Friday, 18 January 2013

Gift ideas from the first ever guest blogger!

Our very first guest blogger, Charlie Deighton of 'Handmade by Charlie Deighton' fame has very kindly offered to share the secret of how to make her Little Bottles of Loveliness. Perfect timing with Valentine's Day (14th February) fast approaching and Sunday 10th March being Mother's Day.

Charlie (who is featured in this month's Craftseller Magazine) is one talented lady. Living and working just outside Bristol, you're sure to fall in love with her amazingly beautiful handmade dolls, owls, cards, and paper cut art. Visit her Facebook page and Etsy Shop for her full collection. Curl up with a nice cup of hot chocolate, watch the snow falling outside (if it's anything like it is here where you are!) and read HQ's interview with Charlie below her fab tutorial. Enjoy x

All photos © Charlie Deighton



Instructions for Gorgeous Jars of Loveliness...a.k.a. a very lovely pin cushion!

All photos by Charlie Deighton©

You will need:

  • A jam jar (a canning/kilner jar with a two piece lid is ideal if you can get one)
  • Scissors
  • Glue (good quality craft glue/PVA)
  • Needle and thread
  • Two contrasting pieces of fabric
  • A small handful of toy stuffing
  • Sewing machine (optional)
  • A piece of thin card/felt
  • Ribbon or other decoration


 You can use a regular jam jar for this simple project or if you have one, a Kilner (or "canning") jar with a two piece lid is ideal.  

1.  First of all, take your jam jar lid and cut out a circle from one piece of fabric that is approximately 5 cm bigger (all around) than the lid.  Put this to one side.

2. Next, take your piece of felt or thin card and draw round the jam jar lid; cut this out and set aside.  If you are using a regular jam jar, cut out an extra disc using the card.

3.  I think it's nice to add a bit of interest to the pin cushion, so I appliqued a little heart onto the fabric used to cover the lid using a contrasting fabric.  I used my sewing machine to do this, but it would work just well sewn on by hand.  I love the idea of using a tiny jam jar (like you get with your cream tea) and making a little 'tooth fairy' jar with a little tooth cut out and sewn onto the lid...the possibilities are endless!

All photos by Charlie Deighton©

4. Take your piece of fabric cut out in 1. above and with a double thread, gather the edge of the circle with a simple running stitch. When you have gone all the way around the edge of the circle of fabric, gently pull both ends of the thread to gather the fabric up. If you don't like sewing, you can skip this part...


5.  If you are using a Kilner jar, place a little toy stuffing on the top of the lid, otherwise place the stuffing on top of the disc of card cut out in 2. above.  

6.  Take your gathered fabric circle and place it carefully over the jam jar lid (and toy stuffing) or piece of card.  If you are using a Kilner jar, a little tip is to make sure that the stuffing is concentrated in the centre of the lid, rather than the edges.  Then, gently pull the two ends of the thread and pull the fabric closely around the lid/card and tie in place.  Alternatively you can glue the fabric over the circle/lid by carefully pulling the edges over and glueing them in place.

7. Next take your little circle of felt or card cut out in 2. above and glue in place on the underside of your padded lid/card circle.  Leave to dry.

8. If you are using a regular jam jar, pop some glue on top of the jam jar lid and place your padded disc on top.  Press down firmly and leave to dry.

If you are using a Kilner jar, place the covered lid into outer ring and check the lid fits onto the jar and screws shut properly...this took me a little trial and error hence my advice to keep the stuffing in the middle!  Add a little glue around the inside rim of the outer ring and put the covered lid in place.  I then screw the lid onto the jar straight away as the pressure helps keep everything together nicely as it dries.

9.  You now have a lovely little jar of gorgeousness that you can decorate/fill to your heart's content! I have added ribbon around the outside of the lid, kept in place with a little glue - you could also add lace and or buttons.

10. Now, all you need to do is sit back and admire your lovely handiwork!  

If you don't think you'll get the time to make one of these before Valentines or Mother's Day - or if you want to drop some oh-so-unsubtle hints to someone else by leaving your browser open at a certain page (wink, wink!) - you can purchase them (or any of her other adorable products) directly from Charlie's Folksy Shop.

While Charlie was busy sharing, we asked her a few crafty questions . . .

1. How did you get into crafting?

I did a French and Fine Art Degree many moons ago and like many graduates, ended up in a job that was completely unrelated and sadly, stopped doing any art, even though it was always at the back of my mind as something I wanted to do.  About a year ago, I decided to make a small collection of cards and other bits to sell at our local village market and to my delight, did really well.  I set up my facebook page 'Handmade by Charlie Deighton' and also opened a store on Etsy and Folksy and have not looked back.  Exploring my creative side through 'crafting' and making cards has been a wonderful stepping stone for me back into the world of 'art', I've more confidence now to try my hand at painting/print making again and am looking forward to developing my work along those lines this year. 


2. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Oh, everywhere and anywhere!  I love beautiful fabrics, simple shapes and the process of combining the old with the new and breathing new life into old, forgotten or every day objects.  My work is quite organic and one idea flows from the next; interestingly, much of my inspiration comes from my Art Foundation Course - I still use techniques I developed then: combining textures and surface pattern through different layers of paper and tissue.  What's lovely now is that I'm not under any pressure to be 'conceptual' (which I really struggle with!!), so I can just go with the flow and make things I think are beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, rather than worrying whether they have an underlying meaning!

All photos by Charlie Deighton©

3. What is your favourite of all your products?

I shouldn't say it, but I love them all - I'm quite stubborn so if I don't like something, I won't make it!  I really enjoy making my rag dolls - each one is unique and has its own personality and style.  They have taken me quite by surprise, a lovely, happy accident.  It gives me so much pleasure to make a bespoke doll for someone and know that it will make someone smile and hopefully be treasured for years to come.  Two, would be my Lavender Love Birds and Owl Doorstops - mainly because of the endless opportunity to try out so many beautiful fabrics (from Fabric HQ!).  

4. What made you start selling your makes? After moaning (for far too long) that I wanted to get back into my art, a friend encouraged me to make some cards to ease myself in.  The very same day, I booked myself a stall at our local market (goal number one!) and got making.  I think years of pent up creativity were unleashed and I haven't looked back! I've had wonderful encouragement and support from my friends and family and my poor husband (and children) have been very patient with me...

All photos by Charlie Deighton©

5. Advice for someone trying to build their own business

I'm not sure I'm best placed to give any advice on building your business..but I think the important thing is to do what you love and do it well.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to my 'craft', and take the utmost care in everything I do.  Work out what sells well and tweak those products every now and again, to keep them fresh and new.  Also, have a think about the 'style' and feel of your products - do they reflect you, your personality, your passion?  

I love to see what other people are making and there are so many wonderfully, talented people out there; build your network through social media - facebook, twitter and also Etsy is great for forming 'circles' of fellow makers.  Share your work and theirs and you'll be amazed how quickly you can raise your profile, and make new friends/contacts along the way.  
Take part in local markets and craft fairs - they are a fantastic place to dip your toe in the water and see what sells, plus you won't be short of inspiration!  Markets are also a good way to get a feel for your 'pricing' - I think this is tricky, there will always be people who don't understand or appreciate the amount of time it takes to craft something beautiful...stand strong and don't be tempted to lower your prices too quickly if something is not selling straight away.  

Work hard but take a break...making cards can become rather repetitive, so I've learnt to make them up in small batches of 6-10 and then do something different to stay motivated.  

Finally, know what you are great at and don't try to do it all!  I often see work I love and think, ooh, I could do that - but if someone else is doing it (and doing it well), walk away - find inspiration in other people's work, but make your work and ideas your own.



6. How do you promote your business?

I use Facebook mainly and also have stores on Etsy and Folksy.  I haven't paid to promote my craft and at this stage don't feel the need to.  I find Facebook is a wonderfully easy way to connect with people and share my new work - you get instant feedback, or not . . . and so it's quite easy to gauge the pieces people like.  

Take great photos - the lighting and positioning of products is important; people can't feel or pick up your work online so photos need to be clear and accurately reflect the true colours of your work - include close up shots to show the detail and surface texture for example.  I've just bought a fixed focus lens for my camera which allows you to focus on the subject but softens the surrounding area - it's taking a little while to get used but gives lovely, professional looking shots.

I have very nice business cards (from Moo), which each have a different picture of my work - they create a strong first impression, are visually appealing and very tactile - exactly how I want my work to come across!  I always have a little pile of them on my table at markets and enclose a spare card with orders in the hope that it will passed on.  

I also find just talking to people is invaluable, be it friends and family or customers at the markets - it's so important to build a rapport with people and leave a lasting impression of both you and your work.

7. What bit of kit would you be lost without?

Tissue paper, pritt stick and craft punch.

All photos by Charlie Deighton©

8. What are your plans for the future?

My youngest starts school this September so I will have a little more time to myself (I work 3 days) and my plan is to really 'go for it' and see where it gets me!  On a personal level, I would love to do some more art work and am hoping to go on a course or two to learn some new skills and perhaps revive some old ones!  

One day, this will be my full-time job...fingers crossed x

9. Is there a fellow crafter whose work you particularly love?

I love the work of Loopy Linnet, Lynne's work is beautiful, quirky and imaginative.  She makes beautiful fabric appliques of harbours and sailing boats which I find particularly appealing because I dream of living by the sea.  Lynne also makes the most wonderful papier mache mermaids amongst other charming characters, which just make me smile - they are fabulously whimsical but modern and witty at the same time.  I like work that makes me smile - it doesn't have to be complicated but it should make you happy!

All photos by Charlie Deighton©

10. What advice can you give others about fitting it all in?

: ) I'm not sure that you can! As with all things, something usually has to give.  I work part-time (3 days a week) and am a mum of two, so it is all a bit of a balancing act.  I am very lucky because I have a very patient (long suffering) and supportive husband who on the whole seems happy to leave me to my 'making' in the evenings!  It can take over at certain times though and I think the hardest thing is working to a deadline and remembering to take time to be with your partner and children too.  I don't always get it right and make a conscious effort now not to 'craft' when the boys are around.

I am methodical in my approach to my work.  I work in small batches and so that it is easy to finish the pieces I'm working on in one evening.  It enables me to work more efficiently and I feel more satisfaction if I've been able to finish what I've started.

When it comes to my craft, I live in a state of organised chaos . . . I have drawers (and bags) of fabrics, cotton and paper remnants which to the uninitiated look to be a state of total disorder...but to me, they are my inspiration.  My work is precise, neat and carefully put together, one day my drawers will be too!!  But for now, life is too short, there are cards to be made and birds to be sewn - plus a little chaos is all the more reason for me to be given a (craft) room of my own!

All photos by Charlie Deighton©


  1. Charlie you really are a true inspiration, I love love love your work, it makes me happy inside and it's everything I adore!
    Reading your blog gives me hope that I too can follow my love of crafting.
    Like you, I have two young boys (still very little) but are now keen to start perusing my love for making things!
    I think I might just start that card range I've always dreamed of doing one day! Ooh now where to start!?? I have a wedding to plan, so I might just start there for now!
    Best wishes, Becky x

    1. hello Becky, thank u for your kind words, you have made me smile and v happy! don't be afraid to try out your ideas, go for it - i spent far too many years doing nothing creative and now I wonder what I ever did with my time! have fun planning your special day and enjoy :), Charlie x

  2. We've long been inspired by urban art and have finally created a collection that pays homage to this secret addiction of ours!