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Manchester lifestyle reviews

Ministry of Craft

Ministry of Craft: Mother's Day Pick ‘n’ Mix

Downstairs at Fred Aldous, Manchester

Reviewed by Helen Nugent March 2012


During a weekend when supermarkets were awash with children of all ages scooping up flowers and cards, the Ministry of Craft offered an alternative to traditional Mother’s Day gifts.


Housed in the basement of Fred Aldous, Manchester’s iconic craft and design retailer, the Ministry of Craft opened its doors to mothers and daughters keen to indulge their inner crafter. A series of taster workshops catered for all manner of creative types, from those anxious to master the art of jewellery-making to others happy to learn how to sew a printed purse and personalise a cupcake.


The Ministry of Craft is a simple concept and one that works well. Professional crafters provide expert tuition in a number of crafty disciplines via short, affordable courses which allow participants to dabble in new and unusual crafts. Among the sessions on offer throughout the year are clothing alterations, piping, bias binding and gathering, conquering your sewing machine, introduction to linocut printing and tailor-made fabric lampshades. Lessons are suitable for both beginners and more experienced practitioners.


But this weekend was as much about fun as education. A group of enthusiastic Manchester residents (unsurprisingly, all female) got stuck into sewing machine workshops, face painting and accessory-making. Mums and daughters chatted while crafting, helping each other out and offering friendly advice to those for whom a needle and thread is an alien concept.


Some classes were more challenging than others. This reviewer thoroughly enjoyed upcycling old tights into natty vintage corsages, all under the watchful eye of Sam Sterken, the owner of Ministry of Craft. But the purse-making course, completed on a top-of-the-range Janome sewing machine evoked dark memories of home economics classes and a failure to grasp even the most basic of tasks. I was put to shame by my mum, who motored along and had a perfectly-finished purse while I was still grappling with running stitches.


A love of making things prompted Sterken to set up Ministry of Craft. On returning to Manchester after extended travel overseas, she attempted to enrol on a short and simple handbag-making course. After failing to find anything suitable, Sterken established Ministry of Craft. Judging by this weekend’s attendance – and enjoyment – at Fred Aldous, Sterken’s company will go from strength to strength.


I will be back in June to learn about linocut printing. But no more intimidating sewing machines for me; I will leave that to my mum.

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