Back to School at Beastie Towers!

Beasties at Work - CrawCrafts BeastiesLast week was one of those weeks when life just got in the way – for starters, a busy few days at Other Work after being just a Maker of Monsters for a month was a bit of a shock to the system! And while I was distracted with that, the plumbing here at Beastie Towers decided it would be an excellent time to start wreaking all kinds of aquatic mayhem.

So unfortunately, that means I have no new Beasties for you today – despite the best efforts of my little helpers, who you can see working away in the photo above!

However, I thought this little hiccup might be the perfect opportunity to tell you all a little more about what’s going on behind the scenes here at Beastie Towers… namely, my own ongoing education.
(Picture borrowed from

You see, last year I was busy. Flat-out, using-every-spare-second-and-then-some BUSY. And it occurred to me that I’d sort of reached the limits of the skills I had, and it was high time I picked up some more – skills that would help me to better design, make and share my creations.

Alas, there is no real-life Monsters University where I can enroll, so I’ve had to make up my own study programme. Here, let me introduce you to some of my teachers!

Next Level Sewing with Abby Glassenberg

Abby blogs at, and while I’ve learned a lot from her regular posts and newsletters about running a crafty business, I really hit the jackpot when I treated myself to a copy of her book “Stuffed Animals – From Concept to Construction” just after Christmas. Even flicking through the book for the first time was exciting… Finally, I’d found someone who was teaching the stuff I needed to know! Up until now, I’ve had to figure everything out myself, using a combination of guesswork and techniques borrowed from dressmaking books, with varying degress of success. But with Abby as my guide, I’ve been better able to understand how to cut and shape fabric so that it does my bidding faster, easier and with considerably less cursing!

So far, I’ve been mostly dipping into the help sections when I need guidance… but I have also attempted one of the projects. I made this felt bunny as a gift for a little girl who turned one in January!
Felt Bunny (From an Abby Glassenberg Pattern) by CrawCrafts BeastiesBunny Closeup (Pattern by Abby Glassenberg) - CrawCrafts BeastiesThe pattern was super-easy to follow, and it was nice to let someone else do the brainwork for once! That said, I did still stitch every seam by hand. So, another class I’ve been taking is…

Sewing Machine Wrangling 101

This is not really a class. This is me sewing miles and miles of practice seams on my sewing machine, to become better at using it. On the plus side, I’ll never need to buy another cushion cover!
Cushions, Cushions Everywhere! CrawCrafts BeastiesI’ve also been honing my drawing skills, so that I’m able to put sketches for commissions together more quickly…
Beastie Beginnings - CrawCrafts BeastiesFor this, I’ve been trying to keep up with Tammie Painter’s Sketchbook Saturdays… here’s what I came up with for this week’s prompt, “Leafing Out”!
Sketchbook Page 1 - CrawCrafts BeastiesSketchbook Page 2 - CrawCrafts Beasties I’ve also signed up for an online sketchbook workshop on Tammie’s recommendation, so I fully expect these doodlings to magically become Da Vinci standard over the next couple of weeks!

And finally, I’ve been taking a Social Media Refresher Course using this book…
(Cover image from

Aaaah, social media… yes, it’s great for sharing your crafty goodies with the whole world, in a way that just wouldn’t have been possible a few short years ago. But it feels like such a time sink! I’m sure I’m not the only person who dips a toe into the murky waters of Facebook “just to have a quick look”, and resurfaces 2 hours later. I feel like there has to be a better way to use social networks which I can’t quite figure out by myself, so I’m going to let someone else explain it to me. With pictures. And that’s what this book is for. Here’s the review on Fizzi-Jayne Makes which convinced me to give it a shot!

Oh, and I nearly forgot! As an extra-credit assignment, I’ve been having a stab (ha!) at needle felting, in the hope that I’ll be able to use this method to make some of the Beasties’ smaller, fiddlier accessories. That, and it’s great for stress relief after all this studying!

Have you tried anything new this year? Tell us all about it in the comments!

29 thoughts on “Back to School at Beastie Towers!

  1. That bunny is adorable. I have no sewing skills so I’m impressed by anyone who can stitch anything other than a square pillow. Great job on the prompt…the cacti make me think of a plant version of the Beasties. And do I see a Bowie Beastie in that first picture?!

    1. Thank you! I’ve always really enjoyed hand sewing, but learning to use the machine has been a more involved process than I expected ๐Ÿ˜† I really enjoyed this week’s prompt though! ๐Ÿ˜€๐ŸŒฑ And your eagle eyes have indeed picked out a Bowie Beastie sketch… I did this one ages ago, but I’m hoping I’ll get to make him soon! Cheers for your comment ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Wow! Love your sketching! Agree on the fact that learning how to use a sewing machine properly is essential. And continuous learning seems to be vital more than ever! ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜Š

    1. Thank you! My sewing machine and I are getting along much better now that we’ve spent some quality time together ๐Ÿ˜€ Plus it’s always good to step outside your comfort zone and try something new! Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. I loved my visit to the Beasties Tower. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can’t sew, would love to learn, so your work always fascinates me. Thanks for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you ๐Ÿ˜€ But you know, anybody can learn to sew! A great way to get started is to buy some coloured felt, cut out pairs of simple shapes, and practice sewing them together to make little bags or hanging decorations. You’ll find plenty of videos online to help, and all you need are needles, thread and a little patience ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. I asked my mother to give me lessons a few days back but she said that we can do it in the summer break as I study, work and volunteer. The days are quite short already. heheh. I’ll get these when she thinks I have some time on the clock. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Good luck with your studies. I’m over the finish line with my yr 11’s but panicking like crazy I won’t finish in time with the sixth form ( don’t tell them). I like to study something most years, normally an alternative therapy course, I’m slowly working through nutrition, & possibly something else. I like to remind my self what it’s like on the other end, doing assignments

    1. Thank you! And your secret is safe with me ๐Ÿ˜‰… Although I’m sure you’ll get them there! I’m a firm believer in “if it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would ever get done”! Your alternative therapy courses must be a nice change from the day job too… I think that’s why I’m trying sketching, to loosen me up a bit and see the big picture instead of the fiddly details ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

  5. I feel like I need to improve my skills too… well especially… all of them ๐Ÿ™‚ it’s a very interesting post, thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ I have had a lot of ideas recently. Im still processing them and trying to figure out wether I even have the skills to do it or not… ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. You know what? The more craft blogs I read, the more I realise we’re all in the same boat! No-one pops into this world fully-formed and instantly brilliant at something… It’s always going to take practice, patience and, let’s be honest, a heap of mistakes along the way. You may not think you have the skills now, but you will! I can’t wait to see your new ideas take shape ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. I think my biggest problem is that I tend to compare myself with other people too much, but not just anyone.. Like people who are like at the top of their game.. Which can be counter productive.

        Oh I’m going to have a go at subversive cross stitch very soon ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope embroidery will help me improve my sewing skills ๐Ÿ™‚

        I just want a to knit in 3 D at the moment. So I just knit objects, like birds, mushrooms, trophies…. It’s funny when I’m knitting somewhere and someone approaches me and ask politely, “oh what are you knitting?” You should see the look on their face when I answer: a moose head. ๐Ÿ˜€

        1. Hahaha! Brilliant! I can imagine your whole house starting to look like a knitted hunting lodge in a couple of months! And comparing yourself to others isn’t necessarily a bad thing… It gives you something to aim for! (Although I am totally guilty of getting disheartened looking at other people’s work too! ๐Ÿ˜†)

        2. Well my tiny living room is covered with piles of yarn everywhere… And knitting needles and toy stuffing and feathers and books and… Knitted projects at different stages. It would be OK if it was only me living here but i have a kid, a husband, a cat and two dogs… And they have to make their way through all the yarn if they want to use the living room… I advise them to go somewhere else, but sometimes they need to use it, for meals… And that gets tricky. I have to clear the table ๐Ÿ˜ฆ so everything go on top of already very high piles… ๐Ÿ˜‰

          I tend to get very excited and inspired by the work of others. It inspires me, feeds me… And if I’m not careful it can leads me to frustration… But for me, it’s a case of finding the balance. Being inspired but still doing your own thing and being different.

        3. I love your attitude! I’ll remember that next time I’m awestruck by someone else’s work ๐Ÿ˜€ And as for the craft materials… Wow, I hear you! I try to keep everything tidied away, but if I have a busy day, the result is something Boyfriend calls a “Crawplosion” – an all-out takeover of every flat surface by a creeping carpet of felt, fabric, ribbon, wool, colouring pencils and assorted tools of the trade! What I wouldn’t give for my own studio… ๐Ÿ˜†

      1. I ll look it up, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ other work sounds mysterious and fascinating – I wonder what people do there…

        There are rats and giant spiders in the shed. It doesn’t bother me personally, but I’m worried about my precious yarn… ๐Ÿ™‚ I will have to send these guys an eviction notice first ๐Ÿ™‚

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