I write about health, travel, parenting (and other topics that take my fancy) for newspapers, magazines, and corporate clients. I'd love your comments on my articles, or to talk with you further at wellnessinwords.com.au or on Twitter
Published April 22nd 2019
Let your creativity loose: make your own clothes & lampshade
'No more boring lampshades' Image - Ministry of Handmade
Sick of store-bought clothes that don't fit, are the same as everyone's else's, and unravel with the first wash? Or perhaps you're passionate about colour, pattern, design and texture and want to learn turn fabric into a unique lampshade or ottoman for your home.
The Ministry of Handmade is all about getting back in touch with the "time-honoured skills" from the era before fast fashion and fast food, when we made things ourselves...slowly.
Create your own bench seat ottoman in your choice of fabric - no sewing required. Image - Ministry of Handmade
Julie, along with her husband Maurice, runs the Ministry and with her mother being a dressmaker, says she grew up in a sewing room. As our work lives and parenting styles changed, today fewer of us learned the handmade skills that our parents learned while playing at the feet of their own parents.
But the things you make at the Ministry of Handmade are probably not your grandmother's style. You use stunning fabrics you chose yourself. Yes, it takes longer than buying a t-shirt for $5 but cheap products are sometimes false economy. And with a few basic sewing skills, you can repair those cheap t-shirts when the seams come apart. Or you replace worn-out elastic or let down the hems on your kids' pants so they fit them for longer.
This desire to create beautiful things by hand drew me to Ministry of Handmade's workshops. My first adventure - the lampshade workshop. "No more boring lampshades" is the motto for this workshop. It seems to me that almost any piece of fabric took on a new life and became three times as beautiful when it was turned into a lampshade. A couple of years since I made it, my lampshade still gives me pleasure to see and has no chance of getting boring yet.
Learn to make unique lampshades to match your home's interior
Or if you love nature, like me, bring it into your loungeroom with a botanic print
Julie has clearly taken care to source quality materials to make sure we get the best result. You can also buy more materials to make dozens of lampshades for your family and friends afterwards. However, it turns out quality, handmade lampshades don't come cheap - the kits range from about $65 to $150, plus fabric.
The Hero lampshade kits include a base that doesn't detract from your stunning new lampshade. Image - Ministry of Handmade
After dismissing the idea of learning to sew for my adult life to date, eventually, I decided I did want to give sewing a go. After I had the basics under my belt, Julie's pattern for a Simply Sewn top then caught my eye and I booked a private lesson to learn to make it - and to learn bias binding.
I learned to turn this gorgeous succulent print fabric into my 'me-made' custom top
As well as private sewing lessons, there are workshops for absolute beginners, and workshops where you can sew your own project and get experienced guidance as you go.
While workshops bring the excitement of being in a group and seeing other's creations, the one-on-one sewing lesson was a time-efficient way to build my skills. And I went home with a totally custom designed, made-to-fit new top.
Workshops and lessons are held in Julie's and Maurice's beautiful home studio in the North Brisbane suburb of Bridgeman Downs, half an hour from the city or 10 to 15 minutes from Chermside. It might be too out of the way for some, but being out of the city does provide leafy, relaxing surrounds. They also respond to requests to take workshops all around Queensland and Australia.
If you want to take some time out and get in touch with the slower skills of making contemporary and fun items by hand, the Ministry of Handmade has a long list to choose from.
The topics range from upholstery to sewing to needlecraft.
- No sew bench Seat
- Basic upholstery
- Cane footstool
- Piped cushions
- Sew a simple top
- Learn to sew
- Sew your own project
- Contemporary shaggy quilt
For me, there's really no downside of locking in a few hours of peace and creativity for yourself. Except there is a (reasonable) fee, of course. The lampshade workshops are $95 while the Learn to Sew session costs around $100, and Introduction to Crochet is $55.
The writer paid for the workshop and lesson herself.