Miss Haberdash

I first stumbled across Miss Haberdash’s work at a Melbourne craft market a couple of years ago. I was taken by a gorgeous calico bag with a vintage pattern transferred on to it and a couple of gorgeous green buttons. Of course it had to be mine and the clincher was that in it’s previous life as a pattern – the owner had written their name on it ‘Willis’ which is often what my surname is mistaken for.

Needless to say – I tucked Miss Haberdash (Alison) away in my ‘must have’ for my little shop idea and went on my merry way. 
Sometime down the track, I was pleasantly surprised one market day to find that Miss Haberdash was my neighboring stall holder. You beauty! From there Alison and  I shared our love of vintage haberdashery and the deal was done – I would sell her lovely pieces in The Crafty Squirrel!

Here Alison shares some of her story...

What inspired and motivated you to start your business?
This was always my career path, from school days, art college and beyond! I’ve been lucky, to work in many creative fields (art teacher, book sewer, visual merchandiser, embroidery digitizer etc.) which really keeps you on your toes. In between jobs I've managed to travel - a lot, which has been exciting and inspiring. I love making art and it’s been my focus for as long as I can remember. At times it’s a juggling act, but Miss Haberdash keeps me happy.

How have you developed and defined your signature aesthetic?
It’s not really been so calculated!  An op shop find or an online purchase starts the ball rolling. At the moment I’m rooted in    nostalgia, looking for a way out.

Where do you gather your inspiration?
I’m a bit of a magpie and constantly looking for inspiration. These days the blogging world keeps me up late! My 70s childhood and British heritage are probably the most obvious references for Miss Haberdash. Mum had a Singer sewing machine and would cut out dress patterns on the living room floor. Our suburban house was a riot of tangerine walls with swirly patterned carpet. I’m vintage through and through.

What does the future hold in store?
Making new ideas happen and taking time out to experiment is hard. From light bulb moment to stall ready can take forever. I’m working on that.

I now have in stock – gorgeous calico bags, greeting cards, gift tags and the cutest bookmarks ever – if you love a spot of nostalgia like I do – its Miss Haberdash all the way!


Sewing Machine & Scissors Brooch available at The Crafty Squirrel

It’s one thing to have stands at gift fairs and sell your work wholesale to retailers but it is entirely another thing to actually be on the ‘buying’ or should I say ‘Retailer’ end of the equation.

Of course it was super exciting to actually go ‘shopping’ at the trade shows for the first time in February of this year. Chaperoned by my very experienced pal Allison from Lark – I soon got into the swing of things in terms of minimum orders and how different wholesalers work.

I had already sourced quite a lot of vintage habedashery and domestic textiles like aprons, tablecloths and of course tea towels for The Crafty Squirrel and years of doing craft markets meant I had a pretty good idea of whos work would fit in with my vintage sewing/craft theme and of course my own work….but still there was room for more and I was really on the hunt for those things that stopped me in my tracks and made me take a closer look.

Lovely Bottle o Buttons
The thing with the gift fairs is you really have to sort the wheat from the chaff so to speak as there is such a mixed bag of stuff and it can be quite overwhelming! Sometimes the gems are lying innocently amongst a whole pile of averagness and other times you will stumble across a stand that amongst all the cheap imports glows like a glittering beacon.

When I discovered the Dan300 stand I instantly new I was onto a winner…..Dani’s been in business for well over 10 years and clearly has her own distinct style which is super cute! Her scissors and sewing machine brooches have been walking out the door and her bottle o buttons in their coordinated colour combos are just gorgeous.

Thankfully we have a new shipment in – so get in quick to claim a little of these crafty treasures for yourself. Here Daniella (Dani) shares some of her story with us……
What inspired and motivated you to start your business? 
Initially I was studying Fine Arts at UNSW and working in retail, and I really enjoyed retail, but found that I wanted to make things and sell them. So the natural progression was to find something to make. I started to make handmade cards and sold them in the shop I was working for.

How have you developed and defined your signature aesthetic?
Right from the beginning I was all about fabric, paper and pattern. The cards I handmade at the beginning were one of the few cards on the market that had fabric and buttons on them, that was a good 13 years ago now. Later I moved in cushions and baby things and now mostly fashion accessories and once again gift cards.

Where do you gather your inspiration?
Mostly vintage images, fabrics and books/magazines. I’m a big fan of blogs, magazines from around the world and visiting shops around Australia. I found a lot of inspiration when I travelled to the US, particularly with stationary shops.

What does the future hold in store?
More buttons and fabrics and accessories, and our newest range 'Nana's Garage' is back to cards and they have been a huge success. We have just launched button framed artworks and they have gone very well. One of our key distinguishing styles is a covered button and the great thing about them is almost no two items are exactly the same, and all our products are still completely handmade in Surry Hills in Sydney Australia. We are very proud of our commitment to remain a unique handmade product.

Linen Souvenir Tea towel Cushions

New tea towel cushions for sale at the Crafty Squirrel
Mumma & Baby Bushkas
Linen Souvenir Tea Towel cushions by Morgan Wills

One of the best things about having my own little corner store is that I get to make special small batches of things just to sell in the shop. Years of doing markets with the whole set up and pack up nature of them has made me appreciate how lovely it is to come into the shop on a Friday morning, turn the lights on, unlock the door and there you have it – open for business!

Because I am only open two days a week, it is a little like having a two day market stall every week-end without all the fuss of carting all my stock here, there and everywhere. The other thing I love about the shop is that it is a little like having an open studio where I can get some work done and customers can come and visit me! My hands are always busy making and creating and I often get into conversations with customers about what I am making when they come in.

My newest venture is something that has been ticking away in my head for quite a while now (it often takes me a long time to get a product from my head to reality) and finally I am happy to say that some of my very best linen souvenir tea towels have been selected to become cushions.

Backed with matching wool cashmere fabrics and linen covered buttons, the cushions come with a custom made feather and fibre cushion insert and are now available for sale in the Crafty Squirrel! One has even made its way inside the house to live on our couch – lucky me!


Cutie Doll - doesn't she bring back memories!
A little over a year ago now as I was gearing up to make the big tree change to Ballarat and set up the Crafty Squirrel – I finally got around to popping in to lucello located in the Nicholas building in the city. I had been hearing snippets of goss here and there about this amazing shop filled with vintage haberdashery and gorgeous ribbons, trims and buttons.

Cutie Doll kit by lucello
I’ll never forget the moment I opened that door! I was enchanted! This was my kind of place! Heaven on earth you may say…….unfortunately I only had about 10 minutes to soak up the joy before I had to race off. In this time I was fortunate enough to meet Kim – the lovely owner and eye behind lucello and I knew the deal was done. I had to have some of her gorgeous creations in my little shop – and many of you who have visited me have been delighted by the Cutie doll kits, vintage haberdashery and ephemera kits and gorgeous button cards, gift tags kits and liberty lavender bags. Here Kim tells a little of her story…                           

What inspired and motivated you to start your business?
I started my business because I have a passion for collecting and I love vintage packaging and colours. I love sourcing all the components of our kits and we have fun assembling them, there are rarely two the same. We also produce a range of scented products which incorporates my other favourite things, textiles and fragrance.

How have you developed and defined your signature aesthetic?
Vintage sewing collection by lucello
Ephemera kit by lucello
I am not sure exactly what my aesthetic is, it is certainly eclectic. I haven't been very rigorous in a developing a particular aesthetic for our brand, I usually just keep trying combinations until I happy with the result. Although now I am in the process of having a designer develop a logo and packaging I have had to consider this question more carefully. I am usually drawn to particular colours and I like our products to have a fun and cheerful look.

Where do you gather your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from the materials themselves, I watch old films, magazines, nature provides great inspiration for colour. I love travelling and always spend lots of time in museums, art galleries and flea markets. I also get lots of inspiration from my customers and the things that they create with our products, it motivates me to find more great ephemera and craft supplies.
What does the future hold in store?
l'uccello has grown very quickly in the last 18 months and we are finally getting some beautiful branding designed for us. We are in the process of building an on line store which will carry many of the products currently only available at our store in Melbourne, especially our millinery and paper craft supplies. Our store has just started to open 6 days a week instead of 4 and we are busy working on Christmas orders, as well as developing a number of new products. We are very excited about the next year ahead as many of the products that have been in development will start to appear, and that is always very satisfying.  

Thanks for sharing Kim! You can find lots of lucello goodies and more at the Crafty Squirrel!

A+/- Piece of Cloth

Part of the joy of opening the Crafty Squirrel is the fact that I get to share all of the things that make my heart sing with you. Lot's of the things I have for sale in my shop come from other designer makers that I admire and have got to know over my years of having stalls at Craft Markets, stands at Trade Shows, networking through my association with Craft Victoria and well just in my travels - you know I love to chat!

I also really like to get to know creative types and what makes them tick - so based on this I thought I would share with you some background on the work of those lovely creative peeps that I sell in the shop....first up is Jennifer Hyland who I met as a fellow stall holder at North Melbourne Market.

Of course - I adore vintage fabrics and Jen is definitely the girl to know! A great eye for choosing striking patterns and colourways has become A+/- Piece of Cloth - here she shares her answers to some of my questions...
What inspired and motivated you to start your business? 
I have always collected fabric for my work and for sewing but add that to a love of travel and you end up with so much of it you just have to let some of it go. And now I have an excuse to keep collecting it but to also make it my job by letting it go to other peoples stash. I travel frequently overseas and it allows me to source wonderful prints. The older ones are so amazing, I can look at them for hours on end.

How have you developed and defined your signature aesthetic?
I would like to think that I can pick a strong print and good colours. Thats what I aim for when I'm sourcing, that its a well designed or unusual print. If it doesn't grab me I say no. I also seek out geometrics and novelties more so than florals. So my range of vintage fabrics has a very strong print emphasis. I also only source cotton, silk, rayon and acetate. No synthetics unless of course its a 1970's photo print, I can't say no. 

Where do you gather your inspiration?
err... not sure I do gather inspiration....when you are arse up in box in a dusty old attic there isn't much inspiration in there especially when you pull out an old pair of undies!!!! But I guess its the thrill of the chase, you never know what you will find in some old town in the middle of Nowherseville USA.

What does the future hold in store?
I want to keep sourcing and collecting....and as they say 'she who dies with the most fabric wins' oh and launch my own range of fabrics...stay tuned.....

Vintage fabric packs are currently available at the Crafty Squirrel with vintage fabric on bolts and cut to order on their way! I can't wait!