Just a Stitch Journal

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been struggling with a process v. product dilemna. On one hand, I really enjoy hand embroidery, and the process of crazy quilting. On the other hand, I have no use for hand embroidered/crazy quilted finished objects. As a solution, I thought, well, I’ll combine it, sort of, with another hobby, bookbinding and journal making, and make journal covers. But, really, what am I going to do with a bunch of crazy quilted journal covers? Open an Etsy shop and compete with people who’ve been doing this kind of handwork for years, and have a much superior product? Give a lot of journals as holiday gifts? And then next year, everyone gets a crazy quilted pillow?

These thoughts, a tedious circle of ultimate goals, and products and finished objects, and perhaps time wasting, left me a little deflated. And by circle, what I mean was I was having conversations with myself that went like this, “This is so relaxing. But what am I going to do with it? Who cares what you’re going to do with it if you like doing it? I care what I’m going to do with it, because I don’t want schmatas hanging on my wall. What am I going to do with all of this fabric? Where will all these stitches go?” So, I put my crazy quilt down, picked up my knitting, and moved on. But, still I stewed. I really enjoy hand embroidery. Needle up, needle down. I hate to sound overly 7th grade English student, but it’s like playing the violin – pulling a bow across strings, stretching my fingers, making something pretty. Or perhaps, it’s like being on a boat, a steady rocking. Or maybe, it’s more like a swing, back and forth, rewarded with flight. Ok, enough with the metaphors. All I’m trying to say is that it’s comforting, relaxing, soothing, and peaceful, all the while being satisfying and exhilarating just to make something for pretty’s sake alone..

And then, I had a lightbulb moment. Pretty for pretty’s sake!  When, in the past, have I pursued something without any regard to the end product? Painting portraits, making art, arting in my art journal . . . hey, I thought, instead of making journal covers, how about the stitchery is the journal? The stitchery is the art in the journal, and the journal is all about the process.

So, I began researching what people do with the embroidery samplers they make. They must put them in a book or something, right? Other people must have this process v. product dilemna, too, right?  Not so much it seems.  This answer left me particularly discouraged.  I found tons of people who make fabric journals of course – similar to art journals, with fabric, lace, painting, plaster, etc., but those journals don’t really work for me because embroidered pages have to be bound after the fact, or I wouldn’t be able to put the fabric in a hoop.  I only found one person who was binding her  sampler embroidery into a fiber book. That’s not to say there aren’t others, but she was the only one I found with a tutorial.  And, back when she posted her tutorial, she was exchanging pages with others in her stitching circle, so there must be others, but I couldn’t find them.  So, following the little tutorial she made for this fiber book,  I set to work making my own.

I started with a 21 x 18 piece of craftstore canvas.  If you were interested in doing this, you could go smaller – I just wanted to have a nice margin so I could get my fabric in the hoop when I was working on the tops and bottoms of the pages.  I folded the canvas in the center, and marked my pages a 1/2 inch from the center line.  I then used a Million Little Stitches page size, 3.5 x 5.75, because it seems like as good a size as any.  This was really hard to photograph, but if you can see – the red dotted lines are the outlined page, and the solid, blue lines are lines for the buttonhole stitch, which is worked around the finished folio, and then used to sew the pages together, kind of like grafted knitting.  This buttonhole stitch method of sewing the pages together worries me – I think I would have liked something like a long stitch, or a coptic binding, but the way she does it allows you to know that the two folio pages are going to lay side by side in the book, and if I want to embroider straight across the fold line for a two page “spread” I could do that.  So, while I think the book would be sturdier if sewn into the binding, I’m going with her way, because her book does look great.

Here, you can see my measurements a little better. I used Frixion pens, which disappear with heat. It doesn’t take much heat to make the lines disappear – just a light touch from the tip of a hot iron will do the trick.   After I mapped out four folios, I erased the measurements, and any mismarks.  You could easily cut a bigger piece of canvas, and map out more pages, but I went with four because it seemed like a manageable size to be on my lap, and taking in and out of the hoop.

Once my book was laid out, I started stitching based on this Facebook Group’s stitch a day “challenge,” Joyful Embelishments.  I went with this prompt group as opposed to TAST, which I had mentioned before, because this group is going on now, in real time, and I thought that would be more motivating, inspiring, and butt kicking.  I thought I might catch up – but then I thought, probably not, no biggie.

So, here is my first page!  I was so proud until . . . how could I misspell stitch?  How?  I knit, I sew, I quilt, I embroidery – how how how could I spell stitch wrong?  The mistake has since been fixed.  I squeezed that darn “t” in there.  But, it’s not about the product, so it doesn’t matter that it’s not perfect.  It’s just my stitch journal.

And what are these little sheep doing here? Are they crazy quilt seam treatments? Is everyone making sheep in Joyful Embelishnments?  No, but again – it’s just my stitch journal, so I can do anything I want. And, since the prompt had French Knots, and I felt like making more knots – I made some sheep. Because sheep are always good.

And primrose? Again, not a seam treatment, but I was reading Red Brolly, and she did a tutorial on pinwheels, and I decided, hey, I want to make pinwheels.

So, I made pinwheels. Because I know longer care what the product is – it’s all about the process. It’s just my stitch journal.

And, to make it feel even more journaly, I’m thinking of adding some text, maybe a quote from the movie I was watching while stitching, The Fault in Our Stars, although kids with cancer may not be the vibe I’m going for, we’ll see.

It doesn’t matter, it’s just my stitch journal.

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