Monday 1 February 2016

Sew And Sew. . . . .

Today sees the start of a new challenge at Our Creative Corner and your host is the lovely Jan. Here's what Jan has to say:

'Fabrics, wool, threads, lace - this months challenge is all about texture, layers and loveliness!
What scraps have you got hidden away? Any snippets of favourite clothes you can't bare to part with?
Anything sewing related can be used in your piece. You could use stitches, sewing machine or fake stitches. Don't forget to get out your sewing themed stamps and dies.
Have fun and create something!'

I was going to go down the route of gorgeous lace, fabric and some stitching with matching stamps but my mind kept wanting to go elsewhere! I've had some sheets of canvas (ready primed with gesso) for ages which have just been sitting there and I really wanted to use these to make some covers for a handmade journal which I need. So, the lace, lovely fabric and wonderfully feminine make went out of the window and this is what I came up with:

A journal with rigid front and back covers and the facility to grow as I fill it - hopefully!

The front and back decorated sections are A5 size. The first thing to be done was some random freestyle stitching using black thread. I went for a circle pattern as this is easy to control without the machine feed in position. Red and green fluid acrylics are used for the circles and yellow for the background. This is the front cover piece early in construction.

A close up to show the stitching and the paint application which wasn't quite as time consuming as it looks! The texture of the canvas is visible through the layer of gesso which seals it.

The addition of the background colour helps the circles to be integrated into a design.

The back section had the paint applied with a credit card and the shapes were then stitched in black to frame them. The circle theme is added using junk stamping (old lids, bubble wrap etc), stencilling, pens and a little more freestyle stitching.

Freestyle stitching. Stencilled large black cirlces. Small dots made with acrylic pens. Green acrylic paint rings are stamped on using an old plastic lid.

Some white stencilling with added acrylic pen work.

The vertical black lines at the bottom middle are made with a credit card and some paint. The circles to the right are produced using bubble wrap and paint.

I love how the stitching shows through the stencilled paint to add texture. The canvas has a built in subtle texture too which isn't lost after the addition of paint layers.

I stuck with the red, green, yellow, white and black scheme to give continuity.

The back and front covers are made from very thick grey board which is cut larger than A5. Both pieces of grey board are covered with sticky backed white canvas both inside and out. The canvas is painted with black gesso followed by two coats of black fluid acrylic. I hope this will seal the board from any paints and mediums which may leak through.

With lots of brute force I managed to pierce two holes in each cover. These are strengthened with metal washers which have been finished with black alcohol ink. This can be touched up at any time when it becomes scratched by the folder rings. The edges of the coloured canvas panels have been distressed - I would like them to have a more frayed appearance but the gesso tends to hold the edges in place rather well so I've had to settle for the scruffy look you see here!

Before sticking the coloured panels to the rigid covers, I machined around each to give a border. The stitching is changed to zig-zag for some sections just to give added interested. I hate wonky stitching but had to be a little freer with the lines so they had a more arty look - very hard when you're a perfectionist!

I've used a spare long red boot lace for the closure as this can wrap around the journal and hold it all together including any little bits and pieces I may keep in there. I covered the inside canvas pieces with some card. This needs further development as I'd like it be fairly easy to wipe clean and I'd like to add some pockets for loose items at some point. For now the card will do but I know that I will be working on these again at some point.

I'm holding my pages together with metal rings for the time being. I wanted to be able to remove the pages to work on then replace them completed into the journal. I also don't like ripping pages out of stitched/glued books but with this design I can simply remove pages if I need to! My biggest problem is that I only have small metal rings so if anyone knows where I can get larger ones please do let me know! 

I've added pages cut from a variety of materials: manilla card, watercolour paper, discarded gelli prints, brayer clean off sheets with some 'try out' stencilling, vintage music sheets and plain white card. I will also add others as I need to. I'm thinking of adding some kraft card too.

I was given some wonderfully thick black felt by my MiL and I knew it would be perfect for my journal name. I die cut some letters from the felt and adhered them to front of the journal. When the journal is tied shut, the red lace sits pleasingly below the letters.

Detail shot to show that gorgeous felt! 
I loved the freedom I found whilst making this journal. The stitching was entirely random and was such fun to do. I adore bright colour so I was very happy to use this in your face palette and I feel it is really relevant to a journal which I shall be using for an on-line art course this year. I've got a commercially produced one too but this home made journal is going to be my very special book for all kinds of stuff over the coming year.

You really must pop over to Our Creative Corner and see the beautiful pieces made by my fellow teamies - gorgeous inspiration for you all!

Our generous sponsor for this challenge is the wonderful company: 

You need to make sure you play and link up with us to be in with the chance of winning their wonderful prize! You may even be chosen as our winner and be invited back as our Top Talent! What are you waiting for? Can't wait to see what you come up with!


  1. Brilliant! Your work has given me an idea for when I need to replace my guest comments book, I shall make my own, or perhaps, dear sister.....?! X x

  2. Fantastic stitching at the heart of this incredible journal cover - I love the vivid colours and beautiful texture from the underlying canvas - fabulous!
    Alison xx

  3. So glad you went with your mind Julia! You are so wonderful at putting glorious vivid colours together and making it all work. The initial stitching is amazing and that along with the texture of the canvas gives so much depth. A fabulous take on Jan's challenge! Jennie x

  4. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh sooooo love this..... or should I say... sewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww love this. The colors just rock my Monday back into fast forward - eheheheh!!! This is just sooooooo bright and fun. I was thinking - dear me... what in the world could I do... no machine and fabric - maybe fabric flowers... gotta go look!!! BUT... you gave me hope here - great inspiration. j

  5. So this is where the sewing is!!! What a wonderful idea, and the joyful,colours just fit in so brilliantly!

  6. Julia you rocked my challenge! I love the stitching doodling then painting in the vivid colours. The texture and stitching works so well together. I bought extra large rings a while ago made by 7 Gypsies, not sure if they still manufacture them now though. Hugs Jan x

  7. Julia! how cool is this!!! What a great way to begin with the freestyle stitching! I love the progression of the paint and marks- all around pleasing!
    Clever project my friend! xoxo

  8. Fabulous Julia - such vibrant colour and wonderful balance! Nikki x

  9. What a bright electric design on your wonderful journal! Love the splatters, doodles and scratches! Julia xx

  10. I absolutely LOVE the direction you decided to go with your project, Julia! This is such a fun and rowdy piece, with all of the bright reds and yellows and greens!! LOVE IT!! OH and don't get me started on all of the stitching you did--AMAZING!! Just a WOW piece, Julia!! XOXO-Shari

  11. Oh my gosh Julia, that is fabulous! Amazing colours and brilliant idea,thanks so much for sharing it! Deb xo

  12. A fantastic, vibrant, uplifting piece of art. Gorgeous. Tracy x

  13. Wow, just gorgeous stunning vibrancy....adore your journal cover! Ruth x

  14. Stitching and paint are a favourite combo and you've used them superbly here Julia. Jenny x


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Juliax