This is a hard year. Events cancelled, friendships put on hold, family kept at further than arms length, loved ones lost. It’s been a year of insecurities, of broken connections, of reflection; considering where our world is headed and what our place might be in it. It’s been a time of change, of changes of heart, of discovering what we need to stand up for, the things we want to say.
If you have a friend or loved one that you can’t be with right now, perhaps you’d like to send them a small English Paper Pieced gift that you have made. Something light enough to put in the post, something personal that you can’t buy in a shop or online, something that says what you want to say.
Or you could make it for yourself, to focus on what is important to you at this time; something you don’t want to lose sight of.
This post is about making a keepsake for a difficult time, a talisman if you like, for yourself, or for someone dear to you.
For this you will need the following materials:
- Some white pillowcase cotton, or other solid colour cotton fabric, fine enough to be a little transparent, so you can trace words through it.
- Some small scraps of printed fabric to cut out and attach like a collage.
- A glue stick to temporarily hold the collaged pieces in place.
- Strips of fabric, lace, trim or twine to hang your keepsake.
- A EPP paper template in any shape you like but keep it fairly small, small enough to fit in a letter sized envelope. (Alternatively you can wrap your outer fabric, EPP style, around around some thin wadding, interfacing (fusible or not) or wash away appliqué sheet. Anything goes as long as the shape inside is fairly firm but soft enough to stitch through easily.
- A pair of small, sharp scissors
- A regular sewing needle as well as an embroidery needle
- Ordinary sewing thread
- Coloured embroidery thread – use 2 strands for the words – in cheerful colours that go well with your collaged pieces
- A word or short message that expresses what you want to say.
- A water erasable fabric drawing pen.
- Something to back your shape: A piece of felt or thicker fabric cut to the same size as the shape, or another EPP pieced shape exactly the same to attach to the back. The front and back can be sewn together with a blanket stitch, or a less visible stitch like slip stitch around the edges of your shape, or secured with decorative embroidery stitches that show on the surface.
Make a start by choosing your words; You could have a single word like ‘Hugs’, or a short message like ‘Hold On’ or ‘Miss You”. Keep it short so that it fits easily into the centre of your shape and is not too arduous for you to stitch over.
Print your words out in a hand writing style font, like Blackadder and select font size 48 pt, which is large enough to stitch. Alternatively write a word in your own handwriting and trace that.
Now you can trace your message by placing your printed out words under the fabric and using your fabric pen to trace them. (You can also trace the words, attach the tracing paper to the fabric and stitch through the tracing paper in the method I showed you in my last post).
Stitch your words using the stitch you prefer. Back stitch works well or stem stitch or even running stitch. If you don’t feel confident about stitching words you could cut words out of fabric or magazines and stick those on your fabric, securing them with some holding stitches. Placing your fabric in a small 3″ (7 1/2 cm) hoop may make it easier to stitch the words.
When you have stitched your words, cut your fabric to have a seam allowance of about 1/2″ – 3/4″ larger than your template all the way around. I used a wash-away appliqué sheet as my template so that I wouldn’t have to remove it. I don’t plan to wash my keepsakes so it can stay in. Fold the fabric around the template, making sure your words are placed correctly in front. Baste/tack or glue stick the fabric around the edges. If you have used a paper template inside, press your shape to keep the folds sharp, then remove the paper template and replace it with batting or other preferred material to give body to your shape.
Now you are ready for the collage. Cut out pieces of fabric to express what you are feeling. Fussy cut birds and butterflies, flowers – whatever you like – and arrange them around your shape. Glue stick them in place temporarily.
Now add stitch to create texture and bring your little bits of collage to life. Your stitches will hold them in place on the background. Stitching around the edges tends to fray the pieces, so put some stitches in the centre, a few straight stitches or French knots will be enough, or stitch right through the pattern.
Back your keepsake with another shape exactly the same and stitch all the way around, closing both the folded in edges together, or add a piece of felt and blanket stitch all the way around. Remove your basting/tacking stitches once your edges are secured.
Decide on the function of your keepsake. Will you add a loop to the back so that it can be hung, or attach a pin so it can be worn, or is it to be sewn to a tote bag or book cover? Or will you frame a series of them in tiny embroidery hoops to decorate a wall? Actually I think these would make wonderful little lavender sachets that can be put in a drawer to scent linen or underclothes.
Why not make someone’s day?
Till next time…..