Posts Tagged ‘french link stitch’

Our last Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a full day workshop led by one of our members to make a gorgeous book bound with what I know as French Link Stitch with the aim of using the front to showcase a piece of embroidery. I’ve used this stitch several times to make fabric books but it was my first time using this binding on paper and I love how it turned out.

French link stitch indigo book 1


Having only discovered at the last minute that I could actually make it to the workshop, I had to make do with the contents of a bag of fabric scraps that I had hastily grabbed on my way out of the door to find something to use for a cover. About the suitable only piece was this oddment of indigo dyed cloth that was annoyingly only big enough to fully cover one of the boards.

French link stitch indigo book 2

However, what was left would be big enough if it was joined… So I decided to do just that, using some natural coloured silk thread and boro/kantha type stitching right across the two pieces I wanted to join.

French link stitch indigo book 3I really like the way it turned out, especially the way the join is almost invisible below the layers of stitching.

French link stitch indigo book 4

Then came the question of what to put on the front. I toyed with weaving scraps of indigo dyed cloth, but they disappeared against the indigo cover. Then I tried some beading on another piece of indigo dyed cloth, this one with a vibrant sunburst in the middle.

French Link Stitch indigo book 5

French Link Stitch indigo book 6

I like the sunburst and I like the beading but… next to the cover, somehow it’s not quite right. The indigo of the sunburst is a different colour and texture and if I did apply the beaded piece to the front then I would lose the marbled pattern behind.

French Link Stitch indigo book 7

In fact I like my boro mend so much that instead of making it the back, I’m tempted to make it the front and not add any extra embroidery at all.

French Link Stitch indigo book b

Any thoughts?

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In the week before our December Embroiderers’ Guild meeting I managed to turn this:

Embroidery consequences 9

into this.

Buildings book 1

I covered the back with the same red lame fabric as the front and used silky black fabric for the endpapers.

Buildings book 2

With there being so little daylight at the moment, these were the best photos I could get indoors.  Then I chose some sunset coloured hand dyed cotton for the pages.

Buildings book 3

And used my favourite french link stitch in a variegated medium weight perle (to complement the colours in the pages) to put the whole thing together. In terms of time, it was a close run thing. I ended up attaching the last page and cover while sitting in the meeting and the judging had started on every one else’s pieces!

Buildings book 4

So, having rushed the binding, I managed somehow to make a mistake in the stitching at one edge, which means it’ll have to be rebound at some point, but I’m very pleased not only with the way it turned out but also that I actually managed to get the book completed for the meeting!

Buildings book 5

I’m not a great user of reds and yellows, so it was good to do something in an unusual colour way. And the tension on the binding isn’t great, aside from the mistake, so all the more reason to take it apart and restitch it at some point.

Buildings book 6

But what to do with it? (If anything.) I’m more than satisfied with the creating side – it doesn’t have to be for anything, but a suggestion made at the meeting by Debbie, coupled with some of the work I’ve been doing in my altered book, planted the germ of an idea…

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Our first project is to create a piece of jewellery which uses some sort of linkage system, but something a bit more innovative than jump rings. I had several thoughts in my sketchbook but I really liked the idea of using bookbinding stitches and silk to join the metal and my tentative thoughts became this design for a bracelet.

Plaques of reticulated brass, pierced with holes and embroidered with feather stitch in silk and then joined using french link stitch.

Linkage system 1

I cut some pieces of card, painted them gold-ish and made some paper templates to pierce them so I could experiment with some mock ups. Different weights of silk.

Linkage system 2

Linkage system 3

And the french link stitch, which worked really well.

Linkage system 4

Then I tried the feather stitch and the french link stitch out on three pieces of golden card to get a feel for how the whole thing would look. Different thread for the feather stitch – rayon cord this time.

Linkage system 5

I was determined to get the hang of reticulation and with five pieces to reticulate I prepared for an evening at the hearth. It took a bit of doing, but I’m stubborn and I learn quickly and I cracked it!  Each piece was slightly better and quicker than the last.

Linkage system 5

Linkage system 6

Linkage system 7

Linkage system 8

Linkage system 9

Linkage system 10

You can tell that the last one was the first piece that I did!

I also had set my heart on having a piece of brass with a melted hole in it. Several other people had ended up melting holes in their brass instead of reticulating it and I really wanted to combine a hole with textured embroidery.

But could I get my brass to hole? Could I hell as like! It took me 45 minutes of heating, quenching, pickling and scrubbing, trying out different sized blowtorches and sweating and swearing in the heat before the edge suddenly vanished and I was able to run the torch up the metal to get this:

Melted hole in brass

Not quite the smooth, molten hole that other people had managed, but I can definitely do something with this. 😮

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Several things came together for this book.

Firstly, I finally finished the little wintry silk fragment and thought what a good book cover it would make.

Wintry fabric book 1

Secondly, I’d just bought some scraps of Japanese kimono silk from ebay and thought what a wonderful way the fabric book would be to showcase their delicate beauty.

Wintry fabric book 2

Thirdly, I had a couple of long meetings coming up and combining the donkey work of lacing fabric over the cover boards and stitching ‘endpaper’ pieces on the back to finish it off with the whole meeting thing is a great way to take the boring edge off both.

I love the figured blue-grey silk of the ‘endpapers’.

Wintry fabric book 3

 And lastly, I’m still loving making these little books.

Wintry fabric book 4

The pages are all silk, and as I had trouble with the red cabbage dyed silk pages, I decided to iron them first. It helped, but the silk moves around a lot more than cotton and it made stitching the spine quite difficult. I restitched it three times and it still isn’t quite as even as I’d have liked.

I chose the smaller stitch pattern for the french link stitch and decided to use a cool blue cotton thread to contrast with the wintry greys and blacks of the cover and pages.

Wintry fabric book 5

Inside, a range of printed and woven luscious silk ikat, crepe etc.

Wintry fabric book 6

This looks out of focus, but it isn’t – it’s the ikat pattern.

Wintry fabric book 7

Wintry fabric book 8

Wintry fabric book 9

It’s a pretty miserable time of year here in the UK so I thought it would be nice to have a giveaway for my little wintry book.

Wintry fabric book 10

I’f you’d like the chance to win it, then in time-honoured fashion, please leave me a comment by next Saturday (9th February) and I’ll announce the winner on Sunday the 10th. I’m happy to post to anywhere in the world. 😮

Good luck!

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The completed cover boards, backed with some purple hand dyed fabric.

Finished red cabbage journal 1

Finished red cabbage journal 2

I decided to increase the number of french link stitches across the spine even though it’s a smaller book than the previous two I’ve made .

Finished red cabbage journal 3

I like the stitch smaller. I think it’s neater and shows its herringbone nature more clearly. The slightly darker toned variegated perle works well too, with enough of a difference to make it visible but not bright enough to fight with the subtle tones of the cabbage.

Finished red cabbage journal 4

This was the first time I’d used silk pages and they were a bit more frisky than the soft cotton! I didn’t want to iron them flat but I think in future I may need to as the silk moved around so much that the pages aren’t level. I like that you can see the spine stitching between the cover and the first page.

Finished red cabbage journal 5

Finished red cabbage journal 6

Silk on the left and cotton (behaving…) on the right.

Finished red cabbage journal 7

Finished red cabbage journal 8

Only three signatures in this book, partly because that’s all the red cabbage dyed fabric I had left and partly because any more would have made the book too thick for the size of the covers (about 2″ by 3″).

Finished red cabbage journal 9

Finished red cabbage journal 10

Finished red cabbage journal 11

Finished red cabbage journal 12

Completed. But I can feel at least one more coming on…

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I couldn’t bear to throw away the scraps from ripping the indigo dyed pages of my patchwork journal so I wove them into a loose pattern which I stitched down with running stitch onto of a piece of coffee coloured hand dyed cotton.

Boro-style journal 1

I love the colour combination of indigo and coffee and decided that this was going to be another journal cover. I covered one board with the stitched scraps and kept the back plain.

Boro-style journal 2

A lengthy induction meeting at work last Monday gave me the opportunity to lace the covers over the boards and also add a piece of indigo dyed fabric to the back of each one.

Boro-style journal 3

I ripped some more indigo dyed pages and as before, used variegated sashiko thread and french link stitch to bind the pages and covers together.

Boro-style journal 4

I was less focussed on the intricacies of the instructions this time so I could concentrate on getting the tension of the stitch more even, especially the kettle stitches at the ends.  Much happier. 😮

Boro-style journal 5

Boro-style journal 6

I really am enjoying making these journals. Once the covers are laced and backed (the most boring bit) the binding is satisfyingly quick and being fabric, they feel wonderful in the hand.

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It’s Boxing Day and I’m enjoying the feeling of relief that comes from having got through Christmas and managing to get everything to come together in the right places at the right time!

To be fair, it’s been one of the nicest Christmasses I can remember, but has still had the same amount of preparation as any other. Now it’s just a pleasure to sit back and know I don’t have to worry about buying, wrapping, delivering and (most importantly) not forgetting gifts or cards. The food side is all sorted, now the big meal has been cooked and I feel somehow free, like I’ve been serving a long stretch and am now paroled.

I’m more than ready to turn my back on 2012 and look forward to what I want to do, right across the board for 2013.

It’s a lovely day here and I’ve actually be able to photograph some of the things I’ve been working on in snatched moments. First up, the patchwork journal is finished.

Patchwork journal 1

After leafing through Ailsa Goolden’s marvellous ‘Making Handmade Books’ I settled on  French Link Stitch for the binding.

I chose variegated sashiko thread for the stitching as the colours complemented the covers so well and also because it was smooth enough to stitch easily, yet heavy enough to be right for the demands of the job.

It was my first try at this sort of binding and Ailsa’s superb diagrams and description made it a breeze. Not perfect of course, and it could possibly have been a bit tighter, but I’m very pleased with the look of the exposed stitching.

Patchwork journal 2

I toyed with the idea of heavy handmade paper pages versus fabric but decided that fabric was more in keeping with the stitched spine and anyway, hopefully fabric wouldn’t rip as paper might; always a consideration for the first try at something new.

So I hunted out a load of indigo dyed oddments and experiments that I got as a job lot on ebay. I really am a sucker for the bits and pieces that are surplus to other people’s projects! Some of the patterns, ripped into the right size for signatures, were perfect to showcase as the inner pages of the journal.

Patchwork journal 3

Patchwork journal 4

Patchwork journal 5

Patchwork journal 6

Patchwork journal 7

Patchwork journal 8


Patchwork journal 9

Patchwork journal 10

Patchwork journal 11


Patchwork journal 12

I’m very pleased with the whole project, the way it came together and the look of the final finished journal. This is definitely something I’d like to do again and a journal cover would be great place to display some of my fragmentary pieces.

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