In August I finally finished the last workshop in the Stitchbook Collective series by Helen Bellingham of Untangled Threads. It’s been a great experience and a huge learning curve as I tried techniques and products I’d never even heard of! We made several samples each month and I chose two (usually!!) to go in my final sample book, so I had twenty four samples on thirteen pages…all I had to do was make it into a book…
Helen provides calico pages to stitch the samples on which have five little tabs down one side for binding, it’s a lovely technique, I watched her video on how to do it, but first I needed to make covers and add something for the front and back page – I’d stitched my samples in so they were opposite each other.
I played around with various left over samples but I was finding it difficult to suss out the size I needed at the same time. In the end I decided to make a pair of calico covers first which I could then decorate and pop a stiffener inside. I found some lovely buttermilk coloured calico in my stash which was perfect. I made a simple sleeve just a little bigger than the sample ones. Initially I just left a hole for turning, but I soon realised if I was going to add a stiffener I would need one side open, so out came the seam ripper!
With the size determined for the covers it was much easier to work something out. On the front I used a sample of faux chenille stitched onto two pieces of hand-dyed calico. I just used simple running stitch and cross-stitch…
On the inside cover I simply added a label. These were made by my friend – she has a little business on facebook called Quirky Birds. This was one of 25 labels on a mixture of fabrics, printed with random quotes, all for £6, a bargain! I thought this one was quite apt…
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
I decided to use what I think is called Bosal to stiffen the covers, it’s a bit like a very firm, thick interfacing, one side is fusible, it’s used in bag-making. I cut a piece to size, slotted it in so the fused side was on the inside and iron it. It’s worked very well I think, all I had to do then was slip stitch the top together.
The first page uses a sample of gel plate printing, I titivated it with some tulle ribbon, blue lace, some buttons and a bit of stitching. Initially I was just going to include one of my labels, but I decided I really ought to initial and date it, just for the record!!
For the back cover I used another label “Out of limitations comes creativity” together with some more hand-dyed fabric and a bit of running stitch….
On the inside I used two samples from the rust-dying experiment,the buttons are little mother of pearl ones stitched upside down. The back page has a joomchi sample with just a circle of running stitch.
With everything stitched I just had to put it together. The idea behind the tabs is that a spacer is used inbetween each one such as a bead or a pretty felt ball. I had some fairly small wooden beads which I had earmarked for the job but when I tried them it would have been two bulky – bearing in mind that I have a thrirteen pages plus the covers, even taking into account the bulkiness of some samples. I started rummaging through my bead box and found some small very pale mauve beads, they work perfectly. I used some beading thread and a very long needle which Helen had provided in a kit I bought previously. On the front and back I decided to use little mother of pearl buttons to start and end each row of beads. I love the effect of the beads as you’re leafing through the book.
I’ve put together a bit of a slide show of the various pages and samples in my book, if you want any more detail click on the tab to the right which says ‘Stitchbook Collective’ and all the posts should come up.
I can highly recommend the Stitchbook Collective, the workshops are still available and I think she is planning a new series next year. It certainly pushed me well and truly out of my comfort zone – I was definitely a neat and tidy embroiderer before, not a raw edge in sight!! Whilst I still enjoy the neat and tidy way, I also enjoy the more free and easy style as well now!