Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Those of you who've been with me all year will know it's been an eventful one in the House of Moog. I, for one, will not be sorry to say goodbye to 2009.

There have been some bright spots, of course.

Learning to knit socks and nurturing a new found obsession with all things knitterly has gifted me many happy hours whilst life goes mad around me.

The latest pair off the needles - in never-to-knit-again Noro Kureyon. Pair #18 - since February!

Two weeks ago we even managed to reacquaint ourselves with the beach. No-one would believe we lived on the south coast if they saw how little we visited it.

However, thanks to my homemade 'do something different everyday' advent calendar we HAD to go to the beach on 'Eat chips on the Beach' day. This, of all things, recharges the batteries.

Especially when beach huts....

....and rocks, are involved.

So, the turkey and cranberry sauce are a'waiting. Mince pies, pigs in blankets and raspberry trifle are on the list for tomorrow. Beds for m-i-l and f-i-l will be made up in the morning. Toilets will be cleaned. Moog's stocking will be stuffed.

Wine will be opened - a bit.

Finally, to spread a little Christmas love here's a treat.

Lots of love and a VERY Happy Christmas xxxxx

Friday, December 11, 2009

Moogsmum's top tips for sewing oilcloth

Phew - that was quick! After Quinn said 'yes please' to my offer of oilcloth sewing tips I thought I'd get onto it before I distract myself with inconvenient things like children, laundry and trying to find my home under all the mess.

None of these tips are my invention. They were all found in various places all over the internets but proved so useful that I thought I'd share them.

So here goes:

Top tip #1: Paperclips

Obviously, when 'pinning' oilcloth ready for sewing you really don't want to be using actual pins - these will leave unsightly pinholes that may even be liable to tear. So, to keep your seams together or to prepare folded bits, like bag handles, you can use good old fashioned paperclips.

Just be careful not to push them too far onto the oil cloth as the inside end of the paperclip can catch on and tear your cloth.

According to the internets you can also use masking tape to the same effect and can even stitch over it - and then spend 10 days picking it all out of the stitching afterwards!

Whatever you do DON'T stitch over your paperclips. Your sewing machine won't enjoy this.

Top Tip #2: Stop it sticking to your sewing machine.

Oilcloth - or, as is more likely these days, vinyl coated cotton, does not flow smoothly through the bed of your sewing machine. Quite the reverse, it sticks and nothing those hard-working little feed dogs can do will budge it through the machine.

This tip worked brilliantly. Simple cut a small offcut of oilcloth and tape it, with masking tape, right side down onto the bed of your machine in front of the needle.

Don't cover the needle bed or the feed dogs - this won't help. As you'll see from the picture, I only put a little bit on, over the plastic part of the machine bed. Next time, I'd use a bigger piece which, for my machine, would mean covering the bobbin housing. Even this small piece made a huge difference to the cloth moving through the machine.

Top Tip #3: Start stitching

Set your machine to a medium to long stitch length. Stitches that are too close together may result in the cloth tearing - especially with PVCs rather than vinyl coated cotton.

Your standard sewing machine foot will not like oilcloth one little bit. It'll stick like crazy.

It'll probably cope fine with sewing the oilcloth when you're sewing a seam with right sides together i.e. you'll be stitching on the reverse of the cloth and the reverse of the cloth will be touching the machine bed.

However, when you want to topstitch handles like this

you need to do something with that foot.

You can go to the sewing machine shop and treat yourself to a Teflon sewing foot.


if you have a walking foot like this

it should work like a dream. Mine coped brilliantly with topstitching and I also used it for all seams - mainly because it's a pain in the neck to get on and off the presser foot shaft.

To insert zips you can use your normal zipper foot as you'll be sewing on the wrong side of the cloth.

To topstitch your zips, you'll need to make a little adaptation to your zipper foot.

Here's my zipper foot.

Here's my zipper foot after some very technical adaptation with the masking tape.

This worked brilliantly too. The masking tape counteracts the stickiness factor.

Top Tip #5: Testing testing!

Perhaps this should have been Top Tip #1 but better late than never.

Keep a few scraps of oilcloth handy and test your sewing throughout whatever it is you're making. Each time you change the sewing foot, grab a scrap of oilcloth and do some test stitching. You may need to fiddle with tension or stitch length - test again.

There is NO room for bad stitching on oilcloth. You will not be able to undo any stitching that doesn't work. It will leave a row of horrible holes in your beautiful cloth and unless you're very confident at being able to restitch exactly over where you unpicked, you'll be able to tell it's been unpicked!

Top Tip #6: Needles

I've read all sorts of things about what size or type of needle to use with oilcloth. Most seem to say use a size 16 or 18 heavy duty needle or even a leather needle.

I looked at a size 16 needle when I was about to start sewing my lovely new bag and it looked HUGE. I could just imagine it making mahoosive holes in my beautiful cloth. I chose a size 14 and decided to start with that and see how I got on.

I got on fine.

The nice sharp, strong but not too thick needle coped with every stage of the sewing. From sewing two layers on the side seams to sewing up to five layers when stitching the handles into the seam, it slipped through the cloth without a grumble.

Use whatever makes you happy.

Top Tip #7: Research

You just cannot beat doing a bit of research before you try something new like sewing oilcloth. Personally, I swear by the internet - it's a very handy little thing on a computer where you can go and ask questions about just about anything and find lots of interesting answers and sometimes some rather surprising pictures.

Here are some very useful links:


I'm now going for a lie down having gone quite dizzy after blogging twice in a day/week!

Bags and bags of bags

We're getting into the Christmas groove here in the House of Moog. Feeling in need of sparkly things we set to and got our decorations up nice and early.

Although not as early as the people round the corner who have already had their decorations up for three weeks!

As well as busy work stuff, busy school stuff and busy cubs/brownies/swimming stuff there's been some busy sewing stuff.

Minx's class teacher from last year was so thrilled with the bag we made for her that she asked me to make one for her sister - who loves lady shoes and pink

and one for her Mum, who loves owls - and pastel colours.

Then the Headteacher, who bought the posh black bag at the Ladies' Night, asked me if I'd make two more. I was given total free reign with colours/fabrics and I have to say - it terrified me!

I think I got there in the end though and she said she liked them.

After that little bag making marathon I felt I deserved a reward.

This bag has been brewing in my mind for weeks now and when we were in London recently I treated myself to a metre of oilcloth from Cath Kidston. What with flu and work and life I just hadn't had time or the inclination to make the mental picture come to life.

I think this is just about my favourite bag ever that I have ever made ever in my whole life ever - this makes me so happy! Shame the crubbish photo doesn't show those lovely pleats up so well but take my word for it - this is exactly how I'd hoped it would be.

-big, roomy, stands up on it's own and it's winter proof!

I drew up the bag design for this and the little posh bags myself and they even have zip closures! If I can sort out the technical bits I may put the patterns on sale in my poor neglected etsy shop in the New Year - what do you think?

That's not quite the end of this bag-heavy post. I just had to show you these too. This is what I made for my Rainbow swap partner and I really wish I'd made one for me too!

Making that bag was some of the best crafting fun I'd had for ages and I really hope my swap partner likes it. I don't actually know if she's received it as I haven't heard - I just hope it didn't go missing in the mail as it was sent a while ago and may have caught the tail end of the postal strike.

Here's the rainbowy pouch to match the bag - in my very favourite Kaffe Fassett fabrics from Rowan - yummy colours :)

I think my next post might have to include my top tips for sewing oilcloth - what do you reckon?

In the meantime, I think my next bag is going to have to be made with this.

Monday, November 30, 2009

H1N1 = K1P1

It would appear I may have succumbed to the dreaded pig flu. For much of the past week, myself and my Minx have spent our days sofa bound, coughing, aching and watching more kids' movies than I would care to admit. According to the NHS website our symptoms were fairly classic H1N1 but as neither of us saw a doctor, we've decided just to call it flu, as our symptoms were also fairly classic for just about any kind of winter flu.

Although I was too poorly to go to work, do any housework, or venture off the sofa for any length of time, I did manage to muster up the energy to get some knitting done. At least, after the first two days I did - before that my wrists ached too much to knit for longer than ten minutes at a time!

M-i-l's Christmas pressie was finished. A Fan Neckwarmer in yummy Sublime cashmere merino silk.

Next came one for me - a super simple and oh so cosy Baktus scarf in utterly delicious Malabrigo Silky Merino.

Shortly followed by another one for me - a simple chunky ribbed neckwarmer in squishy Misti Alpaca, edged in leftover Malabrigo.

Next on the needles - something far scratchier - simple stocking stitch socks (for me!) in very pretty Noro Kureyon. If this wool hadn't been so gorgeously colourful I would have given up. It's like knitting with rough garden twine and so hard on your hands.

I've christened them my Itchy and Scratchy socks!

To balance out the rough I opted to cast on an Ishbel scarf with the softest, gentlest and cuddliest Alpaca Select 4ply.

In the meantime, I've also been ribbing away on Minx's legwarmers - tedious but mindless knitting that needs to be done for Christmas.

...and if the K2P2 ribbing gets too tricky, I started on a bit of stocking stitch, in the form of some wristwarmers for Monster - also to be finished for Christmas.

With us both now on the mend and back at work and school, I anticipate the knitting slowing down a little. I have a whole load of work to catch up on, orders to sew and have to be very strong minded to resist the siren call of the knitting basket!

It's not going to be easy.

WHOOPS! I almost forgot to mention that my gorgeous baby boy had a birthday this month - hangs head in shame...

So here's a belated bloggy Happy Birthday to my lovely Monster - now a very grown up 10 year old!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Smiley stuff

After the past two weeks of ugh, things have taken a definite turn for the better.
Our very orange sofas, that my husband treated me to on Freecycle a couple of years back, have gone.

...and in their place two lovely blue sofas with washable covers....

....from a local charity shop.

We have an old for old policy in this house ;)

As if that wasn't exciting enough, I then received a parcel in the post.

Now, if something with this on the package turns up on your doorstep you just know you're going to be in for a treat.

Just feast your eyes on this glorious bundle of Rainbowy Rainbow Swap gorgeousness. all made for me by my very very clever and lovely bloggy friend Gina.

Thank you SO MUCH Gina - I LOVE everything you sent! The children were pretty excited too and soon laid claim to the Skittles :)

Minx has been promised this fabulous bunting for her sparkly new white walls.

Mmmm....just the thing to beat the ughs :)

Carrying on with the lovely stuff, here's the low down on a fab bloggy time in London this weekend.

I ran away on Friday afternoon - leaving Moogsdad with the mess and the task of supervising carpet fitting, followed by some shuffling around of furniture and reinstating small people in their very own (and very white) bedrooms.

First off, I arrived at Waterloo bang on time and after a brief text conversation arranged to meet Trashy beneath the clock. Moments later I turned at the sound of Trashy's whistle - she has me well trained...what can I say?!

We then met up with Mrs Locket and headed to Marylebone Lane for a bit of a mooch at the ribbons in VVRouleaux, via Cath Kidston for a spot of fabric shopping.

I failed totally to unearth the camera on Friday but suffice it to say, it was all very pretty and most therapeutic - the antithesis to the home I'd left behind!

After a bite to eat we headed to our luxury hotel for an evening of chat, giggles and knitting - lots of knitting.....never mind the nightclub next door....oh no....we entertained ourselves royally sitting in a row on our beds click-clacking away with our various woolly projects. We didn't need to go to the nightclub anyway as they kindly shared the music and shrieks of hysterical drunken fun for the majority of the night.

I'm getting old.

Saturday dawned bright and breezy and we headed out to Islington for some yarn-filled retail therapy.

Unfortunately, our destination shop didn't open until 11am, so we had to do something to kill the time.

This was the quietest they'd been all weekend ;)

On the stroke of 11 we dashed to Loop - see Trashy there? All blurred due to her haste to be first to dive in? Lucky she'd had that sugar fix or I'd have beaten her!

I got really rather overwhelmed in Loop and not only because of all the absolutely amazing floor to ceiling woolly stuff. One of my favourite knitwear designers, Ysolda Teague, was in there, setting up displays of some of her stunning designs. I eventually plucked up the courage to speak to her and tell her how fab I thought she was and how starstruck I was at meeting her.

She was so lovely - she didn't run away but stood and chatted with me and was so nice. Her designs are just incredible in real life - such a treat to have seen her there.

Whilst in there, Locket's bossy big sister (BBS), lovely niece (LN), and Emma Pebble arrived. Emma, Trashy and I ran away to Liberty while Locket underwent some intensive magic loop sock training.

I oohed and ahhed and stroked lots of things in Liberty but didn't buy anything. I did, however, treat myself to something very gorgeous from the brand new Anthropologie store on Regent Street.....just for me....for being a good girl and not throwing a hissy about the chaos at home....I felt it was the least I could do :)

I love it.

We then reunited with Locket, BBS and LN near Covent Garden and spent an hour or two 'enjoying' a late lunch in Nandos - where the staff apparently prided themselves on being uncommunicative and less than helpful.

A quick trip to the bead shop rounded off the day and we all said a fond farewell and headed off to our various train stations. I do love meeting up with my bloggy friends, especially as I feel we've known each other for years and this weekend was just what I needed.

I'll be back soon with photos of some gorgeous bloggy gifts, some rather lovely wool and two newly decorated bedrooms :)


p.s. The craft stall went much better than expected on Thursday and proceeds helped fund my purchases in London. There may even be a little Etsy shop update soon.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I know it's going to be worth it.....

.....I know I'll soon have my 'conservatory' (and access to my fabric!) back....

.....I know that Monster will soon have his own room back to make a mess in.....

.....I know that my recently renovated bedroom won't look like this for long.....

......I know that we won't have to keep moving furniture from room to room for ever.....

......I know that this will soon be bright white with more than a spattering of pink.....

......and that this will soon be bright white with more than a spattering of Lego......

......but it still makes me feel like screaming 'I'd rather be sewing.....get me out of here!!'

Right now I feel like this house is trying to swallow me up!

I'm just so very grateful for the uncharacteristic attack of foresight
that led me to get most of my craft stall sewing done two weeks ago!!

For now, I just need to do this:

because it WILL be worth it, won't it?


Sunday, November 1, 2009


Don't tell Moogsdad I'm here - I'm supposed to be helping!
We're having both of the children's bedrooms plastered this week and I should be helping him find homes for all their stuff!

I just had to pop in to show you these, though....
My Through The Loops Socktoberfest mystery knitalong socks. I have loved every single minute of making these. They are the perfect introduction to knitting patterned socks - much easier than they look!
Ooops....I may have been caught in the act!
See you later xx

Monday, October 26, 2009

As promised.... of sewing - and a bit of crochet.

The craft stall production line has been in full swing. I've tried to keep things simple in the hopes that the people attending the school's Ladies' Night in a few weeks time will feel tempted to buy.

Lots of flowery brooches.

Little fabric baskets and lavender hearts.

A slightly bigger fabric basket.

Those, and a whole heap of keyrings, fridge magnets and a few shopping bags were all made last week.

Today, with the little people fully occupied at Cubs, I had a full day to sew.

I managed three bags.

The planning took longer than the sewing. I still have another three to sew.

So, here's little posh bag #1.....

Little posh bag #2.

Big roomy posh bag #3.

Unfortunately, I seem to have taken a liking to this one and may have to keep it!

All were made from Scrapstore remnants that I unearthed from my stash. In fact, all of the things I've made have come from my stash. I've had to buy a few zips and some interfacing but overall spend has been kept to a minimum.

I'm feeling rather pleased with myself - can you tell?