As a die-hard craftaholic, I travelled all over UK last year to check out the biggest craft fairs from Made by Hand Cardiff to Handmade Edinburgh. (Lucky me!) In September 2016, I stopped by Exeter to check out the Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts fair at Westpoint Exeter. I believe it was marketed as the biggest craft fair in Southwest UK (although there’s no such mention on the 2017 promotion) so how could I miss it?! (And yes I actually met people who travelled all the way from Cornwall for the fair so I guess it is a big highlight in the Southwest UK Craft Calendar!)
Ticket cost: £8 for the 2017 show (£2 discount for advance booking)
Venue: Westpoint Exeter (shuttle bus every 30 min to and fro from Exeter St Davids provided- the information on the site isn’t very comprehensive as it doesn’t tell you where exactly the bus will be parked at the station)
I ended up staying at the very picturesque Topsham and taking the train/bus to Westpoint. Highly recommended place to stay!
Stalls: over 180 craft stalls!
How was it?
I enjoyed it very much as:
- there was a good range of crafts and free making sessions
- loads of bargains to be had!
“New” crafts that caught my eye
Indian block stamping- doesn’t this look fun! I can think of loads of easy DIYs for the home using these stamps!
Parchment craft- ok so not exactly new but crafts I’d not tried before.
There was also a section devoted to traditional craft guilds such as braiding, woodworking etc not only selling goods make by these traditional craftsmen but also providing information on how to get started in these areas.
Should you visit the show (as a consumer of crafts)?
If you are a craftaholic looking for bargains, yes! It’s also a good place to find out more about different crafts and new products. I picked up a glue suitable for metals and was very tempted by a paper cutter with a revolving blade!
If you are a hipster type maker, then no, this show isn’t for you. The vibe is definitely not young or trendy at all! Instead you should check out the Handmade fair: here’s my post on why it’s my favourite craft fair ever! Or if you’re London based, Drink Shop Do is a great place for craft classes- I attended a silver ring workshop there that was super cool (review here)
Should you exhibit at the show?
If your products are targeting older people, this would be a good show for you as that seems to be the demographic the show attracts. One reason the aisles were so wide was because there were a lot of older folks on wheelchairs- good planning by the craft organisers! 🙂 People who go tend to be serious about crafting so they are happy to spend if you have a good product!
However, bear in mind that many of the other stores would be discounting so, if you don’t, your products might appear expensive in comparison. Also note that most of the stalls were selling products to be used in crafts- off hand I can’t recall any stalls actually selling the finished craft product (so more a craft supplies fair than a craft fair per se)
Tips if you’re attending the fair
- Go early!
I was 30 minutes early and there was already a queue outside the door! The fair isn’t too crowded inside for the first hour or two but after that it gets REALLY packed!
2. Check out the free classes before you go so you can plan what to do when as a lot of the classes overlap
Was taught to sew a zip onto a “skirt” (2 pieces of cloth we were supposed to pretend was a skirt) but I ended up turning it into a pouch- I like my DIYs to be useful 🙂 This Janome sewing machine was super easy to use! I would have totally bought one if I didn’t already have the Liberty sewing machine (which I still haven’t started using!!! Oops)