For this tutorial, we’d like to welcome Jenny Blair as our guest contributor! See some of Jenny’s great creations here, and visit her Etsy shop to see more or to buy one of her awesome embroidery kits!

Materials required

  • Print Notebook Template and Birdhouse Template.
  • 1 plain piece of cotton fabric & 1 patterned piece of cotton fabric – draw around notebook template and cut allowing 1.5 cm seam allowance around full template.
  • 2 x Felt pieces for tree
  • Felt scraps in various colours for flowers and birdhouses
  • 2 pieces of medium thickness interfacing – draw around the notebook template and cut out exact size.
  • Wadding/batting approx 1m thick – cut approx 0.5 cm smaller (in length and width) than notebook template
  • Selection of embroidery threads
  • Needle, scissors ,pins, fabric pen
  • Paper x 10 pieces – measuring slightly smaller than notebook cover so the pages sit within the cover neatly.
  • 4 x paper clips /pegs/small bulldog clips

Tips: Use 3 threads of embroidery for sewing the applique details and notebook edges. Use 6 strands of embroidery thread for the satin stitched birds

THE COVER

1. Iron the pieces of interfacing onto both cotton fabric pieces following the manufacturer’s instructions. Next fold the fabric along the edges where the interfacing ends , and press with the iron.

2. Cut out the tree elements from the notebook template (the leafy part and the trunk) ,draw around them on your chosen color of felt, and then cut out.

3. Pin the tree pieces onto the plain cotton piece, using the pressed edges as a guide. You will also need to fold the plain fabric piece in half to find the middle crease, to help guide the tree placement. Using a fabric pen (water soluble or air dissolving) draw the lines of the tree bark onto the trunk. Don’t worry if you feel you are not an ‘artist’…bark lines are meant to be wobbly!

4. Sew the leafy part of the tree onto the cover using running stitch.

5. Sew the trunk on by stitching the lines of the bark using backstitch. I opted for a black thread which provides a bold and contrasting outline.
6. Now it is time to have fun decorating  the tree and the remaining cover. The notebook template contains flower designs which you may wish to copy, and the ‘extra templates’ sheet gives you various birdhouse shapes along with some other elements to choose from.
To add the extra details simply cut out the paper template and draw around it on your felt scrap, then cut out and pin in place on the cover.

Using your fabric pen, draw around the bird shapes directly onto the cover (or draw your own birds freehand) , add in the flower stems and other details that you plan to stitch.

7. Stitch the flower and birdhouse fabric pieces in place. You will notice I continued with the black thread to stitch the outlines of the birdhouses. A mixture of straight stitch and running stitch were used to stitch on the different circular elements of the flowers. Lazy daisy was used to stitch the leaves on the stem.

8. To add a different textural element to the cover , raised satin stitch is used to embroider the birds. First sew the outline of the bird using backstitch, and fill the bird shape with lots of little stitches called seed stitch. Next satin stitch the bird shape. Once filled, add on the details using a tiny straight stitch for the eye and backstitch for the wing.

9. Once happy with the decorated notebook cover , pin the patterned and plain fabric together with the right sides facing out. Ensure the pressed edges are folded over and that the 2 fabric folded edges meet. Leave one side of the notebook edge unpinned.


10. Blanket stitch the 2 edges of the fabric together around 3 sides of the notebook. Slide in the batting/wadding between the 2 fabric layers then blanket stitch the remaining side closed.
*Alternatively , if you prefer to use a sewing machine for this part, simply pin the fabric pieces together right side facing towards each other (lining up the interfacing edges) and machine stitch 3 sides using the edge of the interfacing as a sewing guide. Turn the fabric right way around, slide in wadding and then machine sew the final side closed .

THE PAGES
11. Gather your 10 pieces of paper. This is a good chance to get creative and use some paper that you may have hoarded …eg, Pretty patterned paper bag, wrapping paper,graph paper, envelopes etc.

It’s important the paper is not too thick…if it is you will want to use less than 10 pieces.

Fold the paper in half running the side of your thumbnail along the edge to make a crisp crease. Place the 10 pieces inside of each other. Trim the paper if you find the inner pages stick out a little, or any of the other edges are uneven.

12. Clip the paper pieces together to ensure they won’t move about for the next part which is ‘binding ‘ the pages .
Take the notebook template and fold it along the centre. The 3 dots marked on the template show where to place a mark on the centre fold of the paper. Once marked, take a pin (or an awl if you have one!) and pierce a hole through the centre fold of ALL the paper pieces.

13. Next place the paper pieces inside the notebook cover, lining up the centrefold the paper with the centrefold of the notebook cover. You will see I have marked the centre fold of the cover with a pin at the top and bottom to help act as a guide.

To bind the paper together to make pages ,we are using a simple binding technique called ‘pamphlet stitch’.

PAMPHLET STITCH:

Measure a length of thread approx 3x the page length and thread in needle. (Use 3 strands of embroidery thread OR a strong cotton thread). The key to binding is to pull the thread taut at each step so that the pages are firmly held in place and will not wobble about. You can adjust as you go along if you notice the thread is loose.

Start by taking the threaded needle through HOLE 2 , going from the middle of the open pages and out through the equivalent position on the centrefold of the notebook cover. (1-> 2)

Return the needle through the notebook cover and pages at HOLE 1 and bring down to HOLE 3. (2 -> 3)

Next take the needle through the pages and cover at HOLE 3 and then return through the cover then pages at HOLE 2 (3 -> 4). You should have 2 thread ends which sit on either side of the long stitch (going from hole 1 to hole 3). Tie the 2 thread ends with a couple of knots and then trim thread ends.

Remove pins and pegs/clips…and admire !!

The image above shows the binding stitches on the centrefold of the notebook cover.

You may need to ‘assist’ your little fabric notebook to lie closed by placing under a book for a day or so…
The first 5 images show the finished notebook and props.