Friday, 19 December 2014

Clear Cut: Beginners Paper Cutting

I recently had the pleasure of attending our brand spanking new workshop Clear Cut: Beginners Paper Cutting. I had attempted paper cutting at home and they never quite turned out how I wanted them to. I needed a bit of direction and tutor Jess Panesar was just the lady for the job. She guided us through the best way to approach our designs and had lots of little tips and tricks to get a fantastic end result. The great thing about the course is that you go away with what is essentially a beautiful piece of art at the end of it.

My first successful paper cut
 There are different ways to go with paper cutting and whilst I love the intricacies of tiny nicks and slices I was very impressed with some of the simpler designs that came out looking incredibly accomplished!

Sometimes the simpler the better

I caught the paper cutting bug and after the course I immediately replaced the blade on my craft knife and got to work making bespoke, one-of-a-kind, Christmas presents and birthday cards. I can't wait to give these presents and I'm still thinking up new designs and occasions when I can put my skills to use in the New Year.

A Birthday Card Design
One of a kind Christmas Present

It's a craft that's low cost and elevates a simple drawing to a fairytale level, what's not to love?

And guess what, there's another workshop on the 7th of February (just in time to make a stunningly sweet valentine days card!) and you can book it here!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Ministry of Craft Tutorial - Easy DIY Handwarmers

Sew your own handwarmers this Christmas! This is a great project to use up your stash of fabric offcuts and can be easily completed with inexpensive household ingredients. These cute little guys are essentially mini bean-bags which can be heated in your microwave (so don't make them for people who haven't got a microwave!) and then popped into your pockets or gloves to keep your hands toastie on crisp winter mornings.

Now, every body loves a roaring fire at Christmas, but seriously you must only make these out of pure cotton or natural fibres as anything synthetic will probably melt and potentially catch fire. As with anything warming in the microwave - my advice would be to heat these babies for 10 seconds at a time until you're happy with the temperature. I made mine out of 100% cotton, a lovely mustard fox print which I used earlier in the year to make a tunic, so I was happy to be able to use some of the offcuts. They are filled with rice and I have added dried lavender from my garden which I try to use every year in the gifts that I make, so they not only look good but they SMELL great! Here's how I made mine:

100% Cotton or linen fabric (perfect for offcuts from your stash)
cotton to match your fabric
tailors chalk
fabric scissors
needle for hand finishing
lavender (it's a nice touch but not absolutely necessary)

 Make a 3 inch square template from a piece of card

Use your template to mark out squares of fabric to cut, using tailors chalk to draw your lines (these lines can be brushed off afterwards). I folded up my fabric like a concertina and pinned it (pictured) so that I would be able to cut several pairs of squares in one go to save time. You'll need 2 squares for each handwarmer, a front and a back, so 4 squares to make a pair of handwarmers!

Cut out your squares, and arrange in front of you so that you cut an even number to get as many pairs of handwarmers as you desire.

Pin the squares right sides together to keep them from skewing while you sew.

Fill your bobbin with the same thread that you will be using on your machine, I chose this fun neon orange thread which I had from a previous project.

Using a straight stitch sew all the way round your square leaving half of the last side open, back stitching at the beginning and end so that it doesn't unravel. You'll need to leave the opening so that you can turn it the right side out and add the rice at the end. Before you turn your square the right side out, snip the corners so that you can get a nicer and less bulky finish.

Turn the square the right side out and press well with a hot iron. Get right into the corners to really push them out and get a nice shape.

Next set yourself up with a tray, a teaspoon and possibly a funnel (but only if your funnel has a nice wide spout!).

I used a small teaspoon in the end to spoon in the rice and lavender. Fill the bags up so that they are full but still have a little give in them.

Then pinch the opening shut, turning the insides under, pin to secure and then hand sew shut with a slip stitch and lock it off with a couple of stitches on top of each other.

And you're finished! They are super neat and very pleasing! I have seen other versions on Pinterest which use contrasting fabrics for the front and back, they look great especially in florals. 

Another twist on the same principle would be to cut your squares slightly bigger with pinking shears and top stitch through the fabric (no need for turning inside out) so that it resembles a pleasing fabric ravioli. Both look great and they are sure to be a hit with your friends and family. Good luck and let us know how you get on. 

Don't forget that you can come and join any number of sewing classes for beginners at Ministry of Craft, and walk away with a finished item. Why not try our SIMPLE REVERSIBLE TOTE or FOLKSY MAKE UP BAG courses on Saturday 3 January? Use our special offer code YULE5 to get £5 off either (or both). These courses make great gifts and are an excellent way to step up your sewing in the New Year!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Christmas Gift Guide - Ministry of Craft Style

Only 19 more sleeps! If, like me, you're not yet fully organised and still have to complete your Christmas shopping, allow me to offer up some ideas. We've got craft courses galore happening next year and there's something for everyone, plus we know some really REALLY great small, independent businesses who are worthy of your support. Read on!

Gifts for Crafting Wannabes

CONQUER YOUR SEWING MACHINE - Saturday 3 Jan - Our most popular course! Half a day of all the sewing machine basics; from threading up the machine through to experimenting with fancy stitches. THE place to start! 

- Saturday 3 Jan - A brilliant choice for the novice sewist (suitable for complete beginners) who would like to learn how to use a sewing machine and leave with a useful, pretty product at the end. 

KNIT 123: BEGINNERS KNITTING - Tuesday 13 Jan (runs each Tuesday evening for 3 consecutive weeks) - Knitting is cool but oh-so-cosy! Buy the gift of knitting tuition for your loved ones and give them a hobby for life. They may knit you a sweater of thanks in return!

Gifts for Super Sewists

STEP UP YOUR SEWING MACHINE SKILLS - Saturday 17 Jan - Buy this course for THAT person who is already going great guns with their sewing projects but who would love the opportunity to hone their skills and learn fancy schmancy techniques (such as pin tucks, french seams, stitching leather) from an expert tutor. 

OVERLOCKING FOR BEGINNERS - Saturday 10 Jan - For experiences sewists who would like to give their sewing projects (especially clothing) that professional finish. If you buy them an overlocker machine too they will love you to the moon and back!

SEW YOUR OWN TUNIC DRESS OR TOP - Saturday 24 Jan - A dressmaking course for advanced beginners. A very good way to dip a toe into garment making and leave with a wardrobe staple (I'm not kidding, I have made two of these tunics!). Anyone who loves the Great British Sewing Bee will love this course.

Gifts for Teens
If you're looking for a crafting experience to attend together, or if you're happy to chaperone your teen (be they daughter, son, niece, or nephew), then these are great courses for crafty beginners:

PAPER PERFECT: DECOUPAGE JEWELLERY - Saturday 31 Jan - It's glueing and sticking and it's the best fun EVER. Brilliant for kids and adults alike. Make your own sets of decoupaged jewellery to take home.

BEGINNERS SEWING: SIMPLE REVERSIBLE TOTE BAG - Saturday 3 Jan - For the young person who's raring to go with a sewing machine, or who really loves textiles at school, come and sew this simple reversible tote bag. Bring your own fabrics and make a totally original piece or make a matching set together.

Gifts for Guys
Hey! We're all 'the guys', there's no sexism here! But if you want something less sewingy for a boy, or something that will appeal TO ANYONE, then how about these courses? 

SCREEN STARS: INTRO TO SCREEN PRINTING - Saturday 7 Feb - It's messy, it's graphic, it's as colourful and bold as you want it to be. Learning to DIY screen print is mega fun.

INTRO TO LINOCUT PRINTING - Saturday 7 Feb - Buy this course for the creative person in your life. They'll learn to make their own prints using cool and slightly dangerous cutting tools. Skills that can transfer easily to the kitchen table at home.

Gifts for the Craft Averse
If your kith and kin wouldn't be caught dead crafting (the fools!) but still appreciate local products, lovingly made by Manchester's finest, then take a look at the following:

Jelly Button Jewellery - Our tutor Michelle's handmade jewellery will satisfy the sweetest tooth!

Lines Form Spaces - Our knitting tutor Rachael is also an award-winning artist and she makes these hand drawn letter forms to order. Each one a complete original!

Nell Clothing
- gifts for kids and the young at heart, screen printed by hand by our Nell (printmaking tutor)

Vinegar & Brown Paper - not strictly Manchester based but worth a looksee online to marvel at the beautiful etched glass products. Unique and fun!

So Satsuma - jewel coloured, beautifully hand-knitted hats, scarves and cowls in Italian merino wool. 

And that's Christmas all wrapped up for you! Support small businesses this Saturday (especially because it's SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY) and buy super awesome craft-flavoured gifts for your loved ones this Christmas. 

Thanks for reading!