Milton Keynes Handmade & Vintage Fair

Just a quick blog post about my busy weekend!
Saturday and Sunday saw the return of the Milton Keynes Handmade and Vintage Fair, which is situated outside John Lewis at the Centre MK shopping centre. Its a brilliant fair, with a total of 128 stalls full of handmade and vintage loveliness.
We have been taking part in the fair for a good few years now and its by far the biggest and best one we do. 
I thought i would just share some photos of our stall for everyone that didn't make it to see us this weekend.

This is one of my favourie prints at the moment - british birds, i might keep this dress for myself - i like it too much!

 We decided early on that we weren't going to have a table this time, so we went for the step ladder shelves, we ended up chopping up my dads wooden ladders to make this display and the shelves are made from tongue and groove floor boards - makes them light enough to carry but sturdy enough to display our items on.  I also made a new backdrop, which i thought would take me an hour but actually took me 6! I guess sewing 30 little velcro tabs on takes a lot of time!

Our new fabric covered hardback notebooks went down well! i decided to cover some recycled wooden fruit boxes with book pages for our all new display.

We also decided to sell some of our left over fabrics as fat quarters, which went down a treat :)

And of course we couldn't do a fair without bringing along our trusty 'brilliant ideas' notebooks! Sticking with our new display theme i also made some fabric trays like the one seen above, i think i ended up making about 20 odd in the end, but they do fit well with our new backdrop as well which seemed to pull the whole display together.

A close up of the goodies on our ladder shelves.

And a new custom orders sign made an appearance - which seemed to work well as i've got loads of orders to be making up this week and next.

So after a successful weekend selling, i've had a quiet 2 days but i must be getting back to normal now and start making for the next one (it's not until june but i like to be prepared!)

Grace Face xoxo

My top 5 Sewing Tips!

In a bid to become a better blogger, and to make the blog better, i did read somewhere that you should write about what you would like to read in a blog, so here you go! My bloglovin list is filled with sewing, personal style blogs and also small creative businesses too, so i guess that is the way this is going!

So today i bring you my top 5 sewing tips, i think i'll do a countdown of my top 5 sewing secrets from 'not so amazing' to truely amazing for that extra wow factor

Number #5
Trim your threads as you go.
It may sound like a pretty crappy tip, but a helpful one. One of my worst nightmares is that horrible tangle of threads you get at the end, or even worse, getting loose threads (especially overlocker ends) caught in the seam. It may sound pernickety but its easier to trim as you go than try and find all those loose threads at the end.

Number #4
If you can't match your colours, darker is better than lighter.

When trying to match treads or zips or trims, (or anything really) sometimes you can match the colours perfectly, and its a miracle, other time theres just no colour thread in the shop that will match your lovely fabric. Damn it. Best thing to do is to go for the closest darker shade rather than the lighter one. Lighter tones will always 'pop out' a little more than the darker ones.

Number #3
Glass headed pins.

Amazing - why didn't i know about these before i started sewing.
Glass = does not melt when iron is applied (i have ruined a few projects by melting a plastic pin head to it!) They are lovely and sharp - possibly too sharp so be careful (again a few projects ruined with little spots of finger blood) and the coloured heads are easy to find when they are holding your project together. Not as pretty as those long pins with the metallic heart shaped ends, but 100 times better performance wise.

Number #2
Pinking Shears.

Yes - they are not just for decorative use. You've probably heard of pinking seams to finish them neatly if you dont have an overlocker to hand, but I use the pinking shears to trim away the seam allowances on finished seams (like necks and armholes) especially curved seams for a perfect crisp curve and no bulk. Who has time to clip notch seams for turning!

Number #1
Pritt Stick.

So many people say to me - "wow how did you put in that zip so neatly? I always have so much trouble inserting zips!" By using this little trick i can insert a zip in under 10 minutes.
With this method using the secret ingredient of Pritt Stick - you should be able to easily insert a zipper without any problems. The ideas behind it is you glue the zip to the seam while sewing so you haven't got to stop to take pins out, or try sew over them leaving you with wobbly stitching. Before i show you how i insert a zipper via a lovely picture story, i do have to give credit to for the initial idea, i do follow her instructions to a point, but sew the zip in slightly differently to the original instructions. Here is a tutorial ony! how to insert a zipper into a dress, but you can also use this method for skirts, cushions, purses, well anything with a zip reall

First, sew the seam your zip will be going in to. I like to sew the seam with quite a long stitch so its easier to unpick later. Also press the seam open.

Then glue the zip tapes down both sides. As you can see this is an invisible zipper so you can't see the zipper teeth from the right side - which is this side! If you are using a normal zip, you'll glue down the sides where you can see the zipper teeth.

I pin my zip at the top of the seam, just to keep it in place whilst i stick the rest of the zip down. I line up the top of the zip with the top seam as i have already sewn the lining (the polka dot fabric) If you are attaching your lining after putting the zip in, i would line up the end of the zip tape with the edge of your fabric. (So those bits sticking out on the above photo would meet the top edge of your fabric instead of the zipper meeting the edge of the fabric like in the photo)

Then carefully match up the seam with your zipper teeth, smoothing as you go. Apologies for my awful nails - i had just washed my hair with purple shampoo and it stains your nails!

Once your zip is all stuck down, give it a quick press with an iron to keep it in place.

Then using your zipper foot, sew away! I start as far up as i can (as the zipper pull is i the way) and sew all the way down until you get to the bottom. The stitching on the other side (the part that you will see when it's finished) should be perfectly straight if you have placed the zip carefully in the centre and you keep your zipper foot right next to the zipper for guidance.

When you get to the bottom, turn the fabric to a 90 degree angle to sew across the zip (the tape not the actual zip) and reverse a few times, then carry on up the other side.

Sew as far as you can until the zipper pull gets in the way then stop.

Unpick the seam down to the end of the zip and pull out all of the ripped threads to make it all neat and tidy.

You know we couldn't sew all of the zip because the pull was in the way? Now we have opened up the seam we can pull the zipper head down to get at those little bits at the top to secure those, using the same method as before,

Sew down from the start of the dress to where the original stitching started.

 Trim all threads and ta daa! Here is the finished piece. As you can see the zip is neatly topstitched, and is finished nicely at the top!

I prefer to topstitch zips into my dresses rather than use the invisible  zipper method as i find that if the dress pulls ever so slightly your likely to see the invisible zipper, but if you use this method and topstitch, theres always a little flap of fabric covering the zip so your less likely to see it!

I really hope my first tutorial was easy to follow and above all helpful. If you have any questions please leave a comment below and i will do my best to answer any questions you may have on my 5 tips - and also share any of yours if you think you have a really awesome one.

Grace Face xoxo

Studio Tour

So it has been a little while so i thought i would treat my followers with a little studio tour!
Now you may be thinking 'that looks a lot different from the last photos we saw of your studio'
And yes, that's because it is different. A few weeks ago i moved back to Northampton, long story that i am frankly bored of telling everyone, lets just say living arrangements didn't quite work out so i back home, and back to my old studio, which is nice. I can work in my pj's all day if i want to, and sing along to the radio and not get embarrassed if people hear me! And i did get a little creeped out by people staring at me work in the shop studio in St Ives!

So back to the tour, welcome to the Grace Face Studio! This is the corner where i do most of my work, as you can tell - that is my leather 'boss chair' and nice tidy piles of fabric, they aren't usually that tidy but i thought i should do my best to make them look neat if i would be sharing my space with guests.

Here is my machine which was a birthday present to myself last year. For years i had been sewing on either a basic brother machine (seen at the far right) or an 80's singer, which were alright but i yearned for some of that fancy sewing technology like a knee lift (that's that funny thing coming out of the bottom of my machine) it's actually really useful for lifting the foot up without using your hands! Other really useful features in this computerised machine include a setting that allows you to stop sewing with the needle down for easy turning - i tell you its the future guys!

My little ikea trolley with all of my trimmings. Also it looks like the walls are made of doors, they aren't but they may as well be - there are 4 doors into and out of the studio!

And my little helper which isn't really that helpful when he keeps pulling fabric off of the shelves and thinks its really funny if you chase him around with it!

This is the really noisy but nice looking clock my mum bought for the studio which actually serves no purpose, considering my phone and laptop are always on - and both tell the time. And also can you spot the old scrabble box? Its my mums also, probably vintage by now, and not quite sure why it is stored in the studio, we never play.

Now i like having my buttons all out in the open where i can see them, but i didn't enjoy trying to transport these back, like this, from Cornwall. Lets just say it look my and my mum a few hours picking buttons out of the wrong compartments.

A few little bits of artwork, first is the 2 keep calms my dad made us a few Christmases ago, and the one below is a hanging by the lovely Polkadot of Winslow
And that isn't a giant toilet roll on the top shelf, if that is what you were wondering!

Also my 2015 year planner (which i was scared to write on for weeks in fear of ruining it) from Angie Spurgeon. I've clearly got some more planning to do because i don't look very busy!

And last but not least my little companions that sit above my desk :)

Hope you enjoyed the tour of my little studio, until next time ...

Grace Face xoxo

Return to Milton Keynes

Last week saw the return of Grace Face to the Milton Keynes Handmade and Vintage fair.
I have done the Milton Keynes fair a good few times now and have always found it a really good fair, not just for selling but also the vast array of other traders who are all lovely and friendly!
Annoyingly i didn't take any photos of the other traders but i did treat myself to a gorgeous little jacket from Abi Jackson - my old textiles teacher from school!  And also a cute little daisy necklace from Silver Flowers - they make amazing real flower jewellery.

Flashback to a few years ago, before i started doing the MK fairs, i would jump at any and every opportunity and wasted a lot of time doing so at not so great events. It wasn't so much time wasted, i learnt that its always best to visit potential fairs before having a stall to see whether its right for you - looking out for how the stalls are laid out, the variety of stalls there and most importantly the footfall - and whether that footfall is your target market.

As well as craft fairs being a great place to show off what you do and sell lots, they are also fantastic for networking, meeting and chatting to other traders and most importantly meeting your customers! Its important to listen to what your customers have to say about your products, the good and the bad, as well as what they tend to look at the most and what they don't, which can help with laying out displays in the future.

Unfortunately the Milton Keynes fair is the last one i will be doing before Christmas, but after the relocation i am looking to do more next year, in the Northampton area and Cornwall!

Grace Face xoxo

Grace Face has moved!

Yes, i have been quiet for a while, especially on here!
But for the past month i have been busy with something completely unrelated to business, but a big life change none the less.

A couple of months back i made a life changing decision to move myself, little Albie (pug, not baby!) and my business from Northampton to St Ives, Cornwall.

Although business was going well in my home town of Northampton, i felt i was spreading myself too thinly trying to stock 4 shop areas, get custom orders done on time, as well as getting ready for fairs and working in a fabric shop 2 days a week, i never had time for myself let alone work on new products and everything started to become a drag, i was loosing sight of what the business was all about. I definitely needed a change.

I and my partner went on a short holiday to St Ives a while ago and just fell in love. We stumbled across a lovely flat on the wharf overlooking the harbour for a steal, and the day after found a shop / studio area less than 1 minute away from where we were going to be living, everything fell into place, we felt like it was meant to be!

This week we celebrated a month since we moved which reminded me i haven't updated all my loyal followers on my big news...

I opened the Grace Face Boutique Studio and Shop a few weeks ago and it has so far been a big success!
i was unsure to begin with about what the locals and of course the tourists would think of Grace Face but i think its safe to say they love it! My rail is nearly empty and i have been selling out of some items so i think that a pretty good start!

So i am now spending most of my time in the studio shop, sewing and selling, and when i am not there i am back home cutting out dresses to sew (the shop is a little too cosy to cut and sew!) or taking walks on the dog beach with Albie.

So what does this mean to you guys?
Well i am not stocking any of the shops that i was back in Northampton any more as it is just impossible logistically!

  • The Most Marvellous Place to Shop - Northampton & Towcester
  • Lollyrocket - Kettering
  • Blighty Bazaar - Leamington Spa
You can still find a few select items at the ArTearoom in Pottersbury, but apart from that the only place to stock Grace Face is now my shop in St Ives.

Don't worry, you don't have to travel to the end of the county to still get Grace Face Goodies - i will be putting all of the shop stock on to my online shop in the next couple of weeks, and i am still taking custom clothing orders through the website as normal.

I am also still doing the quarterly Milton Keynes Handmade Vintage fairs, next one being the 31st Oct - 2nd Nov, and also a weekend event at Sywell Aerodrome on 27th - 28th Sept.

I hope i haven't left anyone disappointed about a Grace Face move, i definitely don't see it as a negative, i live in a lovely place with lovely sights, surrounded by inspiring art galleries and artists & i get to make and sell all day which is what i really missed about leaving my shop in the Fish Market and going to rent spaces in other shops. I couldn't think of anything better, my time is now more focused on business, i feel more energised and am excited to start new projects (now i have the time) and also more relaxed, now i have a separate studio i can lock the door, come home for the evening and chill with a cuppa, the biscuit tin and a marathon of the latest series (currently The Following - if you don't know have a google!)

Keep your eyes peeled in the next couple of weeks for the relaunch on the online shop (just waiting for Talk Talk to install our home Internet!!) and also some new products i am working on, don't want to give too much away but i have some new heavy weight fabrics which will be making an appearance!

Miss Grace Face xoxo

P.S - Find the new shop here!

Grace Face Shop & Studio
Sloop Arts Market
St Ives
TR26 1LS

Latest offerings

Heres some of the latest offerings from the Grace Face Studio!
A vintage style floral dress i think may be a nice one for the mannequin over in Towcester Most Marvellous!

The plans for the next dress - i am loving the lace collars at the moment :)

And lots of notebooks that are off to a new stockist on Saturday!

And maybe another dress to go in the window over at Towcester.

Busy busy busy!

Grace Face xoxo

Fabric Shopping

So today we went fabric shopping...
My picks of fabric - a few that are very liberty style! But mostly florals.
And these are my mums picks for little girls dresses - although i may get to some of them before she does!

If there are any fabrics that you are interested in - please email me quick to place a custom order before they get made into something else. All fabrics above are suitable for adult dresses / skirts / tops or little girls shift dresses.
I am sure you will be seeing some of these made up very soon!
Grace Face xoxo