It’s supposed to be fun!

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.

Goofy smile, but this is the only photo I have of the whole table! Also, notice I was placed right behind the lotto stand – which reminds me I should go check the ticket I bought.

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.

Make up bags and zippered pouches

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.

Clutches and coin purses – I really like the look of a framed bag

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.

Shoulder bags

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.

Stocking stuffers: tissue holders and flex-frame pouches

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!

20 thoughts on “It’s supposed to be fun!

    • You are too sweet Gail! I feel like I’ve been bending your ear about this craft fair stuff FOREVER. Thanks so much for patiently listening to my ups and downs throughout!

  1. Wow! I’m so impressed! And you don’t look goofy…you look warm and approachable. I’d definitely stop at your stall. And I’d buy a clutch bag in that print with the coral flowers and the bird if it popped up in your Etsy shop!

    • Funny you liked those two prints. The coral print was a favourite for sure and the birds (a print I have in not one but four different colour ways!) were definitely the attention grabbing item of the table. Watch out for them on etsy sometime next week.

  2. First off, kudos to you for doing not one, but 3 craft fairs!! I totally tip my hat to you!! I’ve always wanted to do a craft fair, but I’ve never done anything like that before, and like you I’m a perfectionist and fear that I’ll have absolutely no product because I’ll be way, way too critical and think everyone else will think my stuff is crap due to one off stitch or something weird like that. Also, not having enough stuff to sell is right up there too! I think you had a fantastic selection that looks very professional. I absolutely love those clutches and oh my….those flex frame pouches??? LOVE them!!

    • Melissa, you should totally try a craft fair. I think you would do great. You already have an etsy store where you sell fabulous bags (your fabric choices are the best, IMO) and it would not be much of a stretch to set up a table at a fair. If you do it, I wouldn’t worry about a little off stitch or anything like that. Your stuff already looks super professional – I say go for it!

  3. Andrea, I am really impressed by how much you managed to make. It’s fabulous. I love it all. The frames purses are fantastic. I can just picture you in your little sweat shop…with so much to make and so little time you really needed to work hard to achieve it all so well done on that! Do let us know when the shop is up!

    • Glad you like my stuff Silvia. In the end I did have a great time making it all but yes, it was a mini sweatshop for sure! Some days I never got out of my pjs… I just got up in the morning, sat at the machine and kept sewing until dinner time. If I ever do this again I will take a much more relaxed approach now hat I’ve learned a few things.

    • Thanks! I got them done a couple of years ago and kept forgetting to attach them to my makes but they sure came in handy for the stuff I made for the craft fairs.

    • Yes, it did end up being fun, especially the part where I got to meet a bunch of people at the fairs. It was good to get “social” with my makes after a few weeks of being cooped up at home sewing away :)

  4. Oh WOW! As the proud owner of one of your purses I know how fabulous all of your wares would have been! I’m in awe of you comitting to this – I keep thinking maybe maybe, one day, maybe. My workplace actually has little mini craft fairs so perhaps I should slowly amass a selection of things and throw my hat in the ring one day!
    I’m really pleased that its been a success for you and that you’ve remembered (with the help of the ever awesome Mr Stitch!) to have fun!

    • Vicki, I don’t think I would have done this had I been working full time. It was a lot of work so it would just have been insane to manage both! I too thought about craft fairs before but with a full time job the commitment seemed too daunting. Your idea of starting small at your workplace’s mini fairs sounds great. You could always make an item or two a week for a couple of months and that way you start building inventory slowly without going crazy the week or two before the fair. You should totally think about this and give it a go.

  5. What an array of self stitched goodies!! Your makes look super professional and I love the pic of you behind the stall! Glad you saw through it in the end and enjoyed yourself!! But I know what it’s like to feel pressured by making( although not on this scale!!)

    • Thanks Winnie. Speaking of pressure, with the craft fair whirlwind I forgot all about my x-mas presents so now I feel pressure to get everything done on time. Never ends, eh?

  6. As I make my way through my list of gifts to make, I have to keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be fun :) I love all of your different wares, especially those delightful coin purses! Let us know when you open your shop because I think those would be perfect for my nieces :) Well done on all of your shows!!

    • I think as soon as our hobbies become “work” and they stop being fun then they stop being good for us! This year I limited my handmade gifts to only three because I knew that after all the craft fair sewing I needed a break. I hope your x-mas sewing brings you joy and fun :)

  7. I’m seriously impressed, your stall looks amazing! I really hope you did well after all your hard work. I also had to produce enough stuff for three craft fairs this Xmas and it nearly finished me off!
    Your work is exquisite, it really is, I love everything on your stall! x

    • Oh Jane, it means so much that you, a craft fair veteran, thinks my stall looked good. As you know I took advice from your blog on how to set up my stuff. Truth is I did well, but most importantly, I had a lot of fun!

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