Monday 30 July 2012


Not an Olympic cycling event, but my own pursuit - trying to catch up my TAST (Take A Stitch Tuesday) project.  I only ever had modest ambitions - to make a sample stitch each week on fabric pages that I'd made - but I'm failing to even keep up with that!

At week 30 I'm 13 weeks behind, and my pages look like this.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to learn the stitches that I don't know, produce samples of them, write and backstitch all the labels, and actually catch up with the rest of the group by the end of the summer.  So, just two or three small samples to stitch every week, having put just about everything else to the side, what with it being the summer hols and other calls on my time being made by my two delightful (mostly) small people.  It should be do-able, so check back in September to see if it was or not!

(I'm just a bit concerned that Barred Chain Stitch might be impossible for me - however often I look at the diagrams or photos I just can't seem to make my needle and thread produce something that looks right!  Wish me luck with that stitch in particular, please.).

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Free Tutorial - Mini Book - and a discount!

I promised a tutorial, and here it is.  Although I have used a 12" square of scrapbooking paper for this, you can use any size square of paper or (stiffened) fabric that you choose.  The book will finish at 1/4 of the size you start with so I've never used a square smaller than 6" as I think that it would be too fiddly to be able to use!

You will produce a book with three little pockets for tags, extra photos or ephemera.

Recipe: a square of paper, additional paper or card scraps, scissors, glue stick and double sided tape (or a sewing machine).  Optional: circle punch, small hole punch, threads or ribbons

First of all put the paper right side down onto the table and fold the square in half. Whenever you fold, please try and do it as accurately as possible, and as flat as possible - you will get the best result by taking care at this point!

Next fold the sides into the middle so that you have the paper in quarters length-ways.

Now rotate the paper a quarter-turn and make the same three folds again, so that you end up with a piece of paper folded into 16 squares.

You get to play with scissors now.  You need to make three parallel cuts, each of them three squares long.  Start with a cut on a middle fold.  When you've cut it three squares long, STOP!  Now turn the paper half a turn, and cut three squares up on each of the quarter folds.  Look at the photo if you didn't understand that instruction!,

Now start folding the squares concertina style.  Just take one end and keep going until you get to the other end.  You will end with a little stacked square.

The trickiest part now is to work out where your pockets are going to be.  If you pinch the two squares at either end together you can see that they make the front and back covers.  The middle twelve squares will make three pockets, and you need to have your paper in the right way for the pockets to be used - I go for the two facing up, one facing 'out' (opposite the spine of the book).

 I then hold the papers together and use the circle punch to cut out a finger dip at the appropriate point to remind me what I'm doing in the next stages.

The next stage is to glue all the pages together, wrong sides together, to make lovely strong pages.  If you are patient you can leave the book under a weight overnight.  If you are impatient you can carry on with care.  If you are really in a hurry you can sew around the pages and join pages and make pockets all in one!

Now using your finger dips as a guide, use two strips of double sided tape to make the pockets. 

If you'd like, you can ink the edges of your book using a pen or ink pad, so that the white edges don't glare

Your 'basic book' is now complete! Well done!

Time now to add a spine (optional - it's as much for decoration as for strength).  For this size book you will need to cut a piece of paper 1" x 3" and fold it in half.  Use a glue stick (or stitch it) into place around the spine of the book.  Again, leaving it under a weight to dry might be a good idea.

If you are making tags for the pockets, cut some more scraps (mine are approx 1 1/2" x 2 1/2") and make sure that they fit into the appropriate spaces.  If you are going to add ribbons so that the tags can be pulled out easily, then punch a hole (mine is 1/16") and thread and knot your chosen ribbon through.

Now you can really go to town! Perhaps a little patch or two of paper as mats for small photos, a thin layer of gesso (or watered down acrylic paint) where you want to write, drawn or stamped frames or decorations, photos, appropriate quotes....... this is where it really becomes your book.  It's your book, your contents, your style!

So, are you prepared to share your books?  If you make one, why not leave a comment with a link to your blog or photo area (you could perhaps start a flikr album if you don't have a blog, and share the link with us?).  I'd love to see what theme you choose and how your little book turns out!

Now that you've finished your own book, perhaps you'd like to buy another?  No affiliation, but 'The Works' have a couple of quilt books for bargain prices, some other sewing books (I got a Joel Dewberry one) - and they often have scrapbook papers too.  Ilike 15% off (until 2nd August) then press here and use the code that you are given  when you check out.  I bought three books and including P&P the total was under £12 - not bad if you compare it to the price of magazines!

Happy Crafting!

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Ex Libris?

Not really 'ex', as I seem to be creating my own miniature library of books, using different techniques and materials.

It started with my C&G book, then moved onto this stitched book (and look, now I've finished the pages around the edges, so it's ready to send off).

 Then I used some recycled papers - magazines, vintage cookery book pages, toilet roll, packing paper. All with a bit of cutting, some gesso for where I want my writing to go, and either stitching or glue to hold them, depending on the design.
 Then came two more 'book from a single sheet' books - one for each of my DD's.  I'd love to show a photo but despite a request that they should be available to demonstrate how a book could look to my gal pals, they seem to have disappeared into the deepest, darkest recesses in the house (or maybe not, just under something that I haven't moved, or neatly filed on a bookshelf and forgotten?  Who can tell - all I know is that none of us seem to know where they might be now). (Bitter?  Moi? !!)

Then this little book, more hastily put together as a demonstration piece (and sewn rather than glued, as that was going to be quicker for me).

It uses a single sheet of 12" x 12" paper,
with a little extra paper or card for the three tags where you can hide extra text or photos.  The finished size of the book is 3" square.

Next time I make one I'll try to remember to take photos for a quick tutorial.  They don't have to take long to make, and can be embellished / decorated / filled with whatever you fancy.  I like white gesso and gold stamped frames and decorations, but the possibilities are endless.

I had lots of fun with some of my girl friends creating last night - and you can see the book that Avril made here.  Cute book, and cute photos of it too!

Tuesday 10 July 2012

Who Knew?

Who knew that when mentioning my osteopath in the last post I'd be on the phone to the practice within minutes, squeaking with pain as my lower back had completely gone into hideous spasm, with pains shooting down both legs to boot?

Very ouchy indeed, and it's only now, after 5 sessions with the osteo (and more booked!) that I've been able to set my foot onto the sewing machine pedal for a few minutes.  So much for my idea of starting to quilt my log cabins!

On the other hand once the worst was over and I was able to sit up without wincing, I have been able to more or less finish a little book that I've been making for a friend's birthday.  As it happens, I've still missed the deadline (she celebrates today!) but at least the present won't be as late as I feared it might be!

It's been fun to play with variegated thread, to print out a few 'friends' related texts, and add a few scraps of cloth.

Not quite finished yet, but when I'm happy that the pages are busy enough (I want to give her plenty to look at!) I'll stitch round the edges of the double pages to conceal all the stitching, perhaps with another layer to stiffen them.

I'm just pleased that I had a little handwork ready to go 
 so that I didn't have to sit and twiddle my thumbs when I couldn't concentrate on anything much!  In fact, I should be setting myself up with another little project so that I've got easy access to something should I need it again.  Perhaps another little colour catcher project, as I do find them quite easy to stitch through, and I do like how they look.