So off I went to Kensington Olympia, in fear. Financial fear. When it comes to fabrics and now increasingly knitting products, all reason temporarily escapes me and I end up with reams and reams and reams of fabrics, to add to my reams and reams and reams of fabrics in my stash, and enough wool to make each sheep in a huge flock a jumper and matching scarf! But I digress!
Tips and suggestions when you arrive
My suggestions if you attend the show – wear some comfy shoes. And for heavens sake, if you’re arriving by train, when you get out of Kensington Olympia Overground Station, turn right and follow the signs to the venue. Trust me, your legs will thank me later.
I attended 2 days, the first I went the long way round, and had to wait in a very long queue. That said, I didn’t have to wait too long, within 20 mins of arrival at the station, I was in the building. It was the first day, so I will let that slide. On the 2nd day I was in the building within 10 minutes. So please – turn right!
Is it worth buying the official show guide or bag?
The show guide is I think a rather pricy £4 and the show bag is £3, for which you get the bag and nothing else. Save yourself £7 and bring your own bags and note down any stalls, demos and exhibitions you would like to see from the website beforehand.
The demos in the Creative Living Theatre to my surprise were not as fully attended as I would have expected, a great pity as many of the high flyers of the sewing world were leading fantastic demos for free. I took full advantage of this, and strongly suggest you do to.
My favourite demos were lead by Laurie Guthrie, Chinelo Bally both former contestants of the Great British Sewing Bee and Tree Walsh from Stitchless TV. Chinelo Bally may be signing copies of her book tomorrow (Saturday) after her demo. The book costs £20 – bring cash if you would like to purchase. They don’t have debit or credit card machines at the Creative Living Theatre, the ATM is out of order at the show and the ATM in the foyer charges £1.99. But note most of the stalls I attended do accept debit and credit cards.
There is free WIFI, apparently, but I couldn’t for the life of me get connected, and sadly I was unable to report live from the event. There wasn’t an area dedicated for bloggers, which I think would have added to the excitement. It certainly would have been wonderful to meet fellow bloggers, some of whom I saw on Friday, but felt it wasn’t appropriate to introduce myself whilst they appeared to be working. (I know, I should be more forceful, I’m just too polite!)
You can purchase food and drink at the venue, and there is plenty of space to sit and enjoy your meal. I saw sandwiches sell for around the £4- £5 mark, so at London prices, not too bad. But if you can, bring a packed lunch and a flask of tea, you will save yourself a few pennies.
Bargains and Must Visit Stalls
Check out Bombay Stores – stand F2 and M Rosenberg and Son – stand L20 for bargain fabrics, Montreux Fabrics – stand D70 for Chanel type Linen Mix Tweeds. For yarns, you could do worse than visit stand 78, Neil the Knit.
The McCall Pattern Company – M2 stall sells McCall’s, Vogue and Butterick sewing patterns, and there are ‘buy 3 for £12’ deals.
Don’t forget to visit the various exhibitions, including the Textile Galleries and make sure you take plenty of breaks so that you don’t exhaust yourself.
As per usual I spent a small fortune on fabric and supplies, but I’m glad to say that I had enough change left for my bus fare home … just. I will post a haul video on my youtube channel. The prices of the products on sale suits all pockets, so you will find it difficult to leave empty handed.
I had a great time at the show, and would happily attend again. I’m looking forward to the next show in October at Ally Pally.