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.


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.


Cable Stitch and Twin Needle Couching

Yesterday I mentioned that my aim for today was to complete the work for Distance Learning Machine Embroidery Unit 2.

Weeks ago I started work on a sample of cable stitch.  Basically this involves using a thicker thread in the spool, and the underside of the work becomes the front.  I spent hours messing about with the machine and different threads.  If the threads are too thin it becomes ordinary machine stitching.  If they are too thick you can’t pull them up from the spool, or they fall off the spool.  I did find one thread that worked so I just used it to stitch a wavy line.  I wasn’t happy with the result. I checked the internet (google images) for inspiration, and though there were a few good examples I didn’t feel inspired.  Today I had to do somethig about it.  I decided to use the same piece as a test piece for practicing.  Not every piece of work is destined to become a work of art.  I found a few more threads that worked and I stitched some spirals.  Then I stitched some flower shapes.  After more trouble trying to find the correct thickness of threads I decided to throw in the towel.  This is what I did manage to achieve:


Though I’m sounding a little negative here, I have to admit that once I allowed myself to just start stitiching shapes, I did actually enjoy the process.  Despite the difficulties I’d faced I did manage to learn how to do cable stitch on the sewing machine.  With the correct threads (and I do now know what I can use on my machine) I think I could quite happily stitch away on a variegated background in the hope of producing a decent piece of work.  It is certainly something I could use to add texture.

My next little mind block had been the twin needle couching.  Again I searched google images for inspiration and found nothing.  I’d been thinking about this for weeks and nothing at all came to mind.  Today I decided that strips of material would be good for twin needle couching.  I opened cupboards and boxes, threw material about, and finally came across some fabrics I’d painted with acrylic paints and fabric paints, and drawn on with sharpies:


I’d spent a couple of days in summer splashing paint about and drawing on bits of fabric I didn’t like and was never going to use.  At the time I thought it was a brilliant idea.  Afterwards I wondered why I thought it was a brilliant idea.  Though I have used some of the pieces for backgrounds, many had remained in a box, forgotten until today.  I didn’t have any plans for the fabrics so I pulled out some blues, greens, a bit of purple and yellow and cut strips off them, about 1cm wide.  The strips were laid and stitched (using twin needle couching) on a piece of pelmet vilene painted with blue, turquoise and purple acrylic paint.  The colours were good, but it still looked a bit boring.  I suddenly find myself rubbing hard and pulling threads of the stitched strips and this is what I was left with:


The great thing is that at this point I felt quite excited.  I know that not everyone will like this fabric, but I thought it was quite scrumdidlyumptious! This is not a word I use every day.  What I find even more interesting is that if I bend the fabric or roll it, the edges stick out from the background making the effect really interesting. I don’t know what it was that I liked, but there was just something.  I know that it’s possible to create chenille using lots of layers of cotton cut on the bias, stitching rows and then cutting and throwing in a washing machine to ruffle it up, but it is very expensive (you need soft quality cotton and plenty of it).  Now I’m thinking that I could cut some of these strips on the bias, just use one layer on a background and ruffle it up and fray the edges more.  The twin needle couching will ensure I have a thin layer of fabric in the middle.  I could use this on postcards, to create small bags, wall hangings, tall vessels etc.  This one certainly has me thinking.

It’s interesting that yesterday I blogged about a piece of work that I’d spent ages planning and stitching and it did nothing for me, while today I had no plan, no idea where I was going and finished up feeling really enthusiastic again.  I guess the message behind this one is ‘Don’t overthink it, just play and enjoy the process.’

Well, I’ve had a lovely few hours stitching and blogging, and I’ve finished unit 2.  I reckon it’s now going to take me about 2 hours to tidy up the mess I’ve made, to find all the work to send to my tutor Anne, and to pack it and post it.  Think I’ll go for a walk first!

Reporters Notebook Cover

Months ago I started a notebook cover.  I had lots of small left over pieces of plain fabric which I painted, splattered, stencilled etc. with acrylic paints and fabric paints.  I stuck to certain colours – mainly blue, turquoise, greens, and a little purple and yellow.  I’d cut small pieces from the painted fabric and then stitched them onto backing with a zigzag stitch to produce a small piece of crazy patchwork fabric.  I also cut the inside fabric and two pieces for the notebook pocket and a side pocket.  That’s where I left it until today.  After an hours searching for the cut pieces and the instructions (I am so disorganised) I spent an hour or so making up the notebook cover.

The instructions I used were the shopping list and coupon organiser by Christina on the 2 little hooligans website (if you’re reading this, thank you for the tutorial Christina).  I adapted the pattern slightly – I didn’t include the zippered pouch (it’s a great idea but I’m a bit of a slap dash stitcher who always takes the easy way out).  The instructions were clear and easy to follow, with lots of good photos.

This is the finished notebook cover:


Isn’t it great that we can make such unique items by combining a bit of recycling, a bit of imagination and instructions kindly written by another blogger.

Guess what some of my friends will be receiving at Christmas this year!