Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair ~ My ‘expert’ opinion!

Ellie Jarvis, backstage, with Kirstie's Allsopp.

Ellie Jarvis, backstage, with Kirstie’s Allsopp.

Designed to allow crafters to indulge themselves, learning, making and taking home beautiful things. Inspired by Britain’s top crafting experts.

The Handmade Fair 'Super-Theatre'

The Handmade Fair ‘Super-Theatre’

I was invited to take part in the Handmade Fair and was utterly delighted to be included as one of Kirstie’s craft experts. What an honour to have my name listed amongst some of the most famous designers in the world ~ Cath Kidston, Kaffe Fassett and Annie Sloan to name but a few!
During the weekend of 19th – 21st of September, the Handmade Fair was held in the stunning and surprisingly intimate, tranquil surroundings of Hampton Court Palace. Draped in miles of bunting and millions of Pom poms, the fair was a visual *feast* of vibrant colour! There was the most wonderful, positive, celebratory and respectful atmosphere, rather like a giant tea-party!

Handmade Fair ~ Bunting galore!

Handmade Fair ~ Bunting galore!

At Clovelly Silk, my family and I have had the absolute pleasure of working with Kirstie and her incredible team on several occasions.

Ann Jarvis, Ellie Jarvis, Kirstie's Allsopp and Lisa McCann

Ann Jarvis, Ellie Jarvis, Kirstie’s Allsopp and Lisa McCann

Bill Jarvis, Kirstie's Allsopp and Ellie Jarvis, on the set of 'Crafty Christmas'

Bill Jarvis, Kirstie’s Allsopp and Ellie Jarvis, on the set of ‘Crafty Christmas’

I’d just like to take a moment to say what an absolute inspiration Kirstie Allsopp is. I am in awe of her ability to inspire people, be that with creativity, house-hunting, home-making or indeed serious political debate.

Clovelly Silk first appeared on screen with the queen of craft in ‘Kirstie and Phil’s Perfect Christmas’. Anyone who saw this programme couldn’t fail to notice that during our piece, I was flirting *outrageously* with the handsome and oh-so charming Phil Spencer!

If you saw Kirstie’s last Christmas show, ‘Kirstie’s Crafty Christmas’ you will have seen me, with my dad Bill, on the show, making Tie Dye pants and socks! My goodness didn’t *that* cause a perfect stir(!) and I’m quite sure that you’re all wearing your tie-dye undergarments as you read this!

Ellie crafting with Kirstie's Allsopp

Ellie crafting with Kirstie’s Allsopp

The Handmade Fair was crammed full of such *lovely* creative people ~ Crafters, performers and experts. There was a veritable feast of Artisan food available and overall, there was a genuine feeling that it didn’t matter if you were an absolute beginner, or an experienced crafter, because the weekend was about sharing knowledge and experiencing exciting, and inspiring things.

A Handmade Fair Workshop

A Handmade Fair Workshop


All too often, large-scale events and indeed many craft/design related projects involve spending a small fortune on equipment, materials and/or training. I am blissfully happy to report that the Handmade Fair had a great emphasis on using recycled or reclaimed materials and workshop packages were included in the price of tickets. Several stands had free classes/tuition and use of equipment, as well as helpful advice and discussions about setting up a craft-related business.

Busy a crafters at the Handmade Fair

Busy a crafters at the Handmade Fair

Of course there was plenty of opportunity to buy gorgeous, handmade delights, but what a relief that the atmosphere was so friendly and conducive to selling/buying.

I was struck by the distinctly nostalgic, vintage feel to the fair and it was so much fun seeing the fair-goers wearing such creative, colourful and gorgeous outfits, showcasing nothing but style!

I was asked to take part in a Mollie Makes Mash Up ~ Live, on stage in the ‘Super Theatre’. Pitched as a battle of the crafts, where the lucky audience were able to watch stars of the craft world go head-to-head with their different craft disciplines!

Following a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ style format, I was to ‘battle against’ Momtaz Begum-Hossain. Our challenge was to transform 1 metre of fabric in 45 mins.

Ellie Jarvis, Mollie Makes editor Lara Watson and 'opponent' Momtaz Begum Hossain

Ellie Jarvis, Mollie Makes editor Lara Watson and ‘opponent’ Momtaz Begum Hossain

With much excitement I started to plan what I could do on stage. I could never have imagined how difficult that would be! I had too many ideas and had to keep reminding myself that I only had 45mins! I decided to imagine what I would like to see, if I was in the audience, I guessed that my ‘opponent’ would do some sewing, so I chose to do something different and use not one, but lots of ‘no sew’ techniques, hoping to inspire the audience with my simple techniques, which achieve such stunning results!

I chose the most gorgeous, foil-printed jersey fabric to work with and opted for a black, gold and silver theme, as I knew they would have maximum impact on stage and show up beautifully under the strong stage-lighting.
I made some examples, showing alternative end results, using vintage fabric and even and old square scarf. I couldn’t wait to share my techniques.

The backstage area was dreamy, with a Bedouin-style tent, brimming with Kirstie’s beautiful furniture and dotted with strings of colourful pom-poms! In fact, the whole fair was held in a series of beautiful tents. The ‘Super Theatre’ tent, resembled a ‘Big Top’ and really was an incredible space!

Backstage area at the Handmade Fair

Backstage area at the Handmade Fair

Our time on stage positively flew by and I was *so* pleased to meet members of the lovely audience afterwards, to answer questions and offer advice about their own craft projects. What a fantastic way to spend an afternoon!
To top it all off, I was honoured to be placed in the ‘Handmade 100′ top 100 crafters, as voted for by Handmade Fair Twitter followers!

How wonderful to be a part of a show which inspires creativity so wholeheartedly whilst encouraging and celebrating thriftiness, recycling as well as a love and respect of pre-loved items.

Organisers of the Handmade Fair and Kirstie, with her incredible team did such a fantastic job!

Well done to the enthusiastic, super friendly crowd

We can’t wait ’till next year!

Record-breaking World Pomination!

Record-breaking World Pomination!


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