Thursday, 24 October 2013

Paint the town red - how to do it properly!

It's not often that I get to participate in a course that's not run by the Ministry, so motivated by the challenge of renovating a wooden two seater chair, painted in an unattractive mohogany varnish and upholstered in a country tapestry (you get the picture!) it seems the right time to learn how to paint furniture, but properly, rather than using my own 'rules'!
After reading about Annie Sloan Chalk paint in the bible that is Mollie Makes, I was immediately attracted to the fact that you don't have to sand or prime before you use the paint - ideal for a busy working mum like me!

I then booked myself onto an Introduction to Furniture painting using Annie Sloan Chalk paints at The Bunting Queen, a gorgeous little shop that sells gifts, paint, fabrics and hires out handmade bunting for events and parties with the option to create your own bespoke designs, in the heart of Chester.

Arriving to a warm cup of tea and an equally warm atmosphere, Lucy, The Bunting Queen owner, took us through Annie Sloan story and the range of paints and then set us to work on the four different effects we'd be painting onto our pieces of pine board. We set to work crackling, distressing, waxing with  dark, clear and coloured wax, with the step by step reassurance and knowledge of Lucy, where every question was answered and laughter was encouraged!

I was blown away by the amount of effects one tin of Annie Sloan Chalk paint can provided and then combined with the wax a whole new range of ideas and possibilities appear. Whether it's furniture, metal, walls or floors - this paint can cover it, as well as creating aged effects to achieve period furniture to be proud of.

Even though I run Ministry of Craft, I usually enjoy the challenge of figuring out a new skill by myself, but this time I'm really glad I didn't! This course has set my imagination racing, inspired me and armed with the 'Old white', 'Paris Grey' and a tin of clear wax, I can't wait to get started. If you get the chance book a place for yourself or explore the range of Annie Sloan paints for yourself. I promise you'll be addicted.

Friday, 13 September 2013

We need you to #tell the bobbin who's boss!

Before the summer sun caught us all out - in a truly nice way - we'd been thinking how we could get you all sewing just that little bit more. Our conquer your sewing machine course is like a bed of confessions such as "I was scarred at senior school and told I was no good at sewing" and cries of "I've got a machine, but it's never been out of it's box". Well we're putting an end to all that!

We want you to sew, sew sew your way through the winter and use those precious skills you've learnt on your very first course with us and take control with our new competition #tellthebobbinwhosboss. And what better way to do it than to entice you with crafty goodies!

Win a gorgeous Parisian sling bag and a pretty patchwork cushion in Amy Butler fabrics, but also a whole years subscription to the very fab Crafty magazine and some beyond perfection Fiskars scissors which should last you your whole sewing life.

So what so you need to do?

Simply send us a picture of your handiwork project to, which can be either hand sewn or machine stitched, with you name and the course you attended.

We'll then ask our prestigious judge, Sarah Adie, Editor of Crafty magazine to let us know which entry stands out from the rest and then we'll be in touch if you're the winner! The competition closes at midnight on Saturday 30 September.

Anything goes as long as it's stitched, so put your imagination to good use or if you just want to to get making have a look at out favourite beginners tutorials at the top right of the page.

Good luck and can't wait to see you entries!

Friday, 23 August 2013

Fabric Friday - Mint Print!

Miriam Trent is an award winning Surface Pattern Designer and Printmaker living Leeds, West Yorkshire. After graduating in 2010 with a degree in Graphic Arts from Leeds Met University she started her own printed products and surface pattern design company, 'Mintprint'. Miriam also teaches printmaking workshops in and around West Yorkshire, and loves to spread the printmaking bug around.

I love the mid-century appeal of Miriam's work; her bold graphic prints are complemented perfectly by the simplicity of the lampshades & cushions.

Miriam sells her work on Etsy here, and if you would like to learn how to screen print or lino print to create your own designs then take a look at our printing courses held right here in Manchester.

"Threads" design cushion hand screen printed on both sides with duck feather inner

"Coins" design drum lampshade in hand screen printed cotton

"Trinary" design drum lampshade in hand screen printed cotton   

Friday, 16 August 2013

Fabric Friday - Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Whilst wandering in the wonderland that is Pinterest (if you're not already following us then check out our boards here) I came across this lovely 'Twinkle Twinkle' fabric by Lizzy House at I just LOVE it; it makes me feels dreamy and wistful! It's a cute design but the predominant black colour stops it from being too twee.

From Lizzy's Constellations collection my two other favourites are supercool 'Supernova'; geo patterns are all the rage and I'm very partial to a tessellated triangle!

And the beautifully illustrative 'Constellations'. Heavenly!

They are all priced at £12 per meter but sadly 'Twinkle Twinkle' is out of stock. Darn it!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Fabric Friday - Beautiful butterflies

It's been a nice suprise to see so many butterflies in our tiny 'yarden', which is the view from the Ministry HQ window. And it's hard to ignore how beautiful they are - even just a simple Cabbage white is pretty, if not simple.

So this week is all about butterfly fabrics and keeping those lovely summer images alive well into the winter. Before the warm weather hit, I could be seen sporting this infinity scarf, I made from a half meter of butterfly fabric from our good friends at Abakhan. It's a personal favourite and you can make your own using Lazy Saturday's tutorial and some of our choice butterfly fabrics.

Fabric rehab - £2.99 per fat qaurter

Butterfly parade by Designers Guild

Butterfly dot red by Lizzy House from


Friday, 12 July 2013

Neontastic - true summer style!

The heat has not gone unnoticed this week and it's brought us right back to our child hood -  ice lollies, burnt shoulders and wearing bright colours, as much as is resonabley possible.

So this weeks theme is Neon. Because it's fun, on trend and you can use to it to accessorise your wardrobe.

And if your to busy drinking Pimms to get making,  how about these fab neon fabric paints: Grafitti art summer wear anyone?

 Wobble in neon green by Minerva Bloom

Wobble in Neon Green

Jumbo dots in mint & neon designed by Domesticate

Jumbo Dots in mint/neon

Neon pink chevron designed by Riley Blake 

Tulip 3d Neon and Glow fabric paint set from The Glow Company

Friday, 5 July 2013

Our first Fabric Friday!

We're planning a few new blog features for Ministry of Craft and since we spend so much time looking at fab fabrics, we've decided to make every Friday the day to share some of our favourites.

It might be themed, it might be random, but it will make us want to make, make, make! Feel free to share yours too.

Sew Be It 

There are lots of sewing inspired fabric out there, but these are our faves.

1. Red Rooster Vintage patterns designed by Amy Barickman  (

Perfect for a bold A line skirt!

2. Sewing cream by Anna Griffiths (

Pretty, simple and great for small projects due to a small pattern repeat.

3. Rulers by Riley Blake (

Bauhaus inspired with an  80's twist - great for bags and accessories

Thursday, 2 May 2013

5 steps to turn your craft talent into a successful business

We're delighted to welcome founder of Enterprise Nation and small business author, Emma Jones, who's shared her expert knowledge in five steps that will see you turning a crafting passion into well-earned profit.
1. Keep it niche – when coming up with the idea and concept for your craft business, keep it as niche as possible. What I mean by this is aim to offer a particular product to a well defined audience; maybe it’s gift-ware for toddlers or handmade scarves for ladies with a particular budget. Doing so will mean you understand your customers; you know where they are/ what they read/ who are their key influencers/ where they currently buy etc and this knowledge allows you to keep marketing costs low as you focus your promotion efforts, and it keeps customer loyalty high as customers can only get what they’re after from you.  
2. Write a plan – with the idea in hand, it’s time to write a plan! I refer to a business plan as a route-map as it helps you get from where you are now, to where you want to be. It doesn’t have to be long and is easy to remember what to include as it spells I’M OFF. That stands for: 
I – what’s you’re Idea 
M – who is the Market you’re going to serve (as above, the more defined the market, thebetter!)
O – what Operations do you need to get started and keep growing ie kit/ stock/ workspace etc
F – is for Finances and comes in the form of doing a basic cashflow forecast (check out our 2013 StartUp Kit as it comes complete with a template) and secondly, this is the section where you highlight any need to raise funds – if you do, download our free eBook on ’50 ways to find funding for your business'  which offers links and tips on where to go, and how to raise.   
F – the final F is for Friends; who will be your support network and experts on call. If you can, it’s also advisable to find a mentor and the best kind is someone who will hear you out as you talk through your business opportunities and questions. You have all the answers – sometimes you just need to talk them out!
3. Make a sale – start selling to friends and family before moving on to making sales to a wider circle! Make sales offline by attending Farmers Markets and Craft Fairs or consider a PopUp with PopUp Britain
There are also sales to be made online through uploading your products to powerful sales platforms such as Etsy, Folksy and who attract customers on your behalf. Sell via your own website through investing in a template website such as Wix, Weebly or SupaDupa or simply add an e-commerce plug-in to your blog, to turn browsers into buyers.
4. Make some noise – become known by getting to know the journalists and bloggers who write for your identified audience. Follow them on twitter and send releases with stats, quotes and a stand-out headline (in the 2013 StartUp Kit, you’ll find a press release template.) Being a craft business, make the most of your beautiful products and attach high quality images to your release as it will be more likely to be covered.
5. Keep the business in balance – as sales are coming in and your profile is on the rise, keep yourself and the business in balance by trying to spend your time equally on three things; business development (attracting new customers), customer care (taking care of existing customers) and admin (ensuring you’re being paid on time, keeping finances in order etc) – you won’t enjoy all three tasks equally but working on them will ensure a successful business and your own personal satisfaction!
To pick up more tips and advice from Emma, join her at Manchester City Library on Saturday 1st June for a 'StartUp Saturday' class where you'll discover all you need to know to turn your creative talent into a business. Each attendee also receives a copy of the 2013 StartUp Kit.  

Register to claim your £5 discount off the entry fee: