Monday, September 08, 2014

Side Project

I need to get going on the next baby quilt but I wanted to sneak in another small project before I start cutting and piecing. I wanted to try my hand at making a journal similar to the one I received from Michele in our exchange, having filled all the pages in it and needing another place to continue my musings and meditations. I'd been wondering what I could do with this small bit of African batik from my late-friend's stash, a piece I truly love but which has a waxy feel that will not wash or iron out. But that very thing could be an asset in a journal cover, and this piece was the perfect size. Michele uses felt as her base and I didn't have anything on hand big enough so got this Kunin felt at JoAnn Fabric, enough to possibly use as "batting" in small art quilt projects (or maybe just more journal covers). I didn't anticipate how much I would fuss with this over several days - it was supposed to whip up in a flash! I should know better...

Here's the whole piece of batik after quilting - you can see why this would be difficult to incorporate into a bigger project but works in something like this. I started by cutting the felt to finished size, trusting that there wouldn't be any shrinkage with the quilting, then spray-basted one side, centered it on my batik, and ran a line of stitching along the edge so I'd know where to stop the quilting. I auditioned several off-white threads, but they all seemed too showy. A brown rayon was more to my liking, but maybe erring too far the other direction. What - you can't see the quilting?

No, you can't, not unless you look closely, but you can feel the texture when holding it and I decided that was good enough.

Simple simple free-motion quilting around the batik designs, the type that creates minimal stress for me.

So here is the "inside" of the cover. You can see that this piece of fabric was just the right size, and rather than trim it to size and satin stitch the edge as Michele did, I couldn't resist that clean finish turning it to the inside would create.

Left side with fusible, ready to turn. Right side turned and fused.

Here you see I'm working with the sides, trimming the corners after applying strips of fusible on the fabric, then smoothing it over the felt for fusing. I'm trying to use up Pellon's version of Steam-a-Seam that I bought to try out while impatiently waiting for the real thing to be back in production. On first blush, it seemed to be pretty much the same, save for the plastic it is extruded on. But now having worked with it a bit more, I am finding it a real pain to use and won't be buying more. It's part of the fussiness that slowed me down on this project.

I considered trimming the corners of the top and bottom edges to create a miter but decided against it, couldn't handle more fussiness. Maybe on the next one. I just folded the ends in before turning over the felt and fusing. I was surprised to find that those raw edges kind of bothered me even though they are fused and won't fray, but nothing I could do about that now.

One last thing before adding the signatures (pages) to the inside - the closure. I found this beautiful button in my collection which came from my grandmother and mother and that I added to in my garment sewing days. I want to say it's mother of pearl but it may be abolone - I have several of them in different sizes, some with holes rather than the shank that this one has. It picks up all the colors in the batik. The elastic cord is a little pinker than what's in the batik but not enough to keep me from using it. I'll trim those ends once I'm sure I have the length right.

I had to get out my bookbinding references for a bit of review before sewing in the signatures, discovering that Michele had used a simple long stitch (one I've not tried) and that choosing a decorative thread or ribbon was encouraged for it. I scrounged around until I found this 3-ply probably rayon yarn that nearly matched that pinkish color in the batik. I loved the Antique Laid business paper Michele used in her journals and was surprised that I could find it at my local Staples store. It's a soothing buff color and my pen glides over it so nicely. Each signature has ten sheets of paper folded in half, and it is helpful to punch holes through both the cover and signatures before starting to sew.

I started with the center signature, down up down up, then snug up and knot the ends over the center. A signature was then added on either side of this one.

Here's what the spine looks like and why one might want to give some thought to what you use to attach the signatures. If you want to get fancy, there are variations on this that include a bit of weaving or knotting.

And that's that - I now have a lovely companion to Michele's journal, ready to fill with my ramblings. Working with this reminded me of how intrigued I am with this whole book-making thing, finding it hard to put it all away for another time. So yes, I will get back to making more of these or variations on this theme as there's so much to explore. But first - the baby quilt calls!  


Connie Rose said...

Great journal!! I love how you stitched the batik fabric. And yeah, I can virtually feel the texture! Hugs.

Chris said...

Love that batik fabric and how yo stitched it. Here is the update on steam a seam.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, you two. And a special thanks, Chris, for the link. Happy happy news!

Cathie said...

THAT is one pretty journal. And the fact you made it yourself makes it more special to write in. Love it!

Michele Matucheski said...

How did I not see this sooner? LOL! For all the fussing, it turned out nicely. I have to say, that I don't usually use felt in my journals. I usually use Stiffy with fabric fused onto it. Yours was a little different (more of the experimenting part of our challenge) -- Because it was composed fabric, it needed a base, and I thought the felt wouldn't need the finished edges -- my satin stitch tends to wander and stretch. With the Stiffy, I can just easily wrap the edges and fuse it down. But the composed fabric is too thick to wrap. There is something called Easy Felt that is stiffer than the normal felt -- it's more like Stiffy but thinner.

I love the way the quilting adds a subtle 3D texture to the piece. I know you can FEEL it when you hold the journal. ;-) And the button is perfect!

Yes--that antique-laid paper is really nice stuff!

Which reminds me : I have to make another dozen or so journals for the Craft show in December!