Inspired by Teesha Moore
I love my art journals and love looking at other people's too. It was while looking for more inspiration at Teesha Moore's art journal videos I saw she had uploaded four videos on fabric journals. I'm not a great seamstress, but decided to take a look because I love Teesha's work.
Well, I was entranced. This was not sewing as I knew it. This is a fusion of glorious materials and clashing, vibrant colour... and the actual sewing is a happy, slapdash process which is just the sort of thing I like. It's how I create art and how I cook. In fact, it's how I live life in general!
These journals are simple signatures (folded paper) stitched into a quilted fabric cover. The cover is fashioned from a number of small quilted pillows stitched together to form a kind of fabric collage. You don't need a pattern or any kind of plan. Grab your fabric stash and you're good to go.
I couldn't wait to get started and here are the results.
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Instructions to Make Fabric Journals
In this section are directions, photos and videos to help you get started on your fabric journal project.
Let Teesha Moore Show You How to Create Fabric Journals
There are four videos in the series so be sure to watch them all. I am very appreciative of Teesha's generosity in sharing her work in this way. She is an inspiration to me.
Materials for Fabric Journals
I scoured eBay for materials and found wonderful embroidery thread and some lovely hand-dyed perle cotton. I also discovered a seller from France selling Kaffe Fassett charm packs of various sizes. I bought 4 inch and 6 inch squares.
You'll also need some polyester toy filling to stuff the little pillows and needles with eyes large enough to take quite thick thread.
Make Little Pillows
Take two squares or rectangles of fabric. Place wrong sides together and baste/tack around three edges about half an inch in. Use ordinary polyester or cotton thread doubled and knotted at the end. Stuff your pillow gently with polyester wadding and sew up the fourth side. Takes a couple of minutes to make one 4" pillow.
Make lots of these. For a small journal I used ten pillows made from 4" squares. Four for the front and four for the back and two stitched to the back right edge to wrap around to the front.
Oversew the Ragged Edges
Decide which is your front side. Fold the edge over once and over-stitch, going in at the front and out at the back. See the pics and videos and it will make sense.
I use two colours of thread - don't separate the strands. The bright, contrasting thread is part of the look. If you run out while you are doing your edges, change the colours. The more the merrier.
Don't try to hide the raw edge and leave the basting/tacking stitches in place. It's this rough look which adds to the home-made-ness of it.
Incidentally, my kids love making the pillows too. It's so easy that an eight-year old can do it. My daughter just likes the basting part while my son likes to do the over sewing - I don't know what you call that in proper sewing language!
Quilt Your Pillows
Again, use double-coloured thread and quilt your pillows. Either randomly or pick out a pattern in the fabric. These gorgeous Kaffe Fassett fabrics lend themselves perfectly for this as each has an easily followed design. You can clearly see the basting/tacking stitches in the photo.
If you run out of thread simply change the colours. Like Teesha says, "Don't be too matchy-poo"
Sew them Together
Decide what size your journal is to be and stitch your pillows together accordingly. I like to rest them flat on a book on my lap. Double colour thread again if you like. Be robust with your stitching, rather than neat; no need to hide loose threads, although I do keep my knotty ends at the back.
If you look at Teesha's journals, she doesn't even bother about lining up her pillows. She only keeps the edges straight where they will be joined. She even leaves 'holes' so that the pages beneath peep through.
When you come to sewing your back cover to your front, then put them wrong sides together and whip-stitch up the 'spine', this is where you need your squares to line up properly.
Sew in the Pages (Signature)
For these journals I am using Fabriano Artistico 140lb Hot Press watercolor paper.
I tear the sheets to double the width that I want the pages to be (in the one shown I have made them even wider so that I have some interesting flappy bits), fold them, then rub the fold with the handle of scissors (if you have a bone folder then that would be better) to sharpen them. I usually use five sheets, folded to make ten pages. This is called a 'signature'. Make holes with an awl or some other sharp, pointy instrument. Ensure that they line up. Position the pages on the journal cover. Then using one length of embroidery thread doubled, sew straight up the centre.
In my next journal, I'm going to add an extra section of pillows to make a wider spine so that I can add more signatures, as Teesha shows in one of her fabric journals.
Embellish Your Fabric Journal
I used buttons to embellish the front of my journals and tiny silver bells down the spine of one. Be mindful that you will be writing in them so you don't want anything that is too lumpy to rest on. I added the buttons to the wrap-around flap of mine so they don't interfere with later use.
Did you see how Teesha adapted the technique to make bags and purses? Fabulous! I can't wait to order more fabric!
Shop for Fabric Journal Supplies
In this section, I have gathered together some resources to help you get started. There are some fabulous books, gorgeous fabrics and thread.
Fast, Fun & Easy Book Cover Art - Add a Quilted Fabric Touch to Binders, Scrapbooks, Journals & More
With basic sewing skills and a handful of embellishments, you can make beautiful covers for everything from brag books to date books to checkbooks.
K. McGee says, "This is one of my all time favorite sewing books and it DOES live up to it's name. Fast, fun and EASY! I made two covers within the first week of getting the book.
The instructions are detailed, concise and easily understood, even by me and I'm a self-taught, novice.
Best things about this book are that the instructions allow you to cover ANY book you want from checkbooks, journals to cookbooks, paperbacks, EVERYTHING. I absolutely LOVE this book! Also, for other "hoarders" like me, who can't bear to get rid of the bigger scraps of fabric I have left from other projects, not to worry! You can easily incorporate those scraps into fabulous designs! If I sound like I'm gushing, I AM! I can see myself using this book for years and years to come without getting tired of it.
The sky's the limit with this book and I found it really stimulated my creativity. This one's a keeper!"
Fabric Art Inspiration
Fabric Journal Gallery
A gallery of my own fabric journal creations.