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Slow Stitching Soothes the Soul.

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Craft Alive Hawkesbury

A couple of weeks ago on the 17th of June I took my little shop on the road and exhibited at Craft Alive Hawkesbury. While this wouldn’t be my first time setting up and running a stall, it would be my first time having a stall at a largish Craft only fair. I had previously only taken The Maker’s Stash to Camden Quilt show back in 2018.

I was originally booked in to do the Craft Alive show back in 2021, however due to the virus that will not be named, it was postponed. Instead, I participated in Craft Alive Great International Craft Show, a completely online event. I had a fun weekend setting up my stall in my home studio and doing live Instagram videos.

While the online event was wonderful, it was a real shame to not be able to interact with people in person, so when they announced the date for the Hawkesbury show for 2022, I crossed my fingers and toes in hope that it would go ahead.

And go ahead it did over three days last month. I was both nervous and excited! As many of you may know, I had recently taken a step back from running The Maker’s Stash. Life changes, burn out, new challenges and schedules meant that I took an unplanned eight-month hiatus from my business until the beginning of May, when I finally got off my backside and started preparing the for the show.

The time I took off was necessary and I don’t look at it in a negative light. After spending a lot of time in 2021 working on pattern designs and the business I needed to take some time away. I also became co-owner of another business and so I had new roles and tasks that I needed time to focus on and learn.

So, after months of thinking to myself ‘I need to start preparing for the show’ and procrastinating on this, I finally pulled the trigger and started to cut and package what would end up being thousands upon thousands of paper templates to stock my stall. Fortunately, foresight had meant that I had at least ordered and received the other products & notions I carry alongside my paper templates.

Every spare moment I had was either spent cutting and packaging papers, creating signs and price tags, working out my stall design, collecting display props, preparing social media posts, gathering my samples, writing and practicing my Slow Stitch Talk and Trunk Show and entering every product and price into my point-of-sale App.

But all the hard work would be worth it.

Late Wednesday afternoon on the 15th of June I had everything packed up into Ikea Blue bags (seriously how good and useful are they!?) and I started to load it all into the back of our car. It was a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, working out how to fit it all in, but I got everything in with not an inch of spare space!

That night I barely slept a wink. I just kept running over different scenarios in my head…what to do when I got up in the morning, what I had to get that I forgot to pack, thinking about my talk, thinking about how I would set up my stall. On and on and on…even typing an email to-do list on my phone and sending it to myself didn’t seem to relax my mind!

Somehow, I managed to eventually fall asleep for a few hours before waking up to a bright, beautiful sunny day. After a quick breakfast and cup of tea it was into the car for the conveniently short half hour drive to the Hawkesbury Showground for bump in. One of the main reasons I chose to do this particular event is that it is so close to home for me.

Bump in started the day before the show opened. I was there right on time and unpacking the car was done swiftly, loading most of my gear into cages provided by Craft Alive that they then move to your stall for you to unload. All through bump in, the show and bump out the Craft Alive team were so helpful and accommodating. They are a well-oiled machine, working together to put on a fantastic event for stall holders and customers alike.

With everything unloaded it was time for the epic task of setting up my stall…all by myself. We had from 10am until 6pm to set up…I finished setting up just after 5pm! First to go up was my wall display which involved sticking a lot of tiny sewing pins into the walls…not easy and a little painful on the fingers!

Once my wall display was done, I moved onto my product display. I had wanted to do a trial run of this at home so I could figure out what display box/container etc would be used for what item and how I would set it all up together…alas I ran out of time for that and had to fly by the seat of my pants!

I had a rough idea of how I wanted to set everything up and, in the end, despite the lack of practice, everything went together relatively smoothly without too much swapping things around. The final step was to attach all my price tag signs, decorate with some streamers, and set up a demo area.

Then it would be home to yet another sleepless night full of anticipation for what the next three days would bring.

I really needn’t have worried so much…the next three days would fill my heart and creative soul with kindness and encouragement.

Each day of the show I was doing a talk and trunk show all about Slow Stitching and sharing some of my work. I’m not generally a nervous public speaker, I think after fifteen years presenting interior design projects to clients has given me confidence when it comes to speaking about a topic. However, I was a little nervous and apprehensive. My talk on the live stage was very different to all the others. I wasn’t sharing how to use a useful tool or teaching a technique. I was sharing my journey into Slow Stitching and EPP and talking about how it can benefit mental health.

I looked at this as very much a trial run as I would like to take my talk and trunk show to quilt shops, guilds, and groups. My first talk went well and while the audience was not huge, they were engaged, and many told me how well I did. I did go home that night though and shorten it a fair bit so that I had more time to share my projects.

It was a good experience doing the talk and it’s something I’d like to do more of as I am passionate about spreading the word of how Slow Stitching can Soothe the soul. You can watch the live stream of my talk HERE.

The weekend was full of lovely moments shared with customers and stall holders. I didn’t get a chance to meet all the stall holders, but the ones I did meet were so welcoming and encouraging. They passed on tips, encouraged me to continue with my little niche of stitching and EPP in the big world of patchwork, and admired my work.

There was a lot of admiration for my work and samples I had on display. While we may tell ourselves we don’t need to hear compliments, and be shy about what we do, sometimes a healthy dose of pride in your work and knowing others find it beautiful and amazing is completely necessary for the heart and soul.

I had so many lovely conversations with people about the intricacies of EPP, how calming and soothing it can be. How projects take on special meaning and hold memories. It was truly wonderful to connect with other like minded Slow Stitchers and Quilters.

It was also a lot of fun introducing new people to English Paper Piecing, demonstrating the techniques I have learnt and passing on tips and tricks. It always makes me super happy and excited when I can inspire someone to try their hand at EPP.

Being a small online essentially part time business I have always had reservations about how my business and stall would stack up against bigger patchwork businesses that have been doing this longer than I have. Over the weekend I had customers and stall holders alike telling me I could definitely hold my own next to the ‘big guys’. I cannot tell you how much of a confidence boost that was.

The Maker's Stash Craft Alive Stall

On Saturday at the close of the show I had a good chat to Bret from Craft Alive who encouraged me to continue with what I’m doing, focussing in on slow stitching and EPP. He was excited for me to get some classes put up on their online classroom and would love to have me back at other shows. He also encouraged me to apply to have a stall at The Quilt NSW Exhibition in October, and he was not the only one. On Sunday I met the Vice President of the guild, and she also was very excited by my work, stall and what I was doing and encouraged me to apply.

At the close of the show on Saturday the team put on drinks for the exhibitors for a catch up and chat. Being the new kid on the block, I was keen to attend and get to know some of the other people and business owners in the patchwork community. It was wonderful to chat to these women and men and I certainly began to feel like I wasn’t alone in the business world of Patchwork and Quilting.

I must give a huge amount of thanks to my two friends Valerie and Rachael, Rachael’s Mum Pat and my darling Mother who each came on one of the days to mind my stall while I did my live talk. I am truly blessed to have such wonderful friends, who despite not knowing anything about sewing, patchwork or EPP are willing to help me out. It was also lovely to share a moment of success with my Mum and Dad.

I am very proud of the stall I managed to pull together, of how it looked and my work on display. I had many compliments on how beautiful it looked and it makes all the hard work and time I spent on branding, sourcing displays and decorating worth it.

I went to the show with low expectations, both sales wise and just in general. For me a big part of doing the show was exposure, getting my name and business out to a local audience. What I have taken away from the experience has blown my low expectations out of the water. The experience has definitely re-ignited my passion both for EPP and for my business, and my heading is buzzing once again with so many ideas.

I feel rejuvenated and keen to keep pushing forward with my pattern designs, experimenting with different embroidery techniques, expanding my paper template range, and adding more beautiful products to my catalogue.

I am excited and looking forward to taking my business to Camden Quilt Show and the Quilt NSW show in October…and this time I am going to start preparing paper template packs right now! I hope to see you there!

If you have read all the way to the end of this rather long and rambling post, Thank You! You are what fills my heart with confidence and joy. Hugs to you x

I have put together a little Mini Vlog of my stall at Craft Alive Hawkesbury which you can watch HERE.

Miss Leela x


Slow Stitcher Profile – Zoe Mayson

Welcome to another Slow Stitcher Profile. Today I’d like to introduce you to Zoe Mayson. I first came across Zoe on Instagram where she goes by @zoemayson. I was instantly drawn to her pretty projects and enthusiasm for Slow Stitching. We quickly became Insta buddies and I had the honor of being asked to co-host the #SlowStitchAlong with Zoe and Emma (of @vintagesewingbox) earlier this year.

Grab a cuppa , get cozy and get know Zoe…

Name: Zoe Mayson

Where are you from: I live in Crewe, Cheshire, but I am a Devon girl at heart, which is where I spent most of my childhood

When did you discover your love for EPP? I first started EPP when I wanted to make a quilt for my firstborn daughter, but didn’t have a sewing machine. My mum lent me a hexagon template and I started from there.

How did you learn EPP? I think I just winged it! I don’t remember anything more than my Mum saying that you sew the papers to the fabric then join them together!

What is your favourite EPP shape? I think it must be the humble hexagon, I always come back to it!

Thread or glue baste: Most of the time I thread baste, but I have started glue basting Liberty tana lawn fabric as it is less damaging to it than thread basting.

What thread and needle do you use? I don’t have a particular needle I use, just one that is short and thin, but not thin enough that it bends as you sew. I tend to use up odd colours of thread for basting but sew pretty much everything else in Gutterman sew-all thread.

Favourite fabrics to use in EPP: Quilting cotton, the needle passes easily through it without causing damage, and it has enough stretch to it that if pieces are lining up accurately, you can manipulate them too.

What quilting method do you like to use on your EPP projects? I love the texture that hand quilting adds to small projects. I recently sent off an EPP quilt to be long armed, and I was really pleased with the result.

Do you like to embellish you EPP, for example with embroidery stitching? I have done this occasionally, but I like the patterns made by combining different fabrics to make their own statement.

Do you have a favourite EPP tip to share: Just make a start! It’s easy to be discouraged seeing people sew things neater than you when you start, but experience will bring those skills.

Favourite place to EPP: I sew a lot while waiting for kids in the car, but I love to relax at the end of the day by sewing and watching something on TV.

Favourite thing to watch or listen to while you EPP: Whatever series I am currently watching on Netflix, or an audiobook if I am by myself.

Favourite thing to drink/eat while you EPP: I don’t tend to eat or drink while sewing, I as I don’t want to risk spilling on it!

What is your current EPP work-in-progress: I have far too many! Long term projects include a Pemberley quilt, a random hexagon Christmas quilt, and a Christmas version of my Serendipity Star Quilt pattern. I am also working on some new quilt ideas that are in basic testing.

What is your longest running EPP work-in-progress (or EPP project that took you the longest to finish): I started an extra-large hexagon quilt probably about 15 years ago, that I haven’t finished yet. The quilt top is pieced but I started hand quilting it, and it now languishes in a cupboard!

What is your favourite finished EPP project: I think it must be the little clasp coin purse I made from 1cm square pieces – it took an age to make and was a real labour of love, and stubbornness at not wasting fabric.

What is on your EPP bucket list? Could be a particular pattern, shape or size: I really want to make a Passacaglia quilt! I have lots of Tilda fabric that I have saved, and once I have finished my Pemberley quilt, I will start using them for that, if I can be that patient.

Are there any other EPPer’s whose work you find inspiring? I have found so much inspiration from other EPPer’s in the last few years since discovering the creative community on Instagram. I have just bought Millefiori Quilts books 1-4 by Willyne Hammerstein, and I find her ways of using shape and colour to tell a story to be fascinating.

If you could travel anywhere in the world to EPP where would you go? I don’t really have a travel bucket list and am probably happiest sewing on my sofa at home in my pyjamas!

Serendipity Star Quilt

Serendipity Star Quilt English Paper Piecing Pattern

Zoe recently launched her stunning quilt pattern Serendipity Star. I asked Zoe more about this stunning quilt, what inspired it and what the process was like to design and make an EPP quilt pattern.

Where did the inspiration/idea come from for the quilt design? I came up with the design over Christmas 2020, when I took some time out just to be creative for the sake of it. It came about just by messing around building shapes within shapes while watching Christmas films with my family.

Is this the first EPP quilt pattern you have designed? No, I designed and made an EPP quilt for by second born daughter 17 years ago, when I needed a break from hexagons. I drew all the pieces out by hand on lined paper!

What were the challenges you faced when creating the design? I learned to use Adobe Illustrator while designing the quilt pattern, which has been an excellent tool. It took a long time to try to get the balance right in picking out secondary and tertiary patterns within the design – although you can just make it with random scraps and it would still be pretty!

Did you enjoy the process of designing and making the quilt? I did, but I think I will always enjoy the process of making over working on the computer.

How long approximately did it take to complete the pattern, from initial idea to making, and writing the pattern? It took me 9 months to go from the first trial block to the quilt being completed and the pattern written.

What fabrics did you use in the design? I chose to use Minki Kim’s Idyllic line of fabric with a co-ordinating white floral pattern from her Someday collection. I like using a complete collection from a fabric designer, as all the colour matching is done for you. There is a nice amount of contrast in the collection, which worked well to pull out the secondary and tertiary patterns worked within the main design.

How do you feel about the quilt and the design, does it hold an emotional connection to you? It is always going to remind me of COVID-19 lockdowns and home-schooling, as the majority of the quilt was made around that.

You can purchase the Serendipity Star Quilt Pattern HERE

Patterns and Handmade Goodies

Zoe is not only a busy, talented stitcher. As well as being a Mum, Zoe has a Handmade business on Etsy, Annie Thornalley and she sells her own sewing patterns at Zoe Mayson Payhip.

Here is a sampling of some of her handmade items and patterns…

Essential Sewing Wrap Pattern, Fabric Pumpkin Pattern, Scrappy Pouch Pattern

Liberty Patchwork Zip Up Pouch, Small Liberty Zip Pouch, Fabric Storage Basket

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Zoe and seeing a little peek into her Slow Stitching World.

Happy Stitching,

Miss Leela x