Friday, 9 November 2012

Make your mark

I wouldn't consider myself an artist but sometimes I'm inspired to do something a little different to sewing and playing with fabric. I'm a great lover of marker pens - mainly to write on boxes of children's clothes and toys - but they can give really good creative results too.

I've just come across this great how to tutorial from Whipperberry on Infarrantly Creative on how to create use a sharpie pen to make a permanent design on ceramic and it reminded me of something I made last year, while I was both pregnant and just about to move. 

At the time I was inspired by the work Esther Coombes who draws directly onto vintage plates and crockery creating beautiful and recycled homewear items.

I have to admit, I stole her idea of garden stakes and one evening picked up a pen, during the pre- moving stress and started to draw (not that well admittedly!) on pieces of smashed up plates that had been chipped, with the help of a few gardening books.

Esther's design attached the crockery to a wooden stake, but I luckily found a bag of lovely ornate forks in one of our kitchen drawers, so I decided to use those as the stems insetad. The results are lovely and since they have been packed away for a year will make some lucky gardening friend a crafty Christmas gift.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Making a toddler mac - Part one

So, finally this weekend when the weather really turned I realised I had to get my crafty finger out and sew the mac I had promised for my daughter. At 16 months she really wouldn't know whether I made it or not but for me it is a show of motherly crafty love for her and the shower proof fabric is so good it can't go to waste.
After initially buying the fabric from Abakhan I downloaded my first ever PDF pattern from Etsy form a lovely Slovenian girl who goes under the monika of 'Tutorial girl' - here's the link if you get too inspired!

I started by carefully sticking together the PDF pieces to get this and then adding 1 cm seam allowance to each piece. I measured her current mac to check the size as they are in European childrens clothes sizes. Once I'd added the 1 cm seam allowance, I simple traced each piece onto some translucent white baking paper that luckily I had in the drawer. Top tip; It's good to use a meter rule as some of the lines that need tracing are long!

I then laid each pattern piece out on my shower proof fabric. It's got  great 7o's style fairtale pattern that I wanted to make sure was really visible so I cut out very careful and probably had more wastage than usual. I didn't want to use pins (its' a rainmac after all!) so i used electric tape to tape down each piece. It worked really well!

So I'm all cut out now and ready to sew - something tells me this is going to be the tricky part!
Next installment will be next week.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

Hello there, happy crafters of Manchester and beyond. As those of you who made your way down to Fred Aldous art shop in the Northern Quarter on Saturday will know, the Ministry of Craft held another of its fantastic Crafty Pick 'N' Mix days, this time in honour of the backbone of every family - mums.

As a craft blogger and journalist I was keen to check it out for myself and was lucky enough to be invited along to have a go at each of the arts and craft sessions being put on, so early birds in the morning I donned my crafting cap and headed off to town, looking forward to a day of non-stop creativity.

I was certainly not the only person to have the same idea by any stretch of the imagination. By the end of the day, over 100 people had flocked to Fred's to get their craft on and organiser Sam Sterken was, in her own words, "absolutely exhausted". And that definitely should not come as a surprise, given how many classes were held throughout the day. I began by sitting down to do some upcycled corsage-making, using old stockings, knee socks and tights.

Never having tried anything like this before, I was a little concerned that I would fail abysmally but with Sam there taking me through each simple step, I very quickly ended up with a beautiful little flower that wouldn't have looked out of place at the poshest of weddings.

Here's my first attempt (and it certainly won't be my last - I'll never throw old tights away again!):

As soon as I'd put my wire cutters and florist's tape (great invention) down, I had to hotfoot it over to the Little Paper Cakes station, where owner Anna Sullivan was waiting to show me how to achieve perfect icing and make oh-so-sweet cake decorations out of sugar paste. After fashioning a few flowers and whizzing around my cake with the icing bag, I was the proud owner of one very professional-looking cupcake (although I'm sorry to say that it didn't last much longer than it took for me to snap a photo of it and I wolfed it  down in about two mouthfuls).

This is what I came up with:

As you can see, in just half an hour Anna was able to show me how to create something that would probably cost £5 in the shops. Success!

I had only just finished swallowing down the last morsel of cake when I had to rush on over to the purse-making table, run by expert seamstresses Sam Moylan and Alison Leese. While I do own a sewing machine, I wouldn't say I knew my way around it particularly well just yet and am keen to know more, so was excited and concerned in equal measure about tackling the purse. Luckily, Sam and Alison know their stuff and every time I - or anyone else in my session - had a problem they were there in an instant, armed with new bobbins, unpickers and spare scraps of fabric.

As a result, I ended up with this wonderful purse and, even better, the knowledge that I could make another one of these with ease:

As Saturdays go, this was one of the best I've spent in a long time and I know I'm not alone in thinking so. The atmosphere throughout the day was great - if a little hectic (definitely part of the charm) - and every now and again there was a happy laugh as someone finished their little project and was very pleased with the results. No doubt there were at least 100 mothers up and down Manchester who have never been so spoilt in their lives!

Till next time, arts and crafters!

Sarah x

So - who else went along on Saturday? What did you enjoy making the most and - most importantly - did you make your mother's day?

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Close Knit series at Manchester Museums

Some of Manchester's finest Museums and Galleries (The Manchester Museum, Gallery of Costume, Manchester Art Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery) are celebrating a hundred's of knitting patterns that have been discovered in their archive with Close Knit - a year long series of workshops. Ideal to either reignite your knitting passion or to simply get started - you'll learn techniques, histories and patterns.

We're fans of knitting and even more so the work of our esteemed knitting and crochet tutor Racheal Gwilliam, founder of Artyarn, who has written the next in the series about age old knitting techniques.

This session will include cable stitching and the history of Aran knitting and it takes place at the Gallery of cotsume on Saturday 24th March ( 2pm - 4 pm). Sadly for us, (but great for her!) Rachael will be away on her honeymoon, so won't be teaching the session, but if you can't make it why not dip into one of the many sessions throughout the year. SS

  • March 24th Gallery of Costume – Dusty, Musty & Mothballed
  • April 28th Whitworth Art Gallery – The Art of Knitting
  • May 26th Gallery of Costume – Knitting to Know You
  • June 30th Manchester Art Gallery – Texturise
  • July 28th Gallery of Costume – Knitting Re-mixed
  • August 25th Whitworth Art Gallery – Geek Knits
  • September 29th Gallery of Costume – In Stitches
  • October 27th The Manchester Museum – Sheep Socks & Wire Woolies
  • November 24th Gallery of Costume – Autumn/ Winter 2012 Collection
  • December 8th Manchester Art Gallery – Merry Stitchmas

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Mother's Day Lo Fi DIY

We were lucky enough to be invited along to demonstrate a Mother's Day themed craft at last night's monthly Lo Fi DIY event run by Manchester Craft Mafia, which was a pleasure to run and resulted in some fab crafty gifts, which I suspect might not make it to the Lo Fi - ers respective Mums!

Reverse applique (or Mola applique) was our subject and after playing around with few ideas I opted for two retro styled designs - a tulip and apple.

The technique which can be hand or machine sewn is made up from sewing together layers of fabric and felt onto an item and then cutting them away to reveal the layers underneath.

Each customer chose a template, some even freestyled (go girls!) and then set to work on neatly handsewing their chosen fabrics and felts onto a plain calico bag. After much concerntration, some lovely food and the odd drink, some of the results can be seen below. Everyone went home one creative technique heavier!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Making Spot - loving craft

The Making Spot is a new, fun and super informative way to learn more crafty skills and get your teeth into new projects. With its 3,000 projects and 2000 tutorials you'd be hard pushed to not feel inspired!

Joining up is very simple and you can access a range of different types of crafts, including some of our favourites: sewing, knitting, crocheting and much more. There are plenty of free patterns and projects ideas as well as ones you have to pay for.

I love this (no pun intended) recycled jumper felt heart hanger which can be made by following the free tutorial. It states you need a Big Shot cutter machine, but making a simple card template to draw around would work just as well. 

Happy project hunting! SS 

Monday, 30 January 2012

New tutor on the block

We're very excited in the Ministry of Craft office to have a new jewellery course and a fantasticly talented new tutor on board - Melissa Keith- Jopp. Having given up teaching art full time to pursue her passion  for all things creative, Melissa is now working on developing her resin jewellery and contemporary glass engraving business - Jopp Design, as well as tutoring adults and children in a wide range of creative pursuits.

Focusing a lot of her creative work around the ethos of upcycling, Melissa has devised our newest course - Mix & mould: Resin jewellery in March. She'll be teaching our customers how to preserve some of their favorite miniature treasures in resin and then turn them into a pieces of gorgeous and very wearable jewellery. We're loving her work and can't wait to see the 'makes' from the course.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Chloe Owens - the free machine queen

January for me is always a time to 'catch up on craft' reading the issues of craft magazines that have dropped through the door that I haven't had time to read over Christmas and also to make a new list of projects I want to get done before the light nights come back round again.

I couldn't help notice Chloe Owens mentioned in a couple of my issues. Her work is original, kitsch and a combination of free machine embroidery, applique and hand embroidery. As well as scooping a feature in the very inspiring Mollie Makes she's also got a book out - All sewn up - (available to pre-order now at Amazon). She's the perfect Free machine embroidery queen - and just in time to inspire those of you who are coming on one of forthcoming Free Machine Embroidery and applique courses. Happy viewing ! SS