You know how excited I get when we have something really special for you—today we have something extra special for mixed-media stitch and fabric lovers. The Fabric + Paper + Stitch Collection is here, and it’s super limited, and completely amazing. It includes our new eBook, Fabric + Paper + Stitch, and an exclusive collection of incredible fabrics that will knock you out. Today I’ve got a fun tutorial for making a handmade book with the fabrics.
The eBook is a compilation of 19 thoughtfully chosen articles previously published in Cloth Paper Scissors and Faces magazines, and include mixed-media stitch projects for home décor, clothes and accessories, portraits, and stitched collage. Plus, there are two brand new articles: a handy stitch glossary, and a fantastic project from none other than Vivika Hansen DeNegre, editor of Quilting Arts and Modern Patchwork magazines. Vivika wanted to do the project because she was so inspired by the fabrics, and knew exactly what she wanted to make. The result is “Stitched Folk Charms,” and you will love her mixed-media stitch interpretation of milagros.
The fabrics in the kit are from LoveMeBlue in the UK, and when I started working with them, I knew immediately I wanted to bring them to you. They are nothing short of astounding—embroidered, embellished, printed, in gorgeous, vibrant colors. You’ll get a mix of 10 different pieces in a packet, and no two collections are alike. This is an exclusive grouping just for you, and they are extremely limited. Here’s what the packets look like:
I thought these fabrics would be fabulous showcased on and in a handmade book, and I was not disappointed. The book is super easy to make, even if you’ve never made a book before. I’ll walk you through every step.
For the covers, cut two pieces of thin chipboard 4″ wide by 7¼” high, with the grain running parallel to the 7¼” side (I used 20-point chipboard, but a cereal box or similar will work). To find the grain direction, bend the board in both directions; the direction with more give is the grain direction. Measure in 1″ from the left side for the front cover, and 1″ from the right side for the back cover, and draw a line. For the spine, cut one piece of 140-lb. watercolor paper 2¼” wide by 7¼” high, also with the grain running along the 7¼” side. Score and fold the watercolor paper 1″ in from both long sides. Gently round the center portion; you can do this around a thick dowel.
Note: We’re going to be sewing through the chipboard, so if you don’t think your sewing machine can handle it, or you don’t want to sew through something that heavy, do hand stitching, or machine stitch using 140-lb. watercolor paper for the covers as well as the spine.
Next, audition the fabrics for the covers and spine. Deciding which pieces should go where is the most fun, so give yourself time to play. You really can’t go wrong with these fabrics, so any combination will look good.
When you’re ready to commit, adhere the fabrics in place on the covers and spine. Cut the spine piece/s so they’re about ½” longer top and bottom than the length of the spine. The fabric/s you choose for the top and bottom of the spine should be relatively flat, with no heavy beading or embroidery. All of the other fabric pieces should extend about 1/16″ to 1/8″ beyond the edges of the chipboard and the long sides of the watercolor pieces.
I used glue stick to adhere the fabric, but you can also use fabric glue. Keep in mind the weight of the fabrics when gluing; if you’re using sheers, try to place the glue where it won’t show. Here are the fabrics and placement I finally decided on. The embellishment on the front was attached later. Notice that no fabric was glued to the 1″ border on the front and back covers; this is where you’ll attach the spine.
Take the pieces to your sewing machine and stitch away. I wanted the stitches to be part of the overall design, and used colorful contrasting thread with straight and zigzag stitches. If your machine has fancy decorative stitches, go for it. I didn’t stitch through the heavy embellished pieces, but tried to catch an edge or two. The eBook that comes with the kit, Fabric + Paper + Stitch has great information and tips for sewing on paper.
Attach the spine to the covers, gluing the spine piece to the covers on that 1″ strip. Brush glue on the 1″ sections and adhere the watercolor paper up to the line. I used PVA, but any heavy white glue will work. Since the fabric overhangs the watercolor paper a little, you won’t see the paper when you adhere it to the covers (in the photo below you can see how the spine fabric overlaps the cover fabric a bit). Make sure the watercolor spine can still bend where you scored it. Place the cover under a heavy weight for about an hour to dry.
While that’s drying, we’ll work on the pages. I wanted to make this mixed-media stitch book a little junk journal-ish, so I went through my paper stash and pulled out a mix of hand-printed and painted papers, found papers, decorative cardstock, and plain white drawing paper. I printed a gessoed map with a rubber stamp and acrylic paint, and stamped a design with a wooden block stamp and acrylic paint on pre-painted ledger paper.
You can also use these fabrics to embellish the pages. I used scraps for pockets, page tabs, hinges, and for decoration, stitching the pieces to the pages. Even the smallest scrap can be used.
The pages should be no larger than 7½” wide by 7″ high unfolded. I cut a variety of sizes, folded them in half, and nested 5-7 sheets together to create 4 signatures, or groups of folded pages nested together. The signatures will be sewn to a piece of bookcloth (you can also use plain fabric) and glued to the inside of the spine, so none of the stitching will show. Cut a piece of bookcloth or fabric 2½” wide by 7¼” high and mark the center at the top and bottom. Download the template, print it, cut it out, and center it on the right side of the bookcloth. Hold the template in place with low-tack tape, and, with an awl, punch a hole at each mark. Remove the template.
Cut a piece of scrap paper 7½” by 7″, fold it in half, write a T at the top, and center it on the template. Align the fold of the paper with one row of vertical dots. At each dot, make a mark on the fold. Fold the paper the other way so the marks are on the inside, and slip it into the middle of one signature, making the sure the top of the signature matches the top of the punching template. Hold the signature open at 45 degrees and, with an awl, punch through the signature at each mark, holding the awl parallel to the table. Remove the template and repeat for the remaining three signatures.
Sew one signature to the first row of holes in the bookcloth piece, using the 5-hole pamphlet stitch; consult the diagram below. Each signature will be sewn separately. This is an incredibly easy binding, but will hold the signatures well. By starting on the outside of the signature, the knot will be on the outside. When you bring the needle up through the middle hole at the end (#9), make sure it’s on the opposite side of the tail thread along the center stitch. Pull the threads parallel to the spine to tighten, and tie the threads in a double knot, capturing that center stitch. I used unwaxed linen bookbinding thread, but you can used waxed as well.
When all 4 signatures have been sewn, glue up the back of the bookcloth with PVA and adhere it to the inside of the spine piece, centering it.
Make sure the bookcloth is well adhered. Press the cloth with a bone folder, and make sure to press in between the signatures to make sure those areas are adhered.
Rub some glue stick on the fabric overhanging the top and bottom of the spine piece and tuck the fabric under the signatures. This may take a little finagling, but it’s not that tricky. Using a bone folder, make sure the fabric is completely adhered. Repeat for the bottom of the spine.
Cut two more pieces of bookcloth or heavyweight fabric 4″ wide by 7½” high and glue the pieces to the insides of the covers. Measure the height and width of the inside covers before cutting to make sure your pieces match the height of the outside cover pieces. If any of the fabric shows after gluing, trim it away.
Sew around the 3 edges of both covers, going as close to the edge as you can. I used a zigzag stitch.
All that’s left to do is decorate your cover, if you wish. I glued on a beaded embellishment I cut from a piece of fabric, then stitched it in place to make sure it wouldn’t come off. I hid the stitches on the inside cover by gluing on another piece of fabric.
Here are a couple of views of inside pages. You can see there’s plenty of room to add on:
Here’s the inside front cover, showing where I covered up the stitches with fabric:
Your book is ready for your artwork! I hope you enjoy this kit—it truly is one of my favorites, and you’ll find lots of inspiration and ideas for mixed-media stitch.