Archive | arts and crafts

my second craft fair


I’m sitting on the couch during nap time, listening to a man chopping wood outside and cows mooing in the valley.  For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been frantically sewing or knitting during every afternoon nap time, preparing for a big two-day festival and a chance to sell my handmade crafts.  After all that work, it feels especially sweet to just sit here quietly!

I thought you might enjoy a few photos of the things I made.  If you see anything that you’d like to buy, send me an email.  I love to do custom orders, and I have a few weeks before the next craft fair rolls around…!


Here I am with my table before the second night of AutumnFest on base.


And here is the whole booth that I shared with my sweet friend Anna.  You might remember her from my last craft fair where we shared a table together.  At that time I was pregnant and due on January 30th… and now [get this] she is pregnant and due on January 30th!  Lots of baby talk around our booth.

Below are a few photos of the things I made:

becca-garber-craft-fair-sigonella-making-room-13 becca-garber-craft-fair-sigonella-making-room-2







The event was a lot of fun, especially because I had Anna to talk to, and because several sweet friends stopped by and bought gifts for their children, friends, and babies!  I do want to be honest, though: I didn’t sell nearly as much as I anticipated.  My only craft fair experience before this was at a holiday fair, where people came specifically to buy gifts.  This fair, meanwhile, was part of a larger autumn festival, and I could tell most people were just looking out of curiosity or admiration.  Anna and I encouraged each other that at least we had gotten back into “the black” again by selling enough to make up for all that we spent on yarn, fabric, and buttons.  With that attitude, we could just relax and enjoy ourselves.  And we did!  In fact I think my favorite time of the whole fair was late Saturday night when Anna, our friend Shannon, and I just sat and talked for a couple of hours, greeting customers and completing sales as they came, but otherwise just enjoying the evening and deepening friendships.

All right, now time to get cracking on a bunch of custom orders.  The nip of fall in the air here makes me want to click away with my knitting needles all day long!

21 :: in arts and crafts

Craft Fair Tips & Tricks

Well, dear readers, here it is: the craft fair advice post!  I didn’t know I had learned so much until I began to write it all down for you.  A craft fair is a lot of work with a steep learning curve from start to finish!

Here are my tips as well as my checklists, a few pictures, and some more resources at the end.

Table Decorations & Props 

I felt rushed to build up my inventory (because I only found out about the craft fair three weeks before!) so I spent very little time thinking about how my craft fair table would actually look.  I should have designed my display on my kitchen table before the event so I could play around with spacing, props (like bowls or dishes or pretty trays), and even the amount of products I wanted to display.  Therefore I only had a basic vision for my table and just played around with the design once I got to the fair.  Since I had a couple of hours before the fair began, I could arrange and rearrange a dozen times.

A couple of things I did know ahead of time:  I wanted to use a plain white tablecloth over the dark wooden table to really make my brightly-colored products pop.  I wanted to display smaller items in matching Polish pottery bowls, which are the prettiest things in my kitchen and are very complimentary to my fabric choices and personal style.  I also planned to hang a homemade pennant banner on the front of my table so I didn’t just have a plain white tablecloth there.  (Some of you will remember it from Lena’s first birthday party.)

As you can tell from my photos of the craft fair, my friend Anna spent a lot of time thinking about her display and had some darling ideas and a beautiful vertical display for her chef’s hats.  Her attractive use of space definitely drew customers in!  She also had printed a larger version of her logo to hang on the front of her booth.

Because Anna and I were sharing a table, we both had to crowd our displays in order to show all the items we offered.  Considering this, we took a lot of care to make sure that all our items were grouped well and that we kept any extra inventory off the table to provide as much calming white space between items as possible.  In the end our table looked rich with attractive choices but not overcrowded or overwhelming.

We both encouraged people to interact with our displays and products, meaning Anna was happy for kids to swirl her whisk around a bowl with her felt sugar cubes and felt eggs.  I also cheerfully suggested that people try on my gloves whenever they paused to look at them; I know they look so much more attractive on your hands than simply lying on a table. 

Business Cards and Logo 

Most professional crafters will have invested in a professional designer create a logo for them.  I haven’t done this yet, so I just made my own sign with the name of my shop, a tagline (“Knitted and Sewn by Becca Garber”), and the addresses of my blog and Etsy shop.   In retrospect there were a dozen things wrong with my sign design (ie., it wasn’t colorful, the web addresses were long and distracting), but hey… better next time.  I printed a sign with my shop name, tagline, and web addresses on fine resume paper and framed it in a picture frame we had in our house.  I also printed “business cards” that looked exactly the same as the sign.  These I printed on resume paper and then cut out myself with a craft paper cutter.

Price Tags 

All the resources I read before the craft fair emphasized that your prices must be obvious.  They suggested framing little price signs by each category of your inventory.  I didn’t have enough little frames for that, so I made little paper “price tents” with the name of the product, a description, and its price on the front.  Here’s an example from my bean bags:

The “price tents” were easy to make on Microsoft Word.  I formatted a page to have two columns, typed up a product description and price in each column towards the bottom of the page, and then printed the page.  I cut the page in half lengthwise—two strips of paper, each with a product description and price near the bottom—and then folded the strip in half and folded the ends underneath.  I taped the ends together and this made a little 3-sided tent with the product description and price on the front side.  These stood up well by themselves and didn’t lose their shape throughout the day.  When I packed up after the show, I carefully peeled off the tape and smoothed the papers out.  They’ll be used again!

For individual products like a scarf or hat, I made price tags on fine resume paper and attached them to the product with a natural cotton yarn.  I also made “original price tags” and then “alternative price tags.”  The alternative price tags were $5 less for everything in case I decided to lower my prices to encourage sales halfway through the show.  Kind of awkward to decide this and then have to rewrite your prices with a Sharpie.

I made sure every sign was printed (no random handwritten signs) using the same type of font and the same kind of paper.  This consistency gave cohesiveness to a table full of various products.   

Gift Wrapping  

It’s a nice touch to hand your customer their purchase in a pretty bag or box.  I bought brown paper lunch bags at the grocery store; they were big enough to fit most of my products.  I would have liked to glue on handles with a hot glue gun and twine, but I ran out of time.  I did manage to use a hot glue gun to quickly attach my business card to the front of the paper bags, and that was a nice addition and guaranteed that my customers would go home with my card and all my contact information.

I bought cute red-and-white-striped tissue paper to go inside each bag.  This made the new purchase look more like a gift and reminded everyone that they were shopping for Christmas… yay!

Paperwork: Receipts, Custom Orders, and Inventory Checklists  

These are a few pieces of paper that you might like to have with you at the fair:

The first is receipts.  Some customers might like a receipt of purchase, particularly if they just bought a large item.  You can create your own in Microsoft Word or download a customizable template here.

Secondly, if you are willing to offer custom orders, you might be opening yourself up to a whole new scope of your business.  I was eager to offer custom orders on my gloves, particularly because I’d only had time to make three pairs before the show.  Every time people showed any interest in the gloves I encouraged them to try them on and then pulled out a bag full of yarn so that they could imagine a pair of gloves in colors that appealed to them.  This way I got three custom orders in a three-hour show, which is $75 I wouldn’t have otherwise made!  I designed little custom order forms.

Lastly, you will want to keep an inventory checklist so that you know what you’re selling.  I made a nice one on Microsoft Word but ended up just keeping a running list myself of what I had sold and for how much.  This tally of how much I had made thus far also motivated me to keep selling hard! I’m glad I have this record because my memory fades quickly and I’ll need to know these figures for taxes in April.


By this I mean candy or cookies or your business logo stickers or whatever encourages people to come on over, snag a handful, and take a look.  I wanted to accommodate all those who might be tempted by chocolate!  I set out an attractive Polish pottery dish that matched my other display dish and filled it with Hershey’s kisses wrapped in Christmas-colored foil.  These were a hit… especially with me.  

Craft Fair Checklist

  • Your inventory with price tags either attached now or made to be attached later.  I recommend packing everything in a rolling suitcase!
  • Table decorations and/or props
  • Receipts
  • Custom order forms
  • Inventory checklist/price list
  • Paper towels for unfortunate spills or accidents or to provide shape to your products (like stuffing hats instead of laying them flat on your table)
  • Mirror so people can see what they look like as they try your products on!
  • Cash—I had $20 in $10, $5, and $1 bills and it was more than enough as people began paying in cash immediately and bulked up my stash.  I also accepted checks.
  • A small table or a chair on which to place your cash box, paperwork, pens, and water bottle, as it’s awkward to have them on the floor and you need to use your table to display your wares.
  • Office supplies
    • Tape—masking tape for securing your tablecloth/décor and gift tape for odds and ends
    • Pens and Sharpie
    • Pins—preferably plain metal straight pins so as to be as invisible as possible in your display
    • Safety pins
    • Scissors
    • Needle and thread
    • Calculator
  • For yourself
    • Camera
    • Phone
    • Water or drink of preference (ie. decaff coffee for that early morning for me!)
    • Sweater if the craft fair location is cold
    • Food—consider including a full meal if you’ll be there all day, but also consider that the booth down the hall selling fresh Mexican street tacos might be calling your name!  Also consider if you want to eat behind your table (not recommended for appearance’s sake…) and who will sit there in your stead while you go eat.  Can your husband or a good friend relieve you for 30 minutes and also be trusted to bring in sales while you’re gone?
Resources and Other Considerations

OK, now go forth, craft, and sell!

71 :: in arts and crafts, knitting business, Making Room {Handmade}

Night of Noel

Lemme just say… Night of Noel… around here, it’s a big deal.

(OK, it’s a big deal for the group of Christian women connected to a rather small Naval Air Station on a rather small island in a rather small sea.) 

For the past couple of years, Night of Noel has been ah-may-zing.  My friend Joy (creator of Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip cookies) transformed our chapel fellowship hall into a land touched by elves with twinkle lights.  Unfortunately two things happened between last year and this year: Joy moved away this summer, and I volunteered to be the Hospitality Chair for my Bible study this fall.  Unconnected, right?  I thought so… until I found out that part of my new job included all the decorating for Night of Noel. 

For those of you who don’t know me that well, I’m not much of a decorator, or even that creative.  Sure, I like making things, like Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip cookies and felt baby shoes, but generally I follow recipes or adapt patterns… or take a little jaunt around Pinterest.

Well, it was too late to turn back now.  Recreating the magic of Night of Noel was up to me.  Or so I thought.

What I found out, however, was that even though Night of Noel’s beauty was up to me in theory whereas in reality I had a small army around me of dedicated, creative, and profoundly hardworking women.  I showed up on Friday for an evening of decorating the hall and couldn’t believe it when about 10 other women showed up too.  On Sunday afternoon even the guests who showed up early were happy to put the batteries in the last set of twinkle lights or take pictures of my table when I didn’t have time.

And my table that I was hostessing?  It was a collaborative effort between my dear friend Becca and me (Becca Squared was at it again) and pretty much every idea was hers.  Don’t you love the pine branches with the little place cards and the burlap straps that make the table look like a rustically wrapped gift?  I added gilded pine cones that I’d collected on our latest Mt. Etna hike and spray painted gold, and then sprinkled greenery and cranberries around some of the candles on the table.

Christmas trees decorated with simple white lights were an easy solution to my decorating woes for the rest of the hall.  Next year (did I just say that?) I might elevate the smaller trees onto tables so that the whole room could see them.   There are at least five trees that are invisible in this picture:

The delicious meal was perfectly prepared by one of Lena’s favorite Italian babysitters, Maria.  We started with bruschetta and Maria’s famous campanada, a Sicilian specialty.  Later the main course included a chicken cutlets and the local classic: pasta alla Norma (eggplant, tomato, and ricotta pasta).

And then, just as I was beginning to breathe a sigh of relief, disaster struck.  
We hostesses were responsible for our table’s dessert, and I thought chocolate fondue would be an easy and elegant option. Unfortunately I had no idea how many things were wrong with this plan.   
  1. I have never made fondue before in my life.  
  2. The commissary (grocery store) didn’t have the right kind of chocolate, but I didn’t know that so I just bought baking chocolate.  (Gag.)  
  3. I made it in a crock pot over the course of several hours while I furiously finished decorating and then began hostessing my table.
When I hurried into the kitchen to supervise the serving of my dessert, the fondue was not fondue.  As one friend aptly put it later, it looked like coffee grounds.  Coffee grounds!!!  The chocolate had formed large, grainy clumps and separated from the oil.  I swirled a spoon around the pot with horrified despair.  
Meanwhile my guests in the hall sipped their hot cider by candlelight and waited for dessert.  The waiters around me were quickly plating white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and individual dark chocolate mousse that other table hostesses had brought.
In the end, Maria saved the day.  She had made a huge Italian cake just because… because she’s Maria and she does unexpectedly sweet things like that.  I asked the waiters to plate slices of her cake with the best of our fondue dippers: oranges and coconut cookies.  It was a meager offering compared to my dreams, and I ate it like humble pie.

For the first time in my life that evening I received a public thank you and a gift for decorating the event.  I have always wondered what it feels like to be one of those extraordinary, capable women who gets a gift bag and a big thank you in front of a room of applauding people enjoying her handiwork.  Now I know how it feels.
It feels undeserved, because there are probably 15 other people who deserve this applause more than you do, 15 people who worked just as hard as you did but with no job description to egg them on.
It feels false, because “Becca’s beautiful vision” was all from those 15 other women.  And Pinterest.
And it feels so sweet, because the people applauding are grateful and appreciative even when they eat oranges for dessert instead of chocolate and when they can’t see the miniature Christmas trees on the floor. 
There is no Pleasure like that of receiving Praise from the Praiseworthy.
-Richard Steele-
11 :: in arts and crafts, holidays, thoughts

my first craft fair

Saturday was the long-awaited day!   After knitting and sewing in every spare moment for weeks, I was finally ready to fill a table with my wares and see if people would buy.

The location of the craft fair was flooded with light and so beautifully decorated!  Since there were several other events going on around base at the same time (Breakfast with Santa, Winter Wonderland crafts for kids, and the Relief Society gift sale, among others), the hall was filled with people going to and from events and stopping in to buy Christmas presents.

I shared a table with my sweet friend Anna, who is the woman behind BB&J Bakery.  She designed all her own patterns for chef hats and play food made out of felt.  Her stuff is sooo cute, as everyone thought as they walked by our table!

Each of her chef’s hats has a little snap on the front; she sells darling interchangeable snaps.

And here is some of her felt food… pretty enough to eat!

On the other side of the table, here is what I was selling:

It was fascinating to watch what people gravitated towards and then what they eventually bought.  For instance, everyone loved the felt baby shoes, but I only sold 3 pairs in the end.  Meanwhile I had just 3 pairs of fingerless gloves to display (too many Christmas orders and not enough time to knit more!) but ended up selling 5 pairs total thanks to several custom orders.  Other popular items were the bean bags and tooth fairy pouches, which I had never made or tried to sell before in my Etsy shop and thus were a bit of a gamble.

Looking back now, I’m so glad I decided to sell at the fair and then threw myself into it.  As I said in an email to my family the other day, “Most importantly, I had a blast.  I’ve wanted to sew and knit a lot of things that I made for the fair for awhile but just haven’t motivated myself to do it.  Yet now for the last 3 weeks I’ve been knitting and sewing in every spare moment.  And I loved it.  I got such a kick out of watching simple and beautiful things form quickly in my hands, and it made me so proud to sell those things and receive the affirmation for my [art]work.”  And that’s what really counts!

Later this week I’m going to publish a post with a few things that I learned at the craft fair, such as what supplies you shouldn’t leave at home.  At the very least this will be a resource for me for the next craft fair (because there will be one!), but hopefully it will be a help to my fellow crafters, too!

19 :: in arts and crafts, Making Room {Handmade}

craft fair preview!

Saturday will soon be here, the day of my first craft show ever!  I’ve been working in every spare moment to prepare sweet knitted and sewn items for sale, and I’m imagining how to arrange everything on my table when the day comes.  No matter what sells, though, the point is… I am going to actually sell at a craft fair! 

Here are a few of the things I’ve been working on:

Little jelly bean-shaped bags of rice will be fun “bean bags” for kids 
or can be hot/cold packs for adults.

felt tooth fairy pouches & felt baby shoes
For the pouches, the child tucks their tooth in the tooth-shaped pocket on the front and then Mom tucks the money inside the pouch!
knitting baby hats and attempting to read at the same time… not always successful
sewing up fabric beach balls
& my smallest fabric ball wearing a baby hat I just finished
fingerless gloves are ready to go
& every crafter deserves a chocolate break!
For those of you out there who have sold at a craft fair before, do you have any advice for me?
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15 :: in arts and crafts, knitting business, Making Room {Handmade}

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