Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Summer at last!

Isn't it simply lovely to have sun? Let's hope we get a lot more of it! Sunshine makes so many aspects of life easier and more pleasant - laundry being one of them.

Washability is important for almost all my products. 

So in the recent good weather, I've spent time washing fabrics I'd bought earlier in the year, and hanging them out to dry in the sunshine - I won't sell anything that can't be washed (except for things like lavender bags and wheaty warmers, of course, but even they get their base fabrics washed before making-up, to remove any fillers or finishes) and the best way to ensure there'll be no disasters in the laundry area is to do-it-myself first. 

Then I can tell prospective customers with total confidence 'Yes, it'll wash' and I know that any future shrinkage or colour loss has been minimised, too. Who wants to buy, for example, an apron that they can't just fling in the wash, hang out on the line and then run an iron over? No-one, that's who!
blue fabric hanging on the line
Pretty blues
cottons and polycottons printed with stars and transport motifs
Cars, stars, boats.

I love how my fabrics look on the line!

fabric with cats; fabric with herb plants
Cat print and herbs
I'm very, very lucky where I live in some of the loveliest countryside in England, yet  a bus-ride or two will transport me to several fabric-lover's heavens where I have no problems getting gorgeous, quality cottons - and other fabrics - at breathtakingly reasonable prices. 

A fabric printed with pigs, and one with farm animals
Piggies and a farm
Fabrics with retro floral prints
Retro florals
So I can make these pretty aprons - they bring colour to my garden before the flowers start to bloom - and lots of other lovely, lovely things!

Colourful aprons hanging on washing line
Pinnies on the line

I have to ask - is there anyone else who buys fabric just to look at? I understand being reluctant to cut into beautiful  fabric - especially when it's expensive -  for fear of making a mistake, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about just buying it because you love it - like you might buy a picture for the wall, I suppose.

Here's one I bought with no intention of making anything at all from it. I have another one which I love to just look at, and one I like to stroke, which I'll post next time.
Fabric with elephant print
How could anyone not love this?

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Fair success at the Market

You never can tell when you'll sell.

My village is a busy little place in the summer. It's busy in the winter, too, but it's a less-open, less public sort of busy-ness.

Spring Bank Holiday weekend marks the beginning of our outdoor, summer 'busy-ness'. We have a Village Market, at which I was persuaded, against my better judgement (or so I thought at the time) to have a stall - only £5 for village residents, so I looked upon it as my contribution to the village amenity fund. I nearly couldn't be bothered to go, but the organiser knocked on my door the night before to check up on me, and threatened to come round at 8 in the morning, too, so I had to ...

I knew I wouldn't do well, as anyone and everyone local is welcome at the market - car booters, charities, businesses, organisations - as long as they're within a certain geographical area they're welcome to sell whatever they want. The Avon Ladies of every surrounding village were present - an entire tribe of them! - and a pickle manufacturer who rents a production unit up the road was there, as was the Farmhouse Jam lady who really does work from her farmhouse. Not much call for hand-made domesticalia at premium prices, I thought.

So I'd made nothing special or new; as I've done very few fairs so far this year I merely dug out some unsold stock - half-a dozen cushions, half a dozen aprons, half a dozen strings of floral bunting, half a dozen strings of 'boy bunting' (pirates, cars and Manchester United - two of each) and two corset-clad dummies, one large and one small, whose main purpose is display and the attraction of customers from afar, not for selling. I'd not even been to the bank for a float, either, so I hurriedly altered all my prices to multiples of 5 - which made the cushions and aprons expensive and the bunting cheap. I really wasn't bothered, though. Why should I be? I just knew I wasn't going to sell anything much at all.

I trundled my trolley all of 100m down the road - and was passed by a swerving tractor, driven by a farming acquaintance whose eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw how my dummies were clad! - to the market, and found myself placed between the pickle man and a retro jewellery maker, opposite the nursery school's nearly-new soft toy stall, Help the Heroes and the Allotment Society.
Everything literally pegged-down on a windy day
Within three hours, standing there in the cold wind, I'd sold all the cushions, five out of the six aprons, all the boys bunting and half of the floral bunting. I also took orders for two more cushions (to match a pair already bought) and two more strings of boy's bunting. The dummies had to be put away under the table, as the wind was so strong it blew them right off. It wasn't a venue for corsets anyway, but let's be honest, there aren't that many outdoor venues which are!

There were plenty of buyers, including lots of British Asians - probably from the neighbouring East Lancashire towns - and the Allotment Society was doing a roaring trade with the Asian ladies buying boxes of bedding plants.  Here in this rural neck of the woods we are a surprisingly homogeneous bunch of white Anglo-Saxons and Celts, and see very few people from ethnic minorities, except for our bus drivers and my best friend Elena who is black South African and visits at least once a week,  so the Allotment Society members - every last one of them over the age of 85 it seems - looked a bit flustered as they were surrounded by billowing saris and dupattas, vying with the flowers for colour.

It wasn't supposed to rain until 2pm or so, but the first spots started coming down an hour earlier.  Ten minutes later, it was fairly pelting down, but by then I'd packed up everything but my table and was sheltering under the pickle man's gazebo. The pickle man very cruelly (to his son) and very kindly (to me) sent his son to unscrew and fold my table, and a few minutes later, the rain having lessened a little, I trundled up the road, far less burdened than when I'd trundled down it earlier in the day.