Never book a stall at an event featuring a pole dancer – some advice for craft fair vendors.

my stallSadly the title of this post is not a joke.

The warm, friendly local craft fair where I had my first stall a year ago has really lost its way. An event that would normally be a magnet for families, young mums, and ladies of a certain age, turned its back on its core present-buying demographic in a cacophony of drums, crude language and general lack of common sense. And yes, there really was a pole dancer. So please excuse me whilst I have a mini-rant about this disastrous Christmas fair, and then I will move on to sharing some advice that will (hopefully!) help you avoid your own craft fair from hell!

It was billed as a “Christmas Extravaganza!” combining elements of a previous Steampunk event, (with its questionable choice of entertainment), and their usual craft fair. I rashly decided to risk it, belly dancers, pole dancer, the twenty strong group of drummers and all. Besides, I like Steampunk! Some of my favourite cosplay designs at events like LFCC are the exquisite Steampunk costumes, and I love the way they blend Victorian poise and elegance with classic science fiction themes. It can be a beautiful and exciting style but…  the local interpretation lacked the finesse and attention to detail of the London Steampunk scene. As for the Christmas part, aside from one sad, barely decorated tree, there was nothing. I guess Santa knew to give this particular church hall a miss this year.

My handmade top hat fascinators with sari trim hat bands and vintage belt buckle detail.

My handmade top hat fascinators with sari trim hat bands and vintage belt buckle detail.

My stall was badly positioned and completely inaccessible during the entertainment, and even the audience had nowhere to stand and watch. Mr BAM fetched me some earplugs so I wasn’t totally deafened by the drummers, but there was little I could do about the jiggling midriffs of the belly dancers at eye level, or the crude language of the men elbowing their way behind my stall to get a closer look. By comparison they were almost well behaved when the pole dancer was performing, although they may have been distracted by how precarious the wobbling pole (and dancer) seemed to be.

my stall close up

When people could reach my stall my sales were actually pretty good, and had my pitch not been so ridiculously impractical I might have fewer complaints about the event. I took my chances knowing about the questionable entertainment, but would I do it again? No, definitely not. The Steampunk crowd were more enthusiastic about dressing up than spending money on crafts, and were rowdy to the point that some had to be asked to leave. I should have listened to my gut feeling! Pole dancing and craft fairs do not mix well!

(Apologies for the poor quality photos – they were all taken on my phone. All pictures are of my stall and my stock because it seemed unkind to use pictures of other people in this less than favourable write up.)

So, rant over, here are some things to consider before booking a stall at a craft fair:

Research the event before booking a stall

If possible visit it or speak to people who have. If its a regular event, find out if stallholders keep coming back. If people only ever do an event once it may be an indication that it won’t be worth your time and effort.

Check what entertainment or background music will be used

Music can help create a welcoming atmosphere, but you may want tear your hair out if you have to listen to the same CD on repeat for five hours. Check if any musical performances are going to be acoustic. You do not want a pitch next to an amp or a speaker, and any kind of performance will require both a stage area and a place for the audience to watch and listen. Personally I’m not that bothered by what else is going on as long as it’s not too loud and it doesn’t interfere with my stall.

Check out the parking situation

Plenty of parking close to the venue is obviously good both for the stallholders and the customers.

Take a packed lunch and something to drink

Refreshments can be very hit and miss at craft fairs. Sometimes you’re spoilt for choice and there’s free tea and coffee for stallholders, and other times there’s no food at all and you’re charged £1 for a tiny cup of instant coffee! Take sandwiches rather than anything that needs a fork or spoon. There’s less mess, and less chance that you’ll get caught with it smeared all over your face/clothes/stock/customers!

Don’t forget your float and somewhere portable to keep your takings

Sod’s law dictates that your first sale of the day will be someone with a ten or twenty pound note, so make sure you have enough change (you can’t have too many pound coins!). It may be tempting to put your takings in a lockable cash box but these are more trouble than they are worth. They are too bulky and conspicuous to take to the loo with you without making it look like you think everyone is a thieving b*****d, and if they are all thieving b*****ds they’d only grab your cash box and run anyway! It’s much better just to have a purse or small bag that you can keep with you at all times.

Talk to everyone! And take business cards or flyers

Other stall holders are by far the best source of information about craft fairs. Usually they are a friendly bunch and you never know what creative opportunities will arise from making a new friend or swapping business cards.

There are no guarantees when it comes to craft fairs. They are a complete gamble; sometimes they pay off but more often than not they don’t, at least financially. But as a way of becoming part of a local crafting community, they have been invaluable to me, and it’s always good to step outside and see what people think of the projects I have so much fun making!

Have you ever done a craft fair? I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences, good and bad. Have you got a horror story to share?

Inspiration on Instagram and Pintrest

 You can now find me on Instagram!

(and Google+ )

I quite often take photos with half a mind to work them into a blog post somewhere, but often they never make it. Rather than letting them waste away on my hard drive, I’ve decided to stick them all on Instagram instead.

These are the pick of the bunch for this week:15/06/14 Instagram collageBecause this is a new account, I’m following hardly anyone, so I’m looking for recommendations.

Are you on Instagram? Do you follow anyone crafty or artistic?

Let me know in the comment section!

I’m also on Pintrest too, so look me up if you want to know what is inspiring me at the moment!

(My username for both sites it bamcrafts.)

PJ bottoms in funky vintage floral fabric & some nifty little kit projects

Last week I was showing off my foxy PJ bottoms, and this week (as promised) I have a new pair to show you!

Vintage fabric PJs

As I didn’t have the pattern I used in the sewing class, I dug through the patterns I bought a while ago from when they were on sale, and chose option C from Newlook pattern 6710. I had to use the largest size 😦 and I made a slight adjustment so I wouldn’t have to cut a separate piece of fabric to enclose the waist elastic, but over all I was very pleased with how easy it was to use this pattern!


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The Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition: the result, the backlash and some awkward lingering questions.

A sore loser is only really an embarrassment to themselves, but someone who keeps asking questions as to how and why decisions were made can be a more persistent problem for the organisers of any competition, particularly when there is an attractive prize.

Which brings me to the Hillarys Blinds Country Craft Competition with its first (and only) prize of £1000 cash. Billed by Hillarys Blinds  as a competition for UK craft bloggers to be judged by a panel of influential craft bloggers (, and the brief seemed simple enough…

My entry in the Hillarys Country Craft Competition

My entry in the Hillarys Country Craft Competition

Choose a fabric from the four available designs, and then Hillarys sent out a free sample of the chosen material. The rules stated that you had to make an original craft design and publish a blog post with pictures describing how you made your entry. Continue reading

Spring walks, crochet flower pots and lots of delicious colour!

I’m naturally a very cynical soul, especially when it comes to the weather, but for the last few days I’ve enjoyed the delusion that’s been delighting the nation: that spring might have sprung early. It was 17°C yesterday! T-shirt weather! I dragged Mr BAM out for a walk in the woods and it was glorious!

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Bucket full of eggs, the Frankenflower, vintage fabric and February’s finished socks.

It’s been another week of organising and sorting through my crafty bits and pieces, labouring under the illusion that if there’s some kind of system I must still be in control. (There isn’t. I’m not.) Still, I should count myself lucky that I’ve managed to accumulate some fantastic resources, along with a very supportive husband who trusts me to make something from all this stuff! He really does deserve a medal of some sort. Yesterday he drove me an hour up the coast to go beach combing for driftwood. We stamped around for an hour getting our faces sandblasted in gale force winds, and he helped me carry loads of it back to his nice clean car! It’s all drying out by the radiators, so I’ll post pics when it’s not so sad and soggy!

With Easter and another craft fair coming up, I’ve started making crochet eggs. Trawling round town, trying to get polystyrene eggs for a decent price is a story too boring to tell. Short version: Hobbycraft overcharges by A LOT! (and yet I still bought some there -WHY?) I did start out with a pattern from an old issue of Simply Crochet but my eggs were too big, so I very quickly went off in my own direction, which was a lot more fun!

I love this bucket.

I love this bucket.

I found the little purple bucket in that picture for 85p in a charity shop, and I hooked up its little jumper last night. I absolutely love it, but it will go on the stall so I only get to keep it if it doesn’t sell. 😦

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about starting to spring clean and reorganise my stash of craft supplies. Continue reading

The Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace (otherwise known as “Hell on a stick” or “Never again on a Saturday”)

Okay, despite the title of this post I did actually have a pretty good time at this show, and really I can only fault it for being way too successful. I’m no stranger to busy events or even popular tourist attractions in London, Paris or Rome. Hell, I’ve even shopped in Ikea on a bank holiday weekend when there was sale on! Admittedly some of these things drove me to drink and/or psychiatric pharmaceuticals and required bed rest the following day, but you get my point: I’ve seen and shopped in big crowds before.

Yarn bombed Taxi parked out the front of Alexandra Palace. I was a bit disappointed that more yarn bombing hadn't been done in and around the venue.

Yarn bombed Taxi parked out the front of Alexandra Palace. I was a bit disappointed that more yarn bombing hadn’t been done in and around the venue.

This was infinitely worse. Dear God, it was so much worse…

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Life getting in the way

It’s felt like so much has been on hold recently, mostly because my mister had to fly out to South Africa for a couple of weeks to tend to his mother after a heart valve operation. All went well and the mother-in-law is now in good health, but I procrastinate at the best of times so you can imagine what having the love of my life 9,000 miles away did to my best intentions! I carried on with various little projects but updating my blog and my online shops fell by the wayside. I still have plenty of catching up to do but I thought I’d do a little rundown of what I’ve been up to since my last post.

I’ve joined the Knitting for Victory group at the Redoubt Fortress Military Museum on the Eastbourne seafront. They meet every other thursday and they specialise in knitting vintage patterns and squares to make up blankets for charity. Although I can knit, I decided to stick to crochet, focusing instead on making things that they can sell on their Christmas stall. I’m hoping to work out a design for an amigurumi Spitfire, but to start with I made this trio of gnomes using a pattern from Simply Crochet magazine. There is something quintessentially English about garden gnomes, and although I wouldn’t give them space in my garden, the crochet versions are quite cute!

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Granny hexagons, squares and Fibre East.

My intention to blog at least every few days has fallen by the wayside during what has been an otherwise very productive week.

I’ve made almost all of the granny hexagons I’ll need to make up the birthday present for one of my three nieces. It’s going to be a waistcoat (a gilet or vest to those over the pond) worked in DK acrylic (mostly in Stylecraft plus whatever was hanging about in my stash). I’ve gone for cool greens and blues with a little splash of purple, which I tend to think of as a mermaid/peacock colour scheme.

I hope my niece likes it. At seven going on eight she already has a keen eye for fashion and doesn’t hold back when giving her opinion. I’ve been wearing a lot of light cotton sundresses in the recent heat wave, and twice the little madam has looked at me and said “You’re not going out dressed like that, are you?” I’ve come to the conclusion that it is the sight of my knees that she finds so scandalous. Apparently women over thirty aren’t supposed to have them.


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