Making zen: a book, a bag and a box!

I really enjoy the Making Zen workshops but find the time difference frustrating for the free workshops, so buy the VIP course which means I have lifetime access and can be very chilled about when I watch and in what order. A couple of the workshops were quite timely. I have been embroidering a panel, entitled “A Letter to My Daughter” and wondering how to present it in an engaging way. I think it’s a quilt panel but I didn’t want to do a quilt. I also wanted to make it a letter to my granddaughters as I now have two!

I pondered this question as I stitched and came up with the idea of a book. BUT… three rows of five does not a neat book make. I could do them all as separate backed pages, or I could do double pages, but then I would have some singles. Or, or, or.

And then, as serendipity would have it, I saw the fabric book binding course by Kiala Givehand, called “Fun and Functional Fabric Books”. I immediately watched it to see if I could get some ideas. She did three types of book binding. The first was the double page style, then she did an accordion book, which I did consider carefully, but then she showed a stitched binding and I had a lightbulb moment. I could cut up each row of three and make that a page with one folded in. They had to be backed to hide the underside of my stitching and I was one row short. I was quite pleased about this; I could add a title page and also add a couple of other things I liked. Let me show you:

These three pages were done on some very fine linen I had in my tablecloth stash, as there was no spare original fabric. I think it was a table napkin. It had some tea stains on it, which I scoured off but then the fabric didn’t match the rest of the embroidery which is on a flax coloured fabric. Yep, I had to dye it in tea! The difference in colour is almost unnoticeable now.

You will see that my three pages are not as legible or as neat as the ones from the panel because my drawing is distinctly dodgy.

I’ve done the other pages as a slide show as they are easier to see.

To say I love this book is a bit of an understatement. I did alter a couple of things. I added “Care for your friends” to the cat image on the second slide and “love nature” to the bird in the fifth slide as neither had words. I hadn’t realised that the bird had no words until my husband mentioned it, so these words were retrofitted with a bit of difficulty.

I bought the panel at the Fibres West garage sale and it might have been thrown out because of the spelling error. I added an “e” but then couldn’t get rid of the original writing. I called for suggestions on Instagram and a few said to embroider over it. I added more crosses, but it’s a bit busy in that area!

As mentioned earlier, I chose to bind the folds of book separately into one whole book. I practiced the technique with some scrap fabric cut to the same dimensions as my book. Once I was satisfied that I knew what I was doing, I did the real thing with red thread.

Those red threads are what is known as a French Link stitch and is apparently a popular open spine bookbinding technique. Mine is a bit wobbly but it seems quite robust.

The proof of the pudding though is whether it will stand up to the rigours of a two year old. Here she is having a little “read”. I could listen to this all day! I’m showing more of her than usual as I couldn’t resist. Luckily my blog followers are a very select group so I think it’s safe and her parents don’t mind.

So in retrospect I don’t think the fold out page works well for a little one. However, I think when she’s a little older it will be fine. i’ve decided to keep it at my house for a while and felt that it needed to be kept in a bag of some sort. Cue another Making Zen course, this one by Heidi Iverson and it was making a mini pouch.

I took the techniques and grew the pouch, using some of my Indigo/shibori scraps. I also began with some thread that I had dyed in various natural dyes, but in the end decided that ecru crochet cotton looked best.

This was a fast and fun activity. I lined the bag with a scrap of cotton I marbled with my friend Claire and which I had left over from a bucket hat.

As you can see, the fabric scraps are held together with some running stitches – no machines were harmed in the making of this pouch. I learned new ways to thread a needle and tie off thread ends, and possibly a few other tricks as well. This was an in front of tv activity and I enjoyed it immensely. I threaded some sparkly ribbon through for the ties and the book is now protected. I still have half a box of small scraps so there may be more of these in my future. I haven’t made a mini one, as I don’t know what I would use it for, but they really appeal to me. These are from the class and they are really cute.

The other thing I’ve made so far is a little felt box. This class was by Deborah Fisher and again I learned several new techniques.

I used three different colours of pure wool felt fused together. Next time I might only use two pieces of felt. It is all hand stitched and the embroidery on the top was taken from yet another class by Mollie Johanson: Meditative Mums and Marigolds. I just used a tiny part of the class on the lid, but it was a technique I haven’t used before so I was pleased. My next box might be a bigger one and I will fill it with something for a gift. This one may have been appropriated by my husband.

I always wonder whether I should buy these courses, but I like to support artists, I like to be able to dip in and out, and, with the bonuses, it’s extremely good value: but only if you actually do the classes, so I need to get cracking and do some more!


6 thoughts on “Making zen: a book, a bag and a box!

  1. Well, you certainly have made a lot of zen! The book is fabulous and obviously a big hit. I admit to replaying the video of Miss G over again just to hear her delightful reading.
    And two littles will certainly have lots of tiny treasures to keep in mini pouches!

  2. Thank you, thank you for showing videos of your granddaughter. Those of us without babies yearn for even a glimpse of their worlds.

  3. I love that you added extra pages with your own writing, even if it doesn’t match or is “dodgey”. It is a generational legacy record that is priceless. Thanks for sharing.

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