Craft Jumble Sale!!!

As part of my new year clear out and rejig I’m having a huge craft jumble sale to get rid of all my old stock, random materials and general crafty bits I’ve accumulated.

It is being held at the newly reopened Creative Occupations Bureau Cafe in Cobden Chambers.  They have generously given me the use of a corner of their cafe (which by the way has amazing coffee!)

There is going to be tables piled high with stuff which all has to go so items will start at 5p!

Don’t miss your chance to stock up on some crafty goodies!

Posted in All Blog Posts, Knitting Yarn, Sale, Spinster adventures, events & news!, Vintage Buttons, Vintage Sewing/Knitting Patterns, Vintage Trimmings, Ribbons & Braids, Vintage Wallpaper, Vintage/Retro fabric, markets and fairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Craft Off is back!

Yes, the original competitive crafty event is back! Art Attack meets the pub quiz for grown ups!

Hosted by myself and the marvellous Handmade Nottingham at the newly renovated Malt Cross.

If you haven’t heard of The Craft Off before here’s how it works…

Get a team together! All abilities are welcome whether they are crafty fiends or creatives novices.

Buy your tickets: Head to to purchase your tickets at £4 per person.

Get to the Malt Cross:  It’s on St. James Street just off the market square.  All the materials and equipment are provided so just bring yourselves!  Get a table, buy a drink and then we will reveal the top secret theme for The Craft Off!

The main event!: Once the theme is revealed your team will have one hour to cut, stick, draw and build their way to Craft Off victory!

You might build a machine out of egg boxes, a monster out of toilet rolls or a mask covered in lolly sticks.  It’s all crafty fun and there are prizes to be won! (That rhymes!)

Follow @thecraftoff on twitter and instagram for clues, inspirations and updates.

Purchase tickets at

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Hearts & Crafts Fair at GameCity9!

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Hey folks! Long time no see (unless you follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that is!)

I’ve been doing a lot of moving, making and planning over the past few months and I’ve got some rather exciting projects lined up. The first of which is the first ever Hearts & Crafts Fair as part of the city wide GameCity9 event in Nottingham.

GameCity is an annual week long, video game festival that started in 2006.  Collaborating with local businesses, creatives and Nottingham Trent University, it offers events to suit all tastes and ages.  The full schedule is on their website and you can like them on Facebook too.

The Hearts & Crafts Fair will be held in the Hockley area of Nottingham. It’s inside (hooray!) and free entry. There will be loads of local designer/makers, crafters and bakers, live music and competitions!

I’ll be selling my usual array of vintage crafty wares including some new craft kits which will be on sale for the first time.  I’ll also be selling some exclusive vintage Star Wars items made by my own fair hands.  There will be some taster photos up over the next week so be sure to follow Spinster’s Emporium on all the social networks for the first look!

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Bird in Borrowed Feathers Market this Weekend!

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It’s finally here!  I will be at the Bird in Borrowed Feathers Market for three whole days selling my vintage crafty wares!  Also I will be running a workshop on Saturday morning showing you how to customise a t-shirt.  For just £3 you can pick my brains and rummage in my crafty stash.  Drop me an email to book a slot and then have a look at my customising pin board for inspiration.

There will loads of other designers, makers and crafters selling their amazing work and there are lots of different workshops going on all weekend for every age!

Don’t forget to say hello when you drop by!

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Sew and Tell: Louise West Lace Design

Photo courtesy of

A few months ago I had the pleasure of taking part in a lacemaking workshop with Louise.  Lace always seemed so intricate and complicated but in its simplest form as long as you can count to four, you can make lace!  I have to be honest, it did take me four hours to make a skinny snake bookmark but I could have carried on all day.

Louise’s work shows how versatile lace can be, from traditional lace trims to 3D sculptures.  She even created the lace that was used to emboss the exterior walls of the Nottingham Contemporary gallery!

Name: Louise West

Occupation: Lace designer/tutor

Current location: Derby

Sweet or Savoury?  Savoury

Hero or Villain?  Hero

Favourite decade?  Current one – always think today is better than yesterday.

Favourite film?  X-files the movie

Describe Louise West Lace Design in five words:  Unique, creative, inspirational, enthusiastic, fun.

3D lace made with wire.

What drew you to lacemaking and how did you start?  I saw someone demonstrating lace many years ago and thought it looked interesting, so wanted to have a go. I found a course and once I tried it I was hooked.

What does your studio look like?

Louise's studio in Derby.

Where do you get your inspiration?  I have many sources of inspiration.  Historical designs by Thomas Lester always inspire me to design, partly due to the organic nature and plants involved.  A lot on my own designs feature botanical inspirations, although some are stylised to the point that most people won’t recognise the original plant.

Louise's MA lace art pieces.

What tool could you not live without and why?  Lace bobbins – hundreds of them – without them you cannot make bobbin lace!  Many are so beautiful in their own right, with hand painting and inscriptions that they are works of art themselves.

If you could meet any other artist or designer who would they be?  Historically it would have to be Thomas Lester from the 19th century who has inspired so much of my current work.  His designs made lace so much more organic and flowing.

Some traditional lace designs made by Louise.

Your work jumps from the traditional lace to contemporary art and beautiful jewellery.  Which aspect do you prefer and do you have a favourite piece?  Traditional lace is always a favourite, in particular Bedfordshire lace, but the contemporary lace is much more of a challenge.  Sometimes even the equipment has to be made or adapted before the work can begin and this is another challenge.  I love the jewellery and being able to wear lace in this form every day and making it is great fun.

Some of Louise's lace embossed jewellery.

What do you hope for the future of lacemaking? Do you think it will become a popular craft again?  I hope that it continues to flourish as it is an important part of our heritage, and can inspire so many new directions. It is also very therapeutic and can be relaxing which is a great stress reliever – something we all need in the busy pace of 21st century life. There is a lot of interest in workshops with more people enjoying finding something more traditional and away from digital technology. Many people find being creative really empowering, and leading to more confidence in other areas of life. Lace is something that any age can do as long as they can count to four!

And finally… Are there any events or projects to look forward to?  I love teaching, and have many courses booked which I am travelling to teach over the next 18 months, but I am also working on some new lace designs which I hope will be published in a book next year.

The lace embossed walls of the Nottingham Contemporary gallery.

Thanks Louise!  If you would like to see more of Louise’s wonderful work or find out how you can learn to make lace, visit her website:

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Sew and Tell: Illustryous

*Heads up! This blog post contains images of artistic nudity*

Meet Laura of Illustryous, a wonderful Brighton based artist (and dear friend) who’s figurative illustrations incorporate the magical and fantastical.  When she isn’t drawing mermaids and unicorns, Laura works as a life model and drawing tutor as part of Draw Brighton.  Find out why she ran away to join the circus and bumped into a mermaid on Brighton beach!

Name: Laura Burgess

Occupation: Illustrator/Drawing Tutor

Current location: My studio, Brighton.

Sweet or Savoury? I just ate a whole bag of sweet and salted popcorn, so I prefer a combination!

Hero or Villain? I’d like to be a villain, but a kind of benign one.

Favourite decade? The ’60s, all that peace and love and flower power – although I probably have an overly romanticised ideal of it.

Favourite film? Breaking the Waves, by Lars Von Trier.

Describe Illustryous in five words: Ethereal, Figurative, Beautiful, Intriguing, Colourful.

How did Illustryous start? I finished my degree in Philosophy, and went off on a massive tangent, deciding to train myself up as an Illustrator. I took an art foundation course, and found life drawing to be the most exciting and inspirational aspect. My illustrations are all based around figures drawn from life, with patterned embellishments.

What is Draw Brighton and how did you become involved? Draw Brighton is the organisation I run life drawing sessions with, it is a collective of artists, models, performers and creatives. We run ‘Drawing Circus‘ events in theatres and other locations across the South East, a visually delightful performance in which hundreds of people come and engage with the act of drawing, sometimes for the first time. I also run the weekly themed life drawing sessions – which include a set and costumed model based around themes as diverse as Pandora’s Box, Poisonous Plants, and Mystical Creatures.

Photo from the Drawing Circus

Where do you get your inspiration? I draw my inspiration from the colourful characters around Brighton – my mermaid drawing is of Michaela, who busks on the beach as a mermaid in summer, blowing bubbles and combing her hair, in full mermaid costume. The human figure is hugely inspirational, most of my drawings are drawn from life; the act of sitting in front of, witnessing and then translating the form of another human being on to paper is something I find profound and moving. I find drawing the human figure is the very best way to improve one’s drawing, it is so challenging to get right – the subtle nuances in faces and proportions, yet so satisfying when you can capture something of the essence of a person with something as simple as a pencil and paper.

A Melody of Mermaids

What tool could you not live without and why? A 2H and a 4B pencil, I use them daily for my drawings, it is amazing what you can create with really low tech materials and turn into finished works.

If you could meet any other artist or designer who would they be and why? Audrey Kawasaki is a huge inspiration, I absolutely adore her work and drool over her website whenever I have any spare time. Her skill and vision as an artist is incredible, her aesthetic is absolutely stunning, and I’d love to create work as accomplished as hers.

Album cover design for Noir Musique

And finally… Any events or products to look forward to? I am working on some illustrations inspired by unicorns at the moment, and will be continuing to update my blog and shop with more work, so follow me there. Also, if you are lucky enough to live in the South East, The Drawing Circus runs monthly events at the Old Market in Hove. My themed life drawing sessions continue to run weekly, check out the Draw website for details.

Thanks Laura! Follow the links in the post to find more about Laura’s amazing work and the Drawing Circus.

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New Vintage Goodness for Spring!…and other news

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Hello there!

It seems like ages since my last post.  I feel like I haven’t had a moment to spare since moving back to Nottingham.  I’ve moved house again and plans for a studio are in the making, but until then I’m settled in the spare room of my new house and trying to get organised (easier said than done!)

The Flashback event was a great success!  If you weren’t able to make it have a look at this great little film to see what you missed.  There’s also a few photos on the Spinster’s Facebook page.  I can’t wait for the next one!

I have also added some lovely new items to the shop including some of the tantalising designs above and lots of vintage buttons and buckles.  I’ve got loads more on the way including some great 1950s vintage fabric!

I’ll be back later in the week with a Sew and Tell with Laura of Illustryous. So be sure to pop back with a cup of tea for a good read.

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Flashback and other news…

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It’s been nearly a month since my last post and so many exciting things have developed since then!  Among them is my decision to move back to my home town of Nottingham.  I’ve been hanging out in the West Midlands for a while, but with a change of job and a desire to bring Spinster’s Emporium back to its birth place, it seemed like it was the right time to move.

I hope that after a few months of settling in I will be able to have an open studio again and perhaps a space to do workshops! Fingers crossed!

Now it just so happens that my return to Nottingham coincides with a rather fantastic event which I have been asked to take part in.  Flashback II is set to be a marvelous evening of vintage goodness taking place in Nottingham’s Lace Market.  There will be live music, a fashion show, a dance class and vintage market presenting the talents of some of Nottingham’s finest creatives!

I’m excited to announce I will be running a vintage customising workshop from 7pm.  Bring an item of clothing and learn a few simple techniques to give it a new life.  All materials and equipment are provided at no extra cost!

If you want to take part but don’t have an item of clothing to bring, then you can learn to make a simple drawstring toiletry bag which you can decorate with buttons and trims from the Spinsters stash.

The best customiser will receive a Spinster’s Emporium goody bag filled with lovely vintage materials to customise at home.

You can buy tickets from the Lacehouse website or pop into Oxfam Goosegate or Sue Ryder Hockley

Click here to see all the other amazing collaborators on the Flashback blog and like the Facebook page to keep up to date.

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Sew and Tell: Lily and the Lamplight

Meet the super talented Steph Cunningham of Lily and the Lamplight.  Dressmaker extraordinaire! She makes beautiful vintage style clothes in hand picked fabrics perfect for retro lovers and fashion fanatics alike.  If individual and quirky is your style then Steph’s your gal. (A little bird told me she also does the odd commission!) Read on to find out the inspirations and aspirations of Lily and the Lamplight…

Name: Steph Cunningham

Occupation: Designer/Dressmaker

Current Location: In my studio in Lancashire, currently sorting through my new Spring/Summer fabrics!

Sweet or savoury? Definitely sweet, can’t resist sweet treats!

Knit or crochet? I’d have to say knitting. My Grandma taught me how to knit when I was younger.

Hero or villain? Hero, all the way! Always root for the good guy!

Favourite decade? The 1960s, I love the style of this time! Mini skirts, shift dresses and floral prints, make up the majority of my wardrobe.

Favourite film? Recently I really enjoyed The Great Gatsby.  I love the stylized style of the film and the clothes by Prada were amazing!

Describe Lily and the Lamplight in five words: Handmade, quirky, vintage, classic and one-of-a-kind! Maybe pushing it a little bit with the last word!

How did Lily and the Lamplight start? After completing a degree in fashion design at UCLAN University and interning at various fashion brands, I decided I would like to start my own brand designing vintage style clothing.

What does your studio look like? Full of printed fabrics, rolls of pattern paper and rails full of Lily and the Lamplight clothes ready for upcoming fairs!

Making, designing, photographing, branding! Do you do everything yourself or do you have a team? No, just me!

Where do you get your inspiration? I’m always on the look out for inspiration, from vintage fairs to fabric shops, to books and magazines.  Or anything quirky or individual that catches my eye!

What tool could you not live without and why? My pattern master.  It allows me to turn my designs into actual garments!

If you could meet any other designer or artist who would they be and why? Mary Katrantzou, ever since I saw her first collection in 2008 I’ve been obsessed with everything she does.  I love her use of print!

And finally… Any events or products to look forward to from Lily and the Lamplight? One of my new styles for Spring/Summer are my matching two piece sets.  Perfect for Summer and the festival season!

As for fairs, I will be at The Vintage Fair at 53 Degrees in Preston on the 1st February.  I will also be at Crafty Vintage Brockholes events starting May 10th-11th, and Crafty Vintage at Houghton Towers on the 25th and 26th May.

Please check out my Facebook for updates.

Thanks Steph! I definitely know who I will be calling when I need a new party dress!

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2014: The year of the Spinster!

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Happy New Year!

Ok, so I know that new year was so sixteen days ago but there are still eleven months and fifteen days left of 2014 and I am going to try my hardest to make the most of them!  I’ve got several plans, a few relocations and some crazy ideas in the pipe line for this year.  Some of them might even work so I’m keeping positive during this rather grey month and thinking about all the good stuff.

If you follow Spinster’s Emporium on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram you may have already seen my rather delightful custom made dress from Lily and the Lamplight.  To cut a long story short I cheekily said “I’ll send you some fabric and you can make me a dress ;-) ” and Lily and the Lamplight said yes! It’s amazing what can happen when you just ask!

So on Christmas day I was prancing around my parents garden having my photo taken (hence the wellies) in this beautiful 1950s print fabric dress.

Steph of Lily and the Lamplight was even kind enough to take some photos of the dress being made…

I couldn’t resist a little interview with the maker of my favourite new outfit so pop back this way on Saturday to find out more about Lily and the Lamplight.

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p.s. I’m on Tumblr now too!

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