When I made my stitchbook a couple of years ago a few readers asked me to write a tutorial on how to make the actual book. Life got in the way and apologies but it was never written. The double page spreads were evenweave linen whip-stitched together with a textile cover…
As I’m just starting to make my Anthea Calendar SAL and wordplays into a book, I thought rather than writing an actual tutorial, I would write posts as I’m going along with the various stages and link them together on a separate page. Hope that helps everyone. It’s hard to write an actual tutorial when so much depends on how the pages are made in the first place and how you want it to feel. I’m also making it up as I go along!
Preparing the pages.
These embroideries were all stitched on a square of even-weave linen, supposedly 36 count, though a 28 count sneaked in ! One factor that has become apparent whilst stitching this book is that all 36 counts are not equal! There is variation between manufacturers, so I tried to keep to the same make, I usually use Permin linen as I like the crispness and they have a wonderful colour range. Linen, I also discovered this time, also varies between the warp and the weft thread. The warp thread runs along the length of the piece, the weft goes from weft to wight (sic! sad, but thats how I remember it!!) Usually if you are creating a single picture that doesn’t make a difference, but if you are wanting pages to match up to be stitched together, it does. Once I realised this I tried to always have my linen the same way up, using the selvedge as a marker.
Once each page was stitched I stitched another row of back-stitch where the page edge would be. I stitched over four threads rather than two (equivalent to two cross-stitches) both for time and also as it does give a little wriggle room if I needed to fudge it!
Once the embroideries were complete I applied a square of interfacing to the back, just inside from the back-stitching line. This gives strength to the pages and also makes ones on a thinner linen more opaque. It also has the advantage of showing clearly if any squares are a bit out size-wise.
Stitching the pages
I trimmed the outer edge to about 1cm from the back-stitched line. I tried on one page to trim the corners to reduce bulk. However it didn’t seem to noticeably reduce bulk at the corners and made it more difficult to get a neat finish as corners were more likely to fray.
I double and triple check that the pages are the right way up and in the right order!
I finger-pressed the seam over at the back-stitched line and then whip-stitched the two rows of back-stitch together. I just used an embroidery floss that coordinated with one of the pages, you could also use a contrasting stitch to make a feature. I’ve also seen books with beads added say every 5th stitch which looks really pretty. It also crossed my mind whilst stitching it that you could use a blanket-stitch to link the two back-stitch rows, probably giving a clearer edge. I just kept it simple!
I also decided to always start at the upper outer corner of the page. My theory here is that if the pages don’t match perfectly (and they don’t always!) the fudge side will be in the spine of the book or the lower edge! I had one page which was about two stitches out, I could have stitched another row of back-stitch, but instead I just caught two linen threads instead of the back-stitch. It also taught me to check the sides of the page before I start stitching, just by holding them together. This means if I need to make alterations I can do it more evenly, rather than having the design not central to the page.
Once stitched together I’m pressing the corners and seams initially with steam and my tailors press on my wool pressing mat. I’m then just pressing the edge with the steam iron, avoiding the stitching where possible.
I’ve stitched six pairs of pages together so far, so half way through the year, though I still have to embroider a title page and a back page. Last night I thought up a design, so hopefully they won’t take too long.
Next stage will be binding the pages together, though I’m still working my methods out for that bit!