As promised, I am back (a little later than planned) to tell you all about Blythefest 2013. This could be a very long post filled with lots of photos, so you might want to grab a cuppa or if Blythe's aren't your thing, you might want to skip this post.
OK, here goes...
A few weekends ago, after a yearlong buildup and excited wait, the day finally arrived. It was Blythefest. Having been too unwell to attend last year, I was even more excited that I was able to attend this year. I had been stitching up a storm and was going to have my very first (ever) stall on my own of my own handmade items. That in itself was a BIG deal for me, added to the fact that I was going to be meeting so many dear online friends for the very first time also, just added to the excitement and nerves.
We woke bright and early to a beautiful day and prepared ourselves for the 2 hour drive to the venue. We were grateful for clear skies and no rain, as it was forecast to turn into yucky weather later in the day. Good weather always makes me happy, and helps me feel safer on the roads too.
We packed up the car and filled the tank with petrol and headed on our way.
The stall holders were allowed to enter Blythefest a little earlier to set up their stalls, so first thing on our agenda was setting up my little stall. I wasn't sure how others were decorating their stalls, so I took along just a few little props and before long, my The Stitched Bluebird stall was ready for action.
I had all of my dresses on display as well as two collaboration dresses made with Emma of Ballarat Patchwork. I also had two second hand Blythe dolls that were looking for new homes. I was helping my little friend Zali who was selling two of her dolls, one of which found a new home on the day but the red haired (Cloud 9 Bowl) is still here if you are in the market for a gorgeous little Blythe doll. She is a real sweetie.
It was exciting to watch so many others setting up their stalls and by the time Blythefest was due to start, there were stalls lining the whole back wall of the room. If you passed me and heard me muttering something, I am pretty sure I said the work 'overwhelmed' many many times throughout the day. I was on a budget so had to be very careful with my spending so I wandered around and around these gorgeous stalls all day (in between chatting to friends etc) and really just felt more overwhelmed. Everything was so beautiful and I didn't want to miss a thing.
Before we knew it, it was 12 noon and time for Blythefest 2013 to begin. Eeek, I was SO excited and nervous all rolled into one. The theme for Blythefest this year was Dollywood, so the competitions were set up with this theme in mind. The competition dolls were all categorised and set up around the curved stage at the front of the room. The stalls were along the back and side walls and in the middle were lots and lots of round tables for us all to sit at. Any of our dolls that weren't in competitions we could display on our tables where we were to sit, however if you were like me, I barely sat down all day. I just wanted to soak in as much of the atmosphere as possible.
The room was decorated beautifully too, in lovely Dollywood colours and there were even gold logie style prizes for the winners of the competitions too. It was all so exciting.
For the first few hours of the meet, we were encouraged to shop, mingle and vote on our choices for the winners of the competitions. We were to notify the organiser (Mandy) of which competitions we wished to enter before the meet, so on the day everything was very well organised and we could easily pop our competition dolls in the correct place. It was hard to choose winners as everyone had put in SO much effort and it was such fun looking at each doll and seeing all the work that had gone into the costume making too. We had until 2pm to put in our votes, so I made sure I got a handle on my overwhelmedness enough to pop in my votes.
I decided that we would only enter a few of the competitions this year. With all of my stitching for my stall, I knew I would run out of time and stress myself trying to make Hollywood style costumes for my Blythe dolls. So this year, Emily and Jasper both entered the under 15 category where they needed to make the majority of their Blythe's outfit themselves. I am happy to say that we had a lovely time together working on their outfits, me directing and guiding and them stitching. I know I am biased but I think they both did an amazing job. You can see Jasper's entry in the back (white dress with black flowers around the waist) and Emily's was the black dress in the front. All competitions were anonymous and voting was anonymous too. My kids didn't win any prizes for their outfits but in my eyes they are both winners for trying. The winning prize for this category was a custom Blythe doll, so I know all the kids were holding their breaths when this one was announced.
I decided to enter one competition, for custom Blythe dolls. I don't have many custom dolls, two actually and they are both what I would call 'light' customs. I am super grateful to have them both as the lovely person who customised them for me is no longer doing customs. Anyway, here is my August (Prima Dolly Saffy) dressed as Marilyn Monroe.
The only other competition we decided to enter was the Mini Me competition. This is something we have entered each year so we thought it would be fun to enter again. For this competition, each entrant is to dress the same (or as close as possible) to their blythe doll. So after Emily and I chose our outfits for Blythefest, I got busy stitching some similar or as close to the same dresses for our blythe dolls. Here's Emily's doll Millie, her actual mini me custom, all dressed to match Emily.
I forgot to take a close up of my mini me. She is a Kenner (so the same age as me) called Nellie-Mae and I made her a little dress with bicycles on it and we both wore a red cardigan and black boots.
When it was time for people to vote for the mini me comp, we were all called up the front to hold our mini me dolls next to us. It was so funny because when we all headed up to the stage, Sophia and I realised we were the only adults in the competition. There had been adults enter in previous years so we didn't expect to be the only ones with all the gorgeous kiddies. We did have a good laugh and were very grateful the other was there with us for company and moral support too.
This little cutie (below) is Sophia's mini me Blythe. She was identical to Sophia and her little fox bag was amazing, Sophia even had a matching larger one. The mini me dolls were all so gorgeous. It was so fun to see the effort everyone had gone to. We were super excited when Emily won 3rd prize for this competition too.
It was so so lovely to see so many young collectors at this years meet, and to see lovely friendships forming between my two and the other kids at the meet as well. I hope that these friendships can continue to grow over the years too. I didn't manage to take as many photos of the kids as I would have liked, but here are a few to share.
Emily and Ruby...
And here is the group shot that we took towards the end of the day, of the kids. I think we may have missed a few but these were the ones we could gather together for a photo. I hope we can repeat this each year and see how much they are all growing. Hopefully they will all be in attendance next year also.
Throughout the afternoon, there was lovely fruit and lunch provided along with some refreshing soft drinks. I must confess that I was too overwhelmed to eat very much but I have a feeling my hubby might have made up for my lack of eating. He was very kind and offered to man my stall for me while I wandered the room, chatted and tried to soak it all in. So to keep him happy, I made sure his tummy was kept full too.
It was hard to decide which of our dolls should accompany us to Blythefest, so for me, I think I took all of mine, however the kids were more reserved and only brought a few each. Here are the kids ones on the kids table. They were actually on the opposite side of the room to us but now that they are older, it was good for them to be brave, mingle and chat without us by their sides.
By the time I came to set up my dollies on my table, we had run out of stands, so my poor girls spent the day laying down. Thankfully they are very obliging and didn't mind one bit.
One of the things I was looking forward to most of all from Blythefest was meeting so many of my online friends in real life. I was also nervous, hoping that they wouldn't be too disappointed once they saw how normal and a bit quirky I can be too. The other thing about being part of online forums etc is that people have online names, that are not always the same as their own name, so I know there were friends there that I probably didn't meet because I didn't make the connection between the two names. I know I met one lovely friend just as we were leaving because I hadn't connected who she was.
Anyway, I met SO many amazing people, and honestly wished the Blythefest went on for another 5 hours, so that we would have had time to sit and chat. I did quicky whip around and have a few photos with some very dear friends. To those I missed, I am SO sorry. I will be sure to calm myself quicker next year and make sure I see more friends and more dollies. Here are just a few photos of friends that I would like to share.
I was SO very excited to meet beautiful Deb and Tammy (above) at the meet. I became friends with these two lovelies through twitter and we formed a lovely group of Blythe collecting friends. We don't chat as often (through twitter) as we used to but to meet, hug and spend a few minutes with these two gorgeous girls was a highlight of my day. I do owe Deb an apology as she was sitting with me and I barely sat down all day. I promise to be more calm and still next year Deb.
Gorgeous Helen. What can I say about Helen (above), only that it was an absolute thrill to finally meet her. Helen and I have gotten to know each other through the (now gone) Australian forum, We Play with Dolls and through Flickr. Helen is always so kind, encouraging and such a dear friend. She is also a great hugger too! I loved meeting Helen so much.
Helen also has the most amazing collecting of Middie Blythes. I am sure she has at least one of every type ever released. Helen and her middies traveled all the way from WA to be at the meet. Such a long way to travel but I am so glad she did. I hope to see Helen again one day soon too.
I was thrilled to see and hug the lovely Kirbee (below right) again and to meet her bestie Kelly (below middle) as well. Kirbee and I met at the very first Blythe meet we every attended and beautiful Kirbee was so patient with me and all of my questions. We have kept contact and to see her again was so wonderful. I have also had the pleasure of getting to know Kelly through Instagram this year and was so thrilled to meet her. Kelly has the MOST amazing collection of vintage dresses that she wears daily. She is an inspiration and I enjoy seeing what she wears as she shares her outfits on Instagram. Kelly also sells her gorgeous plates, brooches and other handmade goodies through her etsy store called The Story Book Rabbit. You can find Kirbee's amazing brooches, scarves, sketches and amazing art in her etsy store Kirbeeart also. These girls ooze creativity and I loved spending time with them so much.
Finally, my two dear friends Cassy (below left) and Snuffy (below right). What can I say. These girls are amazing and have been such kind, supportive friends to me as I have found my feet in this dolly world. I could fill a whole blog post on these two and how much I think they are amazing! Cassy has helped me choose some perfect dollies for me, even allowing me to bring a few of hers home to live with me and Snuffy is a Kenner magician. She worked her magic on one of my Kenner's last year and I will forever be grateful to her as well. I will just say, it was so so wonderful to finally meet Cassy in real life and to give both her and Snuffy (Jodie) a hug after all this time was another highlight of my day.
I took this quick (and a bit blurry) photo of Cassy's amazing chunky bang red haired Kenner, Red. She is just one of the dolls I wanted to meet at Blythefest and I know there are SO many that I missed. I have already made a note to myself to make sure I calm down quickly and take my time looking at all the Blythes and Kenners too.
Before I end this VERY long blog post, I wanted to tell you about one of the stalls that had flown all the way from Brisbane to be at their very first Blythefest this year. This lovely stall was set up almost next to mine, and let me tell you, when I first saw all of the gorgeousness they were selling, I may have just gasped out loud. Sconnie and Jam is their business name and their gorgeous creations are made by the super talented and equally lovely Jules and Jon. I did do a little shopping and trading with Jules as her gorgeous necklaces and brooches are perfectly me. I loved meeting this creative pair and I can't wait until we can meet again too. If you are planning on attending the Finders Keepers market in Brisbane this coming weekend, make sure you pop by their stand and say hi from me. You won't be disappointed, their goodies are gorgeous!!
And finally, I couldn't let the day pass without having a photo with my two. I was so glad we could attend this meet as a family, as to me, family is everything. I am thrilled they both had a good day and Michael had a great day too. I think Jon from Sconnie and Jam was happy to have another male nearby to chat to as they both manned our stalls for us.
And just like that, Blythefest was over for another year. The 5 hours had flown by in an instant and it was time to say goodbye to new and dear friends. We had a wonderful time and even though we didn't get to spend as much time with friends as we would have liked, because really, how to you put a time limit on chatting with friends, we were thrilled we were able to attend and meet so many kindred spirits. It was a lovely way to spend our day and I know we all look forward to hopefully doing it all again next year.
To all of those involved in organising this event, who gave up their own time and money to make this day so special, from our little family we say thank you. We are grateful to each and every one of you for all that you did to make our day so special.
And to those I didn't get to chat to, I promise to try harder to take more photos with friends, and to sit and chat more next year. And to all who traveled a long way to be at Blythefest, I am so glad you did.
And to you, if you've made it to the end of this VERY long post thanks for hanging in there. I hope you have enjoyed reading about Blythefest. It truly was a lovely day. I can't wait to do it all again next year. xx
(It's midnight here and I have spent a few hours on this post, and I'm pooped, so if there are any typo's please forgive me. I'm heading to bed and will double check for errors tomorrow.)