Friday, June 25, 2010

Adding Stitching, Decorative and Functional

Stitching is a great way to add some interesting texture to your pages, and at the same time, it can be functional -- an alternative to glue in attaching two pages together.
You can use yarn, fibers, ribbon, string, cord, chains....whatever will fit through the holes you'll create (more on that later).

The stitches  can create a border around the edges of a page, or go straight down the middle.  You really are only limited by what you can imagine.

You can hide the stitches on the back of your page by gluing a blank page to the back, or you can use stitching that works well with both sides of the page (you'll see an illustration of that further down).

To start, I'm going back to the pages I did that created pockets for tags.
Remember, I used double sided tape from the points to the center to hold down the pockets.  I've decided to reinforce the glue (and add some interest) with some simple stitching.
First, I'll put my cutting mat under the page I'm working on to protect the pages that come after it.  Using my piercing tool I'll poke holes where I'll thread.
I love my Tim Holtz ruler for this.  It's clear and it has holes in it for perfect spacing!  Of course, you don't need this tool.  You can use a plain ruler and poke your holes at regular intervals.

**NOTE**  If you don't own a cutting mat, a mouse pad will work.  Or a thick piece of corrugated cardboard.
If you don't own a piercing tool, try a sharp nail or tack.  There is always a substitute if you think about it.

After your holes are all done, thread your needle with whatever you decide to use (I've used leftover floss from a needlepoint project here) and sew.  It's as simple as that.
If you leave a long tail at the end of your thread, you can even add some beads and have something cool dangling off the edge of your page.
If you don't add the dangle, finish your sewing with a knot and trim the ends close to the knot.  I then add a tiny dab of clear glue to the knot to make sure it doesn't come loose.  If you are covering the back of your page with something or gluing it to another blank page, you can just tape the end to the back to secure it, as it will eventually be covered.

Here's what the two pages look like now that I've sewn both sides:
Now, the back of the left side of this two page spread is actually a page that I've already done.  Normally, you'd make sure that you have blank pages under your stitching, but sometimes, if you think about it ahead of time, you can plan stitching that will work well on both pages.
Here is what the reverse side looks like with the stitching:
It's that collaged page that faces my niche.  The floss I used works well on both sides.  You'll probably see this page again somewhere along the way, as I do plan to add some more to it.

If you want to use heavier material in your stitching, you'll need larger holes.  There are any number of punches that can create holes or slots for threading many things, including ribbon.  Here are a few that I have:
The next two photos show two different styles of stitching with ribbon.
With these punches you are limited in where you can place them by how far into the paper they'll reach.  If you want larger openings in other parts of your page you can use your piercing tool and work it around to make the hole larger.

Do you like to work with a sewing machine?  Well, obviously you can't sew directly onto your pages with a machine, but that doesn't mean you can't include machine stitching on your pages.
Some time back, I was in a vintage photo page swap, and I created this element by machine stitching a copy of a photo to a dyed piece of fabric:
I had one left over and decided it would be a great addition to my altered book.  First, I looked through my fabric scrap pile and stitched together several pieces to form a patchwork.
Obviously, I am not an expert sewer....far from it!  Good thing I like the rustic, handmade look.  I then took one of the pages I'd originally torn from my book, glazed it with a color that goes with my fabrics, and using my machine, stitched together the three layers:  paper, patchwork, and photo.
I used paper as the bottom layer because I'll be gluing this entire piece into my book, and I thought attaching paper to paper would be easier than fabric to paper.  But this was just a thought.  Sticky tape should adhere fabric to paper quite well.   Before I glued it down, I added some buttons, sewn directly onto the piece.  Here's how it looks in my book:
The photo is of my father with one of his younger brothers, and I stamped the word "brothers" with an alphabet stamp set.
I hope you'll consider adding some stitching to one (or more!) of your AB pages. It's fun, it's easy, and it adds a great deal to a page.


  1. I am SO going to do an altered book after reading all your great tips.

  2. FABULOUS Pages, Additions and Ideas ~~ Eileen!! :)

  3. Wow - what a fabulous post. I have ideas in my head, but not one has made it to the book yet. :-)

  4. Great technique - will definitely add this to my book! I need more hours in the day to do everything I want to do! Thanks for the lesson!

  5. I've been waiting for another great art journal post, and here it is! Very cool, and great tip about sewing to a page that's been torn out and then glued back in. Lovin' this.

  6. Great ideas! BTW, fabric will adhere to the pages with gel medium just fine.

  7. Hello Paper Queen

    I LOVE your altered book, and certainly enjoyed reading this post.

    I'm very interested in your variety of punches as I'm creating a book too.
    I'm only using the cover and inserting watercolour paper pages.

    Punches 3 & 4 do you know who makes them and if they're available on-line?
    I'm in New Zealand and haven't seen them in shops here.

    I'm following you now and look forward to your updates.

    Please come and visit me and I'll get out my prettiest teacups and make YOU very welcome!

  8. Gorgeous work and wonderful techniques- thank you so much for sharing these amazing pages. I look forward to visiting again!