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Stitching on Wool and Felt — Journal Covers and More

Hand Stitched Mixed Media Journal Cover

Several years ago during the holiday season I wrote about creating felt-covered journals (my tutorial is expanded on below). I mentioned that I generally batch or make multiples of art, in that case making four journal covers at one time… a great process for making gifts! I’ve realized I hadn’t shared the cover (pictured above) of the journal I kept for myself, and so in celebration of February being National Embroidery Month, am sharing some of my stitching here.

Detail, Hand Stitched Mixed Media Journal Cover

Pictured above, and stitching detail photo right, is the finished hand-stitched felt/wool mixed media journal cover. Natural fiber felts are perfect for needlefelting (by hand or machine), or as a base for hand-stitching.

Plus, in addition to commercial felts, I enjoy using upcycled wool sweaters and fabrics that have been “fulled” (washed in hot water and dried to shrink and tighten the fibers) as a base for switching. You can see the fun striped sweater created a beautiful accent!

Commercial felt and fulled wool sweaters were used to create the journal cover design

Above, commercial felt and fulled wool sweaters were used to create my journal cover. I simply cut simple shapes to add, plus traced a more elaborate scroll design to appliqué to the base felt fabric. These shapes were accented with blanket stitching, simple straight stitches, running stitching and cross-stitching.

WonderFil Specialty Threads embellish wool hearts on an upcycled sweater piece

WonderFil Specialty Threads feature a large number of beautiful threads, such as Sue Spargo’s collection of Eleganza, perfect for hand-stitching. Here, WonderFil Specialty Threads embellish wool hearts on an upcycled sweater swatch. Above left features French knots; right are Bullion knots (use a Bullion Knot Needle for ease in creating these). Also pictured below, these stitched hearts are an example of a project demonstrated and completed during our monthly Hand Stitch Third Thursday sessions.

WonderFil Specialty Threads embellish wool hearts on an upcycled sweater piece

I am always touting Modern Hand Stitching by Ruth Chandler: it’s a wonderful resource, giving you well-illustrated instructions on creating basic embroidery stitches. The fun of the book is how she shows you many ways you can adjust and alter those stitches for a new look. Artistic Artifacts also carries a number of other beautiful embroidery books complete with instructions, patterns and projects.

Hand stitching with wool on wool

This blog post is giving you instructions to create a mixed media journal, but imagine the above pictured examples (more of my hand-stitching on wool) instead sewn into a zipper pouch… wouldn’t that make the perfect storage for your favorite thread spools? Or how about working larger, or stitching together different squares, to create a pillow? Your only limit is your imagination!

Creating Mixed Media Journals

Select your commercial felt base or fulled wool swatch. The bright light green pictured here is XoticFelt, which came as a large 20" x 22" swatch. I folded it in half, ironed the fold line, folded it in half again and ironed that fold.

Folding felt for cutting lines

Doing this created easy to follow cutting lines to cut my four book covers. Because I was “batching” my work to create multiple journals to use as gifts, I used the entire piece and these covers measured 10" x 11". This was a bit unusual in size, but I didn’t waste any felt! Of course you can choose to make your cover in any size you like.

Rotary cutting along fold lines

The next step is to cut a backing for the felt. This surface will serve as your inside front and back cover. My favorite to use is Roc-lon Multi-Purpose Cloth™. Comparable to canvas, this 70% Polyester/30% cotton material is flexible, soft, and prepared for painting and collaging. Using it makes your felt cover sturdier and more durable. Cut the Multi-Purpose Cloth (or your desired material) the same size, or a bit smaller than the size of the felt.

You will also want to cut your choice of found papers, and cards to go on the inside of the book. You can cut all your paper for your page signatures the same size, or you can, like in my example, incorporate different sizes for interest.

Pages for the journal interior

This is an ideal way to recycle junk mail, wrapping paper scraps, and more. You can also incorporate sheets of fabric into your pages as I did. If you do, you can stitch inside your book, or pin or fuse items to the fabric. The sky’s the limit!

You now have three elements working: embroidered felt or wool for the front cover, Multi-Purpose Cloth for the inside cover, and your pages.

Front Cover:

Cut small pieces of contrasting felt to create a design, and hand-stitch with floss using straight or embroidery stitches. I’ve included a photo here of a different stitched book cover I created for additional ideas — I love stitching on buttons! As noted above Artistic Artifacts carries a number of hand-stitching and embroidery books, plus there are a huge number of online and YouTube resources for learning embroidery stitches. You could also choose to machine stitch your cover — a great opportunity to practice free-motion quilting!

Inside Cover:

Next is the Multi-Purpose Cloth. You can leave this plain/white, or create some surface design with paint or inks. I’ve used stencils and spray inks to quickly pattern the inside cover of the Multi-Purpose Cloth.

Spray inks and stencils atop Multi-Purpose Cloth inside cover

When working with spray inks, make sure your work surface is well covered, or place your item in a box. In the photo examples here, I have used a red plastic tablecloth to protect the table surface, topping it with tissue paper.

Stencil removed, leaving ink design

I add the tissue paper because then it builds my stash — I can use any of the oversprayed tissue in other mixed media projects! Spray your first color of ink lightly through the stencil.

Adding additional colors of ink and layers of design

After I lifted the stencil off, I let it dry (spray inks dry quickly) and then continued the process, spraying all four of my Multi-Purpose Cloth at the same time, using different colors of ink. I also added a small stencil and used another color ink. Let dry.

Spray ink through stencils on Roc-lon Multi-Purpose Cloth

Mistyfuse layered onto Multi-Purpose cloth and covered with a non-stick craft sheet

To continue, the non-sprayed or plain side of your Multi-Purpose Cloth needs to have Mistyfuse applied to it. I’ve often mentioned using Mistyfuse in projects; you know I love it! But remember, it requires the use of a Goddess Sheet, the Bo-Nash Amazing Sheet or any brand of non-stick (Teflon) craft sheet (parchment paper will also work) to cover the surface while ironing. Pictured here, the plain side of my Multi-Purpose cover has a layer of white Mistyfuse (hard to see, I know, but you can pick up the webbing texture) that is being covered by the non-stick sheet. I iron on top of the sheet, which fuses the Mistyfuse to the interior covers.

Once the Mistyfuse has been applied, all the pieces are ready:

  1. Outside Cover: the felt has a pattern and color stitched to the front.
  2. Inside Cover: the Multi-Purpose Cloth has color on one side (or was left plain) and Mistyfuse on the other side.
  3. Pages: Paper and fabric is assembled for the interior of the book.

Stitching & Embellishing Pages:

Stitch the paper to your inside cover Multi-Purpose Cloth. I found the center by simply folding all the papers and fabrics. I also folded the Multi-Purpose Cloth and lined everything up according to that fold — remember, your color side faces up so it is visible — and straight stitched down the center.

Stitching your paper and cardstock signatures together using your sewing machine and a long, straight stitch

Set your sewing machine to sew a long, straight stitch — shorter stitches too close together can cause the paper to perforate and then fall out.

Washi tape covers stitching and creates foldout page

These mixed media journals are also a great place to use your favorite washi tape: apply the tape over the stitching (above) to hide it if you prefer. Washi tape is also a simple and decorative way to create fold out pages and pockets.

Washi tape creates a fold out pocket tab and embellishes a tag

Finishing Your Mixed Media Journal:

Your last step is to fuse your stitched felt cover to the plain side of your Multi-Purpose Cloth interior cover — which has already had the Mistyfuse applied. Trim your edges if it’s necessary.

You can add finishing touches like a button closure and an attached fabric tie, as in my example. Pictured below is my journal opened to show both the front and back stitching and how the fabric tie was stitched on.

View of both front and back hand stitched journal cover

Finally, enjoy your new journal… and if you have batched your construction, enjoy giving away these special gifts!

WonderFil Threaducation!

Artistic Artifacts owner Judy Gula is enjoying her time in sunny California at the WonderFil Education Center Summit…

Judy Gula, owner of Artistic Artifacts, participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

…as is perhaps obvious from the big smile on her face in the photo above! It was taken by her friend Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution, another attendee at the Summit. Liz (pictured below), a certified “Threaducator” with WonderFil, will be visiting Artistic Artifacts in June for her 4-day creative retreat, Stitch Journeys. Suitable for beginners, attendees gain mastery of their sewing machine and develop the confidence to tackle any kind of specialty thread and tame their tension fears as they create a sample fabric workbook that serves as a permanent, creative reference tool. This is her only time teaching on the East Coast this year, so if you can, plan your vacation around traveling to Virginia and attending!

Liz Kettle of Textile Evolution participating in the WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

Judy and Liz are collaborating in the development of an upcoming Threaducation Center class.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil

They used a handpainted batik panel by Rusli, which is enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using both Konfetti™ and Tutti™ threads by WonderFil. Konfetti and Tutti are both 50wt, 3ply 100% long staple Egyptian cotton threads that are double-gassed (burning off the lint from the thread two times) and mercerized to create a soft, clean, and lustrous finish.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Konfetti™ thread by WonderFil

Additional detail views above and below.

Handpainted batik panel by Rusli, enhanced with machine quilting and thread painting using Tutti™ thread by WonderFil

Below is Judy’s favorite thread sampler, posted on the Artistic Artifacts Facebook page. When she returns we’ll have to get the details from her!

Judy Gula's favorite WonderFil thread sampler

More Threaducation going on…

The WonderFil Specialty Threads Education Summit

But you know fiber artists…even after a full day of studying, they are still up for more fun! You can see Liz and Judy, plus Bernadette Kent and Alicia Campbell in the background of this selfie taken by Libby Williamson of Blue Denim Design at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA.

Fiber artists having fun at the Blue Denim Studio at The Dragonfly Shops & Gardens in Orange, CA

They were busy having fun with block printing and thermofax printing on fabric. Judy never misses the opportunity to share her love of wooden printing blocks!

Those of you close to Artistic Artifacts can further your own Threaducation! Join us on Friday, March 24 for Finding Your Voice, a lecture by WonderFil Threaducator Kay Capps Cross. She promises that “We will relax and learn ways to release our inner creativity and express ourselves through our quilts. Art quilts, experiments, free associations, or whatever we call our pieces, they are a window to what is inside of us. With a little confidence, our voice will be heard.”

Kay Kapps Cross quilt stitched with WonderFil Specialty Threads

And on Saturday, March 25, we are delighted that Kay (who quilted the above beauty as she demonstrated various WonderFil threads during the recent AQS show) will be sharing her knowledge during our exciting WonderFil Boutique Show & Tell event. Sponsored by WonderFil™ Specialty Threads, we will hold two complimentary seatings, morning and afternoon, of this inspiring and informational session. Get inspired with samples of threadwork and demos using the many specialty threads by WonderFil! Reservations are required as seating is limited, so don’t delay and claim your spot!

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