I’m going to keep this post short as I can: if you watched the show and follow my blog, you’ll know that, due to illness, I didn’t manage to appear on my scheduled ‘A Day at the Races’ themed show. However, I had managed to make lots of fun projects from the kits that I was sent. I’m still very low on energy and focusing on recovering, so I just want to give you a quick look ‘behind the scenes’ at my designing process.
A Day at the Races: the Kits
I have to confess, when I first opened my new kits a couple of weeks back, I hadn’t heard what the theme for the show would be, so I was a little mystified by one of the packages. Take a look at the photo and see if you can guess what it is…if you’ve just been watching the show, then you’ll already know. If not, these are fascinator bases.
I have to confess, I didn’t even know it was possible to get such a thing! Within ten minutes or so (basically the time it had taken me to check through all the materials, hear about the theme and find out what was in the other kits), this little portion had become the most exciting part of my kits. I mean, what’s not to like about the chance to design a fascinator or two, and what day at the races would be complete without one?
That may sound as though the rest of the kits were a little mundane. Not at all true. I had a fabulous mix of True2 beads, Superduos, pearls and various gemstone strings. The first morning’s kit was themed ‘Going for Gold’. The second kit was in a classic, very elegant black and white colour scheme. I’m certain these are going to sell out really, really quickly as soon as they appear on the TV – just take a look!
So, what did I do with all these beauties? Well, to sum it all up, I had a lot of fun…
Day at the Races Design Ideas
So, aside from fascinators, what does one need for the perfect day at the races? I think jewellery that is elegant to go with a classic outfit. Also, jewellery that is a bit of fun, something that might make a talking point or a bit of a fashion statement. Best of all, you want something to bring you a little bit of luck, so that those horses you back all come in as winners. So, that gave me plenty to think about as I was playing with those gorgeous beads!
Going for gold kit
The first kit, ‘Going for Gold’ comprised two sets, three packs of True2 beads with three reels of c-lon thread, then a pack with two strings of gorgeous pearls and two strings of gemstones, plus an absolute bumper pack of findings.
I like the True2 beads because I can use them in just the same way that I would the more traditional seed beads. So I started with these and the idea of a bit of luck. I’ve recently been working on my latest book, ‘Keepsake Cards‘ and, alongside that, I ended up making a pretty little locket pattern, so I guess these ideas were in the front of my mind. However it happened, I soon ended up making a reversible locket with the True2 beads. It is designed to hold a photo – your lucky charm (whatever that might be!) and you can wear it with the photo on display or show off the more decorative back and keep the photo to yourself!
The other book project that has been ongoing for a while is the sequel to my original French beaded flowers book. This sequel focuses on slightly more advanced techniques and is all about making corsages from French beaded flowers, ‘Bead Flowers and Corsages‘. Of course, a day at the races is the perfect occasion to wear a buttonhole or corsage, so I felt obliged to make one! For my own personal satisfaction, I wanted to see how French beading techniques would work with the True2 beads and also with the slightly larger gemstones. I hope you will agree, they work brilliantly!
Having indulged in these recent obsessions, I moved on to think about the more classic jewellery. I came up with a pair of lovely long, dangly earrings (of course you can alter the length to suit you) – they’re always a winner with an elegant outfit and mean you don’t need to wear a necklace as well. Pearls are perfect for classic jewellery, so I used the strings to create a bracelet, with spacer bars made from the True2 beads. This is easy to wear and elegant. I used memory wire for the design so that it is easy to fit to any wrist size. To complete the outfit, I used the odd leftover pearls and True2 beads to make a pretty little ring.
As a bit of a talking point, as well as a bit of luck, I decided to use the True2 beads from the second kit to make a lucky dice and suspend this on a double string of the quartz gemstones. I felt that the quartz just looked so fabulous as they came that I should use that – although I did re-string them onto a length of beadalon and use crimps to attach a clasp (all from the findings pack!). In case you’re wondering, yes the dice may look a bit familiar – it’s a design I originally created for my battle of the beadsmith entry in 2013 and if you want to get your hands on it, I turned it into a pattern that you can find here.
So, that just leaves me with the fascinators…and oh what fun I had with those! First I thought about my idea of a fascinator – a little bit of nothing sat on the side of the head, perhaps a bit flirty, fun and sculptural. I wanted to see if all these ideas could be replicated in beads. I decided I would need to incorporate some tulle, but I quickly realised I could make very pretty little flowers using the Superduos and True2 beads. I also discovered that the True2 beads could be made into a shape stiff enough to curl and arrange on the fascinator. Having never worked with these fascinator bases before, I was very happy to discover how easy they are to use. Needle and thread pass through them with no effort at all, so I was able to treat them like a base for bead embroidery and stitch all my components directly onto the base.
The bead embroidery idea fed into my second design. I wanted to make a fascinator that was a little like a hat, so a pretty summer hat with ribbon and bow provided the inspiration for this idea. Again, I loved the way the quartz strings looked, so just arranged them into a spiral in the centre of the fascinator base. The silver pearls made a great length of ribbon and I was able to create a bow-like centre with little round components made from the Superduos and True2 beads.
Having by this time become a little obsessed by fascinators (if I’m honest!), I decided that I would need one to wear for my day at the races show. So I left behind the kits that I had received (to be fair, this little collection of jewellery had pretty much used them up!) and turned back to the French beading. I happened to have a couple of small roses lying in a box waiting to be used, so I paired these with some gypsophila and added a bow constructed from ribbon to make this ‘rose bouquet fascinator’. Now I’ve missed the show, I’m going to have to find another excuse to wear this one! You can find the tutorial for making this – for free – by following this link.
If you want any of the patterns featured here, they are all available either through me – the links are below. If you enjoy these patterns then please join my mailing list, to be notified as soon as I publish any new patterns, books or kits. You can watch the show here.
Get the patterns here…
You can buy the other patterns featured on the show by following the links below: