This is a review of the 2006 book 101 Ideas for Embroidery on Paper by Erica Fortgens. It's a book I swapped for on readitswapit as it grabbed my attention. I am so glad I swapped for it as is has given me loads of lovely ideas for new crafts.
What's it about?
The book features 101 ideas for a unique style of embroidery on paper. You might have done something like this at school for a calendar at one point but I will go on to explain how it works.
I wasn't going to tackle any of the bigger projects immediately but wanted to choose something simple to do. The book mainly focuses on cards such as new baby, Christmas, sympathy and other special occasions. A really nice 'make an effort' sort of card.
The projects I settled on were bookmarks and I decided to have a go. I wish I could put photos on here as there were a few amusing failed efforts when I tried this at first. My first go was two interlocking hearts and then I tried a sort of swirly seahorse pattern.
You photocopy or trace your pattern into dots (they are all in the book) and then transfer to your paper-based material (card is best). Using a pokey tool you puncture the dots through the card and then using needle and contrasting thread you sew through the holes. It isn't as simple as A to B to C etc. You skip a few holes with your first stitch then go back and catch them up to create a beautiful curved effect with the thread.
When I first attempted this I think either my needle was too thick or the holes too close together. The holes sort of joined up and the card stock ripped a little. I was using a fairly thick thread so could afford for them to be more spaced out. Instead of tracing the dots, I traced the shape and spread out my dots just a tiny bit further. This worked well in attempt number two.
Finishing it off
When finishing the piece - a bookmark, I realised the back of the card was not exactly a showpiece so I backed it in a pretty contrasting sticky backed plastic to cover the back of the thread. The front is so pretty it also needs protecting so I did a coat of clear sticky back plastic over the whole job. Blue Peter here I come! You need to be careful at this stage as any creases in the sticky back really ruin the look.
For my new hobby I needed a few items...
Once I had flicked through the book, I went to The Range and bought:
- A pokey tool (I was going to use a compass but I didn't have one and as the pokey tool is more precise with a retractable pokey bit it seemed safer) and yes, it really is called that! Priced around £5
- Some bright coloured cardboard strips of cardboard priced £4 for practicing on really but ideal for bookmarks
- Some premium textured card stock 'for the discerning crafter' in soothing heather colour. This was ideal for cards and for use when I get a bit better at the craft. Priced £4.
Other resources were gathered around the house:
- A new washing up sponge (like a compacted flannel type) for layering between the pokey tool on card and the desk
- Tracing paper for copying the patterns out of the book (you can use greaseproof paper). You can also photocopy them if you prefer but I don't have access to one at the moment.
- Masking tape for sticking the tracing paper down
- Embroidery threads (I have tonnes of this in the house but you can use brightly coloured cottons or any thread, whatever works for you).
- Needle (again, I have lots!)
You can buy this book for £5.77 currently on Amazon. I think it's a nice gift idea if you have 'crafty friends' ~ in the good sense though!
There are other books on the market with similar projects inside but this one is quite good for a beginner to try. I would consider buying more of these style books in the future to get some more ideas.
I love this book and will attempt another design soon I think. It is a very relaxing hobby and there are enough projects in the book to try something new each time. It doesn't take long to set up your equipment and the pattern quickly forms so you don't spend long creating something like a book mark. You do need a few supplies to get the best presentation on your work. I thought it was good for 'using up' surplus thread and even introducing special buttons and bows you may have collected along the way.
A home made gift or card is so special to give to someone and it shows you care. I know there are only so many book marks a person needs but it is fun to make and fun to give (casting aside the few 'fails' I made on the way!
Overall I would recommend the book, it is possible to follow the patterns quite easily and the designs really are beautiful. You need patience to get it right though and a steady hand when punching out your design.