Earring Storage Book

Not so long ago I mentioned that I’m always losing earrings, and that I’d made a wire tree so that I could hang my dangly earrings on it, and place it next to my bathroom mirror.  It didn’t work because the earrings fell of the tree, and sometimes the tree fell over.  I didn’t want to search for earrings in separate boxes, and I’d already tried hanging them on a wire mirror and suspending them on plastic canvas.  I’d thought about using a picture frame with fabric instead of a picture (thank you Dee Priest), but decided that would also end up flying off the window ledge.  Thinking cap on, I came up with the idea of a ‘book of earrings.’  I’ve had this a few weeks now, and so far it’s worked.  Here are the instructions:

For the separate pages (about 8 of these) I used even weave fabric, 5 1/2 inches x 9 inches)  folded over a piece of computer paper (nearest paper to hand) measuring approximately 5 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches:

Earring book 1The edges were stitched with cream threadMy idea was that I could hang the earrings through one layer of fabric, or studs could be pushed through all layers on a page at the back of the book :

Earring book 2I used a ruler and a pencil to mark out a grid of four rectangles.  The idea I had in mind was that a pair of dangly earrings would fit into each rectangle so that they would be stored neat and tidy:

The grid was stitched the grid in black thread (actually it was dark brown because I chose the thread during an evening stitching session and, as usual, I couldn’t see the difference due to the light – minor detail and I’m still trying to convince myself that cream and brown look better than cream and black – it’s not working):

I was undecided as to where I was going from here.  Maybe a stab stitch book?  I had to get the pages neatly together, so I took a strip of paper the length of the page, folded it in half three times and used a ruler to mark points 1/4 of an inch from the edge.  The paper was then used to mark points on each of the pages:

Earring book 5The pages were stitched together through these points, using cream thread, so that they were positioned correctly, and they were held together securely:

Earring book 6Next, I needed a cover.  I started with a little colour inspiration from my colour sketchbook.  I have an envelope at the back of the book where I keep pictures with colour combinations that appeal to me.  Eventually I take out a picture, stick it in the book and then test paints, search for threads etc, generally play with anything I can find that is in keeping with the colour scheme.  A bit like mood boarding on a small scale.  This is the combination I chose:

Earring book cover colour schemeI cut a piece of thick fabric (cheap charity shop find, probably curtain lining) and used acryic paints that were in keeping with the colour scheme to paint the fabric (roughly stripes made in my usual headless chicken I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going style):

Earring book cover paintedOnce it was dry I used stamps and a chinese brush (any pointed brush will do) to add another layer with the same colours.  I’d also tried some puff paint, but i didn’t like the effect so I scraped most of it off:

Earring book cover stamped and paintedThen for the stitching.  The fabric was placed onto lining paper (which acted as a stabiliser) and threads were chosen from the same colour scheme.  Lots of free motion stitching on and around the shapes and on lines on the background.  Unfortunately, this is where I had an issue witht the blurry photos, so I’ll explain how I put the book together before showing the finished photos.

Once the stitching was complete, I cut a piece measuring 6 inches (1/2 inch longer than the pages and 11 inches wide (this would wrap around the stitched pages from edge to edge).  Bondaweb was ironed onto this, and the whole thing was then ironed onto a backing fabric (again use a colour from the colour scheme).  The backing fabric was cut to the same size as the cover, and a zigzag stitch used all around the edge to secure the fabric.  The marker paper (which was used to mark the position of holes in the pages) was used to mark positions of holes on the front and the back of the cover.  A long piece of embroidery floss (you could use cord, string, anything in line with your colour scheme) was then used to stitch through the holes to secure the cover to the book.  If you start in the middle you will be able to tie the ends so that you can then wrap the thread around the book to hold it closed.  I hope that makes sense – if not please leave a comment and I’ll try to explain.  This is the finished earring storage book:

So far it has been a success.  I haven’t lost any of the stored earrings.  I have lost the book once – but that is because I hadn’t allocated a place for it.   I think I might have cracked the earring storage this time.  I’m now wondering what other little niggly issues I can deal with.  I’m sure I’ll think of something.


From Sketchbook to Travel Tags

I’m sat here in front of my laptop thinking ‘I can’t believe it was July when I last posted on the blog.’  Where did the time go?  More importantly, why didn’t I at least write a few posts every week during August?  Though I have been very busy I cannot find a good enough reason to offer to my friends who kindly spent their time reading my blog posts.  I apologise and starting today I am going to put things right.

I’m pleased to say that I have found a little time for crafts during the month of August.  Most of the time was spent finishing off little projects I stated in July.  Today I’m going to give an update of the project for Ackworth Embroiderer’s Guild.  You may remember this sketchbook page from my previous post:

I had attended an Embroiderer’s Guild meeting where Anne Brooke presented some of her work and told us her story.  Anne produces some beautiful work in her sketchbooks – I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes admiring one of them.  Don’t you think there is something really special about being allowed to look through someone’s sketchbook?  To me it feels like the individual is allowing you to look into their soul – everything is out in the open for you to see, sketches, thoughts, feelings, raw ideas – it makes my skin tingle just thinking about it!  Since then I have been thinking of my sketchbook as my ‘everything book,’  the place where I store little snippets, ideas, develop some of the ideas etc.  It’s turning into a little treasure, not because the art is brilliant, but because I know where to find what I’m looking for.  Previously I started a number of sketchbooks for different themes, and they are still sitting mostly empty on my shelves, apart from my colour sketchbook which has swatches from my different paints, crayons etc. and any colour theme ideas.

Anyway, back to the sketchbook page.  The challenge (presented that same evening) was to produce three gift tags to represent a country which was randomly chosen by members selecting a sealed envelope.  As soon as I opened the envelope I felt pleased and inspired by the name of the country I had chosen randomly.  Lots of ideas started buzzing around my head, and some of them can be seen on the page above.

I wanted to use a few different techniques to produce designs for the gift tags.  Here are the finished tags:

Travel tag 1 – hand stitched design on a plain background:

Stitched travel tag 1Travel tag 2 – Machine stitched papers:

Stitched travel tag 2Travel tag 3 – Sheer fabric on cotton, the design was machine stitched, bondaweb ironed on the back, the subject was cut out and ironed onto velvet and the outline was stitched again:

Stitched travel tag 3There is a competition for the best tags, and due to the high standard of some of the members I’m not expecting to be a prize winner, it wasn’t what I was aiming for.  Members are also going to be asked to guess the country represented in the tags.  I am hoping this is going to be fairly obvious.  What do you think?

Sketchbook and Photographs

We’ve had some beautiful weather here in Yorkshire these past few days, and I’ve taken advantage of it by going out as much as possible.  Today was perfect for walking, not too hot with a nice cool breeze.  I took my camera with the intention of trying to take a photo which would be worthy of entering in a local competition.  I was snap happy for hours on end trying to chase bees and butterflies.  I’m pleased to say I managed to snap several which were really quite outstanding when compared towith my usual photos.  These are the best of the photos I’ve taken in the last few days:

Tortoiseshell butterfly

Comma butterfly


Bumblebee on a thistle

Bumblebee on hogweed?  (I’m not 100% certain, please don’t take my word for it).

You would not believe how much these little beasties had me running around, jumping up, crouching down, cursing and spitting feathers.  It looks so easy doesn’t it.  Just creep up behind them, get as close as possible, point and click.  Of course, every time I do that the little critters fly away laughing their cute little heads off and I’m left with a blurred image of a butterfly or bee’s butt!  After this session though I know I do have a chance of snapping the photo occasionally.

This past few days I’ve also done something very daring for me; I actually took my sketchbook outdoors and dared to draw and paint in it whilst outside.  My intention was to do a scribbly sketch and add a little colour.  I went to and Embroiderers Guild meeting at Ackworth earlier in the week.   The speaker was Anne Brook, and very good she was too.  I spent a bit of time admiring her beautiful sketchbooks and decided it was time to make the effort with mine.  These are the quick sketches/paintings I did whilst outside – the pages are not finished yet, but I wanted to show that I had the guts to do it:

Sketchbook poppy

Sketchbook alliums

Sketchbook hollyhocks

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Sitting in front of the plants sketching, rather than taking a photo, really makes you look closely at the subject.  Suddenly I don’t feel too worried that I’m not producing a work of art, it was all about the focus and learning about the plant.

Finally, I also had to do some research for a little project for Ackworth Embroiderers Guild.  I was given 3 luggage tags and the name of a country.  I have to decorate the tags with ideas/images etc relevant to the country.  This is the sketchbook page from this morning:

In the past I’ve started quite a few sketchbooks on various themes.  I think the idea of placing everything in one sketchbook is much better.  I’m going to be taking this sketchbook out more often in future.

Sketchbook Pages

I’ve had a funny sort of day today.  I started out this morning painting some papers.  I left them to dry.  Then I sidetracked onto some crochet I started a while a go.  I kept looking at it and thinking that the colours weren’t right.  I’d used some different purples, green, cream and a bright pink.  I was fine with the purples and green, but the cream and pink just didn’t seem to work.  So I started unpicking it.  While I was unpicking, I decided I wasn’t sure of the pattern.  I’d used the african flower crochet pattern, which is beautiful, but it just wasn’t for me after all.  So, I decided a solid granny square might be better.  After searching the Internet for a pattern I settled down to try it out in a few different colours.  Here are the squares:


These are much simpler than the african flower and I’m thinking they will be easier to live with.  As soon as I’ve finished the post I’m going to crochet more.

I then moved on to a wall hanging I’d started ages ago.  I wasn’t keen on some of the stiching, so I started unpicking.  It’s sat beside me looking very sorry for itself!

Next I moved onto my sketchbook.  I settled down with a couple of prints of photos, some glue, pencils, and paint.  I started by sticking the printed photos in the top left hand corner of a page and let the inspiration do the rest.  Here are the pages:


As you can see, I’m still very fond of the hydrangea sepals.  I also liked the texture and colours of the stones.

I’m hoping that tomorrow I’m going to be more productive than destructive!