Monday, March 10, 2008

Scrapbooking 201: Handstitching

A Stitch in Time

I have done a lot of different needle & thread hobbies in my lifetime including sewing, cross-stitching, embroidery, and knitting. I enjoyed each of these hobbies and was thrilled to find out I could incorporate some of these techniques into my scrapbooking. It’s a very portable technique and embroidery floss comes in every color and shade imaginable. The floss is cheap and very easy to find (craft stores, walmart, etc). It's amazing how much dimension and interest they can add to your pages without adding too much bulk.

Tools & Supply List:

* Needles
* Paper piercer or thumbtack
* Needle threader
* Floss – (note: I will refer to floss generally, but you can use ribbon, hemp, fibers, wire, etc as well)
* Pencil or disappearing ink pen
* Tracing paper (optional)

Getting Started

1. Map out your page. Decide where everything is going.

2. Draw your design. You can either pencil (or use disappearing ink pen) the design directly onto the page, or use tracing paper. If you use pencil you will need to erase your lines later.

3. Once you have the design in place, create your holes. To do this, lay your page on a soft but firm surface like a mouse pad. Using a pin, needle, paper piercer or thumbtack, poke holes along the line of your design. Hole spacing should be about 1/8th inch apart generally.

4. Stitch it. Before you stitch, erase any pencil marks. Next thread your needle using a needle threader if necessary. Stitch away (see “Stitching techniques” below)

5. Fill in the design, if need be. If the image needs more color, you can color with chalks, inks, markers, or colored pencils.

General Stitching Tips

* It's good to have a variety of needles and different sizes on hand. Try to find ones with a large eye opening. Nothing is more aggravating than trying to thread a really small opening. A general sewing needle will do for stitching most items by hand.
* Keep things simple. If you overdo it, it will (1) take too much time and (2) overshadow the photos.
* If you aren’t an artist by nature, find your design elsewhere. The internet is a great source for designs, so are coloring books, templates, stickers, and rubberstamps. Use a light box to trace any designs you want.
* You should only stitch on cardstock, regular weight papers do not hold up to the manipulation as well as the cardstock will.

* Use acid free tape or photo tabs to secure items like floss to the back of the page.

Stitching Techniques
While there are many different types of stitches that can be used on scrapbook pages, two that I will focus on are the running stitch and cross stitch.

Back stitch - This is the easiest stitch to work. It can be used either right to left or up and down. Remember to keep stitch lengths the same size for a more uniform look. Start from the back of the page. Come up through hole B and down through hole A. Next, go up through hole C, and down through hold B. Go up again through hole D, and down through hole C, and so on…. Use this formula to stitch up/down, diagonally, or side-to-side.

Cross stitch - This stitch looks just as it sounds. It is a basic "X" type stitch. All bottom stitches should go in one direction, and all top stitches should go in the opposite direction.

Ideas, Ideas, Ideas…
Now that you know the basics of stitching on your pages, here are some fun ideas:

* Embellish die cuts, punchies, or cut outs.
* Stitch around a title, photo or journaling block to create a border.
* Try your hand at creative lettering and titles
* Attach a title or journaling block to your page.
* Use a couple of different colors of floss at one time
* Create a spider web
* Try printing out a title off the computer and stitch over it for a unique handmade look. Also try highlighting just one word in a title or journaling block by stitching over it.
* Create flowers, snowflakes, stars, or raindrops
* Sew buttons, charms, and beads directly to your paper or add them to the thread while you are stitching.
* Sew a pocket on a tag.
* Follow a Cross-stitch pattern
* Stitch shapes (circles, squares, etc.) directly onto your page to make your own background paper.
* Sew or stitch a pocket on your page to hold memorabilia, hidden journaling, Christmas cards, etc.
* Create borders around a page, journaling, or photos
* Add stitching to a baseball and baseball mitt die cut
* Stitch the route you took onto a map and attach to page
* Stitch Making Memories tin tiles on your pages. They come with holes already in the metal, so all you have to do is stitch over them. Try cutting one in half and using it as a photo corner.
* Tear strips of paper and use fiber to connect them back together.
* Add a few beads here and there when stitching.

Storing floss, ribbons, and fibers
Consider storing your floss and fibers in a plastic, divided craft box. Wind them around floss bobbins and this will keep your items clean, organized and ready when you get the urge to stitch something.

Now that you are equipped with the tools and knowledge of how to stitch on your pages, go ahead and give it a try! This simple technique can add so much interest and texture to your pages that you'll want to try it on everything! There are so many creative ways to use this versatile technique.

Have fun and good luck!
Debbie Weller

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