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Learning how to sew with the Ministry of Craft in Manchester

PUBLISHED: 00:00 30 December 2014

Ministry of Craft sew your own lounge pants/pyjama trousers at Fred Aldous with Janet Reeder

Ministry of Craft sew your own lounge pants/pyjama trousers at Fred Aldous with Janet Reeder

Archant

I've written about clothes and styled fashion shoots for many years, writes Janet Reeder, but there's one skill I wish I'd had - the ability to sew.

Janet Reeder with tutor, Alison LeeseJanet Reeder with tutor, Alison Leese

I’ve written about clothes and styled fashion shoots for many years, writes Janet Reeder, but there’s one skill I wish I’d had - the ability to sew.
I’m not a complete novice. I once made a skirt in ‘Domestic Science’ at school and would kit my dolls out in shapeless homespun dresses. It’s rather limited experience which occurred in the dim and distant past but that didn’t deter me from booking in for a four-hour session called Make Yourself a Pair of Pyjama Trousers.

It is one of the courses run by The Ministry of Craft, who bill themselves as a ‘friendly and sociable’ place to learn a new skill. They are held at Fred Aldous on Lever Street, in Manchester city centre and it is a fantastic space, less craft shop than design hub, stationers and haberdashers and it has been in the city since 1886 so it’s a bit of an institution.

Still, as I headed over on a Sunday morning, it did cross my mind that I should maybe be wearing pyjama pants in bed with the papers and a cup of tea than actually making them.

As I arrived my fellow trouser makers were already grabbing a coffee and getting to know each other.

Ministry of Craft sew your own lounge pants/pyjama trousers at Fred Aldous with Janet ReederMinistry of Craft sew your own lounge pants/pyjama trousers at Fred Aldous with Janet Reeder

All had been on a course before and had immediately booked in for others culminating in this one - it seemed they’d been even less confident of their skills than me, starting off with more simple projects like sewing a make-up bag. Had I set the bar too high I thought, as I nervously ate a chocolate brought in as a treat by a fellow seamstress.

I’d chosen a material with the sort of pattern I wouldn’t have to match up, such as stripes or zig zags - we also had to supply our own thread (but let’s face it we were in craft central should we forget anything) and so we began. Course tutor Alison Leese gave us the lowdown on how we should position our patterns and then we started cutting.

Actually, memories of how I used to do things on an old Singer came back to me. I recalled how we used to thread the needle, for example, but what I didn’t expect was how much more advanced the modern sewing machine is. I am not saying it was easy-peasy but making something like, say a buttonhole using the programme on a state of the art Janome machine did simplify the task.

We even had to overlock our seams (using a brilliant little gizmo) giving even my amateurish efforts a smart professional finish.

Ministry of Craft sew your own lounge pants/pyjama trousers at Fred Aldous with Janet ReederMinistry of Craft sew your own lounge pants/pyjama trousers at Fred Aldous with Janet Reeder

And yes... after four hours I came away with a pair of pyjama trousers. They’re slightly big but Alison says cotton shrinks in the wash and I had made them myself. Was I pleased? You bet! The sense of fulfilment, not to mention the encouragement from my fellow students and tutor was brilliant.

I may not be sending my efforts down the catwalk (ever) but I am keen to make something else. The fun fur jacket looks amazing but maybe that’s stretching my limited abilities just a bit too far...

If you fancy honing your creative skills with the Ministry of Craft, check them out at www.ministryofcraft.co.uk

Course highlights for January...

January 3rd

Folksy make-up bag

Simple reversible tote bag

Clothing alterations

January 10th

Overlocking for beginners

Master zips and buttonholes

January 17th

Step up your sewing machine skills

Sew a tailored and lined skirt

January 24th

Sew your own tunic dress or top

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