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.

The Walkaway dress – I’m walking away!

So as promised I gave myself a day to make the Walkaway Dress this week.  After my initial assessments of the pattern which I talked about HERE I looked at it again with fresh eyes.

pattern grading, tracing, dressmaking

I decided to use the Buttericks version and graded the pattern out from an 18 at the bust to a 22 at the waist.  My first stumbling block was the huge amount of fabric required.  Having cut out the long front section on the fold, the tiny back section on the fold and then the Huuuuuuuge skirt I realised that the skirt piece in fact required you to cut TWO!!!! Oh no………………….I’ve run out of pretty red duvet cover :-(

dressmaking, grading, tracing

After a huge internal hissy fit where I threw all my toys out of the pram and almost gave up there and then I turned to a big piece of navy polka fabric that I had in my stash.  It would mean using the stiff starchy almost see through white binding I had for making bunting with but I reminded myself this was a wearable toile and an experiment!

I re-started the clock (wanting to see if it really was possible to make this beast in 4 hours) and got cutting.  Half an hour in and I was cut out with all my markings transferred and good to sew.

GBSB, fashion with fabric, thrifty stitcher

The Buttericks instructions are clear and easy to follow, more so than I would say the Fashion with Fabric book is which I was also referring to out of interest.

Quite quickly I had my dress assembled but not bound.  It was at this point I tried my dress on and where I would look at making any adjustments needed……………….Have you ever tried pinning yourself in blind behind your back? Impossible! I tried a bulldog clip, various long pins nothing was working.  In the end I took it off and pinned it and then wiggled into the whole thing and flipped it over my head.  It looked ok, but it was impossible to really see.  A good seamstress would have stopped and waited till someone else was on hand to look at it with her, but no, I couldn’t resist and cracked on with the binding!

KAM snap, dressmaking

I did decide to cheat and used a KAM snap at the back as I though this would be easier to do up than buttons.  For a tiny while I thought about using them on the front too but then snapped out of my laziness and went back to button loops.  It was a skill I needed to try and also part of the visual prettiness of the pattern so I was good.

A few more hours in (3.37 to be precise) I was stitching buttons on.  I used some pretty red vintage floral buttons to give it some zing.  So it is at least possible to indeed make the dress in a morning and go out for lunch in it the same day! Although the pattern does say to hang for 24 hours before hemming to allow the bias to drop so it’s not entirely true.

walkaway dress finished

On the mannequin the dress looks ok, it is pinned in massively at the sides at this point though as it is very very gappy.  I have to say, when trying this on I would never ever wear it.  There is no flattering 50’s fit, the waist is far lower than it should be and as for the sides, they gape so much that you would see all your undergarments.

The next day Elspeth my trusty sewing buddy came into the studio and tried it on.  At first glance she looked super, especially as she happened to have a red long sleeved top underneath, but on 2nd glance we all thought it reminded us of the housework aprons worn by our grandparents!

walkaway dress binding

It was at this point I realised that without a big pattern rework to include heightening the side panels and raising the waist this pattern would never look beautiful I decided to leave it on my mannequin as a homage to the GBSB 2015 crew!

elspeth walkaway dress

Following on from my disappointment I have discovered a few people online who have made this garment work but I’m still not sure I feel like trying again.  I particularly like this blog by Edelweiss Patterns which tells you a little more history of how Buttericks re-drew the original 1950’s pattern and some changes you can do to make it fit.  Who knows maybe one day I might try again but I think it will be chalked down to an experiment for now.  Do let me know how you get on with the pattern I would be interested to see any you have made successfully or not quite so successfully!

Lastly huge thanks to Elspeth for agreeing to prance around in this monstrosity and have her picture included on my blog! You can read her blog ‘Ever so Elspeth‘ where she chats about her sewing and craft adventures.


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.


The Walkaway Dress – The Hype and my measuring nightmare!

So Last week following Episode 3 of the Great British Sewing Bee the world went mad about the Walkaway Dress.  That included me who went straight on line and bought myself a copy of Butterick B4790 from Jaycotts and at the same time I also ordered the new Sewing Bee Book, Fashion with Fabric.

GBSB, fashion with fabric, thrifty stitcher

The book was first to arrive and I had a good look through.  From the outside it looks very nice, there are good projects and the instructions seem clear.  ‘We shall see though’ I thought to myself remembering my foray with last years book and it’s terrible measurements and wobbly instructions.

Well, yesterday the pattern arrived.  I have to admit I have not seen many finished walkaway dresses on social media this week.  I would have thought by now they would be springing up all over the place but I think I might know why.

Straight away I can see a big issue.  The pattern is not designed for the everyday woman.

Lets take my measurements as an example.

Bust: 40 inches
Waist: 36 inches (I know how lucky am I)
Hips: 46 inches

A tea dress usually fits me beautifully as I have a narrow waist and the skirt can skim out and over my enormous bottom, therefore I thought the walkaway dress would do the same.

pattern grading, pattern cutting, dressmaking

Alas the bust – waist ratios on both patterns make simple pattern grading next to impossible.  On a regular pattern I can grade in from my bust to my waist with ease but as this has an unusual construction method with the wrap front and back grading seems impossible to me.  On the back piece how can you see where the bust ends and the waist begins?

I had hoped that one pattern may be better than the other but with Buttericks I am an 18 bust and a 20/22 waist (I don’t worry that my hip measurement is off the scale as that’s irrelevant with this type of pattern.

Looking at the book version it’s even more ridiculous.  I am a size 10 bust and a size 18 waist.  Hilarious how can 1 pattern come in two totally differing sizes?

So I have made a decision…….I think I might get angry with the book version going by past experience so I’m going to cut a size 20 Buttericks from an old duvet cover (which is very pretty so may end up totally wearable – fingers crossed) I am hoping and possibly assuming that as the whole thing is bound, once the bodice is attached to the skirt I can try it on and if need be shave a little off the sides here and there before I bind it!

toille, wearable toille, dressmaking

Watch this space………….

I’d love to know your thoughts on these patterns, have you had the same brain numbing conversations with yourself that I have or have you made a beautiful frock first time round?  Do comment below and let me know I’d be most grateful.



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.


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,


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.