18 October 2015

Glorious Shibori

One of the nice things about having a blog is that it makes it possible to go back in time and see what you did years ago, and to see your own progress. Before 2011 I'd never even heard of shibori: tie-dye was what I'd tried a few times and thought was fun. Then - bam! - I discovered stitched-resist shibori through Quilting Arts Magazine and fell in love. My love wasn't immediately answered though, as my first explorations into stitched-resist shibori (the 'Shibori Shrimp' as I called it) was an utter failure. Not because of the stitching, but because of the dye. But that wasn't something I realised until two years later, in 2013, when I had a breakthrough with the Emo Tuotanto dye I'd been trying to use in the same way as Procion MX dye (which isn't available in Finland). All I needed to do was to keep the dye a little warmer, and suddenly everything worked as it should. Last year I made some very successful stitched-resist shibori fabrics, but never got round to showing them here on the blog. During the past few weeks I've explored even more shibori techniques, such as clamping, capping and pole-wrapping, and now I'm ready to show you what I've been up to! Yay!

Let's start with tied resist, ne-maki. I used rubber bands on one piece.

And string on another:

The nice thing about shibori is that the fabric is a piece of art even before it's been dyed.

Stitched-resist shibori is fascinating. Who would think that this scrunched-up piece

would end up like this:

Or this bundle

would look like this:

Or this weird hedgehog

 would turn out like this:

The last technique is an example of capping, where I used both stitching and plastic to create the resist. I overdyed a fabric that I'd previously folded and clamped with clothes pegs:

Which brings me to clamping, itajime, which means that you use shapes as resists. Wooden shapes are traditional, but I used acrylic shapes that I cut myself.

Apart from this circle resist, which Dad made for me with a saw.

Isn't it cool?

I used a diamond shaped resist for this fabric, which has been dyed twice:

This technique is called tesuji shibori, and the fabric is pleated and bound. I love the simple elegance of the pattern.

And here's an example of arashi shibori, or pole-wrapping, which has been dyed twice.

As you can see I've tried a number of different techniques, but still I've only scratched the surface. I have a long list of things I want to try, so I don't think this will be the last time you'll see shibori on this blog!

Thanks for visiting!

5 October 2015

Stitched notebook

I was recently interviewed for the local newspaper about my interest in art and crafts (link), and the reporter then asked me for a simple project to share with the readers. Since I like to make my own books for art journaling, I suggested a very simple bookbinding project: a stitched notebook.

When you make your own books, you can use any paper you want for them. Pretty neat, right? Here are the instructions:

You’ll need

  • paper for the pages
  • material for the cover
  • an awl, sharp needle or a drawing pin/thumb tack for making holes
  • strong thread (e.g. waxed linen thread, buttonhole thread, beading thread or dental floss)
  • a blunt tapestry needle to sew with

The pages
You can use any paper you like for the pages: e.g. copy paper, squared paper, drawing paper, watercolour paper. The thinner the paper, the more pages you will be able to fit in. Experiment to see what works. When the folded sheets are stacked inside each another, each paper will shift slightly and jut out along the outer edge. If you like, you can trim the pages after the pamphlet has been stitched, but you can also leave the edge as it is and make the cover wide enough to protect all the pages.

The cover
The cover can also be made from different materials: e.g. cardstock, fabric, felt, leather, selfmade paper-cloth. A cover made from cardstock can be strengthened by making it longer than you need and folding in flaps at either end, or by using contact paper. A fabric cover can be strengthened with another layer of fabric, fusible interfacing and a lining. Stitch and turn the cover, or simply zig zag the layers together. You could also wrap a pretty paper around the cover, or draw, paint or use stamps on it.


  1. Fold the papers in half and make the creases sharp.
  2. Stack the pages inside each other until you have enough. This is your page block.
  3. Measure your page block and make the cover a few millimetres (about 1/8”) wider than the page block on every side. Fold the cover in half.
  4. Make three or five holes in the page block according to the illustration below. Measure with a ruler or eyeball it. Use paper clips if it’s difficult to keep the pages together while making the holes. Make sure the holes are exactly on the fold.
  5. Place the page block inside the cover and make holes in the cover through the holes in the page block.
  6. Cut a thread to measure two times the height of the book plus a little extra for tying.
  7. Stitch the book according to the illustration below. Make sure you always pull in the direction of the fold when you tighten the stitches.
  8. Check that the thread ends are on opposite sides of the long stitch when you return through the middle hole.
  9. Knot the thread ends with a strong knot. You can also secure the knot with some glue.

3 holes vs 5 holes
Knot on the outside vs on the inside

If the thread later breaks, you can easily change it by re-stitching the book. Similarly, you can also change the pages or the cover should you want to.

I've decorated this cover with a selfmade stamp from craft foam.

This cover is made from selfmade paper-cloth.

Good luck with your book!