Friday, April 29, 2016

Spring Sale!

I've decided to ignore the decidedly wintery weather we've been having this week and am celebrating this beautiful season with a Spring Sale in my Etsy Shop!

Enter code: Spring20 at the checkout for 20% off anything in my shop!

Happy Weekend!

love Moogs xxx

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Tutorial: Tiny Circles Applique

Hello there!

I knew I'd get back to my blog at some point! 

Back at the start of the Easter holidays I decided I needed a new little hand-sewing project to take away with me on a mini-break to Barcelona. I didn't have room in my hand luggage for a big project and before I knew it my brain had cooked up a little applique project, using a rainbow of tiny circles.

 Needless to say, I didn't actually sew a stitch while we were away but did spend a very happy day at home stitching it on our return. Several lovely people on Instagram asked me how I made the circles so I thought it was high time I did a proper tutorial with lots of photos.

When I started to plan this project I felt that just doing needle turn applique may not get me the perfect circles I was aiming for. So, I took an English Paper Piecing approach to it instead.

Here's how I did it:

First you need some "papers" to help you form your fabric circles, just as you'd do with paper piecing hexagons.

I used a 1 inch circle punch that I've had for ages but if you don't have this you can find something the right size and draw round it instead, then cut out with scissors and a steady hand.

Now, this is an important bit: you will need firm cardstock, an old cereal packet or teabag box would be just fine but it will need to be firm and you will see why as we go through the photos.

 Next step is to use your card circles as a template to cut some fabric circles. Lay your card circle on your fabric and cut out a circle with a generous quarter inch seam allowance - you don't have to be exact so it's fine to do this by eye. This is a great way to use your tiny fabric scraps - you only need just over 1.5 inches for each circle.

 Once you've got your circles cut we're ready for the fun bit.

 Starting on the RS (right side) of the fabric, use a small running stitch to sew a line of stitches around the outside of the circle, just over 1/8th inch in from the edge. You can use your thread double but I found it worked fine with a single strand of thread. I used contrasting thread for the photos but you could use a neutral or matching thread.

Next you need to place a card circle in the centre of your fabric circle, hold the two together firmly in the centre between finger and thumb, then start to pull the thread to gather the fabric circle around the card one.

Keep pulling as firmly as you can to really pull those gathers in - this may be where you decide you'd rather use a double strand of thread!

Once you've gathered all the way around, start to stitch through the gathers, going in the same direction as you first did the running stitch.

Keep stitching through the gathers and pulling the thread as tight as you can until you feel the gathers are firmly held.

Make a couple of small overstitches to secure your gathers and then cut your thread. Your first gathered circle is very nearly done!

If you've pulled your gathers tightly enough the right side of your circle should look like this. This is why you need firm card. Thin card would buckle and distort as you pull the gathers tight and will spoil the look of your circles.

Heat your iron on its hottest steam setting and then press both the front and back of your circles for several seconds. Just hold the iron down onto the circle, don't iron back and forth. Press them really well - you can't press them too much at this stage as this will help your circle hold its shape. I tend to gather a whole load of circles and then lay them out and press them all together to save time.

Hopefully you can see from this photo that the pressed circle is a lot flatter and those gathers are well and truly held.

Now it's time to remove the card circles. Snip through the running stitches with a small pair of scissors. You can remove all of the thread but I found it was fine to leave the thread in - as long as it's not bright red like it is in this photo.

Open the gathers slightly and ease your card circle out. Don't panic that your gathers have opened up - this is why you pressed them so well!

You can now gently push the gathered edge back down into the circle and now you need to go back to the iron and press them again for a few seconds on front and back, with a hot hot iron and plenty of steam. Just pressing down, not moving the iron at all! This will set your circles really well, ready for applique.

Now that you have all your circles ready we can play!

To secure your circles to your background fabric ready for stitching there are several methods you can use. For the mini quilt at the start of this tutorial I used a dab of fabric glue pen and then tacked the circles on with thread.

In hindsight, I would not have used the glue in the centre as it created a dip in the middle where it was stuck to the background fabric and I had to sort this out after stitching - however a couple of small dabs around the gathered edge would work.

For my second tiny circles project I just positioned the circles on the background and then held it in place with a pin while I stitched.

To stitch your circles to the background use a thread that matches or nearly matches your circle. Bring your thread up through the background from beneath and catch the edge of your circle, just slightly underneath the edge if you can, with a tiny stitch. 

You only need to catch a couple of threads in the fabric, then stitch back down through the background, again slightly just inside the edge of the circle if you can. 

The aim here is tiny tiny nearly invisible stitches like this.

So there you have it! Do have a go! They're really easy and really quick once you get going and you can have lots of fun with fussy cutting your fabric.
 These little circles are perfect for stitching in front of the tv, on the bus, in the car (when you're being chauffered), in between Easter holiday mum's taxi services for teenagers.... Tiny and portable and fun!

I also find they're rather addictive!

Happy stitching!


Moogs xxx

p.s. I'd love to see if you have a go and do ask if you have any questions.

Friday, July 10, 2015

I's a Rollercoaster: the Ups and the Downs of a new craft business

Just a few weeks ago, after a moment of success at my first craft fair, everything went quiet. 

Deathly quiet.

I had no more new orders. Great responses on social media were not leading to sales. My Etsy shop had wind whistling through the shelves. Cash flow was becoming an all out no in thing.

I had a huge pity party, feeling very sorry for myself and wondering if I should just go and get a job at the local Co-op.

Then, quite out of the blue I opened a link on Facebook, which I think came from my friend Sarah's Dottery Pottery page. That link was to a local group called Hidden Talents Craft Fayres, run by two local crafters - Nicky and Clare, who set up the group to promote the work of local makers, including themselves, after finding there was a definite need for good quality, well-run fairs in the local area.

I joined the group and immediately felt at home. I also immediately booked a table at their next craft fair on 25th July. This group is quite possibly the best thing to have happened to me so far with my business. The other makers are so wonderfully supportive and positive. Their work is beautiful - to the extent where I wonder if I'll manage to get away from the fair without spending any money I may make!

One direct result of joining the group was me being contacted by a lady who fund raises for Labrador Rescue and an order for Labradors on All The Things!

Another new development has been my phone covers. 

Ages ago a dear friend of mine suggested I make phone covers and I kind of consigned it to the back burner while I thought it out. It took a while but I got there in the end and of course, could not just stop at one! These have already become a great seller and I wonder why it took me so long!

I now have two weeks left until my first big craft fair and am ticking things off my list on a daily basis. 

I can honestly say I haven't worked so hard or been so absorbed in my work for years and I'm loving every single minute of it. I know there are bound to be dips as well as peaks because that is the nature of the beast but at last I feel like I'm headed in the right direction.

Happy weekend one and all,

Moogs xxx

p.s. if you wonder what I'm up to between blog posts take a look at the links in my sidebar - I'm constantly on Instagram, regularly on Facebook and Pinterest and am trying (!) to get to grips with Twitter.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hello Blog

My poor blog.

I've been thinking about you a great deal since the last time I blogged but it's taken me until now to come back and actually make contact again.

Since being at home, taking steps to set up my business, time seems to have grown wings and although I'm constantly on Instagram, regularly on Facebook and even occasionally on Twitter, there never seems to be quite the right moment to sit down and write a blog post.

Somehow it feels like it needs to be more involved, more time consuming and to have more structure and quite frankly, it even feels a bit indulgent. So, whilst thinking about this I realised it doesn't necessarily have to be all those things.

It can be just like Instagram (which I LOVE) but just a bit more and I don't need to plan a great big essay with lots of meaningful content. It's my little record of life and my creative process.

I'm going to start with just a few photos of preparations for my first proper craft fair, which I did this past weekend.

A recent holiday in beautiful Pembrokeshire inspired some little applique and free-machine embroidery pictures of those beautiful Welsh cottages, two of which sold at the fair. I have lots more of these in my head needing to get out and several more awaiting frames.

I can't stop making little fabric brooches - they seem to have become a bit of a thing for me and I love making them. I have dozens of them! Now I just need to sell them.

Taking Janet Clare's advice I decided I needed one of her Artisan Aprons to wear to the craft fair and had great fun making it and then adding some embellishments to make it mine. It was much admired by visitors and other stall holders and it did feel right to be wearing a 'uniform' of sorts.

A trial run at home was an incredibly useful exercise as it took away a lot of stress on the day, even though the table at the fair turned out to be smaller than expected. All in all it was a successful first fair, with lovely people and I sold enough to cover my costs and give the children their overdue pocket money!

My head and all six of my notebooks are full of ideas for things I want to make. The making is fun and it's the easy bit. It's the getting out there and selling that seems to be the hardest part but then I think that's true for anyone trying to start a creative business.

I've never been a natural salesperson (which proved interesting in a former job as a sales rep!) but it's a skill I now need to develop, alongside becoming organised with paperwork....*cough*.

Happy weekend one and all,

Moogs xxx

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Looking forward

Well, here were are in January and I'm finally getting round to blogging again. We had a lovely Christmas, with Mr Moog and the teenagers at home for a full two weeks. We caught up with lots of family and friends and all of a sudden my lot were back at school and work and it's nearly halfway through the month!

The in-laws were thrilled with their Christmas quilts and they came in very handy as both of them were poorly with colds over the holiday. Father-in-law slept under his shirty quilt on their sofa for three nights, bless him :)

I seem to have been on a bit of a go slow getting back into my work but I'm now back in the swing of things and am busy working on some orders. This little lot of free-machine applique filled a very happy afternoon and is soon to be turned into zipped wash-bags, lavender bags, and the little dogs are to be framed pictures.

One of my good customers asked me to make her a penguin embroidery. I ended up doing these five, as I struggled to get one that I liked. My customer loved them and ended up having all five! There were five more that looked even more weird and demented and they've gone over to the States as Kristi at Schnitzel & Boo fell in love with them!

I'm also taking part in the Schnitzel & Boo mini-quilt swap on Instagram and this is my little offering for my swap partner. To be in the mail in the next few days. It's my second attempt at foundation paper piecing and is far from perfect but I loved making it.

I'm beginning to feel like I'm going in the right direction with my little business. Once I'm through this batch of orders I'm going to be working on some samples to take into a local shop whose owner is interested in seeing my work and I have a thousand and one other ideas that I want to develop.

The admin side isn't proving to be my strength (!) but I'm getting there. I've now got a Moogsmum page on Facebook so do pop over and say hi if you do the Facebook thing :)

I've also had a 'business meeting' with my good friend Sarah today. Sarah is a brilliant ceramic artist who I first met at toddler group 15 years ago! She's now working full time on her business and posted a Folksy update on Facebook this week - I just couldn't help myself when I saw this gorgeous little pin cushion.
It feels so good to finally be doing what I love and I'm looking forward to a busy and creative 2015. I can hardly believe the change that I've gone through this last few months and all the tears and anxiety seem like a dim and distant memory. Here's to a great new year!

love Moogs xxx

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Doing the right thing

 I didn't anticipate taking three weeks to post an update on my 'Open Studio' day but I'm delighted to say it was a great success.

The night before I could not sleep and so I got up at 3.30am! After several huge mugs of tea I set to and by 6.15am everything was set up and ready - leaving me nearly 5 hours to wait until it all started!

As I said in my previous post I had no idea who would turn up. I'd invited friends and family only as I wasn't feeling brave enough to throw the doors open to the public just yet.

It turned out to be a really lovely day, with visits from lots of my neighbours, the in-laws and several very good friends. By 4pm it looked like this!

I'm still astounded at just how much went and also the number of orders it generated and so so grateful to everyone who came and supported me.

The past few weeks have been so busy with orders that I haven't had chance to add anything new to my Etsy shop as planned. I was getting myself a bit stressed about this until I reminded myself this is my business and it's up to me to decide what I do and when. So I've now let myself off the hook until after Christmas and have been able to crack on with some Christmas sewing.

A shirty quilt for Father-in-law, backed with a cuddly fleece blanket and hand-quilted because my baby machine hates quilting, which leads me neatly to the fact that shortly after my Open Studio I managed to sell my dear little car - now gone to a happy home, helping a young man get to his first job since graduating.

Although sad to see it go, it was totally impractical to keep it as Mr Moog commutes on his motorbike and I'm no longer doing miles and miles of work driving and was only using the family car to ferry dogs and teenagers about.

The very exciting result of selling my car is this:

Oh my word, she's gorgeous! Her name is Bessy and I know we're going to be very very happy together, especially as the very first thing she helped me finish was a quilt for Mother-in-law.

Machine quilted - because I can!!

In other news, I seem to have developed a liking for making fabric notebook covers just lately and yesterday whipped up five more, two of which are for my resident teenagers for Christmas.

There's been lots more sewing going on and there's a whole load more planned. I'm so amazed and happy with how things seem to be taking off and am busy making all sorts of plans for 2015. I have no regrets whatsoever for walking away from a job that was not right for me and I just know I'm doing what I should have done for years!

To round off, here's the only bit of Christmas knitting that is likely to get done around here this year. A pair of Little Alpaca Little Cotton Rabbits from Julie's brilliant pattern - made by special request for my cousin's daughter who fell in love with mine in the summer....she's 14 :)

If I don't manage to blog again before Christmas I'd like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and thank you so very much for cheering me on over the past few months.


Moogs xxx

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Open Studio!!

As usual time seems to fly by and I suddenly find it's ages between blog posts. However, right now that is a very good thing indeed as it means I've been far too busy with my new business!

My little brooches flew off the shelves in my Etsy shop and even led to some additional orders - thank you so much everyone who bought them, I really cannot tell you just how much I appreciate it :)

I've been sewing like mad, getting ready for this coming Sunday when I'm taking the plunge and hosting a Christmas Open Studio here at my 'studio' (kitchen/dining room!). Amidst all that sewing I also made up another big order of floral wash-bags.

My dear little sewing machine has worked her socks off and performed miracles. I've told her she can have a bit of a break after this weekend but then forgot I have a quick quilt to make for Christmas!

So, here's a taster of my sewing for my Open Studio..

Loads of bags, purses, brooches and key-fobs.

An army of Dammit Dolls - made from my old Recycle for Hampshire work shirts - delicious irony ;), with some little Red Robin Christmas Scented Sachets, made with fabric I had printed up months ago by Spoonflower, from a little sketch of mine.

A trio of patchwork cushions made with gorgeous Janet Clare fabric.

A quartet of fabric covered notebooks.

Four tiny framed embroideries...from a grand total of 19 - and this doesn't include the three that sold within a few minutes of me posting them on Instagram :)

I think it's fair to say I'm enjoying getting my little business up and running! I don't think I've ever been happier and am so excited to see where it takes me.

Finally, to welcome my Open Studio visitors I decided I needed a new wreath for my front door. Made in the same way as my previous one, using carrier bags taped together (yes, really!), it cost me nothing but time - the cotton reels were a very happy freebie when I bought an old sewing machine years ago and they'd been waiting in the loft for just the right thing  -and the denim was from a very torn pair of Minx's jeans.

So, now I just have to scrub my home and tidy like mad, bake a mountain of mince pies and make a gallon of mulled wine and hide all the usual rubbish that clutters up the corners....and hope that someone comes!

Moogs xxx