Leaves Spiral Book Cover

A couple of days ago I decided to make another spiral bound book cover.  I had some lovely beige fabric with rectangles on it and wanted to find something colourful to make leaves to bond and stitch inside the rectangles.  I found a strip of waste fabric I’d cut off this poppy fabric that I’d painted last week:

At the time I cut the fabric I almost threw the thin strip in the bin.  There wasn’t really enough fabric to make anything (or so I thought) but I loved the colours, so I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away.  I am such a squirrel!

I drew different leaves on bondaweb, then ironed it onto the back of the poppy fabric.  I then cut out the leaves and bonded them inside the rectangles.   They were then stitched using a bright pink thread (chosen because it looked great on the turquoise and red of the leaves).  I used the same method to cover the book as described in my previous post.  Here are the photos of the front and back of the book:

And here are a few photos of the leaves close up:

I love the colours of the leaves.  I’m not too happy with the fabric covering the spine (fabric painted in the same red).  I’m thinking about changing it for a stiffer fabric, maybe in blue and red with leaves stitched onto it, or maybe stripes?  What do you think?

Spiral Bound Book Cover

Last week I mentioned that Irene Donovan of Sew Stitch Knit gave me this lovely sketchbook:

I was inspired to try to cover one of my spiral bound sketchbooks.  I had an idea that I would like to make a cover with leaves on it, so I started by drawing out a design (actual size) on computer paper:

  Next I went in search of material. I found patchwork remnants in yellow, red and orange:

I thought this would make some lovely autumn leaves.  I made a simple leaf template and drew leaves onto bondaweb.  The bondaweb was cut and ironed onto the back of the fabric:

I cut out the leaves and placed them on different fabrics to find out which looked good.  The one that looked best of all was a piece of murky green fabric I thought I would never use.  The leaves were bonded onto the fabric (I used a tracing of the design over the background to help me to position the leaves before ironing):

This was repeated for the second cover, but with different coloured leaves.  I then cut a 2 pieces of wadding and two pieces of computed paper the exact size of the cover as far as the holes next to the spine, made a quilt sandwich with the paper at the back and started to stitch leaf designs.  I used a teal thread which I thought would look great on the orange and red (colour dhange due to poor lighting):

When I added the wadding and paper I was aware that there was an issue to deal with.  I’d used Hobbycraft permanent adhesive spray on the wadding and when I laid the fabric on top the adhesive was showing on the fabric in places:

I dismissed the idea of trying to clean off the glue as it would probably make the situation worse.  If in doubt, cover your mistakes, so after pondering for a while I started stitching over the glue and adding machine embroidery to other areas to balance things out.  This is the finished machine embroidery:

The second cover was also machine embroidered, the fabric was pressed and the fabric was cut so that there was 1 inch of fabric border all the way around the paper and wadding.  On each piece the edge which would fit next to the spiral had to be turned under.  The corners were folded in first, then the edge and this was stuck down with pva:

The book cover was then glued and the fabric was placed on top and the edges folded under and glued in place:

This is how the cover now looked:

Next paper was glued over the inside of each cover.  I used lining paper sprinkled with bruso colours similar to those on the covers.  The paper was cut to just reach inside the edges of the cover.  It was glued over the holes and these were then cut out using a craft knife (the corner of each rectangle was marked first using a pin inserted from the front of the cover):

The covers were placed back on the book.  It is a little tricky, it just takes time.  Finally, a piece of the original patchwork was used to cover the spine.  The piece was cuta  half inch larger all round than the piece required (top to botton and front edge of fabric near to the spine to the back edge of the fabric near to the spine).  The edges were turned in and it was hand stitched onto the front and back covers.  This is the finished book:

The inside of the cover:

And the back of the book:

This project took a bit of thinking about, it was a bit fiddly here and there (especially as my sewing machine was playing up), but I’m sure I’ll be making more of these covers in future.  Thank you Irene Donovan for the inspiration!

Using Acrylic Paint on Fabric

There has been a little bit of interest in the fact that I use acrylic paint on fabric. I’ve promised to experiment with this a little, so yesterday I made a start.

I had a piece of old, well worn, polyester cotton sheet that was begging for a makeover.  The sheet was clean, white, no holes but very bobbly due to lots of wash and wear, so I didn’t have to worry about ruining the fabric.

I used Reeves acrylic paint and Colourcraft Fabric Medium.  I’ve checked the colourcraft website which is currently being updated.  I couldn’t find the Fabric Medium so I rang them and I’m reliably informed that you can use the Adva-Print Standard Binder which is basically the same thing as the Fabric Medium.

I mixed equal amounts of acrylic paint with fabric medium (if you want to be practical like me it was a blob of each),  added lots of water and then I started painting.   I just kept changing colours and mixing as I ran out of each colour.  Where you don’t want the colours to bleed too much just use less paint on the brush and dab a little away from the line allowing the paint to spread.  Here is the first piece of fabric painted and still wet:


I hung this out to dry and then ironed it to set the acrylic paint and medium.  Then I filled a bowl of water with quite warm water and soap powder and threw the fabric into it.  Here’s the proof!


I’m happy to say that the paint didn’t run out of the fabric.  I rinsed several times in cold water and hung it out to dry.  Here is the dry fabric:

Next, I had to deal with those little bobbly bits, and found that a bic razor and a piece of sellotape works wonders!  I added some wadding and backing, pinned them together and added some freemotion machine stitching using black cotton:

Sometimes it’s worth having a look at the back too for a little further inspiration:

I used the fabric to cover one of my black folders.  I measured the folder from the front edge to the back edge and top to bottom.  Then I added just over half an inch to the measurements and cut the fabric.  I added a piece of black polycotton to cover the back of the fabric.  Next I cut two black strips the height of the folder and about 6 inches wide each.  These would be placed at either side at the back to make the flaps to hold the folder (the edges that would show were turned in and stitched).  Then it was just a matter of pinning it all together and stitching around several times with a zigzag stitch:

The folder has gone from this:

To this: Fabric medium and acrylic paint are brilliant.  The fabric doesn’t go really stiff.  The colours are a little muted as the fabric medium is white, a bit like pva.  The paint does bleed into the fabric, but for me it adds to the character of the piece.  It washes well, I am even tempted to try it on a T-Shirt (my son had better beware next time he upsets me).

I have a little more stitching to look forward to as  I also painted this piece yesterday:

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this one yet, I might just use it is rather than add lots of stitching.   Fabric painting with acrylics is fast turning into my new addiction!

Layering and Cutting Fabrics

I’ve just spent a couple of days working on unit 3 of the Distance Learning Machine Embroidery course.  There is a section on layering fabrics and cutting back.  This is something I haven’t done before, so I didn’t have much of an idea of what I could and could not achieve with this technique.

After the visit to the Manchester Museum with Irene Donovan earlier in the week I was still feeling inspired by some of the beautiful artefacts that I’d seen.  I had another look through the photos and selected this picture showing an to see what I could do with it.

After studying the picture for a while I pulled out some black fabric for the background, some gold, white and red organza, and white thread.   I used a soldering iron to mark and cut the organza layers (the soldering iron also sticks the layers together), then placed the three layers on top of the black fabric and used a zigzag to stitch the white borders.  This is how it looked:

I have mixed feelings over this piece.  I like the design, but the stitching is uneven and the soldering iron doesn’t seem to leave clear marks.  Maybe I need more practice with this.  I felt at the end of it that bondaweb and scissors would have left cleaner edges, and I could then have placed the piece on an embroidery hoop for stitching.

The second piece was based on these beautiful egyptian eyes (painted on the side of a sarcophagus so that the mummy could look out):

The sarcophagus originates from the 12th Dynasty, approximately 1985-1773 BC.  Can you believe that something so old could be so well preserved and so colourful?  I was amazed!

This time I layered up the fabrics first.  From back to front the layers were white, red, black, blue, pink and green.  I stitched the lines in black using a narrow zigzag stitch, and then cut back the fabric:

Though I like the overall result I felt it took ages to achieve something with frayed and slightly messy edges.  Give me bondaweb and straight stitch any day!

A Great Day Out

I’ve been a little quiet recently, mainly due to laptop issues (fan not working and overheating), so yesterday I finally went out and bought myself a cheap (certainly by my son’s standards) laptop.  After spending hours clicking buttons and phoning helplines I finally managed to work out how to set it up and how to use it.

On Tuesday I finally met Irene Donovan from the Sew Stitch Knit blog.  We’ve been emailing and commenting on each other’s blogs for some time, so it was great to finally meet Irene.  Within a short time we were chatting like old friends and discovering we had lots in common.  The first thing we had to do was top up the caffeine levels and exchange gifts.  I took a goodie bag for Irene (pieces of fabric, silk tops, fibres etc.) and Irene gave me Khadi papers and this beautiful little sketchbook which she had covered herself:

I felt really honoured to receive this.  I’d seen the shell on her blog just after Irene stitched it, so it was lovely to receive such a personal gift.  I think this is going to be my ‘memories of a day in manchester sketchbook.’

We headed for the Manchester Museum, and it was full of lovely surprises.  The museum is laid out really well with some great artefacts, especially if you are always on the lookout for inspiration (as we are).  One of the great things we found is that you can take photos provided that you don’t use a flash.  We spent hours clicking away and I returned home with photos of egyptian hieroglyphics and colour schemes:

butterflies and moths:

coral, starfish, shells, crystals and lots of other interesting items.  What surprised me most of all was that they had vivariums with live animals.  The museum is involved in an active program dedicated to breeding endangered species.  This friendly Chameleon won  a little place in my heart:

  On Tuesday the python was out. Irene and I spent some time stroking it’s beautiful skin:

I really surprised myself as I used to have a real snake phobia, and it was quite a big python.  I made sure I kept away from the head though just in case!

When we eventually left the museum it was around 4.30pm, and neither of us realised we has spent so long in the museum.  We took pictures of some of the lovely old buildings on the way back to the centre, and after another coffeee we wandered through China Town and then back to the station.  We both agreed another meeting would be good, though we’re not sure when or where that will be yet.

Yesterday I finally made a folder cover using the painted and stitched roses fabric:

This is now ready to sent away to the young lady who was chosen to receive it.

I’m guessing I’m going to spend the rest of the evening transferring files from one computer to another, then I can get back to the arty crafty interests.

Mackintosh Style Roses

I have a gift to make for a young lady who likes roses.  I searched the internet for ideas and found some beautiful pictures of Mackintosh roses.  Two days ago I started making some fabric that I thought would be completed that day.  I didn’t realise just how much work would be involved in this little project.  Here’s what I did:

I used a roll of sticky tape as a template to mark out lots of circles on some cream fabric:

The colours I used for the roses were bright red, crimson, violet and a little orange.  I mixed acrylic paint with plenty of water and fabric medium (which converts acrylic paint to fabric paint) and started laying down colour following the curve of the circles:

I used the colours in turn to build up the circles, then added swirls of red water soluble crayon at the centre (wet afterwards with a brush and water to bring out the colour):

Next, the backround was painted phthalo green:

Then it was time for the stitching.  I wanted to give the impression of sketched outlines, so I used black thread to outline the circles a few times:

Lines were then stitched on the inside of the circles to try to give the impression of the Mackintosh style (arcs aroung the edges, spirals in the middle, variations and trying not to be too precious about each one):

Finally, the stitched leaves were added.  This is the finished piece of fabric:

My original plan was to use the fabric to make a cover for a folder.  Now I’m not so sure.  I’ll ponder on this tomorrow.


Fabric Paper Book Cover

I’ve finally found the time to do something with the small rectangles of stitched fabric paper that I made days ago.  When I started this little project I didn’t realise how long it would take to stitch the small pieces.  I lost the will half way through, especially when I realised that I planned what I was going to stitch the small pieces onto.  I finally realised that the best thing to do would be to use up the left over large pieces of fabric paper for this. My only concern was that you could see where the small pieces of paper were placed on the fabric, and I thought the fabric paper may be quite weak where there was no paper underneath.  Anyway, I decided that lots of colour was the way to go.  I cut the remaining paper into strips and stitched them together to make one large piece:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have lots of sketchbooks and they nearly all seem to have black covers.  I thought that using this to make a sketchbook cover would solve two problems.  Firstly, it would help me to determine how strong the fabric paper is.  Secondly, I would be able to find the right sketchbook without wasting time opening 4 before I found the right one.

I cut the top and bottom edges straight and wrapped the paper around the book.  The sides of the paper were turned inside the covers of the book to determine which areas I needed to stitch:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made sure the side edges were creased so that I could see the area where I could place the stitched rectangles.  They were placed randomly on the front and the back and stitched in place:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt this point I drew a line at the top and one at the bottom where I wanted to stitch the edges (with the sides folded in).  The edges were stitched just using a straight stitch, and the sketchbook was placed inside.  Hre are the front and back covers:


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fabric paper was tough enough to withstand all the bending and folding, stitching and pulling about whilst I worked on it.  A few of the corners of the small rectangles are a little dog eared, but nothing that a little pva won’t put right.

So, the verdict on the fabric paper.  It’s strong and it shows the colours (when painted with watery acrylics) beautifully.  Using patterned paper under the tissue paper is useful if you want to stitch outlines of any patterns, but can be a bit limiting if it’s all over the place.  I still have a little bit left which I will use in other projects.  The next time I make fabric paper (which will probably be very soon) I will make some with plain (computer?) paper and some with patterns (wrapping paper or computer paper with drawings, outlines etc (maybe using permanent pigment pens).  Next time it will also be a planned project rather than a case of ‘I’ve started, but I don’t know what to do next.’  I think it’s time to use the sketchbook.

Sketch of Tobias

I’ve been very quiet for a few days. and that’s because I’ve been out walking as much as possible.  I live very close to the Trans Penning Trail and there are some beautiful walks by canals, along disused railway tracks, around reservoirs and through woodland.

Yesterday I walked with my friend Sandra and her dog Bonnie (aka Bonnie Boo Banana Dog) to Newmillerdam. On the way we passed fields full of rapeseed flowers:


This is the view over towards Emley Moor (you can see the mast on the horizon):


I wanted to walk to Newmillerdam to see the bluebells, and I wasn’t diappointed:


I have never seen as many bluebells in my life.  It was absolutely beautiful.  We sat for a while enjoying the view and breathing in the beautiful scent of the flowers.  We both agreed that you could travel to the ends of the earth, but you wouldn’t find anywhere more beautiful than a wood full of bluebells.  It’s so nice to be reminded that there is beauty all around us.

Today it was my friend Sandra’s Birthday.  I wanted to give her something special, something personal, something that showed I’d put some thought and effort into her present.  I’d given her a thread sketch of her dog Bonnie at Christmas and she was over the moon.  Last year she lost her lovely dog Toby.  We both miss him very much as he was such a lovely character.  I knew that she would really like a sketch of Toby, so I spent some time sketching the little darling.

Allow me to introduce you to Toby, also known as Tobias Tea Bag, Satanic Hellhound and Squirrel Hater:


I’m sure you will agree that this little terrier has quite a title.  Samuel (my friend Sandra’s son) named him Tobias Tea Bag; where that came from we do not know.  The Satanic Hellhound and Squirrel Hater part came from his favourite passtime of chasing squirrels (and cats).  Thankfully he never caught either.

Though Tobias is now in the great hunting ground known as doggy heaven, we often feel sure that he is joining us on our walks, especially as Bonnie has started exhibiting some of his little behavioural traits (we think he could be whispering instructions in her ear).

Toby was a bit of a Jeckyl and Hide character.  When outdoors he considered himself to be Tobias the great hunter and pack leader.  Tobias loved taking us on long walks down dead ends.  We have a rule that we never turn back, and he seemed particularly happy when we were trying to scramble through thorny hedges or climbing impossibly steep embankments.  If Toby wanted to follow a path, he let us know by stopping and staring.  If we tried to ignore him he would lay down on the ground, cross his paws (another of his nicknames was Posh Paws) and stare so hard that we would swear that his eyes were boring into our backs.  Sandra spend a lot of time laughing when I chased Toby.  He always managed to adjust his speed so that he was running along about 3 feet in front of me.  When I wasn’t expecting it he would suddently stop and try to trip me up.  His reward for being caught was having his wiry coat ruffled and his tum tickled. When Toby was home he became a different dog, he was soft, lovable and just wanted the longest tummy tickle ever.

I gave Sandra the framed picture this morning:


She loved the photo, and though it was a really good likeness (particularly the little wet nose).  I then took her out for a meal and we went to see Fast and Furious 7 (I hadn’t seen the other 6 and spent much of the time annoying her with lots of questions like ‘who are the goodies and who are the baddies’, ‘is Kurt Russell really that old’, ”whose funeral was it’, ‘is it in the past or now’, ‘why is it so loud’ etc.)   She did agree at the end that there was more testosterone flying around in that film than and other film we had ever seen.  And there was muscle all over the place.  Unbelievable!

Anyway, I am back down to earth now.  I have made a little more progress witht he fabric paper stitching, but it’s a slow process.   I love the texture, but I’m realising those little pictures showing through the tissue paper can restrict what I do with it.  I think that next time I make some I will either use plain paper underneath the tissue paper, or plain paper decorated with permanent ink, that way I can decide on the theme and what to include.  More on this tomorrow.

Stitching Fabric Paper and Update

Today I’ve spent a little more time with the fabric paper.  I switched to black thread (despite the fact that some people think it’s harsh, I really like the defining black outlines).  I’ve also cut into the fabric paper.  Being honest, I really thought that the top layer (tissue paper) would disintigrate, and the bottom paper (the fabric) would fray.  I’m happy to report (should that be unbelievably happy I ask myself) that the fabric paper cuts like butter (maybe not quite, but that’s the most undesirable cliche I could think of at this time of night).  I still think the fabric paper is wonderful stuff (I can’t think of a better Yorkshire lass description unless it is ‘Clever Stuff).  This is where I left this little project today:


As you can see, some of the fabric paper was stitched in gold, and some in black.  Most of the pieces are rectangular.

I found myself wanting to stitch leaves.  Then I started thinking of symbols.  If you had a symbol to represent yourself, what would it be?  I’m asking myself, would mine be a leaf?  Is it already a leaf?  What kind of leaf?  I need to explore this idea.

I’ve also spent time today reading ‘The New Creative Artist’ by Nita Leland.  I ordered it from Amazon this week, and it arrived within days.  When it arrived I was impressed by the hardback folder (good value at the price I paid), but even more important is the fact that I’ve been absorbed by this book ever since.  The book is very thought provoking, with inspirational examples. If you get the chance, do read it.