The Pros and Cons of Shows

img_1109We have just returned from the Stitches Trade Show at the NEC – a chance for us to meet new potential wholesale customers and have a good chin wag with some old friends. I usually go through a kind of de-briefing with myself making lists of the pros and cons of each show we do. It’s an opportunity to review and evaluate, a worthwhile habit I was introduced to on my PGCE a good few years ago.

It is so wonderful to be able to meet new customers and to have informed discussions with other like minded people in this industry. There are always new things to learn and new ideas to embrace.

Here I am with the fabulous ladies who are organising the #MonetaParty @sewabigail @SewPositivity and @rach_wain.

The Lovely Triple Stitchers and Me!

I hope you saw their ‘swishing’ boomerang video I posted! I can’t wait to see everyone’s Moneta dress. The Party starts tonight on social media at 19.00Hrs GMT.

I feel so lucky to be able to connect with so many like-minded people (mainly women, but some men too) who love dressmaking, or other sewingy and yarny things, or just love being creative in a zillion other ways. You can find us on Instagram Twitter Facebook and Pinterest.

So thank you to everyone who came to see us at the Stitches Trade Show at the NEC this week. Indeed everyone that comes to see us at any of the shows we do. It’s always lovely to see old faces, well not old, you know what I mean. Although so many of us are connected through the ether by social media (and thank you for reading my wafflings, such as this) you can’t beat actually nattering with someone face to face. ⠀

While it is wonderful to chat with and meet new craft and sewing folk we do have to think about the costs involved in taking part in these large shows. The prices of booking stand space, electrics, lighting, accommodation, wages and food all have to be taken into account.  And one of the main reasons we do them is to increase our sales. This is after all how I pay my mortgage and feed my children.

The increasing costs of exhibiting levied against small businesses could be a whole other blog – or maybe more of a rant!

So each business will weigh up the pros and cons of committing themselves to the long haul of travelling, setting up, being on your feet for days, paying wages and then breaking it all down, packing up and traveling home again. For some the cons are starting to outweigh the pros, which is a shame but understandable.

Drowning under a sea of boxes, soon to be full of patterns.


While this may at first appear to be negative – it really isn’t. What I have just outlined are the tangible costs to exhibiting at the shows. What we as business owners must do is also account for the intangible benefits that come to us through increased exposure to a specific audience – ie YOU!

Even when, like me, you’re lucky enough to work with, teach, drink tea with, eat cake with and laugh with like minded sewaholics, it can be lonely a times, sitting at your sewing machine, or with your knitting needles, or paints, or clay.

Yes, we may be fortunate to have family and friends around us to share so many parts of our lives, but they might not truly get the joy of finishing off a flat felled seam, or the frustration of running out of thread when you’d be finished in 5 minutes! To have a group of people who ‘get’ how frustrating it is to not quite have enough fabric to pattern match correctly or who can whoop with joy with you at the perfectly matching stripes it’s taken you ages to achieve is incredibly empowering.

While crafting may be seen by some as just a mere hobby or way of passing time. For those in the know it is so much more. We can achieve so much more together than we can on our own. If we can be there to help hold each other up we can be safe in the knowledge that there are a wealth of others there ready when we tire of holding ourselves up.

It’s great to connect to our customers at the shows.

We can inspire, support, joke, advise (advisedly) and just appreciate each other and our own creative journeys through life.

So while I do have to count the pennies and that does appear on my lists it’s also the things I can’t quite quantify that makes all the difference.

Does coming to a show make a difference to your sewing or crafting journey? I’d love to know.


11 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Shows

  1. Many can’t for multiple reasons attend/travel/walk around or afford all that it entails to go to a Show. It’s a bit passé, we do our thing on line, on You Tube, there is just no need to slep around a warehouse, where often the stall holders are more interested in networking with each other than the weary shoppers. There are so other many ways of communicating & teaching than unloading boxes in a warehouse to put on a static stand often staffed by tired, distracted folk. Move on!

    1. It’s a shame you seem to have had disappointing experiences of the big sewing shows. We really enjoy talking to our customers and getting feedback from them. It is a wonderful chance for us to meet our customers and see what they’ve made from our patterns and fabrics. I hope you give the shows another try, they are changing and although they can be a bit pricey you do get a lots of other benefits too, like workshops and talks from different experts. 🙂

  2. I really enjoy the show, its a chance to see new patterns, fabrics and meet lots of other like minded sewing fanatics! I first discovered your patterns while wondering the isles at Ally Pally, although I think my favorite show is Kirstie’s Hampton Court.

  3. Thankyou for sharing our picture again with you at handmade fair with my mother in law in our pinnys. Xx
    We so enjoy making your patterns in totally different materials. Xx

  4. I was with a group of sewing friends when we came across your stand yesterday at Knitting and stitching Olympia- Two of us bought fabric and all were super impressed with the fabric quality & choice. Will look out for you again online and at Handmade in sept!

  5. I have had a picture of your Beatrice apron my Pinterest board for what seems like forever but was very nervous of ordering it in case it didn’t fit when I had made it….I am a big girl.
    Visiting the show at the NEC I was thrilled to find your stand and so happy when the girl I spoke to let me try on the sample you had. It fit me beautifully even though it was a medium size.
    The pattern was purchased and I am just about to embark on making three of them so yes the visit to the show really made a difference to my crafting journey. I am a quilter who sometimes makes clothes for my grandchildren but I don’t often make things for myself apart from a skirt or two.
    I probably would have spent the rest of my life drooling over the picture on my Pinterest board if I hadn’t seen you at that show…….and I will be looking out for you at the next one.
    Thank you for being there.

  6. Thank you so much Sheila, that is one of the reasons we go to the shows. It can make such a difference actually seeing the patterns and speaking to the designers and makers. 🙂

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