Money back guarantee – What have you got to loose?

Have you been pondering our Semi Virtual Crochet courses and wondering if £40 is a lot to spend on something that might not work? It wouldn’t surprise me, potentially it might be.

But……………….I am so confident in my training abilities and my product that I am prepared to offer you a 100% money back guarantee if you do not successfully learn to crochet using our beginners course ‘Learn to Crochet the Easy Way’.

By the end of the course you will know all your basic stitches, how to crochet with straight edges and follow a simple pattern to make a rose.  Once you have mastered all of that then blankets and garments are within easy reach.

Of course there has to be some Terms and Conditions to ensure you’re happy with how the guarantee works:

  • You must commence your course within 4 weeks of receiving your starter kit (we use tracked postage to ensure you receive your kit as soon as possible after ordering and will be aware of any delivery issues in the unlikely event that they should occur).
  • You must complete your course within 8 weeks of commencement.
  • If you are unable to understand or complete any of the parts of the course you must have contacted us either via the online support forum, email, in person or via the telephone and tried the solutions offered to you to rectify your problem.  After all we want you to learn to crochet, this is why these support options are available to you.  You can contact us numerous times (although we are confident you wont need to).
  • If after trying all of the above you are still unable to complete the course you must send back your full kit including all of the work you have attempted to do so far. (Please contact us and ask for a returns label) When we are in receipt of your package we will process your refund.
  • This offer only applies to course/kits purchased from 27th April 2017 onwards using the correct code at the time of purchase.

If you would like to take advantage of the money back guarantee then please use the code MONEYBACK in your coupon code box in the checkout. (this will also give you 10% off by way of a thank you).

Go forth and Crochet! What have you got to loose?

Claire x

Crochet an Octopus for a local neonatal unit

Beautiful Things has launched an octopus Crochet Along (CAL) following news of these little critters being used in neonatal units across Europe to aid the comfort and development of premature babies.

You can read all about it in this article in the Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4167048/Hospitals-giving-premature-babies-cuddly-octopus-toys.html

Claire has launched he own campaign and has agreed to donate any octopi made and sent into BTHQ to the Neonatal unit at Broomfield hospital who are looking forward to receiving them.

If you would like to make an octopus please follow the instructions and pattern below and post to Beautiful Things, Unit 1 Ingrave Enterprise Centre, 8 Brentwood Road, Brentwood, Essex, CM13 3QH

The optimal size of the octopus is around 7-9 cm in length of the head and around 7-8 cm in head circumference. They shouldn’t be much bigger because of the limited space in the incubator. For the octopus to be the right size you should use a 3 or 3,5 mm hook and a cotton yarn the point is to make the octopus very tight so that the filling doesn’t come out when it is a bit stretched). They should be filled with polyester fibre that you can find in teddy bears or pillows and that can be washed at 60º C. The size of the head as well as the hardness of it is not as important as the length of the arms. For safety reasons the outstretched arm cannot exceed 22 cm.

If you can, please donate octopuses through your local “Octopus for a preemie” Facebook group –  so that the hospitals don’t have to deal with every person who wants to contribute, but most importantly, it guarantees that no octopus poses threat to the safety and health of vulnerable preemies as the groups check if every octopus meets all requirements. If you are making these for the Beautiful Things group then please send them to BTHQ and we will distribute them through the proper channels.

And this is the pattern for the octopus
Converted to UK terms

ch – chain
dc – double crochet
dc2tog – double crochet 2 stitches together (decrease)
sl st – slip stitch

inc – 2dc in one stitch (increase)

R1: 6 dc in a magic ring
R2: Inc (2 dc) in all st (12)
R3: Inc, dc – repeat x6 (18)
R4: Inc, dc, dc – repeat x6 (24)
R5: Inc, dc, dc, dc – repeat x6 (30)
R6: Inc, dc, dc, dc, dc – repeat x6 (36)
R7-14: 1 dc in all st (36)
R15: 4 dc, dc2tog – repeat x6 (30)
R16-17: 1 dc in all st (30)
R18: 3 dc, dc2tog – repeat x6 (24)
R19-20: 1 dc in all st (24)
R21: 2 dc, dc2 tog – repeat x6 (18)
R22: 1 dc in all st (18)
R23: 7 dc, dc2tog – repeat x2 (16)
R24: 1 dc in all st (16)
R25: Here you start the legs: *50 ch, turn and make 4 dc in each ch make a dc in 2 of the stitches around the base of the octopus head*.  Repeat 7 times so you get 8 arms. End with 1 sl st and cast off.

You may need to twizzle you legs round and round in an anti clockwise direction to get them to spiral properly. It is important that you keep the chain straight when you are doing your DC’s into it to stop the spiral twisting in the wrong direction.

If the outstretched arms are longer that 22 cm, make fewer chains to start.

The base of the octopus:

R1: 5 dc in a magic ring
R2: 2 dc in all st (10)
R3: inc, 1 dc – repeat x4 (15). Finish with a sl st and cast off. Weave in the ends.

Make eyes and embroider the face of your choosing.  (safety eyes and beads are not to be used, all faces must be made from cotton to comply with sterilisation requirements) Stuff and stitch the base to the bottom of the octopus and your lovely little creature is complete!

BTHQ Beautiful Pupils – January 2017

We had such a lovely start to 2017 with lots of people taking their first ventures into sewing and crochet.  We have seen 2 groups of people take our 4 week sewing course and another group take our 1 day intensive and we have taught 2 separate groups of beginner crochetters and a couple of drivers licence sessions too.  Not to mention our regular classes!  It’s been a busy time but we are delighted to say all of our beginners have booked on to more classes to progress their chosen craft.

beginners sewing class

So I thought I would share a couple of fabulous pupils with you.  First is Lorraine who is a regular visitor to BTHQ.  Although she has not been in yet in 2017 she sent me the following message to show how inspiring my You Tube videos are to her:

” I wanted to tell you how you vlogs / podcasts really inspired me to start knitting socks.  I’d always looked at them and thought 4 needles…no way. But watching your podcasts and your confidence grow with your own knitting got me started. I was gifted some beautiful yarn just before Christmas, so I printed the winwick mum pattern, picked your brains on various needles and you re-assured me that I could knit with magic loop so I cast on. Albeit on Christmas eve for the first time, and then again on new years day.  I’ve now just cast on a patterned pair.”

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How lovely are lorraines fabulous socks?  If you want to enjoy the support and friendship BTHQ has to offer but can’t come to classes then join our facebook group. Beautiful Things Crafty Corner which is a great place to chat to fellow crafters about your ideas and ask for advice and guidance.

Next up is an absolutely fabulous project that I was really pleased to help with.  Debs contacted me last year to ask if I could help her and her friend Janet create some advent calendars.  They had bought some lovely Liberty fabric squares and were hoping to create something amazing with them.  We couldn’t get them booked in before Christmas sadly but they chose to come in in January to make their calendars for next Christmas. We designed these fantastic giant wall hangings with Liberty pockets.  We asked the lovely Charlotte who is one of our tutors to design and cut some iron on numbers in the liberty font which really set off the project.  Now Janet & Debs plan to fill each others calendars with lovely little surprises every year.

hand sewn liberty advent calendar

They had a wonderful 2 days with us creating, catching up on gossip, laughing and drinking tea whilst they sewed.  If you would like to come and work on something with your friends then do get in touch so we can help make your wish come true.

Last but not least it would seem our recent vlog about Mental Health has done it’s work.  We have seen a huge increase in the numbers of people coming in to simply ‘use the space’.  This is Viv who popped in to knit some socks and Elspeth.  Elspeth brought her Ancient Greek text books in to catch up on some revision!

dedicated craft space BTHQ

If you would like to pop in and use the space then all we ask is a donation to MIND our chosen charity.  You can find out about our work with MIND and why we have chosen them HERE

Lets talk Mental Health – Supporting MIND

Mental Health is a hugely important topic.  Beautiful Things has chosen MIND the Mental Health Charity as it’s chosen charity for 2017.

Please join me on my vlog as I talk to you about why Mental Health is so important, how we can work together to raise awareness and take you on my own personal Mental Health journey.

Make a cuppa and settle down for the most important 20 minutes viewing of your day.

The BTHQ 2017 Giftalong

How many times have you said to yourself you would like to make all your Christmas presents but then never got round to it?  Or perhaps you are one of those crafters who is furiously casting off a knitting project on Christmas Eve desperate to wrap it up for morning.

Well this year I am planning on being super organised and I’m hoping you would like to join me.  I have decided to run the BTHQ Giftalong for 2017.  It is a ‘CraftAlong’ and the aim of the game is to make 12 gifts during the course of the year and in time for Christmas.

Any Craft goes, big or small so the objective should be achievable.  We have support in our Ravelry Group and there will be prizes each month for those taking part.

Tune into my podcast below to find out more.  (If you don’t want to sit through the whole thing skip on to 33:00 and I will tell you all about it in a couple of minutes)

BTHQ Beautiful Pupils December 2016

I thought it would be nice to introduce you to a couple of our fabulous pupils.  During the month of December I have received 2 lovely emails from our clever crafters.

First up is Kim.  Kim has been to a few of our sewing classes during the year, but her last one was our lovely quilt as you go stocking.  As you can see she has gone on to make more.

kim sewing class testimonial

Hi Claire,
Following on from the Christmas stocking class, I thought you might like to see my efforts. I have made two more! I just wanted to say thank you for all your help and encouragement to get me sewing in 2016. I have definitely found a new hobby that I really enjoy. I look forward to learning some new skills in your classes during 2017!
Wishing you and your family a joyous Christmas  and a very happy, healthy new year.
Love Kim Gavan x

Next up is Karen who has taken our beginner and intermediate online crochet courses.  She has made these beautiful poncho sets

crochet classes left handed pupil essexcrochet poncho class essex

Hi Claire,
I just wanted to let you know and show you the results of me doing your online courses.  
I have really got the crocheting bug, having done sewing and knitting for years I have just picked up the crochet hook thanks to your courses.
Once I had finishes the courses I really wanted the poncho you were wearing but living in Colchester it was too far to come to your classes when I work so I found the pattern and you can see by the photos I went a bit mad…  making up gloves and wrist warmers to go with them.
Thanks again, Happy new year, Karen Hills
If you would like to feature on our new monthly posts then do get in touch, send us some pictures and a word or two and we will include you. You don’t have to have taken one of our classes necessarily but you could have been inspired by something we posted on social media.  We would love to welcome you into the BTHQ fold.
In the meantime, happy crafting!

What sewing machine is best for you?

I’m often asked what sewing machine I’d recommend, there are so many out there, which ones for you?

Firstly ask yourself a couple of questions

  1. Am I looking to get into quilting or dressmaking?
  2. How often will I be using the machine?

If you answered yes to question 1 then you are going to want to get yourself something that will offer you some slightly more advanced options.  Sure you could start off on a basic domestic machine, but trust me you will soon get bored and want to step up and it can often cost you more in the long run to upgrade.

In class we use the Janome CXL301 Sewing Machine (pictured above) which is available for £299 (occasionally you can pick these up in the Sales for closer to £250 but it’s rare) These machines are perfect for those of you who want to do lots of sewing and who appreciate a gadget or two that makes your work faster!  It has a fantastic tortoise and hare function that allows you to slow the machine right down.  Perfect for a nervous sewer, a tricky corner or using with children.  It also has an in built needle threader and has a top loading bobbin which is much easier to thread.

sewing machine mat with tools

If you said you will be sewing occasionally and not that regularly then you can probably get away with a Simple domestic sewing machine like the one shown in the picture above (these are also the machines we run our Sewing Machine Drivers Licence session on)  You won’t have a fast and slow option or a needle threader (like the CXL301) but it will sew your basic stitches and can make almost everything you want but may take a little longer as you don’t have the shortcuts offered on the computerised machines.

If you really want to treat yourself then go for a Janome DSK100 this is the machine Claire uses at home.  It is a beauty, offers all the functions of the CXL301 but also has embroidery stitches and a cut button.  This little button alone is worth the £150 extra you will pay as it simply cuts your threads for you at the end of each row.  You can literally half the time it takes you to make something simply by using this button!

We would advise against a ‘mini’ machine though.  They really are incredibly basic and often do not have lights or interchangeable presser feet.  Even for a child we would recommend a ‘grown up’ machine.  Expect to pay between £80 – £100 for a good domestic model.

If you need any further advise and guidance drop us a line, we would be happy to make recommendations for you.

(please note the links offered in this blog post are affiliate links but are our own personal recommendations)

 

 

 

Time

I have spent the last 2 days at our Local Gift & Food fair in the sports centre promoting Beautiful Things and selling our online crochet courses and kits.

I spoke to loads of lovely people about crochet and sewing, sold plenty of kits and I know that many of the people we spoke to will go home and book courses.  But………………..

If I had £1 for every person who replied to our questions with “I don’t have time” I would be rolling in it.

My argument was in return “You need to make time”

I harp back to my earlier post about making time to craft and enjoying valuable me time for your own personal sanity and relaxation (You can read it here) it is soooo important.

I will leave you with this quote from the writer of my favourite all Time Musical RENT, Mr Johnathon Larson.  He speaks a lot of sense.

jonothan-larson-quote

The house work can wait, do something for you for once.  Stop being so busy being busy!

Why must you ‘make’ the time to craft?

When I ask people if they want to learn a new craft one of the most common answers is; “I don’t have the time”.

We are all so busy, running around after the children, working on our own businesses, commuting too and from the ‘day job’ managing the house.  Sometimes I think I should run away to the circus as I must be one of the best jugglers there is!

But it is really really important to SWITCH OFF.  You need to give your body and mind time to rest and relax.

We all know that but honestly how easy is it to achieve?

sock-knitting

Recently I decided to take the chance to learn to knit.  As you know I can do most crafts but this was a dark area for me.  Having always been a crocheter, going over to 2 sticks was seen by some as crossing over to the dark side!  In learning to knit I have also been setting myself a personal challenge: Each night at 10pm (or earlier if I can manage it) regardless of how messy the house is or how many emails need answering in my inbox, i have been stopping what I have been doing, getting out my knitting and concentrating on nothing else for at least an hour.  I might watch a spot of telly while I knit, or catch up on a podcast or two but most importantly I am chilling out.  Taking some time for me and not letting the general day to day grindstone work me down further.

Doing this allows my brain to switch off so that when I finally go to bed my mind is calm, rested and focused on the job of falling asleep.  I’m getting a much better nights sleep and waking up feeling far more rested and ready to face the day and whatever it throws at me.

After just a few weeks of doing this I can honestly say I feel less under pressure, the to do list is looking smaller and to top it off I have learnt something new and am getting ahead on making my own Christmas presents this year.

So don’t let “I’m too busy” or “I don’t have time” stop you from learning something new.  Use it to gain time, ‘Me time’

Use it as your prescription for a more relaxed and healthy lifestyle.  I promise you that you will see and feel the difference in a very short while.

Embroidery threads for embroidery classes

If you can already knit or perhaps you like to do cross stitch or embroidery, dig out an old project or treat yourself to a new kit and give yourself that precious hour or even half an hour at the end of your day.  Every little bit helps.

For those of you looking for a new skill, our Semi Virtual Crochet courses are ideal.  You receive a lovely kit and book in the post, then simply log onto our website and plug yourself in to our professionally filmed tutorials and crochet along with me.  You can take it as slowly as you like, there are not deadlines or timescales to finish in.  Bitesize easy chunks of ;’Me time’ are what’s on offer.

intermediate-semi-virtual-crochet-kit

Until the end of October we have the following deals available on all our courses:

Beginners – £20 off (HALF PRICE) use code beginners20 at the checkout

Intermediate – £15 off (HALF PRICE) use code intermediate15 at the checkout

Amigurumi Cacti garden £5 off use code cacti5 at the checkout.

So I challenge you to start rewarding yourself with a crafty hour each day even if you grab one of your childrens colouring books and some pencils, anything creative will help you in the long term I promise.  Do let me know how you get on and if you want to try your hand at any new crafts, do get in touch with me to see how I can help you.

But most of all enjoy your new found TIME.

 

Banishing the stigma with The Depressed Cake Shop

The wonderful Liz Fox of BuBakes is hosting a fantastic event this Sunday 7th August at the Essex Cricket Ground in Chelmsford

Alongside the Depressed cake shop she is organising an event where people can come together to learn more about Mental Health and the challenges it can bring.  As well as lots and lots of great cakes there will be ‘Creation Stations’ so that you can get to feel how crafts and creativity can be used to help cope with anxiety and alleviate depression.

Beautiful Things will be there manning an Adult Colouring creation station and a crochet station.  You can pop along and spend time helping us create a fabulous granny square blanket which we will auction off when it’s complete to help raise further funds for Mind and Help for Heroes which are the events chosen charities.

depressed cake shop

If you can’t make the event, please feel free to make a granny square or 2.  Please start with 2 shades of grey and then add 7 rounds of rainbow colour to create a 9 round square.  These can be dropped in to BTHQ during the next couple of weeks so that we can join them together.  Please use a 4mm hook and DK weight yarn.  If you are coming and want to make a couple to bring with you then please feel free, the more squares the better!

We are also in need of grey yarn to join the blanket together with so if you have any scraps of DK in your stash that you would like to donate we would be very greatful.

Clearing out my fabric stash

I’ve been meaning to clear out my personal stash of fabric for some time! Today I finally committed three lots of fabric to patterns and I’m going to tell you all about my plans.

Apologise for the dodgy light and sound but the sunshine and my webcam are not friends. I also snuck into my bedroom to get some peace and quiet away from the kids!

 

 

Baby blanket Ta Da!

I love a good baby shower and my go to gift is always a handmade blanket.  Since I learnt to crochet a few years back I have always enjoyed working away on these for 7 or 8 months as soon as I hear a friend is expecting.

crochet blanket essex

This time I heard my lovely friend Louise was expecting just as the Cherry Heart Spice of life CAL (Crochet along) was announced.  I thought this would be perfect to have a go at and decided to use a colour palette that the lovely Heather from The Patchwork Heart had come up with using Stylecraft Special DK.

The colour recipe is: claret, lipstick, pomegranate, shrimp, spice, gold, saffron, lime, meadow, sage, aspen, storm, blue, denim, aster, bluebell, violet, grape, pale rose, fondant and raspberry.

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The pattern can be downloaded HERE although the official Crochet Along has finished you can see all the blankets that were made by looking up #spiceoflifeCAL on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

crochet classes billericay brentwood

I added a couple of rounds of trebles round the edge and a simple 5tr scallop pattern to finish it off.  I probably should have blocked it all to make it lie nice and flat at the edges, but I confess to being naughty and wrapping it as is!

Lou was very pleased with her blanket, which I knew she would be.  Funnily enough whenever I had posted sneak peeks of it on Instagram she was always one of the first to like the posts!

handmade crochet baby blanket classes essex

I’m looking forward to updating you all with pics of Little Baby Bunny all wrapped up in it sometime towards the end of April

lou opening her crochet blanket gift

We are hiring!!

Beautiful Things is growing at a rate of knots and we are loving having some great fully booked classes each week.

The majority of our sessions are run by our in house team of tutors who have learnt their trade within our own 4 walls, but sometimes we need to reach out for the more specialist areas.

We are specifically looking to recruit a knitting tutor.  You must be able to teach complete beginners through to more advanced levels.

We are looking for someone who can develop a beginner/intermediate/advanced programme similar to our in-house crochet courses as well as offering 1 off ‘make something’ sessions such as sock making etc.

Our classes are small, usually only 4 for beginners and 6 for more advanced.  We pay a percentage of class fees to all tutors and a rate will be agreed with each individual during interview.

If you think you have what it takes to join the team at BTHQ, please send us an email outlining your experience.  You do not need to be a qualified teacher to teach here, we believe, knowlege, experience, a passion for your craft and the ability to teach with a sense of humor are far more important!

We could also be interested in speaking to you if you are able to teach any of the crafts you don’t already see on our website.  So do have a look around.  Perhaps your a screen printer, a yarn dyer or specialise in something a little different.  Drop us a line and tell us about yourself (we make no promises, but who knows, today could be your day)!

Raising awareness

One of the ways we like to raise awareness of Beautiful Things is to raise awareness of other local businesses and charities.  In return for doing a good deed or two we can raise our profile too.

BOSP travelling star sewing pattern

This is one of the reasons we chose to work with Brighter Opportunities in Supported Play or BOSP for short.

BOSP is a locally based charity offering respite activity for children and young adults with disabilities.  Whether its an after school group, youth club or simply taking a group of youngsters to the cinema, BOSP make living a normal everyday life a possibility for both the children and their families.

Jodie charity worker from BOSP

BOSP logo is a sweet little star and when the charity approached us in 2014 to make a few stars they could use for a competition we jumped at the idea.  We held our 1st star making day in November 2014 and a group of regular pupils from BTHQ got together to make over 20 felt stars.

BOSP star sewing class brentwood

We also developed a pattern and instruction book so that others could make stars too.  Subsequently those stars have travelled all over the world with people posting snap shots of their stars in all sorts of famous places from the Taj Mahal to the Grand Canyon!  You can check out their travels by searching the hashtag #BOSPtravellingstar

the team stuffing BOSP stars

As it had been a while since we last worked with BOSP we held another star making day last week.  You have been looking at some of the photos from the day throughout this post.

free machine embroidery sewing BOSP star faces

The great news is that  the funds from the sale of the last batch of stars went towards buying a new mini bus for the group.  Here we all are pictured with the bus that BOSP has recently purchased.

BOSP minibus

It’s great to do something good now and again.  If you want to help BOSP and make a few stars then please feel free to download the pattern from our site.  Geoff in the Remnant shop in Brentwood is also happy to offer you 10% discount on yellow felt if you mention you will be making BOSP stars with it.

We made 25 star softies and 25 mini stars which will be made into keyrings.  These will be available at various BOSP events during the year, or if you drop them a line via Twitter they will be only too happy to sell you one to take on it’s travels!

big bundle of BOSP stars

Happy sewing.

 

Looking back

Back in March 2012 I wrote this post on my old blog ‘A day in the life of……’

It was before the studio, I had just had a baby and was on ‘maternity leave’ a.k.a. working for myself and looking after kids in the vain hope I could make a go of it full time and not go back to work.

Well I did it!

It’s a great read, it even mentions meeting with Jim a.k.a Mr Frog of Chicken and Frog Bookshop and without their input I honestly don’t think I would be where I am today.  Laughably I was also running with the lovely Laurie of Local by Social who has now gone on to be my fabulous web developer and she also made a massive transformation to my business this time last year. (I’m no longer running I have to add but hope to change that soon).

I think I might do another similar post, would you like to read it if I did?  After all I now have premises, work full time, both kids are at school and I have a new house too.  Lots has changed in 4 years but I still think I could be superwoman!

If you have a blog, why not go back and look at some old posts, it’s really interesting what you find.  I rarely get comments on my blog but it’s a wonderful way of documenting my life and where I have come from.

Taking perfect pictures

Wow my brain is buzzing with information and ideas following a fabulous day spent at BTHQ yesterday learning to use my camera.

We were fortunate to be joined by Tracy Williams who is a fantastic local photographer who specialises in working with natural light to take all sorts of wonderful photographs from newborns and weddings to Woodland fairies and product photography.

Tracy was running a course at our studio to help those of us with digital cameras get off the ‘Auto’ setting.  The great thing about owning a studio like mine is I can often join in with the fun and so I took the day off and joined in with the other pupils.

Learning to taking portrait photographs

We had a great day learning about Aperture and ISO and how we could use them to let in light, blur out our backgrounds to gain ‘depth of field’ and capture movement and motion with our shutter speed.

Getting just the right amount of colour in your image

chinese lucky cats photography course

After a morning of theory we ventured out to Thorndon Hall to try out what we had learned in the class room.

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We started off in the shade of some trees capturing portraits using a light reflector.  As you can see we played around with our angles shooting from up high, straight on and down low.

portrait photography class portrait photography class

Then it was off along the footpath to the hall itself to shoot some of our crafts and makes in the brighter light. Below are a number of collages with all the pictures the group took (There were 4 of us). It’s very interesting to see how the photos differ in both lighting, composition and depth of field.

Abney & Teal dress photography course

1 blanket photographed 6 ways composition

Chic classy cape sewing class

On the way back to base Laurie was super lucky to even capture some cyclists whizzing past us at great speed with this fantastic shot.

Learning to capture movement with shutter speed

We then had great fun jumping off stools in the courtyard to play with our shutter speeds.

Capturing the moment Shutter speed

capturing jumping with shutter speed

Needless to say I am going to be spending some quality time with my camera over the next few weeks and am now looking forward to my holiday to turkey even more.  Just think how beautiful those souks and sunsets will look now I know how to operate my camera to it’s best.

If you would like to have a go at getting your camera off auto then Tracy is joining us again on the 8th October.  You can book the class online HERE

Playing

Sometimes it’s lovely to just play.

I’m very fortunate to have fabulously talented pupils who can do things that I cant.  One such pupil is the lovely Elspeth.  You will have seen her pop up on my blog before, she is my dressmaking sewing buddy and has recently become the latest recruit at BTHQ and is our official sample maker (she needs a better job title I know but we are working on that one)!

elspeth painting

Elspeth has always been particularly good at drawing and painting and can sketch almost anything you need her too. When I saw a painting on the wall at our sewing class at the local arts centre I knew I had to replicate it.  Made with simple blobs of watercolour and outlined in ink I thought it couldn’t be that hard!

So my day off arrived, Elspeth turned up laden with paint, paper and books and we simply played.  I quickly  found out that the super wet, splodgy ways of watercolour are not for me.  Being an old school acrylic painter and one for corporate straight edges and blocks of colour and also someone who cant draw for toffee I admitted defeat very early on.  However once I found my own style I was very pleased with the pictures I did manage.

My tortoise was a wet and watery one but he had a lot of help from a black pen.

tortoise watercolour

I particularly enjoyed my toadstools.  I could have cried when the red leaked into the brown but actually it looks like a great bit of light reflection and I now love it. Not so sure about my geisha girl but she is passable!

watercolour paintings

My very first attempt at a flower turned out rather childishly bright and happy

flower watercolour

And having an artists cat in residence helped me finish off a trio of toadstools! You can see my random effects at painting ‘properly’ in the back ground here, so not my cup of tea!

stampy cat helping paint

I can highly recommend ‘playing’ though. Find a friend with a talent who can share it with you, put the kettle on, set aside a couple of hours and have some fun.  It was so therapeutic and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Do pop back and share with me the fun times you have been having.

Me Made May – The almost mid way update

So how are you all getting on with Me Made May? #MMmay15

I’m pretty much on track with my pledge.  Here’s my run down so far.

Day 1 /Friday) I wore my BTHQ tunic top.  We run a class for this top if you want your own it’s the perfect beginners dress making project.

BTHQ tunic top

Day 2/Saturday) I wore a yellow jersey tunic top that I had made (sorry no pics, but I still need to blog about it) and made a start on making my Miette Skirt

Miette skirt Tilly Walnes GBSB

Day 3 Sunday) Sadly a fail day for me.  I didn’t even get out of my jim jams! On the plus side they are Moomin Jim Jams and I think all can be forgiven.

Moomin jim jams

I wish I could find some fabric like this, I can see it as a Liberty Tana Lawn can’t you?

Day 4/Monday)  A making day today.  Bank holiday and a reason to slob about in trackies! I made a start on my Daughters Miette inspired dungaree dress.  It needs tweaking yet but it’s almost there.

miette inspired girls dungaree dress

Day 5/Tuesday) Another at home day today but I did pop my Elise Patterns Kyoto Kimono top on.  Apologise for the dodgy mirror Selfie but I was home alone!

Elise Patterns Kyoto Kimono selfie

Day 6/Wednesday) Back to work again and time to throw on my trusty Tilly and the Buttons Matilde blouse I also made myself a Washi dress from stash fabric

Tilly and the Buttons Matilde Blouse

Day 7/Thursday)  A good day for Me Making today.  Not only was I wearing my new Washi dress, but Elspeth and I enjoyed an afternoon at our pattern cutting course at the local arts centre

washi dress

Pattern cutting class with Elspeth

Day 8/Friday) I confess to a  second day sporting the Washi dress!

Day 9/Saturday) It was Little Macks 8th birthday and we threw a big family BBQ.  I was wearing a new make (still to be blogged) Simplicity 1419 a.k.a. My Blue Racoon frock

blue racoon dress Lisette 1419

Day 10/Sunday) A relaxing day at home for Mr Macks birthday.  I wore my 3 hour slouchy cardi and a black vest to relax in the garden

Slouchy Cardi GBSB

Day 11/Monday) Another double up day with the slouchy cardi coming out again! I did spend the entire day staring at a computer screen to add lots more classes to the website for you all to enjoy.  Go and have a snoop around.  Somewhere on our site amongst the class listings is a secret link with the chance to win £25 of class credit!!

Day 12/Tuesday) It’s housework and admin day today and I confess to jeans and hubbies rugby top!

I’ve not done too bad though.  How are you getting along?

Miette – Tilly & The Buttons Pattern Review

Hats off to you Tilly another fabulous pattern.  As part of My ‘Me Made May’ challenge I said I would finish off more of my stash outfits.  Well I have had this fabulous jungle print fabric in the cupboard for a couple of years so it was time to turn it into something.

sewing miette

When I placed an order with Tilly for our Coco Patterns for class I needed to top my order up, so rather than order another bunch of coco’s I thought I would treat BTHQ to half a dozen Miette patterns too (There are 4 left in stock at BTHQ if any of you fancy popping in and having a go).

miette sewing pattern

I traced my pattern off first of all (with help from Stampy Cat) in case I needed to make any changes, but as with all Tilly patterns it fits like a dream.

stampy cat helping me trace off my miette pattern

I decided to go for the patch pocket option and went a bit crazy with the old decorative stitches as you can see!

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Granted most people go for a plain fabric for this skirt and I can see why.  Trying to pattern match this baby would be tricky.  Thankfully I went for a super busy print and made sure I wasn’t chopping any animals in half down the middle.  I tried to pick areas with statement animals for the pockets and I reckon it works ok.

tilly and the buttons miette skirt

I can see myself in the summer with a vest top on a nice safari!  Next up is a pattern hack to turn this into a miette/dungaree dress for my daughter.  Watch this space, if the kids behave this Bank Holiday I might get cracking.

If you would like to try a Miette and have your hand held, I would be happy to book you in for a class at BTHQ just drop us a line.

Me Made May 2015 #MMMay15

What is Me Made May I hear you cry?

In a nutshell it’s a month of celebrating everything handmade.  If you are a dressmaker then it’s your month to shine.

Me Made May all about wearing our handmade garments every day or certainly more than usual.  Finishing off your WIPS (Works in Progress) or pledging to make a few more garments than usual.

You can choose how to take part and find all the information you need over on the ‘So, Zo…….What do you know’ blog.

So what am I going to do during Me Made May? Well here is my pledge………………………

‘I, Claire Mackaness of www.clairemackaness.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear my handmade garments each day for the duration of May 2015′ I also pledge to finish of the garments I have already bought fabric and patterns for and to blog my garment making news at least once a week during May.’

So pop on over to ‘So, Zo………What do you know’ find out more and choose how you want to take part.  Enter your pledge and then let me know if you’re joining in too.  I’d love to follow your progress on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.  Just remember to use the hashtag #MMMay15

 

 

Teabag Holder Tutorial

The lovely people over at the Sewing Directory very kindly asked me to do a tutorial for them.

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I decided to write up a tute for my famous teabag holder.  So many people have loved this product over the years I have been making them to sell that the time has come to share the love.

Pop over to the Sewing Directory to view the Tutorial HERE

Wanna Make a #Coco? – Where to buy Ponte Roma

So we all love Tilly and the Buttons Coco pattern, it’s a great first time sewing project and one which I have personally made on numerous occasions.

Sew Your Own Coco

If you fancy trying your hand at Coco, we run classes at Beautiful Things HQ and are often asked by our pupils where the best place to buy fabric for this pattern is.

Having tried lots of different jersey fabrics to make coco, we found many of the thinner knits required the use of an overlocker to get a good finish.  But when we discovered Ponte de Roma we found a fabulous fabric that required very little work to whizz into a fabulous top.

Coco Party

The first place I can recommend personally is Geoffs Remnant shop in Brentwood.  Geoffs shop is a little gem, a traditional haberdashery shop based on Kings Road.  Geoff opens Wednesday – Saturday 9.30am – 5pm but closes for lunch for an hour at 12.30. He stocks a great range of plain coloured ponte which is excellent quality for making Coco.

If you’re not local though we have rounded up the following online suppliers:

Plush Addict

Backstitch (Make sure you check the title is PONTE ROMA as it’s mixed in with other jersey fabrics)

Minerva Fabrics

Guthrie Ghani

The Textile Centre

And lastly not strictly Ponte but a great quality Jersey and in some fabulously funky prints.  The lovely folk at Elephant in my Handbag sent me some samples so I could have a good tug of the stretch and it’s a nice weight without being too slippy. Buy jersey here

So what are you waiting for? Grab yourself 2 metres of fabric and make yourself a Coco.  More class dates are being added to our website soon so do make sure your signed up to our mailing list to find out when we release new dates.

Rainbow Pom Pom blanket – ta da!

Don’t you just love it when you can finally reveal a blanket you have made as a gift?

This little beauty has been in the pipeline for some time.  I’ve been itching to make a baby blanket in rainbow and white but none of my friends would oblige me with said baby!  Finally my lovely friend Saz announced her pregnancy and my crochet hook stopped twitching.

crochet, rainbow, pom pom, stylecraft

I had already planned a rainbow blanket but when she said she could not decide between making a pink blanket or a rainbow blanket (she crochets, in fact I taught her) I did the kind thing and offered to make whatever she decided not to, so she could have both.

Thankfully she chose pink and so therefore the rainbow blanket could become a reality.

pom pom rainbow crochet blanket folded

I decided on a very simple join as you go with a spot of ribbing and then some scallops before adding teeny tiny pom poms all round the edge.  The colours are all from my stash, there is a little stylecraft in there a spot of pound stretcher purple and lime and a random king cole blue!  The white however is all stylecraft special DK as it’s a dream to join with.

pom pom edging

If you fancy adding teeny tiny pom poms to your blanket edges you can purchase the mini makers from our shop.

Hopefully in a few weeks I can pop back with a piccie of the wee jellybean all wrapped up in her blankie.

This post is my submission to the Deramores Craft Blog Competition 2015. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. Visit www.deramores.com for more details.

 

Why I LOVE My Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

Ok so she’s not a beauty but my ‘Phyllis’ is beautiful on the inside.

Yes it would be nice to have a shiny black and gold stunner, but Phyllis does the job better than any other machine I have owned.

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I’m all for a nice shiny Janome (My more modern favourite) but if your after a love affair of a machine that will very rarely misbehave then it’s vintage all the way.

When I first acquired Phyllis (named after my Grandma who was her original owner) she was a tired old girl who had been stored in my Mums loft for a good few years.

My Sewing Machine man Martin came to give her a house call and proclaimed that she was indeed a stunner, sturdy and built to last. After a good service and a replacement cog or two which had gone brittle over time,

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she was as good as new. Maybe not to look at but certainly on the inside.

Martin is a wealth of knowledge on machines and is a huge fan of vintage. His words were “These machines were built to last Claire, no melted down car parts and old bits of cold pressed steel in these babies”

Give him a bank of old Berninas any day!  His next job is to service Iris who is another singer I have acquired complete with sewing table.  She was just £10 and works very well but her feed dogs are a bit poorly.

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It’s true though. As much as I like my shiny white janome, it jams up a lot more than Phyllis. It cant cope with any kind of thickness without the help of different needles or special feet and there are far too many knobs and dials to fiddle with.

I can honestly say that a good vintage machine and a proper service is well worth the spend. I just wish I could make new customers who walk into my studio understand this, but alas, they are on the look out for the shiny white machines of the modern age.

Therefore Phyllis remains at home and allows me to enjoy some selfish sewing every now and again.

p.s. She is awfully good at inserting an invisible zip perfectly without a silly invisible zipper foot. Another perk of having a fully adjustable needle and a skinny zip foot. If your lucky I might film you a tutorial shortly.

Pom Pom Crazy!!!!

Pom Pom Makers – what’s the fuss about?

Crafternoon Pom Pom Making

Cast your mind back to Christmas 2013, Kirsty Allsop was on your telly box twittering away about all the fabulous crafts she had tried for Christmas.

We were thrilled to learn how to tie die our own knickers………….or not and then came the BIG SHOW AND TELL!!

Kirsty showed us the Clover Pom Pom maker and the world went mad. Friends of mine with online shops sold out in minutes, the wholesalers could not keep up with orders and the world went pom pom mad.

Clover-Pom-Pom-Maker-sizing-chart

We took a stock of pom pom makers to the Creative Craft show in February and within 3 hours had to put in an emergency order to our suppliers to have more delivered the next day!

pom-pom-angry-birds

Just take a look at what you can make with them. Pom Pom pets, angry birds, bobble hats, garlands, wreaths and lots lots more.

Pom Pom Pets craft course_Brentwood Essex
So what’s all the fuss about? The easiest way to explain is to show you our new little tutorial on You Tube. Take a look and see if we can excite you with pom poms.

Beautiful Things stocks all sizes of Pom Pom Makers in our shop so pop along if you’re after one.  Alternatively pop into the studio and try them out, we would be happy to let you play. We even have a pom pom pet class planned for the Easter Holidays.

Clover-Pom-Pom-makers-in-packets

If you are visiting the Five Lakes Creative Craft Show 12th – 14th Feb 2015 then pop by our stand where you can have a little play and purchase any of the 3 sizes we have in stock.

 

Simply Crochet – Cowl Neck Poncho

Welcome to my shiny new blog, thanks for popping by to say hi. I thought I’d start things off with a review of the Cowl Neck Poncho pattern from issue 25 of Simply Crochet.

I fell in love with this pattern the minute I saw it and was extremely keen to hook it up, however I’m always wary of trying new yarns, spending lots of money and then being disappointed so when I saw that Daisy Jones had created one in Stylecraft Chunky I was straight off out to buy some yarn.

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I was very grateful to Daisy for saying exactly how much yarn she had used and using her calculations and the fact that I wanted to use my corporate colours I knew I needed 5 balls of Parchment, 2 Pomegranate, 2 meadow and 2 dark brown.

A couple of days later my yarn arrived and I rushed home to make a start. At first I panicked a bit as the pattern calls for a 7mm hook to do the cowl neck and I did not have one of those at home. So with the need to start playing strongly on my mind I took a chance and worked with my trusty Clover Amour 6mm hook instead. My theory was that I have quite a loose tension anyway and working with a chunky yarn would mean that it should hopefully work out ok!

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Sitting down with the pattern I read about the front and back post trebles needed to create the rib effect and my mind went blank. The magazine tells you to look at the back of the issue for descriptions but even those were not particularly clear. I know I thought the trusty Lucy from Attic24 has recently made this poncho too, she must talk about how to do these, so off I popped to her post.

Sure enough on her blog post about the same pattern she mentions a wonderful little YouTube tutorial which got her out of the same sticky situation and I have to say it is wonderful:

After a couple of rounds I was off, happily hooking away and by the end of the evening I had finished the cowl and completed my first round of granny stripe in parchment. Two more evenings and one more crochet club at work followed and I had finished all my stripe. I had worked out how many repeats to do based on the number of rows in the pattern and added another 3 to give it slightly more length before finishing with one final row of parchment.

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Then it was onto another couple of rows of the rib before adding the tassels. Now that’s a whole other job! 2 entire evenings spent wrapping yarn, cutting lengths and hooking it through it certainly is a task. I can see why Daisy blogged about her poncho before finishing them, they are a chore but I think totally worth it. Of course you don’t have to add tassels if they are not your thing, Lucy didn’t and she has added a nice little scalloped edge to her poncho.

The lovely folk at Simply Crochet have just announced that this pattern is now available to buy from Ravelry for only £2.75 if you missed the November issue.  You can download it HERE.

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Whatever you decide to do I’d love to hear about your attempts, you can be sure you will get a lot of comments if you choose to try this pattern. I have just got back from the Waltham Abbey Wool show where I chose to wear mine and I really should have had a sign on my back!

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Photography credits to Rebecca Burton Photography ©2015

This post is my submission to the Deramores Craft Blog Competition 2015. Deramores is the UK’s number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies. Visit www.deramores.com for more details.