Sunday, 24 February 2008


I've finally started being creative again! It's been a very long summer break this year. I've been busy making a cover for an A6 journal, an ATASDA NSW Branch challenge.

I began with a piece of textured and slightly stripey gold furnishing fabric, which was serendiptiously donated to the group on the day of the challenge. Originally, I was going to make my cover with simple fold-back pockets to hold the book covers but that looked pretty boring. I quickly decided my journal should have a decorative front flap, like the one that Kirry . was demonstrating at ATASDA this month, to get us excited about the challenge.

First, I pulled out some silk paper that I made with Erica ages ago, and I loved the way the raggy edges looked on the gold background. So instantly I imagined my flap with raggy edges, vaguely leaf-shaped. But it looked a bit funny folded over the plain gold front, so I added a bit more of the silk paper to the section that will become the front cover. Now the flap and the front cover look like they belong together. They will need something to distinguish them apart, though. I ratted through my collection of butterflies, the ones that flutter around my design wall. I had a big kick on fabric butterflies several years ago, and ever since then, these butterflies have perched in odd places, as brooches, sitting on bags... wherever they want to go. One of the pink butterflies flew onto my journal.

The front cover looked a bit odd when the flap was open, with just the silk paper. I wanted some open space and I didn't want to add much bulk under the flap, but I remembered buying some gorgeous organza ribbon with dragonflies on it. I stitched the ribbon in place before I laid down the silk paper, as a little surprise hidden under the flap when it's closed, but a bit more interesting once the flap is open.

The silk paper isn't robust enough to cope with the rough handling the flap will get, so it needed the support of the background fabric. I also wanted the inside of the flap to look good, as this will be visible when the flap is open. I found a gorgeous red fabric in my miscellaneous fabric stash, something that was also a free giveaway, leftover from someone's dressmaking.

I wanted a slide-in pocket for the back cover, so I extended this heavy dressmaking fabric for the pocket. I added fusible webbing just to the end that will be stitched. I figured that the back pocket should be quite strong, as I'll probably end up tucking Important Bits of Paper inside it, so I reinforced the inner edge with twill tape.

I didn't want to extend the silk paper much past the flap, so I knew I needed something to go over the edge of it, to be an end point, but also to mark the front edge of the book and ensure the cover doesn't impinge on the stitched area. I scrabbled around in my ribbon box and found some green paper ribbon, from a birthday present wrapping. I ironed it carefully and cut it into strips. I always Like to use elements in more than one place, so I also used this ribbon to mark and reinforce the spine of the book and I used it as an edge to the back pocket, to help stiffen it.

Now I could do some of the structural stuff. I stitched the back pocket to the back of the cover, right sides together, with a very narrow seam and turned it right side out.

I wasn't happy with the length of the flap from the front pocket, so I decided to add a double band of the lining fabric as an edge. The seam is thicker than I'd really like, but it's a fairly robust edge for the front pocket. I can't sew the front pocket yet, because I need to stitch the silk paper first.

Here's what it looks like so far:

and the inside: The inside is still unfinished, because I want to do the stitching before I put the lining on.

Next, I satin stitched around the edges of the silk paper on the front cover and flap. My satin stitching is not very good, but I keep persisting, since I don't imagine it will get better by wishing. I used two threads, pink and green embroidery threads, in the top and just the pink in the bobbin. First I did a narrow satin stitch around the edges, then I carefully trimmed the whiskers and went around again, with a slightly wider and longer stitch. This gives a nice fat, firm edge and covers up my inevitable disasters in the first pass.

Then I dropped the feed dogs and, using my free motion foot, free-motion zigzagged shapes like leaves, following the fibre lines in the paper. Then, using a darker shade of pink alone, I free-motion straight-stitched some round shapes like fruit or flowers, in the areas of the paper that were pink. In the remaining sections, I free-motion stitched divisions, vaguely like leaf veins. This was just to give the paper some definition and help it withstand handling.

Now the piece looks like this:

I'm so happy with how it looks! Tomorrow, I will do some beading and work out the fastening, which will be hidden by the butterfly. My butterfly doesn't have any antennae at present, so I will need to do a bit of wire work to make those too.


Laurence said...

Thank you for your comments. Butterflies and your book are very nice.

mereth said...

Wow, that looks amazing! I've been thinking about making a journal cover, with inside pockets to control the terribly Important bits of paper, but it would be nowhere near as gorgeous as this. I think I'm more comfortable with all my quilting than this technique, but I do admire your abilities.