Saturday, 21 September 2013

Sewing with oilcloth

When my mum first asked me if I would make her a bag from oilcloth, I was a little bit dubious. Having never sewn anything with oilcloth before, I wasn't sure how to go about it. I had read that I might need a special foot, tissue paper, and all sorts of other complicated bits and bobs. However, in the end it turns out oilcloth is not really that scary. Fiddly yes, but scary no. 

A bit of research lead me to Norfolk Textiles, who have a huge range of oilcloth in many many different patterns. I wasn't sure what to expect but I took advantage of the free swatches they offer to order some samples and let my mum pick her favourite. She also chose a simple canvas tote bag pattern from Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts (it's the bag on the front of cover in fact) as a basis for the bag. I ended up making a few adjustments, including chopping about three inches off the top and attaching the straps to the inside of the bag rather than the outside.

Since this was my first time sewing oilcloth, I had a bit of a practice run on a small strip of oilcloth first until I was happy with how the material was moving through the machine.

So how was sewing oilcloth any different to sewing with other fabrics? Here are a few pointers:
  • I covered my standard sewing machine foot with masking tape to stop it sticking. I tried attaching masking tape to the feeder plate too but that really didn't work (note to self, if you cover up the teeth that feed the fabric through the machine, it won't move through properly. Duh)
  • I used a denim needle
  • I found it helpful to pull the cloth through the machine slightly to make sure it fed through smoothly
Other than that, it was pretty much business as usual.


To make the straps, I folded the oilcloth and sewed down the raw edge. The great thing about oilcloth is that it does not fray, which means there is no need to finish the seams. It is not advisable to use pins with oilcloth because they leave a mark, so instead I marked the position of the straps with a felt tip pen and placed the straps in position when I sewed the top of the bag down. I then sewed around the straps in a box shape to add a bit of strength.  


Sewing this bag was a bit of a learning curve but I'm pleased with how it turned out - and hopefully my mum will be too! The whole bag was made from half a metre of oilcloth, which makes it a pretty cheap make. I also bought another half metre in a different pattern for myself, so there may well be some more oilcloth sewing happening in the future. 

In other news, we signed the contracts for our new house yesterday and hope to move in during the second week of October. Not long to go! I'm very excited about the move but not so excited about the packing - eep! We really need to get cracking. However today I took a little break from packing to head to Birmingham for the day. I was on a very strict budget due to the house move (plus new purchases equals more to move!) and I think I was quite restrained. I limited myself to two lengths of fabric from the wonderful Barry's - predictably some owl fabric perfect for pyjamas, as well as some dinosaur fabric which is destined to be pyjamas for the boy, who has been requesting dinosaur pyjamas for quite some time. This fabric was perfect so I had to snap it up!

What's on your sewing table at the moment? Have you ever sewn with oilcloth and do you have any top tips?
K xx

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Things making me smile this week...

I wanted to share a few things that have been making me smile this week...

The weather has become distinctly autumnal this week. Everyone around me is mourning the loss of summer but me? I don't mind at all. I may be the only one, but I've been rather looking forward to it! I think autumn is my favourite season. I love snuggling up with a good hot chocolate, wearing cardigans and walking amongst the colourful leaves while it is cool but not too cool. This week I wore my minoru jacket for the first time in a good few months. When I put it on I noticed that my brooch from the Birmingham meet-up was still attached - that must have been the last time I wore this jacket. It made me smile remembering how awesome that meet-up was and how great it was to spend time with so many lovely ladies. I've kept the brooch on the jacket - I think it goes quite well and when I put it on it never fails to make me smile. 

My Corinne cardigan is coming together rather well - it's even starting to look like a cardigan. The way this is knitted is really interesting - the cast on edge is down the front of the cardigan (on the left in the picture) and knitted vertically across. The shaping is achieved by knitting short rows. To make the sleeves, you hold the first set of stiches on a stitch holder, cast on more to make the sleeve and continue knitting round. You then cast off the new stitches and pick up from the side to continue round the back. This makes a lot more sense when you do it - trust me! This would be a great beginners project as there is no complex shaping required, and the whole thing is done in garter stitch. Such a simple knit, but I think the finished article is going to be a really snuggly cardigan with three-quarter sleeves - perfect for autumn (I best get knitting!). The only downside is that it is now too big for me to take on the train so it's been relegated to a "home knitting" project - meaning it gets less attention!

And finally...

Paul Hollywood's White Chocolate and Raspberry sourdough. I've made a few standard sourdough's recently but this is my first attempt at branching out a bit. Admittedly, this is a bit soggier that Paul's version but it is TASTY. Yum yum yum. 

The other thing making me happy this week I'm not able to illustrate photographically - things are moving really well with our house, and we hope to sign the contracts in the next week or so. Eeep! I'm already looking forward to my brand new sewing room - but slightly dreading the process of packing the whole house up...gulp...

What's been making you happy this week? Share the happiness :)

K xx

Monday, 9 September 2013

A very snuggly bunny

I think I've mentioned Craft Days before on this blog, a wonderful craft shop in my home town of Saffron Walden. It's probably a good job that this shop was not open when I was growing up, because I think a large amount of my pocket money would have been splurged there! It's great to see this shop is flourishing in my little home town when so many shops around the country are closing - a true sign of the growing popularity of crafts in general - and it has even expanded relatively recently. They sell a variety of yarns, fabrics, beads and general haberdashary, and also run a wide range of classes. Last time I was there I picked up some Fur wool from the range by Erika Knight (anyone who, like me, is an advocate of British yarn, check her out!) with the intention of knitting a gift for a small person using a pattern also from Craft Days. Now that the said small person has made his entrance into the world (and taken receipt of his gift) I can now share with you this very snuggly bunny rabbit.

I tell you, the small person was lucky to get this bunny, he is so snuggly I was very tempted to keep him for myself! Knitting with fur wool takes a little bit of getting used to as it can be a bit fiddly, but it knits up SO quickly. I think all the main peices for the bunny were complete in a couple of evenings and then the making up took a few more evenings. So all in all a speedy make. The yarn is a little bit pricy (at least for someone who until recently was quite happy with acrylic!) but definately worth it. The best thing about this yarn is that it is very forgiving - you can sew everything up on the right side, even using a different yarn if you so desire, and the stitches disappear out of sight. Magic.

I'm really pleased with the way this bunny turned out, and I forsee more on the horizon. I enjoy knitting baby toys and garments (I'm not going to lie, this is partly because they knit up quickly and I am impatient so this suits me!) and I have several friends who have recently announced pregnancies so there will be a whole heap of baby knitting happening over the next few months. I tend to stick to the same few patterns for baby knits and recently I have tended towards toys rather than clothes, as I worry clothes are outgrown quickly.

What are your favourite things to make for small people - knitted or sewn?

Or maybe you are a mum (or dad!) yourself - what were the most useful or most loved handmade baby gifts you recieved for your little ones? I would love to know!

K xx


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