Monday, 18 July 2011

Sewing with Oilcloth

It's a great time to be stitching as there is a wealth of beautiful fabrics out there, and choosing materials is one of my favourite occupations. I can spend literally hours in fabric shops- and it's not just hours I spend a lot of. This year is particularly great for oilcloth- I'm not sure whether there is more oilcloth fabric available or now that I'm happy to sew with it and am looking for it I'm more aware of it- either way there is a fantastic choice and a good selection of coordinating fabrics.

Although called oilcloth what we are actually buying is not true oilcloth but a form of PVC coated cotton, but lets not be pedantic and oilcloth sounds so much better than PVC. It is a really useful fabric and I love it for bag making. It has taken a while for me to become confident sewing with it and producing items of a quality I'm happy to sell. I'm frequently asked for advice about sewing with it, so here are a few tips that I've found really helpful;
  •  a teflon foot on the sewing machine helps to stop the top surface of the oilcloth sticking to the foot
  •  a sharp needle- there is nothing like oilcloth for blunting needles and you will probably find that you need to change the needle frequently. Also I tend to use a large needle (16).
  • using  a larger stitch helps when top stitching (also take your time)
  • it may seem obvious but use the iron on the reverse side only- and use it on a warm setting.
  • if creased a warm hair dryer or lying the cloth flat in the sun are simple ways of reducing and removing creases. I would also suggest storing in on a roll rather than folded to prevent it creasing.
It is quite versatile - the fact it doesn't fray makes it great to use for applique work (you can use a temporary spray adhesive to hold the applique in place prior to sewing).

The teacups on the shopper are taken from another fabric and appliqued onto the main fabric. I've even had a go with my embroidery machine on oilcloth and the result was quite successful- even though I say so myself.

Oilcloth is really not that difficult to handle and the tips above are quite useful when sewing with it, so I would recommend having a go and having some fun. I use it for bag making, but have also made aprons with it, cushions for use in the garden and changing mats. I'm sure I'll be using it for other projects in the future.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Cottage Garden

The Cottage garden is very small but is a little haven of loveliness and at this time of year is looking its best. It's nice to go down first thing in the morning to see what's opening out, and everything looks so fresh at that time of day. I'm afraid it is allowed to grow a little wild but  'a little wild' is a style I like. It encourages the birds and insects, and my favourite (and one of the most secretive) inhabitant of the garden- the slow worm that lives in my compost heap. It is such a joy to see it, very occasionally, sunning itself on top of the heap.

One  of my favourite shrubs is the hydrangea and it is looking particularly good this year. It has an abundance of flowers that are a gorgeous deep pink colour. When there are so many flowers I don't feel so guilty about cutting some of the flower heads to put in a vase. They make really fanastic display, and last quite a long time in the house- brightening the day when the sun's not out.

When the weather is good I try and plan my day so I can retreat to the garden for a little while at some stage. I take some work or a book down there and get the deckchair out, and sometimes I may even do some weeding.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The coffee cup pincushion

This little pincushion has been such a success on the stall- it is a really simple idea and very easy to make. The idea sort of developed when I saw clever folk making candles in teacups, and I then came across a supply of little coffee cups- so with a bit of fiddling and few trial runs the pincushion came about.

The pincushion is fixed in the coffee cup- the top is made in good quality 'quilting' cotton fabric ( I think it probably a good idea to use a densely woven cotton- it will wear better if you're repeatedly sticking pins in it), and it is filled with polyester toy filler so it is quite firm to touch.
It looks really sweet but is very practical as the cup makes a very stable base for the pincushion- so it stands very nicely on the table next to the sewing machine.

It has been a great talking point on the stall and I've been given other great ideas for uses from non- stitchers, including for displaying hat pins or brooches.

I have now listed the pincushion online for sale- there are some available in my etsy shop ( ) and there'll be more coming including the ones I make with little applique designs on them.