I wanna hold your haaaaaaand. I wanna hold you hand.

Go on admit it………..who sung the title of this post?

Seriously though, sometimes my job is all about holding hands.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many classes you take, the confidence to go it alone just isn’t there yet.

That’s why I always have an open door policy at the studio.  If you want to come in and make something under the watchful eye of someone who professes to know what they are doing then you can.

Meet Suzy.  Suzy has done a few classes with me, but when it came to making a roman blind for her daughters bedroom she didn’t have the confidence to fly solo.

Roman blinds are actually really easy to make, you only need to sew a few straight lines, but the maths and cutting out can be quite confusing if you don’t know where to begin.

Under my watchful eye with just a few pointers Suzy managed to make a wonderful blind that looks amazing.  She didn’t really need me all day, but knowing I was on hand if she got stuck gave her the confidence to go it alone.

If you would like some ‘hand holding’ then do get in contact.  We have a very reasonable hourly rate for helping you out with most of your sewing dilemmas or you could come along to our Sewing Club, where you have full use of all the facilities and equipment and help on tap if you get stuck or have a question.

Never let a lack of confidence stop you from being creative, we have options to suit all your needs, just drop us a line and see how we can help.



BTHQ is so much more than just a sewing studio

When I set up Beautiful Things it was initially to share my skills and knowledge of crafts with others.  I always had every intention of being ‘different’ to everywhere else that offered classes.

The main way I planned to do this was to a) keep classes really small and short and b) Always get my pupils to leave with a finished object after each class.

I’d heard so much frustration from people who had signed up to courses to find the classes were huge, they hardly got any time with the tutor and they didn’t even finish making what they had set out to make in the first place.

I wanted to offer classes that allowed for natural progression as my pupils skill levels increased, but that were always fun and different.  Whilst we offer a core curriculum of the basics such as crochet and beginners sewing there is always fun on the menu too.  After all, where else can you come and make a cuddly llama?

Over time I have developed a large audience of followers, not all of whom are fortunate enough to be able to come to BTHQ for whatever reason and for that reason I developed our online courses  and more recently paid membership groups.

What I have come to realise over the past couple of years is that the majority of my pupils both online and offline come to me for totally different reasons than I originally set up the classes for.

I just naively assumed everyone wanted to learn to sew, crochet or knit because they wanted to be able to make their own things.  Sure some of my pupils do come for that reason, but actually the majority, (I would say at least 80%) have underlying reasons for their attendance.

I’m not going to name any names (what happens at BTHQ stays at BTHQ after all) but if you are reading this then you will know who you are.

Many of my clients suffer with physical conditions such as Chronic Fatigue, ME, MS, fibromyalgia etc.

Others have mental health conditions and are suffering with stress, depression or anxiety.

Some of my online clients have such chronic anxiety that they can’t even leave the house and our online offerings are a real lifeline to them, giving them something to take their mind off the day to day.  More recently I’ve seen one of my clients go from struggling to get out of her house to regularly visiting BTHQ to undertake one of our online courses.  I’ve seen a huge rise in her levels of self esteem and confidence and I think this is something everyone can gain from our studio.

It’s true that the majority of my clients are women, and as women, no matter how much we deny it, it’s easy to get left behind and forgotten about.  We are so busy being mum, wife, grandma, that quite often we can forget who we really are anymore.

I love how my classes offer my pupils the opportunity to do something for themselves and that by learning whatever it is they have chosen to take up, they are building levels of self-confidence and self-worth.  They gain so much value from the time spent learning and are able to see that they are capable of achieving so much more.

So………….BTHQ is so much more than just a learning establishment.  It’s a retreat, a sanctuary, a therapy centre, its own little community.

Whether you need ‘treatment’ or not I can guarantee 100% that you will get so much more out of classes than simply just making something.

Visit www.clairemackaness.com/classes and peruse our vast choice of courses today.

Friends who craft together stay together

So it’s time for us to launch an amazing special offer to celebrate the opening of our brand new unit at Beautiful Things.  The new space offers a huuuuge craft table just aching to host you for your next craft gathering.

We have put together some suggested sessions for you which are laid out below but here’s the deal:

If you fancy crafting with your friends, pick a session you’d like to try and then get your friends together.  Speak to us to find a suitable date for your party to join us and we will book you in.  Do you want to know the best bit? The organiser goes FREE!! Yes that’s right.  If you do the leg work and get your mates together your course is totally and utterly FREE OF CHARGE!

So here are the packages we are currently offering:

  • Mosaics £28 per head (max 8 pupils)
  • Bunting basics (sewing) £25 per head (max 6 pupils)
  • Fabric boxes (sewing) £25 per head (max 6 pupils)
  • Unicorn tote bags £20 per head (max 8 pupils)
  • Motivational Message art £18 per head (max 8 pupils)
  • Absolutely anyone can paint workshops £18 per head (max 8 pupils)
  • Bitesize sewing hair bobbles (sewing) £10 per head (max 6 pupils)
  • Tote bags (sewing) £25 per head (max 6 pupils)

We can also arrange other activities for you and the same offer can apply, just let us know what you fancy.  These are just some ideas to get you thinking.  Why not bring along some fizz or ask us to arrange a lunch or afternoon tea for you (additional catering costs apply, price on application)

You really don’t want to wait to book though as space and time in the studio is extremely limited, book now and have something to look forward to!  Perfect for a Christmas get together, a birthday treat, hen party or JUST BECAUSE.  Hey the kids go back to school soon, why not treat yourselves to some mummetime!

All you need to do to get the ball rolling is send us an email saying what kind of gathering you would like to arrange and we can look at dates for you.  You can then get in touch with your friends, find out what works for everyone and we can get you booked in.  (Payment is in advance to secure your booking)

We look forward to organising your perfect friends crafting session for you and to welcome you all to Beautiful Things.


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.”


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

Bye Bye 2016, Hello 2017

WOW! 2016 has been pretty fabulous for Beautiful Things and the Family Mack.  Besides all the sad passing’s of many of our favourite celebs, a few political debacles and various other ‘world’ problems, things close to home have been great.

2016 saw the launch of our Semi Virtual Crochet courses which have taken off fabulously.  We have taught so many people to crochet in the comfort of their own homes and are really enjoying seeing them all develop their skills.

2016 saw the launch of our You Tube Channel.  A regular podcast, sewing and makes videos and lots of tutorials and fun videos.  Our followers have grown from just 40 at the beginning of the year to nearly 2000!

2016 welcomed Carol to our team of tutors, allowing us to teach knitting classes.  As an added bonus I have learnt to knit and am now enjoying a new hobby and some valuable ‘me time’.

2016 saw us exhibiting at our very 1st LARGE show.  We attended Yarndale in Skipton, North Yorkshire and I was joined by my lovely Mum and 10 of our fabulous regulars.  I’m very grateful for all of their help and could not have done it without them.

2016 saw so many great classes, lots of new pupils, returning pupils, fun days out, Crafty Cuppas, Crafternoons and crochet clubs.  We have had so many laughs and watched so many of you get a huge kick out of learning something new.

So what has 2017 got in store for Beautiful Things?

You may or may not have noticed that we have been closed throughout the end of December and are not opening again until next Thursday (12th Jan).  There is good reason for this………

We have been at BTHQ for 4 years in March.  Hard to believe I know, but in that time we have accrued a lot of ‘stuff’.  More importantly we have been putting said ‘stuff’ away……..reaaaalllly badly!  The place is heaving with boxes, mostly full of junk or half empty and we are in the midst of a huge clear out and de-clutter.  Along with the clear out comes a bit of a furniture shift about to give you more space to move when you are in class.

You might have seen some of our pictures and silly videos on our Facebook page and we are almost done.  I’d like to say a big thank you to Elspeth who has been giving me a hand in making the magic work.  I can’t wait to see it all finished.

We are not planning any major launches this year in terms of products and no big shows. But what we are concentrating on is developing a really varied range of new classes for you to enjoy.  We are planning regular Crafty Cuppas and Crafternoons, A big ‘Craft Jumble Sale’ in the spring, to relieve us of all our ‘stuff’ and lots of charity events.

Now I love setting goals for a New Year and my goal this year is to get BTHQ full to bursting every day. I want to see fully booked classes, people enjoying craft and making new friendships.

Now to make that happen what we need is a great atmosphere for our new and existing pupils to experience.  Atmosphere comes with bodies and the best way to get bodies is to encourage you to use the space.  If you are at a loose end and want somewhere to sit and knit, crochet or craft then simply give us a call.  If there is room round the table that day, you are welcome to come on in.

We also want to use this as an opportunity to raise some money for our chosen charity of 2017, MIND (the mental health charity).  Craft is proven to be a fantastic way of helping people deal with various mental health issues and I know for a fact that some of our wonderful pupils have benefited from what BTHQ can offer.  If you want to use the space, simply pop a donation in our charity pot.

So without further ado, I have waffled on enough!  There is no fancy pictures or arty layout to this post, it’s more of a little letter to all of you.  Thank you to everyone who has supported Beautiful Things in whatever way they have this year.  I am extremely proud of my little business and love nothing more than sharing it with you all.

Here’s to a wonderfully fabulous 2017.

Happy New Year to you all




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!

On the Crochet Class Couch

As those of you who know me know I am extremely passionate about the way I teach crochet.  I have my thoughts on the best way to teach and why learning the theory is really really important.

Join me as I chat to Emma Dyos from JW3 PR about my passions, how and why I teach the way I do and why I try to discourage my pupils from ‘Running before they can walk’

This video will also help any of you who are maybe thinking about learning to crochet or need some help and support on an already existing journey to work out which of my learning opportunities is best for you.

So make yourself a cuppa, grab a biscuit and sit back for 20 minutes and enjoy a chat with me.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

It’s been over a year in the making but this afternoon we were awarded PLATINUM status on Craft Courses.

platinum status provider www.craftcourses.com

We have been using the site to promote our classes for just over a year and it has proved an effective advertising tool for us.  It’s also a great way for you lovely lot to say what a fabulous time you have had at BTHQ. You can read all our lovely reviews HERE

The site awards Bronze, Silver and Gold status quite quickly and we have been a Gold supplier for a while, needing only ten 5 star reviews .  Platinum however takes you 50 to achieve!

So a huuuuuuge big thank you to each and every one of you who made this possible, we are very grateful to you all.  Don’t stop those reviews coming in though we love to hear how much fun you’ve had with us.

If you have already reviewed on Craft Courses, you could always pop over to our Trip Advisor page too!


Results of our customer survey

Thank you all so much for responding to our recent survey regarding life at BTHQ.  We have taken on board all of your comments and have already started to put plans in place to accommodate your wants.  I thought I would pick up on a few things that where mentioned and reply directly so you can all see what we are thinking.

For those who have not made it to BTHQ yet the main reasons were work, childcare and finances.  Well obviously we can’t help you needing to work (it’s a pain I know) but we do have weekend and evening classes and try to save these slots for people who can’t make mid week sessions where possible.  Finances and Childcare often comes hand in hand but we do have a great deal with Little Legs nursery for childcare during classes and after lots and lots of you asking we will be launching a pay as you go scheme soon so you can start to save monthly towards your classes. Our lovely Web developer is looking into an online system right now for you all.

A couple of other answers which stumped me where ‘I’m a novice’ well there is something for all levels at BTHQ including free starter classes.  I also received answers such as ‘no suitable classes’.  If that was you please do get in touch and tell us what you are after and we can put it on for you.

It seems we have our class times about right.  You would all love more weekends and I am doing my best to get external teachers in for when I am on holiday to make the most of those precious Saturdays.  Sadly we can only open once every 6 weeks by arrangement with our landlord on Sundays otherwise we would have more availability.  This Weekend I am away but the lovely Charlotte is back to teach fabric letters.  Come September my smallest littley will be starting school so we will be opening on Tuesdays as well and will be running more school hour classes so there is more hours on the cards.

Courses seemed popular so we will try to add a few more 2-3 week sessions.  We are keen to make sure that our sessions remain ‘short and sweet’ and we don’t become too much  like a college so will still have plenty of half day and full day classes too.

We asked you what you wanted and we had some responses such as ‘Making things not clothes’ I have to admit this one stumped me as we have bunting, bags, flowers, boxes, storage, blinds, cushions and all sorts.  If there is something in particular you had in mind though do let us know.

This popped up a lot ‘More patchwork’ & ‘Patchwork courses’ I do have a few technique sessions planned for after the Summer and I will ask Maria I she can break down her 1 day beginners into a course to be delivered for you.  Watch this space.

You also asked us for more crochet at weekends.  We have already sorted that one for you and you will notice we have flowers, beginners and a new Crochet Along cushion class all at weekends already on the calendar with more to come soon.

You asked us for more Parent and child sessions specifically at the weekends.  Sadly we can’t run these as our weekends are so booked up with adult sessions.  As much as we love teaching you and your children these classes are not cost effective to run at weekends.  We do try to make sure we always have plenty of sessions in the holidays and are always able to offer 121 sessions after school most days. On the subject of kids, you asked for more boys stuff.  I have my thinking cap on for summer holidays and am planning a minecraft related activity but if you have any great ideas do let me know.

For all you intermediate crochetters we were asked for a Crochet stitch masterclass and we think this is a great idea.  Give us a month or so to whip up some samples and write some patterns and we will get it on the schedule.

So thank you again, our feedback is always really useful to us.  We try to accommodate all your needs but as everyone is different this can at times be really tricky.

Most of all I was delighted that you are all so positive about BTHQ and what it means to you.  We are glad we are pressing the right buttons and do remember if we are not doing what you want, speak up about it and we can fix it!

On that note I shall leave you with the final response.

Kit Kats will be back just as soon as I can get to the cash and carry!

BTHQ Billericay

Did you know we also teach classes in Billericay? Yes we have a splendid studio in Brentwood and it’s a great place to learn, but not everyone can get there in the evenings and our strict 9pm closing time can cause an issue for those classes that take more than 2 hours.

For this reason Claire often opens up her home in Billericay for classes which don’t involve too much equipment such as crochet and handicrafts.  We work in a lovely sunny conservatory and there is always tea on tap in posh Pip Studio cups!

BTHQ Billericay

These classes usually take place on a Tuesday or Thursday so if you’d like to know what sessions take place in Billericay search using our calender function and take a look at those evenings.  Any class taking place in Billericay will say on the main description.  If it’s not stated there then you can assume the class is at BTHQ in Brentwood.

BTHQ Billericay classes

So whats on at BTHQ Billericay in the next few months? Just take a look at the wonderful assortment of classes in the picture above! Here are all the dates, click through to find out more and book online.

Crochet Ripple –  19th May

Crochet Flowers – 9th June

Crochet Teacosy – 16th & 23rd June

Lampshade making – 30th June

Crochet with beads – 7th July

Crochet Bag – 14th July

Clasp purses – 16th July

Whilst your looking around.  Somewhere on our website hidden amongst the classes is a link to win £25 worth of free classes! See if you can find it. (competition ends Saturday 16th May)

Claire also teaches on a 121 basis from home too so if you would like to learn in Billericay at a time that suits you do gt in touch.