Studio Saturday Stitched Diary: Sewing on Paper and Fabric

One reason I love doing these Studio Saturday posts is that it gives me an incentive to try projects we feature in Cloth Paper Scissors. As we work with our artist contributors, I can’t wait to check out their techniques. The Jumpstart feature in the Fall 2018 issue, “The Hand-Stitched Diary” by Lynn Krawczyk, features sewing on paper and fabric. Her project doesn’t just live up to expectations, it exceeds them.

When I saw Lynn’s work, the very idea of a stitched diary stopped me in my tracks. The notion that you can express your emotions in embroidery and basic stitching was so intriguing. As Lynn writes, “As a lover of hand stitching, I find the connection between needle and thread and the way I am feeling to be strongly intertwined.”

Discover how you can document the facets of your life in stitch using amazing techniques for sewing on paper and fabric.
Discover how you can document the facets of your life in stitch using amazing techniques for sewing on paper and fabric.

Making a Stitched Diary

For my diary pages I used khadi paper, heavyweight handmade cotton rag paper with a natural deckle that’s a great substrate for sewing on paper. Lynn suggests ways to decorate the pages before stitching, so you’re not starting with a blank slate. The day I worked on one page, I felt like I had been running in circles, so that’s what I drew, using Ranger Distress Crayons. Adding a little water to the dots made the saturated colors really pop. When the crayon was dry, I emphasized some of the dots with a star stitch in black embroidery thread.

Start with a plain background, or use any mixed-media techniques you love to add color and pattern.
Start with a plain background, or use any mixed-media techniques you love to add color and pattern.

After that I chose a scrap of kantha cloth to work with. I liked its heft and the fact that it already had some stitching on it. More circles were sewn onto the kantha cloth using six-strand embroidery thread and a running stitch. I paid more attention to the cadence of my stitches than I did my technique—I didn’t care if my stitches were perfect. The kantha scrap was attached to the page on one edge with straight stitches in yellow.

I thought about my frustrations as I pushed the needle through the layers of fabric, and very quickly the process became therapeutic. I actually started to laugh, thinking of all the silly things that had happened during my day. That piece done, I looked for a textile that was somewhat transparent and immediately grabbed a piece of gauze. I stitched the gauze across the center fold with X stitches. I really liked Lynn’s idea of creating movable elements, that pieces don’t all have to be cemented in place. This gave me the flexibility of placing the gauze over or under the kantha piece.

Leaving some pieces semi-attached lends movement to the diary page.
Leaving some pieces semi-attached lends movement to the diary page.

Improve Your Mood: Sewing on Paper

The next day I felt more upbeat. In my lighter mood, I made rows of scrolls and loops on another page, using a dip pen and waterproof black ink. Some of the loops were enhanced with dots.

A dip pen and permanent ink are great for creating bold, graphic designs.
A dip pen and permanent ink are great for creating bold, graphic designs.

I found a piece of striped felted wool that looked equally as whimsical, and stitched it on with some Xs. A length of sari ribbon in teal was attached with a few French knots. I continued making the knots to attach the ribbon to the page, creating more loops. To add a bit more pop, I added watercolor around the edges. The whole thing made me happy just to look at it.

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On yet another day, feeling energetic and ambitious, I created a collaged background, using found and handmade papers. I was also eager to try different stitches to see how far I could take sewing on paper.

Choosing neutral tones for a collage background allows you to add whatever colors you like.
Choosing neutral tones for a collage background allows you to add whatever colors you like.

I tried a chain stitch in variegated embroidery thread on a scrap of the sari yarn left over from the other page, and it looked great. For more color, I diluted pink acrylic paint with water and brushed it on the page. The area where I had smeared some matte medium acted as a resist, and I loved the way it looked.

Collage elements offer lots of opportunity for sewing on paper.
Collage elements offer lots of opportunity for sewing on paper.

I then added a piece of a vintage quilt block, made more stitches, and did mark making with a dip pen and white ink. Those marks were enhanced with seed stitches done in white pearl embroidery thread to add some texture.

Working intuitively allows you to express your feelings in stitch.
Working intuitively allows you to express your feelings in stitch.

Making a Stitched Book

Lynn’s method for binding the pages is incredibly easy, and no book experience is necessary. When I look at these pages, I know immediately what they signify to me, and that deepens the entire experience. I purposely left some pages blank to continue to work on the diary; I look forward to it, knowing that the basic act of sewing on paper and fabric will benefit me in incredible ways.

Looking for a great new mixed-media challenge? Try a stitched diary!
Looking for a great new mixed-media challenge? Try a stitched diary!

Stitch is a great element to add to art journal pages; find out more about sewing on paper in this blog. I hope you try these techniques and discover the power of making a stitched diary.


Explore sewing on paper and making a stitched diary with these resources!

Categories

Blog, Handmade Books, Mixed-Media Techniques

About Tammy Jones

I'm the online editor of Interweave Jewelry and Cloth Paper Scissors. I love making metal and metal clay jewelry, enameling, mixed media, and collecting and creating with found objects. I also enjoy knitting, paper crafts like card making and scrapbooking, cooking, traveling, beachcombing, and snow!

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