April 18, 2014

DIY Around the World: United Kingdom

In my offline life, I'm wrapping up my final semester of graduate school (so close, yet so far!) for my master's degree in international education. Since I was a kid, I've always want to learn about how different countries and cultures approach the same general idea, and have decided to channel that interest into a post about DIY in other parts of the world. In case you missed it, last time we visited the rhinestone capital of South Korea with Allison, and now we're headed to the UK.

Up today is Francesca from one my favorite DIY blogs, Fall for DIY. If you haven't visited it yet, you're missing out because she's amazingly creative-- just look what the girl can do with concrete! Read on for her take on DIY in the United Kingdom, how she's made DIY her day job, and Birmingham's popular crafts.

Where do you live? What is your city like?
I live in the UK’s second largest city Birmingham. Unfortunately for a city this size we’re not as creative as maybe London or Manchester but that’s slowly changing. There are small pockets of creativity like the Custard Factory in which I work my day job. It’s full of independent companies, artists and start-ups who create a fantastic community just outside the city centre.

Photos of Pat's Jewelry Box in Birmingham's Rag Market

Where do you shop for craft supplies and what is that process like? What kind of shops or stores do you go to?
When I first started blogging I worked in a bead shop so I had all my supplies at my fingertips! Unfortunately the shop has now closed and I have to look further afield. I now get my craft supplies from a range of places. Close to where I live is a small haberdashery and a bead shop that are tiny but have some fantastic finds. Birmingham has a large indoor market that has all sorts of craft based goodies inside so I’ll often pop in on my lunch break to have a quick browse. Other than that I’ll often go to my local DIY store to get hardware, concrete and other unlikely materials.

Are there challenges about DIYing in the UK?
Outside of London it seems the UK doesn’t pick up on the latest trends as quickly as other places. Sometimes I wish we had a huge Target or larger craft store I could get supplies from but I think not having those places makes me more creative as I have to find alternative solutions. This way the readers who don’t have those places to shop at can make my DIYs as well!

Are certain supplies easier or harder to find?
Haberdashery items and fabric is very easy to find in Birmingham. We have fantastic fabric stores and just five minutes from my house is Gunthrie and Ghani, a beautiful new shop run by one of the participants in last years The Great British Sewing Bee television program. It’s much harder to find more niche items like rhinestones, moulds and chain. For these items I turn to the Internet.
Is do-it-yourself or crafting popular in the UK? What kinds of crafts or techniques are popular?
It’s difficult for me to be objective on this point. My day job is for a company called Hobzy that builds tools and websites for crafters and then the rest of my time I write my DIY blog so I might be a bit biased! I think there’s definitely more people getting involved in making for themselves and I believe the way we think about craft is changing from an old fashioned pursuit to something that can focus on design and craftsmanship. Sewing and jewellery making are very popular and there are a lot of workshops and crafts caf├ęs dedicated to these techniques all over the country. Knitting is also very popular and we have a few knitting groups here in Birmingham. It’s great to see people come together and be social when they’re crafting and even better to see yarn bombing brightening up the city!

Where do you find inspiration for what you make? Do you find inspiration in your town?
For me fashion and trends inspire a lot of what I make and I’m constantly on the look out for new ideas in magazines, the Internet, at high street stores and whilst travelling. If you’d asked me if my city inspired me at the beginning of these questions I would have said Birmingham was not a very inspiring place to live. But thinking about all the people I meet and places I go in the city I’ve changed my mind. Even if it doesn’t inspire the things I create it does inspire me to make.
Any other thoughts about DIY?
DIY is such a huge part of my life I have no idea what I would do if I didn’t write my blog. I think that even though it can be stressful at times and I can often feel under pressure to keep up with the blogging schedule, the actual making side keeps me sane. Even though Fall For DIY isn’t a physical space I hope it’s somewhere that people can come and be inspired to make themselves and have their own moments of sanity as well.

 Thanks so much for sharing, Fran! For more of her amazing DIY projects, be sure to check out her blog, Fall for DIY. You can also follow her on Twitter or keep up with her site on Bloglovin'.
If you're a DIY blogger outside the US and would like to share a DIY around the world post, let me know in the comments below! 

All photos Francesca Stone


  1. That store looks like heaven!

  2. Same thought. I want to stand in that store with a $500 gift certificate.

  3. Ugh, Australia has the same problem with a lack of DIY supply stores! Shipping from the USA is ridiculous. I'm still looking for the perfect solution!

  4. That looks like a fun store to spend the day in =)

  5. Same in Malaysia! DIY is catching up but still is very slow and shipping from the US will cost a bomb. Will have to make do with what I have here. Would love to do a 'DIY Blogger outside of the US' with you (:


  6. Hello Erin,
    Thank you very much for the around the world posts.
    It is really motivating that despite the luck of resources people will do, and share what they love!

    I really wish to share my experience with your readers.


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