help you out with fabric choices, we’ve got plenty in store as always, but here are a couple of suggestions: yellows and blues are spot on for a spring palette, or you could go for something a little more retro inspired with this pink and purple floral circular pattern, or why not emulate the fashions of city chic with this illustrated multi print. And for those in search of the genuine article,  this piece of navy blue and red vintage fabric would be just the thing for recreating something your gran could have worn to a tea dance – it’s a serious one off though, as we’ve only got five metres of it, for £35.00 altogether.


And if you are still feeling bereft without your weekly dose of dashing Patrick and his cutting commentary, Claudia and her helpful hints on giant bows, and May who does actually seem to know what she’s talking about, why not take a look at some of our new classes coming up soon and we’ll see if we can recreate that Sewing Bee atmosphere, right here in the shop.




Interview with Poppykins


Recognise those owls? Yup, this week we chat to Sam from Poppykins about her delightful retro owls, why she seeks inspiration from the good old days and how she keeps herself crafting, despite two children, a husband and a full time job getting in the way.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Sam and I am the owner, designer, maker, marketing director, admin and general dogsbody at Poppykins. I am also a mum of two, wife and full time office assistant for a wood finishing company. Poppykins is a small business that is run from my dining room – I love to collect vintage and retro fabrics to re-use and re-purpose, creating bold and bright cushions, bags and accessories. Alongside these are the Poppykins Owls that are fairly well known and the mini Cheeky Chirpy Chicks.

How did you get into crafting?
I remember sewing cuddly animal kits when I was quite young and I studied art with the intention of going to Brighton Uni to do a Fashion and Textile degree. Unfortunately, I let a fella get in the way of my planned career and it all went to pot, but on the plus side I met my wonderful hubby and had two gorgeous (although at times testing) children, and after having my first (Harry) I got back into being creative, making rag rugs and learning to quilt, then I started doing craft fairs and events. That was ten years ago, and up until two years ago was a fun hobby. And then along came Poppykins


Who and what inspires you to create?
There are so many things that inspire me that it would bore you if I listed them all, but I love bright and bold colours, retro funky designs from the sixties and seventies, family and friends, my allotment, nature, and I pick up a lot of inspiration from Facebook, Pinterest and other artists.

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
One of my favourites is Jane Foster – I just love the bold prints and colours she uses. There are so many other creative people I have come across via Facebook like Marna Lunt of Little A Designs, Little Black Heart and Kirsty Elson Designs. And then there are the super talented people I have been fortunate enough to meet at some of the events I have done – Vic of Lion Tamer Prints, Kate of Love Sweet Pea, and Susie of Sweet Pandemonium to name just a few.

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
In January 2013 I wanted to see if I would be able to make some extra money from doing what I love: business cards and banners got printed on the cheap and the Facebook page and Folksy shop were started. In the early days it was really hard to see what I was doing as a business and to charge the right prices; I really undersold myself and my work.


But with time comes experience and now I am much better at running Poppykins as a business. I now have a logo and print my own business cards and labels. Getting my stock into local shops was my main aim for the second half of 2013, and I managed to do that getting into five different locations – I can’t tell how proud that makes me. I have taken part in an exhibition in a local gallery and been involved in a Christmas Pop-up shop. It has been a busy and fun time growing Poppykins, but with my youngest daughter starting school full time, I have taken on a full time job, which has reduced the time I can dedicate to Poppykins; plus a number of the shops that I supply have closed down, but it is not the end, I intend  to carry on creating!

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Well made, safe products; confidence in your product; a unique style that will make you stand out; knowing your target customer; broad shoulders (so you can take the rough with the smooth).

Name three of your most popular designs.
Poppykins Owls are a good seller, My mini Cheeky Chirpy Crochet Chicks are always popular at Easter and quilts are always well received as gifts.

If you weren’t a crafter, what would you be doing with your time?
I don’t have much time for anything else in my hectic life at the moment, but if I did have more time baking is something I would definitely do. And spend more quality time at my allotment.


Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
I did go to a local Stitch and Bitch group for a few years, but my hubby works that evening now. I have done a few workshops in the past and would very much love to do more, but again time is an issue.

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’m really loving applique lettering on cushions at the moment, and ticker tape cushions and quilts. And bags made with vintage fabrics are growing in popularity too.

And if you want to check out Poppykins in person, head to her Folksy shop online or come into Emporia and see if you can resist her going home without one of her funky owls tucked into your shopping bag.

Interview with Aye Aye Clothing


This week we carry on our interviews with another of the fabulous designer makers that stocks her wares in the Emporia Fabric and Crafts shop, and at the markets that take place throughout the year. Today Melissa from Aye Aye talks about her quirky retro printed baby clothes, fantastic headscarves, and why she admires her mum’s knitting skills so much.

Who are you and what do you do?
I am Melissa Dawkins and I run Aye Aye which creates handmade ladies and children’s clothing and accessories in retro and fun prints. I am also starting to use more recycled materials.


How did you get into crafting?
In my early teens I bought second hand vintage clothes – old ball gowns and anything I liked that was a bit different – I would take them apart and then reconstruct them in Dr. Frankenstein-style clothing experiments on a hand Singer sewing machine, as I was not trusted with my mum’s electric. It was at this time my favourite creations evolved, such as the toddlers’ action man t shirt that got transformed into a skirt with different coloured panels made of old fishnet tights, and another skirt I made from an old lamp shade cover!

Who and what inspires you to create?
My inspiration has changed with me. It started out as what would be the maddest thing I could wear out, now I am inspired by my baby who has opened up a whole new world to me – making baby clothes and children’s accessories with a very different look to what you get in the shops!

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
My mum – she makes the best knitwear. It is an exciting day when I receive a new batwing jumper or bobble hat. That lady has such patience. Knitters are amazing.


When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
I decided to start a business making clothes after I left school. I had lots of enthusiasm and creativity for my signature product and also designed one-off items. However, in order to gain more business knowledge and experience, I diversified and worked in the fashion retail industry, always with the ambition of running my own business again one day, but with more clarity and refinement.

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Determination; enthusiasm; not getting disheartened if you don’t make much money initially – you must remember that you are in it for the long haul; researching your prices well, you need to be mindful of a wholesale price that you can still make money from; and trying to find your niche, it is good to be different.

Name three of your most popular designs.
The self-tie headband, the baby/toddler adjustable pinafore dress and the silk hair flower/brooch.  

If you weren’t a retro-themed fashion designer, what would you be doing with your time?
Pedalling someone else’s wares in retail establishment!


Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
Not at the moment, but I want to take my knitting efforts to the knit and natter at Emporia in the form of French Knitting (and even then I miss stitches!)

What’s new with your craft for 2014?
I am working on a whole collection of dresses with a larger size range and matching accessories launching soon. I also want to experiment more with recycled fabrics and re-purposing old garments like my Nan and her sisters would do in their Make Do and Mend days.

if you want to see more of Melissa’s work, check out her Etsy store or pop into the shop and take a look at her unusual prints yourself.