Sewing Machine Pages
Someone in a group of scrapbookers recently asked me what new tools I had used lately on my albums. I am sure they expected me to say an oval cutter, Xyron machine, a new adhesive, or a fabulous punch. I stunned them with the reply, "My sewing machine!" I am sure they were not expecting that answer! Are you surprised too? It's true! I have been using my sewing machine in my scrapbooking and I will show you how!
Now, stick with me even if you don't sew! You do NOT need to be a great sewer or even have a fancy machine to do this. If your machine can sew straight lines, zigzag, and maybe even do a few other simple stitches, you are in business!
You can choose either of two ways to sew on your scrapbook projects. You can sew with thread, as you would on fabrics. Or you can sew WITHOUT thread! YES! You read that right! Sewing without thread leaves a lovely perforated texture on a mat or border. The look is delicate and similar to dry embossing. But it is much, much faster to do!
Always use cardstock as your base paper. Layer any lighter pieces of paper, fabric, real lace or paper lace on top of the cardstock. The sewing machine grips cardstock in much the same way as fabric. The cardstock will withstand the progression of the machine stitching.
Embellish the mat, border, or piece--not the whole page. It is much easier to work with and turn a 4x5 piece of cardstock or a 3x12 border than a 12x12 page with jeeping when sewing. You can put sewn borders on the outer edges of whole cardstock pages too (see figure 1). But please don't try to 'quilt' a whole 12x12 page.
Experimenting with a few perforated card stock mats is a good way to begin. You can edge a whole photo mat with perforation in less than five minutes! Do a few in straight lines along a mat edge to start. Use your machines guide lines to feed the paper through evenly. Do not watch the needle. Believe me, it will go up and down without you watching it like a hawk.
What you do need to watch is the line that tells you if you are guiding the paper in evenly. These are usually just to the right of the presser foot. If your machine does not have these guide lines, use some masking tape and mark your own at 1/4 inch intervals away from the needle. Just press the tape down on the machine arm where you want to have a guide. Now sew without thread or bobbin thread around all four sides of your mat. You can do this with straight or with fancy stitching. Firmly but gently guide the paper along a straight line. See those perforations? They create a lovely 3-d effect much like dry embossing!
You can perforate vellum for a dainty and elegant look as well. Using the no-thread technique described above, go around the sides of a quarter sheet mat. You can then trim it mimicking the design of the stitching as in figure 6 or leave it square. Mount it onto a patterned paper as I did in Figure 6. I used decorative stitches but you do not have to have fancy stitches to get a nice result. Straight line stitching looks great on vellum!
Sewing with thread on the card stock allows you more creativity. Add bits of thread, ribbon, yarn, or other flat embellishments to your page. Incorporate your great-grandmother's embroidery floss, your daughter's prom hair ribbons, your son's baby afghan yarn, real quilt pieces, and other sewing box memorabilia onto the appropriate album pages. These 3-D objects make the photos more real and the events more tangible.
Use long lasting thread if you are embellishing with thread. 100% name brand cotton quilting thread is developed specifically to last hundreds of years if treated well. It is thicker than normal thread and it has been developed so that it will not run or fade. I have a quilt that is 150 years old--I can only hope my photo album lasts as long!
I do use decorative yarns, floss, and threads too but that is up to you. I do not always know the pH level of these. I just think they add something to the page. I attach them down by zigzagging or straight stitching over the top them with the cotton thread. For example, Zig Zag stitching a piece of the same yarn great-grandma used to make baby booties around photo of a baby wearing those same booties is so precious!! Likewise, sewing a piece of baptismal bonnet ribbon onto a border makes the pictures on a page of that event even more special. You can also purchase decorative threads in colors to coordinate with your page.
I do not sew directly on the photos. I sew the mats, borders, and additions to a page. This avoids perforating the photo and also keeps it 'safe' from anything even remotely questionable about the pH of the cotton and decorative threads. Practice a little with the different types of stitches your machine will make to get the feel of how they sew onto cardstock.
My favorites are the straight, Zig Zag, blanket, vine and feather stitch. If a stitch seems too close together, see if you can make it twice as long or twice as wide. The vines on the far right of figure 9 are normal in stitch length and those on the inner right are made twice as long by changing the stitch length dial. The same is true of the ziz zag shown in figure 9. you decide what looks good to you.Use your favorite stitches to sew down chenille yarn (figure 10), real lace (figure 2), paper lace (figure 3), or to layer papers.
In figure 11, you see a very rustic or Native American look made by layering paper that looks handmade and fibrous over a paper that looks like leather. The blanket stitch and the feather stitch complete the look with brown cotton thread. In figure 4, the blue photo mat is sewn with the blanket stitch to keep it in the theme of the family quilt. All of my examples took me less than 15 minutes each and most of them took less than five minutes to complete!
Ready to give sewing machine scrapbooking a try? It's a refreshing change of pace and a great way to incorporate texture, color, and memorabilia into your album!