A Giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed! Thank you everybody!!

We’re delighted to be hosting another giveaway. This time the goodies on offer are from the very talented designer and dressmaker Helen Farden of Hollie-in-Bloom. Helen is offering a voucher for:

****ONE FREE HANDMADE DRESS – ANY SIZE (between newborn & aged 5-6) , ANY FABRIC, ANY PATTERN ****

Brilliant don’t you think! I’ll tell you more about how to enter in a while, but first let’s find out more about Helen, her business, & the lovely clothes she makes.

me and hollie
Helen with her daughter Hollie

When did you start the business Helen, and why?

I started Hollie-in-Bloom in April 2010. I studied a fashion course at college and absolutely adored sewing, so when I had my daughter Hollie, and stopped sewing for a few months, I was missing it a lot. So I decided to try my hand at sewing her some pretty dresses. Whilst at college, we learnt to make patterns, so I managed (just) to rustle up some baby patterns, and got sewing!

I enjoyed it so much, I knew it was my calling, and made a business plan to start selling them. It’s the best thing anyone can decide to do with their crafting skills! Even if it is just a part-time thing, or if your feeling is to take a risk, go full steam ahead!

A Hollie-in-Bloom dress - photo by Gingerlillytea
A Hollie-in-Bloom dress - photo by Gingerlillytea

What do you sell and how do you do your selling?

I sell handmade children’s (mainly girls) clothing in sizes newborn to 5-6years – I make skirts, dresses, printed/appliquéd t-shirts and baby vests and have just started shorts too. I intend to start making little shirts and ties for boys in the summer too, when I’ve got a bit of free time on my hands (which will be the sleeping hours of my day!).

I mainly sell at Hollie-in-Bloom on Facebook . I upload photos of my ‘Pre-mades’ (which are items I’ve made up in spare time to sell on straight away), but I also have photos of fabrics, designs and previous custom orders for people to choose their desired outfit from.

What are the successful things you’ve done to grow your business?

I do a lot of advertising on Facebook, and through email too. I feel my business has grown through word of mouth – people can upload their ‘fan photos’ to my page when their dresses arrive, and then their friends can see the photos too. It also gives customers the chance to see the dresses on a body instead of a coat hanger before buying!

Another pretty Hollie-in-Bloom dress  - photo by Gingerlillytea
Another pretty Hollie-in-Bloom dress - photo by Gingerlillytea

Why do you like making children’s clothes so much?

I like it because the clothing is so much easier to make than adult clothing. There is much more choice of fabrics and haberdashery for children, whereas adults are very picky and getting the fit just right is crucial, whereas if something is just a little bit too long/too big for a child, they can ‘grow into it’.

I know how some parents want something for their children for parties or special occasions, and it’s quite hard to find something in a shop without wondering if another child is going to be wearing the same too!  I’m also sure it sounds better to say ‘I had this dress handmade just for my daughter’ than ‘I got it from the supermarket’! I enjoy parents coming to me with their exact ideas for the dresses, it’s fun to search and dig around for fabrics, and when you come up trumps, you’re highly praised! (that makes me very big-headed I know!).

What do you find challenging about running your business? Have you made any big mistakes that you’ve learned from?

Getting the right fabrics is a challenge. It is very difficult to match your own tastes against other parents’. I have bought so many fabrics which end up wasted because no-one is interested in them. I find it best to look at stores’ websites and see the new colours and trends for the next season, and try to find something that will work. No-one can judge what others are going to like, but sometimes, guesswork is all you can do!

The biggest mistake I ever made was my first ever order. I had finished it, and it looked great – until I ironed it…  There was a ladybird on the iron (which I didn’t see). I turned it on, the ladybird burnt onto the iron, I put it onto the dress, and it squashed into the fabric!  R.I.P. ladybird, I am very sorry! I now check the iron ALL the time – it also ruined my iron, but I’ll forget that for taking the ladybird’s life!

Helen's work room

How do you manage to fit your work round the hard work of being a mum?
I am not sure myself! I tend to sew while she is napping, in the evenings and at weekends. My partner works in the day but when he is home at the weekends, he enjoys the time with Hollie, so at least I can feel better about leaving them to get on with sewing! Hollie and her dad usually play downstairs while I am upstairs sewing. He is a great help, and knows if  I don’t sew, we don’t get the spending money!

I have just also enrolled her into a private nursery for 1 morning a week too, so those extra 5 hours will let me sew more too. Hollie is 21 months old, and at that age where their attention span is non-existent and my attention is needed for her all the time. But soon she’ll play independently and I can then bring the sewing machines downstairs and sew while she plays!

Flower Fairy Dress by Hollie-in-Bloom - photo by Gingerlillytea
Flower Fairy Dress by Hollie-in-Bloom - photo by Gingerlillytea

What are your own favourite fabrics?
I would definitely have to say the Michael Miller ‘Fairies’ range – they really inspire me. They remind me of a book I used to have when I was little on Flower Fairies.  I also love soft plain cottons, and the colours I love are dusky pinks and mint greens. I mainly use cotton-based fabrics, either 100% or poly-cottons. They are cheaper to buy, so I can keep my prices low!  I hate velvet though, it makes my teeth grind when I touch it, like when someone scrapes their knife on a plate and it makes that awful noise.

What are your ambitions for your business?

Hollie-in-Bloom skirt - photo by Gingerlillytea
Hollie-in-Bloom skirt - photo by Gingerlillytea

My ambitions are not very high at the moment. I just want to get onto Etsy and maybe also create a website (with help of course). I am also hoping to get some of my own fabrics made this year, and definitely get more advertising done. I am hoping 2011 is going to be a great year for my business – I have made a total of 338 dresses so far in 9 months, and I am hoping to get that to 1,000 by this time next year!

My ultimate goal would be to have employees, a small warehouse to sew in and my website to be a complete hit! We’ll see on that one!


What a fantastic interview! I’m sure that Helen will have her staff & her warehouse sooner than she thinks – her clothes are so pretty, the designs so attractive, and she’s done so much in such a short time. By the way, some of the fabulous photography used in the article is by the equally talented Gingerlillytea photography.


    This giveaway is now closed! Thank you everybody!!

    120 thoughts on “A Giveaway!

    1. My goals:
      To put family before work especially on nights and weekends.
      To grant myself some “quiet time” no noise each day for at least 5 minutes.
      To sew my daughter a tutu – I h ave all the stuff but just have nto started.
      To make more hair clippies for my daughter.
      To go to the gym at least 3 times a week – and swimming counts
      To start a gratitude journal

    2. My goal for 2011 is to make a personalised xmas stocking for my daughter for Christmas. I bought the fabric in October 2010 to make for that Christmas, and it’s still sitting in the bag!! I was inspired by Hollie-in-bloom to learn to sew (which I have using my nan’s old machine) but haven’t got round to makeing anything “proper”.

    3. Get a job that pays a reasonable salary to support my family; redundant recently after 31 years permanently employed and struggling

    4. To have the biggest declutter in the world ever (I have been storing it for years to enable this to happen!) and sell it on eBay; we have both been made redundant and desperately need money to keep going!! Fingers crossed I find the time in between children, chores and caring for elderly mothers.

    5. OOOh, thank you! The dresses are so sweet.
      Sewing is not my skill, but I do make good cookies. So my goals for 2011 are;
      To respect my husband more.
      To spend less time on the computer. (ironic :p)

    6. I would love to win a dress for my daughter : )
      My goals for 2011 are
      *each month have atleats one family day out
      *Do more exercise
      *Loose the extra weight
      *Be more confident and go out more to play groups etc with my daughter

      I have liked and shared on facebook and also liked and tweeted on twitter : )

    7. My goal for this year is to make more handmade bows for my little ones. I have liked on facebook. Love the clothes x

    8. My goals for 2011 are to complete all the projects I dreamed up and bought fabric for in 2010!! I aim to make the most of each and every minute with my precious daughter as she is growing up way too quick.
      I’d love to see her in a Hollie-in-Bloom creation 🙂

    9. Thanks! This is so nice. I have at least 3 quilts to do this year, and a few pillowcases. Here’s hoping I get to a few other sewing projects. :=)

    10. My plans would be to actually start-up the card making business I’ve been toying with and to help my son and his girlfriend as they prepare for thier first child

    11. My goal for 2011 is to get my tax return out the way before the end of June. I’ve lost count of the number of years I’ve left it until the month. Will save so much worry and rushing around.

    12. Wonderful giveaway and I would love a dress for my daughter.

      My goals for 2011

      to spend quality time with my children
      to make time for holidays and days out
      to do things I like such as theatre, reading
      to not waste energy on people who drain it away from me
      to lose weight and get fitter
      to drink less wine
      to expand the ways in which I write
      to get even more into cats
      to appreciate life every single day

    13. Id love to start designing clothes for my little one and make them its always been one of my dreams 🙂 hopefully start soon

    14. My goals for 2011 are to do more walking, use the knitting wool that I have squirrelled away last year and dig the sewing machine back out and last but not least no more rescue animals as we are a bit overrun at the moment.

    15. Your dresses are gorgeous, I have tweeted the link @elasticagirl and am following you on facebook.

      My goals for 2011 are to learn a bit of sign language.

    16. My goal is to be as good of a mother to my two children (the second is due in a few weeks) as I hope I was with my daughter.

    17. My goals for 2011 are to lose the rest of my weight! and to finish off the projects that I ahve started for my daughter!

      Thanks for the opportunity to win this dress – my daughter is a girly girl and she lvoes dresses!

      notperfect.forgiven (at) hotmail (dot) com

    18. My goal for 2011 – … it’s to improve my health !

      mihaela.mihordea(@) gmail(.) com

      I love to win a dress for my niece 5 years old.

    19. What beautiful dresses! I would love to get one for my 9 month old!

      My goals for 2011 are: go on vacation with just the hubby and me, make dinner at least 4 times a week, and visit my grandma at least twice a month!

    20. My goal is to finish the bathrobes I started to sew for my kids (finally!) and to crochet at least 3 more blankets

      lifewithjding (at) gmail (dot) com

    21. I don’t know how to sew, but I would love to learn how to knit! Just have to get my grandma to teach me one of these days 🙂

    22. How sweet! My goal is to make myself and my sister’s all and apron out of the fabric of a bed cover of my mother’s!

    23. After 4 miscarriages i have now made it to 6 months pregnant with a little girl so my goal is to carry her to full term and have a beautiful healthy baby at the end of it.

    24. My goals for 2011 is to make sure my daughter smiles everyday and is happy and content 🙂

      And for me, I am starting a university degree x

    25. To enjoy being with my family now I have given up work to see them grow up, and to start training for a marathon

    26. Your dresses are gorgeous, I wish I could make something so lovely. My goal for 2011 is now to learn to sew a lot better!
      I follow Hollie-in-Bloom on Facebook

    27. ithink I must be Hollie in Bloom’s biggest fan I bought my daughter 9 dresses last year and 4 skirts! I have already bought a skirt and ordered a dress this year. It is is wonderful to be able to buy my daughter unique pretty clothes t affordable prices! Friends and relatives are always admiring her in them. Thank you Helen, I hope you have a much success in 2011! 🙂

    28. i seen you on facebook and would just like to say how beautiful your dresses are…i have just had my 3rd baby, and have finally decided after going on for the past 7 years that i was going to make them cot bedding etc that its finally time to do rather than say, thankyou for the motivation x

    29. My goal this year is to stop worrying and stressing over everything and spend more time with my children afterall the kids dont care if the kitchen is not sparkling but they do care if Im too busy to take them out to the park!

      Im also a fan on facebook 🙂 x

    30. Have left a comment below – check
      I’m a follower of Hollie in Bloom on facebook – check
      Have retweeted the link above, after i worked out how to do it – check

      Wish me luck! x

    31. My goal is to improve my make and mend skills and to finally finish the curtains that I’ve been doing for the last 6 months 🙂

    32. What an inspiring story!
      My goal for this year is to waste less – less food, less resources, less everything. I am trying to think all the time about the most sustainable way to do things. I’ve still got a long way to go, but have made big strides in changing my wasteful habits

    33. My goal for this year is for us to try and eat more fruit and veg.What a fab idea and some lovely dresses
      I am a follower on Facebook x

    34. Fab giveaway lovely dresses. My goals this year is to chill by having some me time at least once a week.

    35. What lovely dresses! I have two girls, and my youngest is always wearing ‘hand me downs’, so it would be great to be able to give her something that was just for her! My goal for this year is for us to try and eat as a family more x

    36. Wow, what stunning items!! My goal is to spend more time enjoying my children, sometimes I feel that between work and housework I barely get chance to spend time having fun with the four of them and it breaks my heart.

    37. My goals for this year are to build up my confidence up enough to be able to set up my own business finally, fitted in around looking after my 4 children!

    38. my goal for the year is to sew something for my daughter, finally….. beautiful dresses Hollie in bloom- hope we win! x (have liked on FB too…)

    39. Wow, what beautiful dresses!
      My goal for this year is to find our “forever” house so we never have to move again!!
      I’d also like to find the time to pick up my knitting needles again! My poor Daisy hasn’t had anything knitted for her in months as I’ve been too tied up with all the moves. 😦
      I have also become a follower on Facebook :o)

    40. My goals for the year are to enjoy my family and on the craft front endeavour to make it to the jewellery courses I have booked.

    41. Lovely dresses! (Oh and gorgeous model!)

      I don’t have any sewing goals as I have accepted that it’s just not my area of competence! I also didn’t make any resolutions for the first year in ages – I debated some but rejected the idea in the end. I do have a goal for the year which is basically to enjoy my girls because they are both at such a wonderful age. When E was the age B is now I felt I missed out on a lot with her due to morning sickness and SPD. This time I just want to make the most of it and do lots of fun stuff with them.

      Although I’d also quite like to learn to dance … not sure if that’s a goal for this year or for this lifetime though!

      Have “liked” the Hollie-in-Bloom FB page tbw.

    42. Ooh those look lovely – so far I’ve made a dress for dd1 but dd2’s is sadly lagging so maybe I could get away without doing it myself 🙂

      For 2011, making it to the end with everyone intact and a year older and (hopefully!) easier to handle would be good – with 3 under 5’s you need achievable goals 🙂 Sewing wise, making some of the clothes to go with ds’s rag doll is next on the list, and I have grand ambitions for homemade party bags and crocheted pass-the-parcel gifts for the girls’ birthday parties – but with less than 3 months to go we’ll wait and see on that one!

    43. Beautiful 🙂 I loved the Flower Fairy books, too.

      My goal for this year is not a sewing one, but knitting/crochet – I’m hoping to make 11 shawls in 2011. I’m on my third and fourth, so I guess we’ll see.

      I’ve tweeted the link as well, my twitter name is ghoti.

    44. Beautiful dresses! I would love one for my littlest girl – she was born six months out of sync with big sis so all the dresses she’ll fit into in summertime next year will be winter ones 😦

      Goals for 2011…blow the dust off the sewing machine, perhaps – though I doubt I’ll actually get anything made! I’d like to finish a couple of crochet tops and cardigans for the girls. Better get my skates on before they grow out of them!

    45. What beautiful dresses, I’d love to be in a chance of winning one of those for Isabel.

      This is more a longterm goal of mine – get to grips with my sewing machine and make an item of clothing with it! Given that I am pretty much a beginner, this would probably involve going on some sort of sewing-related course, so maybe this is what I will do in 2011.

      I’ve become a follower of Hollie-In-Bloom on Facebook too. 🙂

    46. Lovely frocks – the ladybird story is hilarious!
      Our goals are to sell, focus, sell, focus, sell! We’re also very excited about introducing some organic fabrics into our current recycled and vintage fabrics – there is resonance in our work with what Helen says about fabric choices being tricky – it’s especially tricky when we’re dealing with vintage, so introducing a predictable element through supplied fabrics should help counter that and reassure. It’s a tough market out there; so if Hollie-in-Bloom has sold that many dresses, she’s doing really well – well done.
      I have Liked on FB, and Retweeted on Twitter!
      x x x

    47. What a great giveaway! My goal for 2011 is to have a more organised household – we have 6 children and it can sometimes descend into chaos! I am also a ‘liker’ of Hollie-in-Bloom on FB x

    48. What a fab idea and some lovely dresses. Whilst I’d love to be able to make something so beautiful, my aim would be to get the sewing machine out and hunt for a good pattern to follow (and hopefully remember how to do it)!

    49. My goals in 2011 would be to try making hair accessories for my little princess and her friends.

      I am a follower on Facebook x

    50. A wee inspiration!

      My goal for 2011 is to undertake a training course, and hopefully start up my own little business running parallel to my own part time job, in the evenings and at weekends. We want to move house to be nearer our families, and the only way to achieve that is by sheer hard work to increase our deposit!
      By moving nearer our families, it will increase our time as a family (as at the moment we need to work opposite shifts to cover childcare) and also maybe allow us to add to our wee gang as well…

      Fingers crossed everything goes to plan!

    51. My goals for 2011 are to exercise more and spend more quality time with my family.

      I hope I win one of your lovely dresses xx

    52. I have a boy, but would love a voucher for one of my friend’s little girls. The dresses are so lovely, my favourite is the pinafore. My goals for 2011 are to have our first holiday with ours son, and to watch and help him to learn and be happy. I’m already a follower on facebook. Keep up the good work Helen, and I look forward to seeing more boy’s clothes too!

    53. My goal for this year is to be far more pro-active with my sewing and actually make enough to contribute something to our income rather than just enough to feed my fabric habit! Juliex

    54. Ooh I’d love a beautiful handmade dress for Felicity!

      My goals for 2011 are to get more exercise, get more time alone with my hubby and to crochet an item of clothing (not a hat because I’ve done that). I have yet to choose a pattern.

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