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.