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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.