Pluckley Quilt and Craft Show

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Following our wonderfully successful Emporia Craft & Vintage Market which took place last week, we are upping sticks and moving out to Pluckley for the weekend. We’re grabbing a whole load of our wonderful fabrics, plenty of buttons and some seriously useful quilting equipment and shipping ourselves off to the Village Hall where we will join a whole load of other crafty types for some patchwork fun.

Clair will be running an Emporia stall at the Pluckley Quilt and Craft show which takes place over both Saturday and Sunday in the village, giving people a little further out from Ashford the chance to see some of our beautiful fabrics close up. Alongside all the Michael Miller, Riley Blake, Makower and Copenhagen Print Factory gorgeousness we will have for sale at the show, Clair will also be selling our fantastic cutting mats and rotary cutters, which no patchwork maker should ever be without. Making life so much easier (and quicker) when it comes to cutting fabric, these babies are simply the best way to get hundreds of quilting pieces all the same size.

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Buttons and beautiful embroidery cottons will also be available on our stall, and several lucky customers will be given 10% off vouchers to use in the shop, so if you can’t see what you want on the day of the show, you can head into Ashford on Monday and see our full range.

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One of the fabric collections we know will get a special mention in Pluckley is the Downton Abbey range. Inspired by the iTV series which has just made a return to our screens (hurray for Granny Grantham and her one liners!) these fabrics come in a range of subtle blues and greens, with vintage style patterns. Perfect for adding a little Downton glamour to your wardrobe (Lady Sybil’s blouses?) or transforming your bedroom into a proper ladie’s boudoir (Lady Mary’s curtains?) these gorgeous gems will be on sale at the Pluckley Craft Show from the Emporia Fabric and Craft stand all weekend.

The Pluckley Quilt and Craft Show takes place from 10.30am – 5pm Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September 2014 at Pluckley Village Hall. Entrance is £4.00 which includes a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake. 

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And in other news … Those of you who have fallen in love with our Poppykin owls and the Natsy Batsy bear will be delighted to know that we have more of both in stock right now. Colourful, patchwork sleepy owls have been joined by a wide awake button-eyed owl, alongside some heavy-bottomed doorstop owls in stripes. Joining the owls on the Emporia shelves just in time for autumn are these beautiful brand new bears – available in bright pink with white flowers, and duck egg blue with pink roses.  Perfect for brightening up any room, sofa or bed, these lovelies are in stock now and waiting to be taken to a caring home!

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Children’s Parties at Emporia

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Exciting news for little crafters – not only are we looking to have more kids’ craft workshops and classes, but Emporia Fabric & Craft is now available for kids’ parties! Great for those that love sewing or who want to get into it, Sally from The Sewing Machine is going back to school with her party sessions, teaching children from six to 14 to make their own crafty creations.

Groups of eight to ten children are invited to have their birthday party or celebration in the craft workshop at Emporia, where they will get to make cuddly owls or funky monsters, learn to sew a pencil case or a tote bag, applique patterns on a t shirt, or create some felt hanging hearts. All  materials are provided for the kids to get started on their project, which they can personalise as they please. Sally will oversee all the sewing and sharp objects, but most of the time the children will be in charge of designing and creating their own work.

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Prices start from £85.00 for six children, for one and a half hours, with extra children £12.00 per head after that. We’ll give you some special Emporia craft party invites, so you and your little ones can send them out to their chosen friends. Drinks are provided, and of course you are welcome to bring along the birthday cake for singing and slicing at the end of the party. We can even give you party bags for everyone to take home for an extra £5.00.

Parties are available to book from 4pm – 6pm Monday to Thursday, and from 10.30am – 6pm Saturday and Sunday. Once you have chosen your craft and party date, you just need to pay a non-refundable deposit of £50.00 to secure the booking, and then pay the remainder a week before the party date.

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So if you fancy throwing a crafty party for your kids, take a look at the options below and give us a ring!

Sew Your Own Tote Bag  – Choose your own fabric and make yourself a cool bag for school, swimming or just for fun. Suitable for 10+.

Owl Soft Toy – Make a beautiful cuddly owl to take home, with a choice of gorgeous fabrics and applique designs. Suitable for 6+.

Pencil Case – Create a fabulous pencil case to wow your friends at school with. Choose from all our brilliant patterns and make something really special to carry your pencils around in. Suitable for 6+.

Felt Monsters – Get hand stitching as you make your very own weird, spooky, funny or funky little monster. Suitable for 6+.

Applique T Shirt – Design your own t shirt with shapes, words or a picture – the choice is yours! Suitable for 10+.

Felt and Fabric Hearts – Learn to hand sew pretty hanging hearts, which you can decorate as you please. Suitable for 6+.

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If you are interested in booking a kid’s party at Emporia, give us a ring on 01233 612278 or pop in and see us for a chat at 1 Bank Street.

Interview with Poppykins

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 Natsy Batsy

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This week we take yet another look at the mind and work of an Emporia regular, Natsy Batsy. Here she talks about her passion for sewing with felt, why she wasn’t so good at sewing in her school days and why you need to have a supportive other half if you want to become a serious craft seller.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Natalie Ward and by day I work in the competitive world of commercial banking, however of an evening I morph into my alter ego of Natsy Batsy where all I need is a sewing machine, fabric and my imagination. I also established the C.A.K.E (Crafts in Ashford, Kent, England) Facebook page as a forum for local crafters and lovers of handmade goods.   

How did you get into crafting?
I have always liked making things – in the summer my mum used to take us apple picking and I used to spend the days making “dolls” out of apples, twigs and leaves. We didn’t have a great deal of spare money, so if I wanted something I usually had to make it, dolls houses out of shoe boxes, Sindy clothes from fabric scraps. My Nan was for ever knitting so there was always wool available for pompoms and my mum used to make all our curtains and cushions. I lost confidence in my sewing  at secondary school – I recently found a school report from when I was 14 which said “Needlework – needs to work a lot quicker and a lot neater,” and other than the odd, small project, I only really started sewing again in April 2012.

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Who and what inspires you to create?
My friends! They are always coming up with ideas for me, some of them quite impossible. A lot of my friends have young children, and I love making them creations that are personal to them. I have made both my boys their own teddy bears using vintage fur and buttons and I hope they will pass them down to their children. Programmes like The Sewing Bee are great and one day I WILL make myself a dress!

Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Anyone who can crochet. I went on a crochet course run by Emma Jane of Cakes and Catwalks and think the effects and creations from a ball of wool and crochet needle are quite amazing. The crafters that I admire the most are those that come up with their own ideas, or put their own spin on a traditional pattern. It does get a bit boring when you see the same thing time and time again. I like things that are original or one of a kind, although it can sometimes be difficult to get the balance between what sells commercially and what feeds your passion as a crafter

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
My friends and family were so enthusiastic about the things I was making that I thought I would try a stall at a craft fair to see if they were just being kind. Fortunately the first fair I attended as a stallholder was fantastic and I realised what a lovely bunch crafters are. Everyone was so friendly and complimentary, and it seemed silly not to make a bit of money while doing what I loved. I could never run Natsy Batsy full time, but at the moment I feel I have the perfect balance        

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Honest feedback from trusted friends and family; market awareness; an internet presence, be it a blog, Facebook page or website; a supportive husband; and insomnia.

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Name three of your most popular designs.
My rocking horses, bears and  felt Christmas mice.

If you weren’t a crafter, what would you be doing with your time?
Finishing writing the book that I started seven years ago.

Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
No, I tend to make up a lot of my creations as I go along and really don’t have the technical knowledge to teach anyone else. (I only discovered what “cutting on the bias” meant during the last series of The Sewing Bee!)

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 started making dolls this year (CE Marked) and they will be making an appearance at the Emporia markets. I am presently working on a boy version using some of the lovely fabrics from Emporia. I am also in the very early stages of designing a Fairytale cushion, and I shall be making lots more creations out of felt which I absolutely love working with.

Catch Natsy Batsy and her iconic dolls alongside all her other wares at the next Emporia market, taking place at the end of the month.

Interview with Polka Dot Shirley

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This week we are chatting to yet another of Emporia’s regular crafters, namely Rhian Boardman of Polka Dot Shirley. She gives us her opinions of the essentials needed for setting up your own crafty business, being inspired by other artists and what her top selling items are.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Rhian Boardman and I am the owner of Polkadot Shirley. I create a wide range of items using vintage books, maps and vinyl, from cute brooches to bespoke map items. Each and every piece is unique! I also make a few bits from fabric, like bespoke dolls, dog adornments and bags, etc.

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How did you get into crafting?
I have always enjoyed making things from a very young age. When I was small I remember lots of handmade bits and pieces; my mum made all of my clothes, beautiful little rabbit dolls and my bedroom furniture was painted a new colour every year. So I think I was always going to end up crafting. When I got my own home I was forever making things for it and decided to see if other people would like to buy them!

Who and what inspires you to create?
My greatest inspiration comes from my own childhood. I love the overwhelming feeling of nostalgia when I open a certain book, or dig out a forgotten memory. These things ignite feelings of innocence, wonder, and that glorious feeling that anything is possible! My mum is also another huge inspiration for me having gloriously fed my imagination and provided me with unwavering encouragement! She runs the sister company to Polkadot Shirley in Cyprus and I always return home full of wonderful ideas and an increased sense of drive (as well as a suitcase full of fabric and excess baggage charges!).

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Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
Definitely illustrators. So much vision and work goes into just one page of a book, and that image can stay with you forever. I also love Gil Elvgren’s gorgeous pin-up girls, which I use a lot in my work.

When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
My previous job wasn’t looking like it had much of a future and my own future suddenly looked scarily empty so I decided to take the plunge! I had no little mouths to feed, so to struggle would not be the end of the world. It has been a rollercoaster so far, but is gradually starting to pay off.

What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
1. Perseverance. It is so tempting to give up at times. The night before my first fair I stayed up until 3am sewing frantically in case I sold out. I even dreamt I sold out. This seemed the worse case scenario. I didn’t for one second consider the true outcome. That I would sell just one item!
2. Support. I dealt with the blow (and continual blows of more dismal fairs) of my initial lack of success by calling my family, who did not pity me or try to dissect the situation, but instead did what our family does best – we laughed. Because sometimes that is the only way and that laughter spurred me on!
3. My sewing machine!
4. Research! My first five or so craft fairs were BAD! The pitches were expensive, footfall minimal, atmosphere dire and takings either minimal or non-existent. I was advised to do these by a fellow crafter, so booked lots at once. Then I started to research a bit more and started to find smaller, friendly fairs run by fellow crafters. I booked one, I did well, I made friends! And in turn I found out about more small fairs.
5. And of course, books. A lot of lovely old books!

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If you weren’t an crafter, what would you be doing with your time?
I actually have no idea! I imagine I would probably be doing a job I didn’t enjoy half as much and resenting the hours of my life I was selling. At the moment I may be selling them very cheaply, but at least they are going to me!

Name three of your most popular lines.
My brooches made from vintage books, bespoke vintage map pieces and Shirlette dolls!

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.
The past year was very interesting in that it allowed me to really discover what sells. I had such wonderful ideas, and as a result churned out many things only to discover that maybe they were only really wonderful to me! So this year I plan to focus on just seven or eight items. I am particularly excited about the jewellery I’ve been making and plan to make a lot more of – think fairytales, Alice in Wonderland, flying pigs, animals in clothes which is a particular favourite!

You can see  Rhian’s literary creations at the Emporia Vintage and Craft Market, which now takes place every month, or check out her Etsy shop for more exciting designs.