Etsy Made Local – Sheffield 2016: Popeye & Daisy Jewellery’s First Market

We asked first time seller at Etsy Made Local – Sheffield 2016, Ayla from Popeye & Daisy to tell us about applying for and trading at her very first market last December at Sheffield Town Hall:

Image: Popeye & Daisy Jewellery

​My road to Etsy was quite a long one – I attended a Silversmith & Metal Jewellery course at Sheffield College for a few years and absolutely loved it. However, as you can imagine, making silver jewellery starts to become an expensive hobby! As I was not able to wear everything I was making myself and after friends and family had received plenty as gifts, I had to start looking for ways to sell my jewellery and reach out to a new audience.

It was early in 2016 that I was at that point, and I set up my own online Etsy shop.

I put my first pieces on sale in April and had my first purchase in June, around the time I joined the Etsy Sheffield Team. The team are great bunch of creatives who are very welcoming and were only to pleased to offer support and guidance from the outset.

Shortly after joining the team, the application process for Etsy Made Local 2016 opened and I applied immediately. At the time, I didn’t have much stock, but I knew I would have the next few months to design and create pieces to sell at the event. The application process was straightforward and involved filling in a simple online form with information on your shop and items for sale, along with links to your Etsy shop and social media sites.

Photo: Danni Maytree Photography

In the run up to the event, the team leaders kept everyone up to date with news at our regular meetings and via social media – this made the final few weeks leading up to it a lot less stressful. They also sent out helpful tips and advice for anyone who was new to selling which definitely helped settle my first-time nerves.

The few days before the event, I started to get apprehensive – what if I didn’t sell anything? What if no one liked my jewellery?

It felt like a very big leap to step out from behind my online Etsy shop in to the real world of selling, but I had spent the prior months creating pieces and planning my display, I knew, at the very least, I had done everything I could to make it a personal success.

The market weekend was fantastic, from the preview evening on the Friday Night, to the last hour of Sunday afternoon. The rooms were packed from start to finish, and knowing there was a one-in-one-out queue at one point was really exciting for all involved. This was testament to the hard work of the team in run up, especially on the media campaigns to promote the event.

Etsy Made Local was a great success for Popeye & Daisy and I am continuing to build on what I learnt at my first fair to grow my little business further. I have sold at several other fairs and markets since, including several Peddler Night Markets – a personal favourite! I am also building up my product ranges and hope to release my first cohesive collection very soon.

I cannot wait to apply for Etsy Made Local 2017 and hope I can be a part of what I am sure will be even bigger and better than 2016!

[Etsy Made Local – Sheffield in 2017 will take place at Sheffield’s Cutlers’ Hall on Saturday 2 December and Sunday 3 December 2017 – applications for stall holders are now open til 31 July 2017]

Image: Popeye & Daisy Jewellery

 

TOP TIPS

  • Do a trial run of your display stand before the event so you know how it will look and how long it will take to set up (and take down).
  • Stand your ground – I had a few customers who tried to barter and get a better price. You are not at a car boot sale – you are selling unique items and you need to price accordingly. If you reduce prices because someone asks you are only underselling yourself and under-mining other customers who might overhear. Yes, it meant I lost a sale, but I could have lost many more if I have agreed.
  • Make wrapping and packing as quick and easy as possible. All my jewellery was displayed on wooden blocks or in dishes so I needed to individually wrap each item. I set up a little packing station behind my shop sign (so no one could see) and had everything to hand (i.e paper cut to size and bags opened and ready) this made things much quicker, especially when there was a few people waiting to pay.
  • Offer card payments – I was surprised at just how many people wanted to pay by card rather than cash. On the recommendation of other Sheffield Etsy sellers, I purchased an iZettle card reader to take card payments. Make sure you factor in the additional fees into your pricing though. *Use code RLQRY4 to get £10 credit if purchase an iZettle reader and you use your new card machine within 30 days*
  • Be friendly with your neighbours – days can be long and if you are alone you may need them to watch your stall whilst you grab a coffee.

Ayla x

Popeye & Daisy Jewellery

Photo: Danni Maytree Photography

You can find Popeye & Daisy on Etsy and on social media at:

Etsy Shop:     www.popeyeanddaisy.etsy.com

Twitter:     @popeyeanddaisy

Instagram:      @popeyeanddaisy

Facebook:     Popeye & Daisy Jewellery

How to Buy Online and Collect at Etsy Made Local Sheffield

eml-shop2Do you like to do your Christmas shopping online?

Fancy saving some money on delivery charges?

Well thanks to our stallholders you can do both of these things!

We have got together with our stallholders to create a fuss-free shopping experience over the Etsy Made Local weekend.

As you will already be aware, all our stallholders sell online via Etsy, that is our common link.  You can browse links to their shops here and you’ll also be able to see whether they are taking part in our exclusive free collection promotion.

Alternatively, you may want to check out our themed Gift Guides where we have gift ideas for all the family and for every budget from a variety of our team members. Those who are taking part in the promotion are clearly marked.

 

So how does it work?

Once you have found what you are looking for, simply add the item to your cart.

In the cart there is a prompt to add a shop coupon code, just click on this and a box will open for you to add that all important code.fireshot-screen-capture-135-etsy-shopping-cart-www_etsy_com_uk_cart_refhdr

By using our dedicated discount code EMLCOLLECT when you pay for your online orders,the postage fees will be removed from your final order price.

The person you have bought from will be in touch with some instructions about what you need to do to collect your order but it’s pretty simple.

  1. Come to the Etsy Made Local market at Sheffield Town Hall on Saturday 3rd December (10-5pm) or Sunday 4th December (11-4pm)
  2. Visit the stall of the seller whose goodies you have ordered and collect your order.

You may well be asked to bring a copy of your order confirmation and some photo ID, so please do come prepared, but you will be given full instructions by the seller with your order confirmation as to what to bring.

 

Happy shopping and we look forward to seeing you very soon!

Ps. We will never know if your placed your order wearing your PJ’s and covered in mince pie crumbs, or skiving on your lunch break, your secrets are safe with us!

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#EtsySheffTile: an Art Installation

If you visit our Etsy Made Local 2016 Sheffield Market this December at the Sheffield Town Hall, you’ll have the added bonus of viewing our team’s art installation. The art installation takes the form of individual tiles and is based on personal representations of Sheffield.

What does ‘Sheffield’ mean to you?

josephinedellow-without-border

#EtsySheffTile ‘Sheffield Town Hall’ by Josephine Dellow

maxwellharrison-work-in-progress

Jayne Maxwell Harrison’s jewellery craft (MaxwellHarrison) features in her #EtsySheffTile.

Created by our team members, the makers were asked to create a tile in either abstract or true representation form of what Sheffield means to them – each message being unique. The main challenge was: How much detail could be fitted onto a 10 x 10cm tile?

The makers were encouraged to give thought to the environment by upcycling materials where possible, drawing on Etsy’s Mission & Values of creating a lasting world. The end result is an interesting collection of 2D and 3D pieces of art with each tile revealing its maker’s connection to Sheffield and the materials used in their craft.

creating-etsyshefftile-at-etsycraftparty

Cora Fung of Takaracrafts (left) at the Etsy Craft Party, working in fine detail on her tile.

Back in June, one of the team leaders held an Etsy Craft Party. This global event is an Etsy initiative providing the opportunity for local makers to connect and create. The party was a small affair, but a great excuse for fellow team members to link the making of their tiles with a social gathering. The day was shared through our social media channels using the hashtags #EtsyCraftParty and #EtsySheffTile.

The art installation was open not only to our team members, but the general public and we were honoured to have the involvement of two local schools. Pupils from Year 1 through to Year 6 at Oasis Academy Watermead and pupils who attend the after school club Dragon’s Den at Marlcliffe Primary School all joined in by creating a tile based on what Sheffield means to them. Three tiles were jointly chosen and the lucky winners, along with their adults, have been invited to attend our exclusive preview evening on the eve of the market opening where they will have the opportunity to meet with the Lord Mayor of Sheffield.

dragons-den-after-school-club-work-in-action

A tile being created by a pupil at the ‘Dragon’s Den’ after school club, Marlcliffe Primary School.

The adult-child collaboration provided a wonderful connection with the ‘Year of Making Sheffield 2016’ by linking our team members – Sheffields current makers – with local children – Sheffields future makers.

The children certainly outnumbered our team in the number of submissions and for this, their enthusiasm and the school’s participation must be congratulated. All-in-all, we have been amazed by the quality of the tiles which adults and children alike have taken their time to create. Truly, this has been a celebration of community, connection and creation.

The art installation will be unveiled at the preview evening on Friday 2nd December where it will remain on display throughout the weekend for the duration of the market.

We invite you to come along to the market where you will not only be able to start and finish your Christmas shopping in one weekend, but where we hope you will take a little breather out of your busy shopping schedule to view the art installation.

We challenge you to find the meanings of what ‘Sheffield’ means to its community!

barmadebags-team-logo-without-border

#EtsySheffTile ‘Team Logo’ made using upcycled fabric by Barbara Rose of BarMadeBags.

Martha and Hepsie: Now Available in John Lewis Leeds!

Martha and Hepsie: Now Available in John Lewis Leeds!

Our team members Martha and Hepsie are celebrating a very exciting new stockist this week.  You can now find them in the new John Lewis flagship store in Leeds!  We had a little chat with them to find out more…

Who are Martha and Hepsie?
We’re a sister team based in Sheffield and Devon designing and selling our own collection of homeware, stationery and gifts.

Martha and Hepsie Magpie CushionMartha (the northern one!): With a degree in Textile design from Nottingham Trent, Martha moved to London to develop her career in design and production working for designers Lisa Stickley and Gisela Graham. With experience under her belt Martha returned to her Northern roots relocating to the steel city of Sheffield to focus on Martha & Hepsie, where she designs all the whole product range.

Hepsie (the not so soft southerner!): Gaining experience from placements at Mathew Williamson, Copperwheat Blundell and trends agency The Bureaux during her Fashion and Business Studies degree at Brighton, Hepsie returned to Devon and progressed a career with jewellery brand Kit Heath. Now she is ploughing everything she knows into Martha and Hepsie.
What is the Martha and Hepsie ‘story’?Martha and Hepsie Tea Towel
We both craved autonomy whilst working for other people and whilst Hepsie was on maternity leave we decided to set up the business initially as a 5-9 hobby with the dream to make it full time, then a couple of years later the businesses we were both working for were affected by the recession and we were both made redundant within 6 months of each other – this was our sink or swim moment and we decided to put on our armbands and dive in at the deep end with ‘Martha and Hepsie’!

Martha and Hepsie Puffin Card

Despite living in two opposite ends of the country we’ve embraced technology and don’t need to physically be in the same room as we share all our business documents online, we both have samples and we phone each other a lot!
Our brand strapline is – designs inspired by life, who we are and a little bit of laughter…! We’re both quite confident, a little cheeky and love to laugh! So our designs are bold in pattern and colour and have characterful narratives to go with them.

All our designs are illustrated by hand in Martha’s snug Sheffield studio and made in Great Britain.

Martha and Hepsie Placemat and Coaster

Where else are you stocked?
We sell to a selection of independent retailers across the UK and as far afield as The Falkland Islands, as well as on our own website, Etsy and Not On The High Street.

What does it mean to be stocked in John Lewis Leeds – at a shop on home-turf in Yorkshire? Both personally and for the business?
To be acknowledged by a store such as John Lewis is a real milestone for our business which makes all the hard work we’ve put into growing Martha and Hepsie so worth it. We’re both very proud of our local roots and to launch in a brand new John Lewis in Martha’s home county is the icing on the cake.

You can see more of Martha and Hepsie’s products in their Etsy shop or follow the on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Photography Workshop and Social

Photography Workshop and Social

The Holt Cafe - Reserved from 12pm

We all know that photography is a big factor in selling our work on Etsy. It’s always one of the key messages from Etsy and many of the team have talked about improving the photography of their products at different times.

We’ve also talked about meeting up in a more social way – we have monthly meetings, but they don’t always leave much time for chatting and getting to know one another. When the opportunity to combine photography and a team social arose, it was too good to miss!

Heather (one of our team members) is a professional photographer and offered her photographic services, with team members able to book a 30 minute photo shoot of a number of their items.

The Venue

The Holt kindly reserved us a table and let us use their space in their industrial cafe freely. In return we agreed to drink lots of coffee and book lunch with them – this did not prove to be a problem!

photography-social-the-holt


Photography Social - HeatherSeveral of the team booked Heather to take photographs of their items to use in their Etsy shops and publicity, ranging from jewellery to knitting and crochet.

Heather worked with the team members to provide advice about what would be best for their products to fit in with the Etsy style and to find out the type of images they wanted.

Photography Social - Lisa from Altered ChicOther members of the team bought their own cameras, equipment and props to photograph their items in the former industrial space. Others of us just came along for the food and a chat!

There was lots of talk about our shops, sharing of photography tips and our Etsy Made Local Market. There was also some cross promotion of items from team members in the same shots.

Food!

After an hour or so we had a fantastic lunch with more coffee, and of course cake… We’d pre-ordered the lunch so we could concentrate on the talking and photos!

Photography Social - Lunch

photography-social-table

Photography Social - Cake!

Modelling

After lunch more photos, and some of the team (aka Donna) got roped in for modelling duties – which as you can see, she loved! Donna is seen here modelling a shawl by Katie and a one of Barbara’s bags.

photography-social-model-2

photography-social-model-1

It was a great opportunity for us all to have more relaxed meet up, take lots of photos and to think more about photographing our products for our Etsy shops. This was our first event like this and it proved to be a popular venue and event – I don’t think it will be our last! You can see a brief snapshot of what we got up to below:You can read more about taking photographs for your Etsy shop via our product photography blog. Heather specialises in weddings, events, portraits and product photography. You can reach Heather via her website at http://heatherisobel.co.uk

The Holt can be found at 156 Arundel Street, Sheffield S1 4RE and offers a fantastic range of drinks and food in a quirky, industrial setting that was perfect for our event.

Behind the Scenes: Etsy Team Meetings

One of the great things about our team is that we don’t just chat online.  Thanks to the team being geographically based within the boundary of the Sheffield city region, we are able to have a regular monthly team meetings to discuss our upcoming projects and events in person.

Sheffield Sellers on Etsy Team Meetings at The Sheffield Tap

It’s great to be able to natter online about how best to promote our shops, what new resources team members have found and other useful tips and hints.  But nothing beats catching up in person and strengthening our support network “in real life”.

We meet on a Thursday at the Sheffield Tap, handily located just beside (some would say within!) Sheffield train station.  It’s also handy for the bus station and for getting in from the motorway, not just by rail. The other draw, as Rob our Team Captain, will confirm is the quality of their brews too…especially the beery ones, not just the coffee!

Sheffield Sellers on Etsy Team Meetings at The Sheffield Tap

We usually have a spot reserved for us in a snug, just past the toilets, behind the bar. I know – I’m not selling this as classy, but that really is the best description for where to find us! It is a rather large venue with quite a few rooms.  If in doubt though, just keep an eye out for our orange flags, courtesy of Etsy.

Sheffield Sellers on Etsy Team Meetings

As you can see by the drinks it’s not all work, work, work!

If you miss the flags, you can usually follow the sound of laughter before we get down to business.  Our usual turnout is at least a dozen of us from month to month. As we alternate the time of day, either 11.30am or 6pm, it means different folks can attend whilst working around other life commitments.

We always start with an intro around the table and welcome any new attendees.  There is always an agenda, just to help keep us on track.  As we seem to have had at least one project to discuss at any of our meetings, this does mean we don’t over run and also that we, the leaders, don’t miss anything out. On this month’s agenda was:

  • an update on the progress of Etsy Made Local 2016 and the associated Art Installation project
  • product call outs for promotion via our social media platforms
  • Etsy’s #DifferenceMakesUs campaign
  • our upcoming photography workshop and social

All that before finally getting to Any Other Business.  You can see why we need an agenda!

Sheffield Sellers on Etsy Team Meetings - Captain and scribe!

Donna showing off her tan and Rob with a pint!

For those that can’t make the meeting, one of our team leaders Donna is our official minute taker.  It is really important to us to keep all members updated about the outcomes of the meetings, especially if they are unable to attend themselves. We publish these via our dedicated Facebook Group as well as on the team discussion pages via Etsy. As you can see, Donna is so speedy on the laptop, her fingers are just a blur!

We hope this little snapshot helps makes the idea of walking into a room full of strangers a little bit less scary.  We do all have one immediate thing in common though, we all sell on Etsy.  We all know how much hard work it can be, how frustrating, how time-consuming, as well as the rewards it can bring when things go well!  That’s why we get together to share our knowledge and experience along with creating wider opportunities to try to make things a bit easier.

If you fancy joining us for a future meeting, please do check out our Events Page for the next date in the diary.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Product Photography

Product photography, it’s one of the key things to get right when selling on Etsy and yet one many of us seem to struggle with. We asked team member and professional photographer Heather, of Heather Isobel Photography to give us some tips on what we could do to improve our product photography…

We’ve probably all heard it before, maybe even read articles on it, but for a lot of Etsy sellers product photography is the task that feels the most like a chore. For some it may even be bottom of the to do list, the one to get over and done with as quickly as possible so you can get on with making and selling.

But hang on… the image is literally the first thing potential customers see! The trouble is, as makers, we know what our products look like inside out. We know how useful they can be or what a wonderful gift they’d make or how beautiful they can look in a person’s home… because we see them all flipping day! So when we’re uploading our product photos we’ve got all our knowledge and understanding of the product in our minds. Potential customers on the other hand, are just seeing the few images we put on the listing and nothing else. No context, other than what we provide in the images.

Product photography - before and after!

My first attempts at getting some ‘how its made’ images. A little too much context on the left mean that its not clear what the focus (i.e. the product) is. I narrowed it down for the one on the right…better.

Task time!

So I want you to try something. Get a notebook or open a word doc and write down a description of one or two of your products. Describe how it looks, what it does, where it would be useful, who it could be for, what its made of, what room in the house it would go in, where you could take it…

Product photography shared by Etsy

I can almost smell the pineapple, can’t you?

Now put that aside and forget everything you just wrote down because the next thing I want you to do is see your images with fresh eyes. Take a step back and look at your product photography as though you know nothing about them. Pick a few images and for each one write down a description of what you see. Not what you know about your product, not what’s in the Etsy description, just what you can see in the picture and what that tells you about the product. (Better yet get someone else who’s willing to be brutally honest with you to do this!) You know what’s coming next… time to compare the two. What isn’t matching up?

This is a really simple way to get into your potential customers shoes and reveal just how important those images are. I’m not trying to beat you over the head with a camera to get you to spend hours and hours getting award-worthy photos, I just want you to recognise the power those images have and why its worth taking a little more time to get them right.

Product photography featured on Etsy's Facebook page

Both great examples of getting the ‘where’ into product photography. Both featured on Etsy’s Facebook page…

Now, take another look at that first description you wrote. If you can, highlight or underline what in the description isn’t being represented in your images e.g. where in the house it could be useful or who it would make an ideal gift for or just what it looks like from the side! Now you can start getting creative and begin to jot down ideas for how you could represent those concepts within your product photography…think location, props, models… Get playful with your styling, take your product out to a location, fill a bag with related objects and props to surround it with, get a friend to model it for you. Spend an afternoon/hour/day/weekend playing about with all your ideas until you have a load of images of your product(s) in different styles and settings. Then you can go through those images and pick out what works and discard what doesn’t. What works can become your framework for all your future product photography, what doesn’t gives you a better idea of what you are and aren’t trying to communicate to your potential customers. It’s a win-win.

Product Photography featured by Etsy

All three involve confetti, but each has a very different vibe. Lesson? Take inspiration from product images you admire, but make it your own!

Remember, none of this is wasted time as it could be the difference between someone clicking through and buying, and someone scrolling right past. This is your shop window. Take some time to make it pretty!
Etsy Sellers of Sheffield, don’t forget it’s the photography social this weekend (24 September 2016)! Click here for more info and to join us at The Holt (team members only I’m afraid!).

Heather is a professional photographer specialising in weddings, events, portraits and product photography. You can reach Heather via her website at http://heatherisobel.co.uk, and when she’s not taking photos Heather is making for her Etsy shop which you can see at Heatherbel Creations.

Herd of Sheffield

Sheffield Sellers on Etsy team member Laura Gray of Doodle Monkey was selected to design one the the fabulous elephants for the Herd of Sheffield earlier this year. This is her story about how it all happened and the design of ‘her’ elephant:

I submitted a design to Herd of Sheffield back in November and the sponsors chose their favourite at a special preview evening. My design was chosen by GRI.

The Design

Laura Gray's Herd of Sheffield Elephant - Symbiosis

‘Symbiosis’ – Graves Park

Whilst travelling around Asia and South Africa, I noticed the symbiotic relationship between birds and elephants. The birds would clean and groom the elephants whilst the elephants provided the birds with food such as insects. My addition to the herd, entitled ‘Symbiosis’, shows how creatures great and small rely on each other and can exist in harmony.

The colour palette I’ve used is a nod to the colours of Sheffield – the reds and oranges of the brickwork, the blues of the painted woodworks (used in the old industrial buildings) and the yellows and greens of all the green spaces throughout the city.

The Elephant Trail

There are 58 large elephants around Sheffield that make up the trail. The elephants will all be auctioned off at the end of trail in October to raise vital funds for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity.

The charity raises money through donations and buys life-saving equipment, funds vital research and treatment for thousands of children from across the world and helps to create a comfortable, engaging environment for their patients.

www.herdofsheffield.com/the-trail

Laura Gray

Laura Gray - Doodle Monkey. Herd of Sheffield elephant 'Symbiosis'

Laura Gray and Symbiosis

Laura founded Doodle Monkey, an Illustration, Design & Photography business, in 2012 after spending 6 months working abroad with monkeys (what else do you do after splitting up with your husband?). She graduated from Aberdeen College in 2001 after studying photography & design, and has since worked as a freelance photographer, digital artist and illustrator. She now receives regular commissions for logo designs and artwork for websites, flyers and posters. She also sells her work as prints and products, which are humorous and quirky in design, at various stockists, markets and also her Etsy Shop. You can also follow Laura on social media:

Facebook TwitterInstagram

Millinery: The Story Behind the Hat for the Made in Sheffield Exhibition

Millinery: The Story Behind the Hat for the Made in Sheffield Exhibition

Museums Sheffield Millennium Galleries Made in Sheffield Exhibition

Sheffield Sellers on Etsy team leader and millinery expert Sophie, of Imogen’s Imagination, was recently asked to take part in a new Made in Sheffield Exhibition at Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery. This is her story of how her submission was created….

To be invited as one of the makers to take part in Made in Sheffield is, quite frankly, a massive honour. The exhibition features work from over 150 creative businesses and artists as part of the city-wide initiative, The Year of Making. I genuinely never ever imagined I would ever be involved in something quite so prestigious!

The invitation to take part was originally offered during Open Studios at Exchange Place, back in November last year.  Naturally, I decided that I wanted to make something special for the six month exhibition.  I had a little think and decided that my inspiration for the piece should be, well, making!  I also wanted to celebrate collaboration, traditional skills and modern technology. Not too much to cram into my brief for myself then!

One of the most recent technologies to be used in millinery is laser cutting.  I’d seen some fabulous geometric, flora and fauna based designs via my daily Pinterest forays, but they just didn’t feel right with my “traditional” brief. Then I spotted some shoes that were spot on….well you don’t get more traditional than a pair of brogues! And then followed some serious shoe shopping on Pinterest, all in the name of research naturally.

Millinery - Imogen's Imagination brogue Pinterest board

My next job was to decide what material to make the design with.  Obviously, shoes are made from leather so this seemed like the natural choice. But I’ve never actually worked with leather before!  Luckily, I have my #girlgang of Hat Stand Sheffield milliners, both past and present, so I was able to get lots of advice from them about how to go about working with it.  I was also able to call on the expertise of Kathryn Sillince of Magpie Accessories (also of Exchange Place Studios) for general advice about working with leather and potential pitfalls.

So design inspiration chosen, materials chosen, I just had to think about the technicalities of a practice that I knew nothing about (I really wasn’t making life easy for myself with this idea!).  My next port of call was to see our resident “laserist” at Exchange Place Studios, the brilliant Giles Grover of Small Machines.

Small Machines Ballista Toy

Small Machines Ballista Toy

Giles normally makes toys, but not just any old toys.  Cool toys.  Toys that come in kit form that you can build yourself. Toys that work by hydraulics, or shoot stuff…I mean who doesn’t think a ballista  a is cool?

But I also knew that Giles had worked with other designers such as M-Dex Design and The Owlery, so if he would agree to help me, I was going to be in very good company!

Giles and myself had a long chat in January this year about the capabilities of his kit, the limitations of my material of choice and ironed out quite a few potential hazards. We agreed we would come back together once the invitation was formalised.  Then on the second day of the month long The Hat Stand pop-up shop the email landed…as did the deadline! Suddenly, a project which had been on the back burner for 4 months needed to be completed in three weeks! Cue action stations.

Millinery design - Brogue Toe

My first job was to design the decoration for the hat. Whilst I wanted the design to incorporate a brogue toe cap, I wanted to avoid the hat looking too “shoe-like”, I’m not Elsa Schiaparelli!

Millinery design - Brogue StrapGiles recommended a (free!) software program I could download  that would allow me to trace the required design and manipulate it to suit my design.

This was quite time consuming as I was learning the programme at the same time, but I was very pleased with the results

 

Once the pattern was in digital form, this was transferred to the laser cutter’s software….and our first trial was under way!

My next job (whilst Giles got on with some very urgent orders for himself!) was to get the basics of my hat made. I settled in for some serious blocking and sewing sessions. 

Due to my inexperience with leather, I chose a shape that I knew I could block confidently and that would offer some design “wiggle-space” if things didn’t go quite according to plan. I didn’t have time for a trial run so a Plans A-D were definitely required. But I did block a couple of spares, just in case things went really, really wrong!

Millinery - blocking buckram   Laser cutting the leather  Small Machines Laser Cutter

Firstly, I need to get two layers of foundation fabric, buckram, blocked.  This would give my hat the strength to survive being pulled around when I stretched the leather over it.

I then sewed a wire into the edge of the hat to add further strength and prevent it stretching during the process of attaching the leather.

After that, a layer of ice wool was sewn over the top.  The leather I used was quite thin, almost gloving leather, so without this underlay the texture of the buckram would show through, spoiling the smoothness of the finished hat.

I also added a bias strip of tarlatan just inside the edge of the hat.  This would allow me an anchor point to sew the leather into.  I couldn’t stitch through the buckram, ice wool and leather without potentially doing myself, or the hat, an injury!

Finally, I could start pinned my proposed decoration to the skeleton of the hat to gauge the proportions and positioning of my paper templates.

Millinery constructionMillinery constructionMillinery - Laser cut leather

The next step was to attach the leather to the hat, but as with anything millinery related, there was more to this seemingly simple task than meets the eye.  Firstly, I had to block the leather over my hat block to stretch and shape it as much as possible before it was attached to the hat.  Then, once it was fully dry, I pinned it in place over the buckram skeleton.  Three rounds of pinning later, with each session easing out more and more creases at the edge, I was ready to start sewing it in place…again, easing out those pesky creases.

Millinery - Blocking LeatherMillinery - hat pinningMillinery - Making a blocked leather hat

Now for the most daunting part of the whole process, actually laser cutting the leather.  I don’t mind admitting that this was possibly the scariest bit! I was now completely reliant on Giles’ expertise, experience and equipment to make this hat happen.  No pressure Giles!

I was worrying for nothing though.  Thanks to all the prep work we had done, the process was pretty straight forward and surprisingly quick.  There’s no denying it wasn’t a bit stinky though!!!

 

Millinery - leather sandwiches!But I was now on my own again now with the project.

Kathryn (whom I mentioned earlier) very kindly gifted me a scrap of contrast colour leather to use in my design.

I now needed to create a series of leather sandwiches formed of my laser cut leather and Kathryn’s kind donation. One of the panels also had wire inserted in to the layers.

As you can see, things very quickly went from super hi-tech, to super lo-tech!

Millinery - brogue strip

To give my brogue decoration the classic zigzag finish it required, I used pinking shears.  This allowed me to cut crisply through the bonded leather edges.

I created decorative panels (no spoilers yet!) along with brogue straps.  I wanted to create an element of height in the design of hat, along with a nod to the traditional laces of a brogue shoe, as well as the traditional loops and curls you may find in the trimming of a hat.

 

Then the final jobs were to assemble the decoration, add the elastic that would allow the hat to be worn, stitch in a suitable lining (I chose coordinating taffeta for this) and lastly cover all the joins with a further laser cut disc of leather. Whenever I make a hat, reaching these final steps is the best part…it means it’s nearly ready for it’s new home.

So finally, here it is.

After seven months in the planning and making, my brogue inspired leather hat featuring laser cut leather and incorporating the key themes, thanks to which I thrived over the last 10 years: Making, Collaboration, Traditional Skills and Modern Technology.

A huge thank you to everyone who has helped me make this hat.  Not least to the amazing Giles Grover of Small Machines for making this madcap idea,  reality.  It wouldn’t have been possible without his assistance or generosity with his time, skills and kit. I am indebted to you for your help. Thank you!

Ps. You’ll also be able to find more of Giles’ work at the exhibition too!

Millinery - Leather hat with laser cut detailingMillinery - Blocked leather hat with laser cut trimming detail

Millinery - the finished laser cut hatMillinery - Lining of a blocked leather hat with laser cut detailing

The Made in Sheffield exhibition opened at Millennium Gallery in July where it will run until until 8th January 2017. Millennium Gallery, Arundel Gate, Sheffield, S1 2PP.

You can find Imogen’s Imagination on Etsy or contact Sophie for commissions at info@imogensimagination.co.uk