Despite my recent radio silence I’ve been sewing up a storm over the past few weeks. You see, about half way trough October, on a whim, I signed up to be a vendor at a Christmas craft fair. When I saw the call for vendors on the local newspaper I thought to myself, “I’m crafty. I have all the time in the world and a huge fabric stash. Craft fairs are fun and if I sign up I’m going to have so much fun doing this!” One craft fair soon turned into three separate fairs over three weekends. With two fairs down and only one more to go, the self-imposed pressure is now off and I can finally take the time to tell you a bit about this experience.
After my initial optimism about my decision to participate in the fair a heavy veil of regret set in. I’m a perfectionist. I also had no clue how much stuff one realistically makes for such events so decided to go with the “sew every waking moment of your life” approach. All of a sudden our little apartment started looking like a one person sweatshop and every square inch was covered with bits of thread and fabric. I had moments of panic thinking about all I had to do and all I didn’t know I had to do. I kicked myself for committing to do something that was way over my head. On numerous occasions I felt too lazy to sew and argued with myself about the wisdom of taking on such a project when I’m supposed to be on a sabbatical, after all aren’t sabbaticals the opposite of working? Then I got grumpy, really grumpy.
Mr. Stitch had to walk me back to sanity. “Andrea, it’s supposed to be fun!” he said. “Make things you enjoy making, have fun making them and who cares how much stuff you have to show? Just have fun!” Right. Simple. So I did. After that talking to I relaxed a little bit and then just enjoyed playing with my fabric stash of quilting cottons. I even came up with my own patterns for a clutch using an 8×3 frame and a cute peek-a-boo pleat, a large shoulder bag (which has become my favourite new bag… of course I kept one for myself!), and simple zippered pouches and make-up bags. I was also able to use up quite a bit of fabric scraps to make festive x-mas cards that got lots of positive comments (and sales) at the last two fairs.
In order to get ready for these fairs I did some on-line research and paid close attention to what other crafters had to say. In particular I found Handmade Jane’s post on how she gets ready for fairs to be very useful (thanks, Jane!). When it came time to think about my display I knew I didn’t want to drop any money on one. I also knew that because my bags are quite busy and colourful I needed to keep the background colour neutral and needed to add height to the table so that things would look better.
Mr. Stitch’s school is always receiving tool orders by mail so I asked him to save the delivery cardboard boxes for me. I covered the table with a white sheet (a table-cloth could have worked but I didn’t have one) and layered the boxes, cascade style, over the sheet. I then draped everything with some white quilting cotton I’ve had in my stash for a while and displayed the smaller bags in baskets and the larger ones on their own. The display turned out to be easy, free, and quite nice looking if I do say so myself.
I’m glad my impulsive personality got me to sign up for these fairs because after the initial anxiety fit I actually enjoyed the process quite a bit. I’ve learned a lot (including the fact that I’m a tyrannical boss) and got to meet quite a few new people, which is always good when you are new to a place. I also received quite a bit of good feedback on my products and have decided that any merchandise I have left over after next weekend’s fair will have to go up for sale somewhere. This means that opening an etsy store will be my next endeavour but I won’t be fretting too much about it because, lesson learned, it’s supposed to be fun!