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.


Be creative Prompt for February 3 – Excel Art

Today I worked on the February Colour Prompt 15, which was the 7th February prompt on the Create Something Every Day Website.  The prompt involved being creative with the following colour scheme:

Colour prompt 15

I know there are some brilliant apps available for creating art, altering photographs etc., but I think that some of the basic applications that many of us have can be useful for the design process.  For some time I’ve been intrigued by a post I read about Excel Art. The artist Tatsuo Horiuchicreates art in Excel Spreadsheets.  Click here to see a post about the artist and the technique written in English.  You can actually download one of the files and deconstruct it.  I recommend that you give it a try, it’s very interesting.

I’ve previously made a few attempts to use excel to create art, but found it very difficult.  Today I decided to try again, and to keep it simple.  This is what I created using the above colour scheme:

excel picture

I’ve previously struggled with trying to create images in excel, but today I think I may have cracked the code.

The image was created mainly using the curve shape tool.  If you want to try the technique, here are some simple instructions.

  1. Open a new excel workbook and save it (I tend to do this first so that I can save regularly – give it an appropriate name e.g. Excel Art Test).
  2. Find ‘Insert Shapes’ – this may be on the Drawing Toolbar or on the Insert tab of the ribbon at the top, depending on which version you have.Insert shapes toolbar
  3. Insert a rectangle by clicking on the rectangular shape, then clicking on the spreadsheet and dragging out a rectangle.  Make it large enough to be able to use as a background for other shapes.  You can change the size of the shape by clicking on the shape, placing the cursor over the square on the border (the cursor will change to look like arrows), and dragging the small squares.Excel rectangle
  4. To create a shape, select the curve shape  (I’ve found that if you use some of the uneven basic shapes, grouping them together to form more complex shapes, there is a major issue when trying to change the orientation – avoid doing this).Excel curve
  5. Click at the point where you want to start to draw (I’ve found it’s easier to do this away from the background, and then to move it where you want it afterwards).  Move your cursor and click again a little further away.  Continue to do this to outline your shape or line.  When you get to the end of it double click.  This will end the line or join the shape.  If you join up a shape a border will appear showing the squares so that you can alter the size of the shape.  If you hover over the green circle instead you can alter the orientation of the shape.  Once I’ve double clicked to end the line or shape I find I have to click once back to step four and click once to select the curve shape before I can start another shape.   This part takes a bit of practice.Excel drawing shapes
  6. You may have a Quick Access Toolbar showing on the Excel screen.  This is really useful and saves time.  If you right click on it you can customise it.  Click ‘Customise Quick Access Toolbar.    In the box labelled ‘Choose Commands From’ select ‘Insert Tab’ and you should then be able to scroll down inthe box below to select ‘Shapes’  Click the ‘Add’ button and it will appear in the box on the right hand side.  Click ‘OK’ and the shapes menu will now be available on the Quick Access Toolbar.  This will save time selecting the curve tool.Quick Access ToolbarAdd shapes to quick access toolbar
  7. If you right click over a shape you should see the option to format a shape (try right clicking on the small squares at the edge if the menu does not appear). When you click on ‘Format Shapes’ you will find options to change colours of lines and shapes, add shadows, rotate objects, add colour gradients or patterns.  This is where you need to play with the options to find out what they will do.  You can always use the undo button to remove any unwanted effects.Format shapesFormat shapes options
  8. You can place objects so that they overlap, and then move objects forwards and backwards.  The options are available on the menu when you right click over the object.Front or back
  9. You can group shapes together to form a more comples shape e.g. join petals to form a flower, by selecting the shapes (go to select objects and then drag a rectangle around the edge of the objects you want to group) then right click and you will see the option to group them. Select objects
  10. For some reason I found it impossible to save the picture only from the Excel spreadsheet.  To save the picture I converted all objects to a picture by selecting all and using Paste Special, which then gives the option of pasting as a JPEG (which is a picture file) onto the same sheet.  I then selected the pasted picture, copied it, and pasted it into the Paint program so that I could save it as a picture file.

The best way to learn how to use Excel as a drawing or design tool seems to be to master the basic tools and play with them.  Spreadsheets are massive.  You can move objects around, copy them and move them to one side.  Copy a shape and alter the size and orientation to make it look different to the original.  You can trace objects by inserting an image, draw lines and objects (which you can make transparent) from the image over the top of it, then remove the original image.  Try it, you might be surprised by what you can do with Excel!

Shoppers Jotter or Notebook Cover Tutorial

Every December I start making Christmas presents for friends.  This year I made some shoppers jotter or notebook covers to fit jotter’s I’d bought at Morrison’s supermarket for 39 pence each.  This is an example of what they look like on the outside and inside:


All I needed were the shoppers jotter, a pen, small pieces of calico, spray starch, threads and water based crayons (which can be replaced with other colouring materials).  I felt so pleased with the results that I decided to write a tutorial for the shoppers jotter or notebook cover.  Here’s the link:

Shoppers Notebook or Reporters Notebook Cover Tutorial

Please feel free to download the tutorial and use it to make gifts for friends and family, or you can pass the tutorial on to friends who enjoy sewing.  Any comments and feedback would be much appreciated.

Enjoy x