Archive for the ‘Finishing’ Category

Decoupaged Embroidery, Part 2

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

So far, we’ve decoupaged embroidery on plastic cups and denim pockets. Let’s see what else we can do with decoupage medium and embroidery.

Embroidery Adventure 3


I got on an embroidered earring kick, and stitched up a number of tiny designs.

Embroidered Earrings by Funk & Weber Designs

Embroidered earrings by Funk & Weber Designs. These are the ones I wear most.

Stitched earrings are nice and light, and they’re a great way to put a little stitchiness into our everyday lives so that we can share it with the world.

A super-easy way to deal with fraying edges and messy backsides is to glue a piece of felt or Ultrasuede on the back.

For the I-Heart-You earrings, the stitching looks fine on the back, so I recommend gluing the ground fabric only, outside the embroidery. Unless, that is, you want to decoupage the earrings.

Decoupaging embroidered earrings by Funk & Weber Designs

Glue all over the beautiful thread and stitching. Gah!

Decoupaged I-Heart-You earring

It works! They’re cool, and they certainly won’t fray or come un-stitched.


Embroidery Adventure 4

Fiber Artist Trading Cards (or Bookmarks)

Remember Artist Trading Cards? Is anyone still doing those? I never got into the whole trading/collecting thing (I’m not a collector), but they sure looked fun to make, so I had a go. I decided to decoupage noodles (needlework doodles) to watercolor paper so that they’d be card-like and easy to sign.

  • Materials for Fiber Artist Trading Cards by Funk & Weber Designs


    I used watercolor paper for the backing so I could write on it. You need fabric scraps, noodles (needlework doodles), a foam brush, and the decoupage medium of your choice. I cover my work area with waxed paper for easy cleanup.

    To give the cards a random look, and to create a collectible series (cards that go together), I made large decoupaged pieces then cut them apart.

  • Spread Decoupage Medium on Paper

    Step 1

    Cover one side of the paper with decoupage medium, otherwise known as glue. The watercolor paper curls as it absorbs the glue, but it will flatten as it dries.

  • Add fabric scraps for first layer

    Step 2

    Cover the paper with scrap fabrics, and apply another layer of glue on top, smoothing out air bubbles and wrinkles. If you want. Wrinkles could be interesting. I overlap the fabrics and fringe some edges.

    Fabric is absorbent, so apply glue liberally.

  • Decoupage embroidered bits to paper

    Step 3

    While the base layer is wet, add noodles and cover with another layer of glue. You can also add trim, cord, pearl cotton, lace, etc.

    I’ve decided to add the rings and heart after I cut the large piece into smaller, individual-bookmark pieces. Other embellishments, like charms and beads, can be added in subsequent layers, too. Hard objects and pieces you don’t want cut should be held until the individual cards are separated.

    Apply as many layers of glue as you like, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next. More layers means more drying time. These can take several days to complete.

  • Cut decoupaged paper into cards

    Step 4

    When the final layer of glue is dry, cut the piece into whatever sizes and shapes you want. These were originally designed as Fiber Artist Trading Cards, so they are rectangular, but anything goes.

  • Large decoupage paper cut apart

    The Pieces, separated

    By cutting a larger piece down, we get a more random collection of bits. For tags or objects other than cards, I’d be inclined to make different shapes, maybe starbursts or random cloud shapes. Rectangles are kind of boring.

  • Sign the paper back

    Step 5

    Because we are decoupaging on paper, we can easily write messages and sign the back. This would be handy for gift tags or ornaments. We could write a poem on the back. What else?

  • Punch holes in cards to add ribbon for bookmarks

    Step 6

    Since I didn’t get into trading and collecting, I ultimately punched holes in the cards, added ribbons, turned them into bookmarks, and gave them away during the Stitching for Literacy program.

And those are my Decoupaged Embroidery adventures to date. What do you think? Have you tried this? Do you want to try it?

Decoupaged Embroidery, part 1

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Ages ago, I hatched the idea of decoupaged embroidery. (I’m sure I’m not the first to have this idea, nor will I be the last.) Since then, I’ve done a little adventuring (not nearly enough), and here is a collection of those adventures.

For those of you who are not familiar with decoupage, it involves gluing objects (usually cut-out paper pictures) to a surface, then coating that surface and all its objects with layers of glue and, perhaps, varnish. The glue, or “decoupage medium,” is generally a white PVA glue that dries clear and hard.

Yeah, I know . . . glue + needlework = sacrilege. It’s bad enough that I endorse gluing the backs and edges of needlework; now I’m proposing we slather glue all over the front as well, layer upon layer.

Yep, that’s what I’m proposing. Deal with it.

Embroidery Adventure 1

Embellished Cups

In one of my first experiments, I decoupaged noodles (needlework doodles) to plastic cups. What I really want to do is make pretty labels for some refillable spice bottles, and I want to label and embellish some plastic containers I use for craft supplies.

Hand embroidery decoupaged to plastic cups

Embroidery and fabrics decoupaged to plastic cups.

I covered one cup completely with fabric bits—think papier mache. (The cup on the right.) Then I glued a noodle on top of those fabric bits. I didn’t like the irregular raw edge of the noodle (I hadn’t cut it carefully), so I glued some Caron Watercolours thread and Kreinik petite facets around the edge to hide it. That worked well.

The end result is nothing to shout about, but I learned some things and got ideas for improvement:

  • I’d prefer smaller bits of fabric on the bottom (papier mache) layer.
  • The decoupage medium significantly darkens fabric and thread colors; I can’t tell the dark green from the black. In the future, I’ll stick with bright and light colors.
  • Early on, the glued fabric edges were rough and prickly, but this went away after the surface had been coated several times.
  • The noodle uses Dinky Dyes hand-dyed silk. I did not rinse the threads before stitching or wash the piece when it was finished. As I suspected, some of the dyes bled, but only the colors with red in them. Good ‘ol red, the troublesome diva of color. The bleeding doesn’t bother me, though. We can use the technique deliberately to create a watercolor effect.
  • This project makes me think “crazy quilt.” I’d like what I have to be busier, and I think beads, trims, glitter, etc. between the bits is the answer.

I painted the other cup and decoupaged a half-inch stitchband around it. Very simple. I’m not keen on the color of paint or the color of the stitchband or the color combo of the whole, but I was just playing with what I had on hand; colors we can fix. I think the overall project has potential.

I wonder if I could glue a strip of embroidered fabric around the cup, leaving a soft fringe free. It would require careful gluing, but it might be a cool effect.

On both cups, I glued and painted all the way to the top rim, not expecting to use them as drinking glasses. I’m thinking now, though, that I might stop the gluing below the rim and go ahead and use them as glasses. There’s a ridge on these cups that would make it easy to separate the work area from the top “drinking” edge. (I’ve got a bunch of these cups.) I’ve seen glass plates decoupaged on the bottom side (so the design shows through) and rumor has it that with hand-washing, those plates can be used to serve food.

Embroidery Adventure 2

Pocket Bookmark

For the cups, I used regular old Mod Podge. For my next adventure, I used Fabric Mod Podge. Did you even know there was such a thing? There are several Mod Podges. I love the Sparkle one.

I spoke with a chemist at Plaid (manufacturer of Mod Podge) to get a clue about the differences between Fabric and Regular Mod Podge. That conversation went over my head, for the most part, but the regular is a PVA (poly-vinyl acetate, which is what we know as white glue) while the Fabric Mod Podge is an acrylic. The chemist’s biggest concern about using regular Mod Podge with fabrics and threads was the potential for the dyes to bleed; that shouldn’t happen with Fabric Mod Podge.

Okay. Understood. We saw that with the cups, and decided that planned bleeding isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

According to Plaid, the Fabric Mod Podge is made to adhere paper to fabric or fabric to fabric. They suggest decoupaging a denim jacket, a tote bag, pillows, etc. Hmm . . . imagine decoupaging noodles to all of those things.

Embroidery decoupaged to denim pockets

Pocket bookarks embellished with decoupaged embroidery.

I decoupaged a couple of noodles to denim pockets from a pair of toddler overalls. I put a grommet on one pocket and sewed a buttonhole on the other to accommodate ribbons and turned them into pocket bookmarks.

The Fabrci Mod Podge stays flexible unlike regular Mod Podge. The medium creates a shiny, “plasticized” coating over the embroidery, which I just feathered out on the edges, rather than coating the whole pocket with medium.

I like to sew, and I like applique, but I also like this technique for attaching embroidery to a fabric surface.

Unfortunately, Fabric Mod Podge can be hard to find on store shelves. Your best bet might be purchasing it online. Just make sure it won’t freeze during shipping. Freezing can ruin glue.

You can order Fabric Mod Podge here.

Are You Ready for a Decoupaged-Embroidery Adventure?

I have two more decoupaged-embroidery adventures that I’ll share with you next time. Until then, what do you think? Would you be willing to slather your embroidery with decoupage medium? Is there a stitchy decoupage project you’d like to try? Leave a comment, and let me know.

Hand-Embroidered Paperclip Bookmarks

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

We’ve already embroidered paperclips. Today, we’re going to tweak that design and embroider paperclip bookmarks.

Hand-Embroidered Paperclip Bookmarks by Funk & Weber Designs

A batch of embroidered bookmarks.

Instead of covering the whole paperclip with the fabric, I attach the fabric to the top of the paperclip so that it sticks out above the book. You can use the same pattern we used for paperclips (the Smyrna crosses), catching only the tip of the paperclip in the satin stitches.

Most of the time, however, I stitch a close blanket stitch around the edge of paperclip bookmarks so I don’t have to glue the edges. If you do Hardanger, you know this stitch. You may know it even if you don’t do Hardanger. It is often erroneously called the buttonhole stitch, in books, by teachers, once upon a time by me, but I have since learned otherwise, thanks to Marion Scoular, embroidery teacher extraordinaire. The difference between blanket stitch and buttonhole stitch is a topic for another day, though. Focus, Jen, focus.

Any number of edge treatments will do for paperclip bookmarks. The picot edge we use in the Bracelet Basics class works great. Glue or paint along the edges is another option.

Some Backstory

When I first posted this project in The Needlework Nutshell, I wrote and uploaded it while caretaking at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge. I didn’t have any samples with me; in fact, I’d recently given away the last one as an apology to some unknown teen who was waiting for my overdue book to be returned to the library.

No big deal. I figured I’d just make some more. Except I didn’t pack the paperclips either. Oops.

Oh, well. Once upon a time, I made my sister-in-law fun “Italian” coiled paperclips for Christmas, so I decided I’d just whip up some paperclips, too. Who needs craft wire (I didn’t have any) when you’re building a new lodge and have scraps of copper 12-2 Romex wire lying about? Who needs craft pliers, hammers, and metal do-wacky things (nope, didn’t have those, either) when you’ve got a carpenter’s toolbox and scrap metal?

So I bent and pounded wire into fun coils, and you know what? I’m still making these homemade paperclips for embroidered bookmarks! (No, not because they take forever to make, but because I love making them!)

How It’s Done

  • Homemade paperclip materials, Funk & Weber Designs

    Homemade Paperclip Materials

    Having forgotten to pack the large, office-supply paperclips I usually use, I rounded up tools and materials to make my own. Craft supply stores provide specialized tools and wire, but since I didn’t have access to a store, I made do with what was on hand: stripped 12-2 Romex copper wire, needlenose pliers, file, smooth-head hammer, and a piece of scrap metal.

  • Bending wire for a paperclip, Funk & Weber Designs

    Step 1

    File the cut ends of the wire to smooth. You don’t want sharp edges to rip the pages of a book.

    Bend the wire into any coiled shape. Think about how paperclips work: pages slide between coils. In this case, the zigzag will be on one side, and the outer rectangle will be on the other.

    I extended the wire down the right side of the rectangle because I will slide the clip through a finished piece of needlework rather than stitching it in place. The needlework will slide up to the top of the clip. If the arm ended at the top of the rectangle, the needlework might slip off.

    An alternative is to loop the wire back on itself, creating a stop to hold the needlework in place. This kind of clip must be stitched in place.

  • Hammer Wire Flat, Funk & Weber Designs

    Step 2

    Hammer the shaped clip flat. Hammering strengthens the wire, but more important in this case is making it flat so it fits neatly between the pages of a book.

    The clip will expand, and bends in the wire will loosen as you hammer. Adjust as needed. Flip the clip and hammer on both sides.

  • Embroidery for clip bookmarks, Funk & Weber Designs

    Step 3

    Stitch a small design on fabric. Any design and edge-finishing technique can be used. Here, I’ve enclosed a variety of crossed stitches in blanket-stitch outlines. A blanket-stitch edge, as used in Hardanger embroidery, accommodates a paperclip nicely, but there are many alternatives.

    Trim around the edges of the stitched piece.

  • Slide paperclip through edge stitching, Funk & Weber Designs

    Step 4

    Work the end of the paperclip through the blanket stitches on the back side then finish the back side of the needlework as desired. I will stitch felt or Ultrasuede to the back.

  • How to Use Embroidered Paperclip Bookmarks


    When using paperclip bookmarks, I attach them to several pages instead of one to prevent “embossing” the page. I do this with commercially made paperclip-style bookmarks as well as homemade ones.

Embroidered Bookmark Inside Book

The completed bookmark in use.

Functional (that is, Funk-tional) and fantastic!

Tips, Tricks, and Brilliant Ideas

  • Stiff fabrics make bookmarks that stand up straight above a book. Floppy fabrics can be stiffened or allowed to flop. I have used congress cloth, Hardanger, 18-ct monocanvas, and 22-ct evenweave with Caron Watercolours or size 5 pearl cotton for the blanket stitch.
  • Unless you’re using a reversible pattern or technique with a tidy back, you’ll probably want to back the bookmark with felt, leather, faux suede, fabric, craft metal, heavy paper, or something else. Backs can be stitched on, glued on, or taped on with Kreinik’s wicked-sticky Treasure Tape. Tape will also help stiffen the embroidery.
  • Stitch any small design or specialty stitch on fabric. I tend to keep my pieces rather narrow, with just a little overhang on each side of the clip, but you can make them any size.
  • You can finish the edges of the fabric any number of ways: blanket stitch, picot edge stitch, or glue. You can make a 2-sided bookmark, using an overcast backstitch.
  • Plan ahead whether you will attach the paperclip while you stitch the edge or if you will add it later. Make sure the method you choose works with the technique you use.
  • Trim around the edge of the bookmark. Leave a fringe if you want. Stiffen the piece if desired.

As you know, I prefer to not hide a hand-stitched bookmark inside a book. Along with ribbons and shepherd’s hooks, this is a way to show off an embroidered bookmarkf—and to get your needlework off the wall and into your life.

So . . . who’s game?


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Embroidered Paperclips Tutorial

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

I’ll admit it, I have a thing for office and school supplies: notebooks, pens, file folders, paperclips . . . . Maybe they appeal to my longing for organization. Maybe they trigger fond memories of school days. Or maybe I just like the bright colors. Who knows?

No matter how cool office supplies are right out of the package, we can make them cooler. We can spiff them up, trick them out, and make them uniquely ours. All with a bit of fabric and thread and a needle. Scraps, really.

“What?” you ask. “Personalize a paperclip? We knew you were a Nut, Jen, but come on . . . a paperclip?”

Um…yeah. I like to personalize paperclips. And other office supplies, too, but let’s start with the humble paperclip.

  • Materials used to embroider a paperclip.


    This is a great way to use scraps; many fabrics and fibers can be used. Here, I’m using 18-count monocanvas from Zweigart®, Caron Watercolours (205 Saffron), and a large (2-inch) paperclip.

  • Smyrna Crosses on 18-ct monocanvas

    Step 1

    Stitch Smyrna crosses (or any other design) the length of your paperclip on canvas, fabric, or other ground material in the colors and threads of your choice. Anything goes. Names and words like “Done!” and “Help!” might be fun and useful.

Smyrna Cross Pattern, Funk & Weber Designs

Smyrna Cross pattern

  • Satin stitches around paperclip design

    Step 2

    Satin stitch around the crosses, but heads up . . .

  • Satin Stitches Catch Outer Paperclip Wire

    Step 2, too

    You want to catch the long sides of the outermost wires in the stitches, encasing them, and attaching the embroidery to the paperclip.

  • Gluing the edges around the needlework

    Step 3

    From the back, apply your favorite PVA (white) glue or sealer around the stitching, saturating the threads to secure the edges. I like Gem Tac from Beacon Adhesives because it dries clear, flexible, and non-tacky. Plaid’s Fabric Mod Podge is another good choice.

  • Trim around the paperclip

    Step 4

    When the glue is good and dry, cut around the paperclip and stitching, through the glued edge.

  • Pretty stitched paperclips


    Easy. Fun. Cool! They make excellent, useful gifts.

  • Assorted embroidered paperclips

    Go Nuts!

    These are some of the other paperclips I have within reach today. If you’re familiar with our bracelets, note the picot edge stitch on some of these.

    These are great portable projects, a wonderful use of scraps and doodles. These useful little things are another way to get needlework off the wall and into your life!

So do you still think I’m Nuts? Is this something you might try?


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Stitchy Doo-Dad Project: Plant Pokey

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

With buckets of herbs on my window sills and a vase of wildflowers on my dining room table, I am inspired to embellish my life and flower pots and vases with embroidery.

Embroidered Plant Pokies

If there’s a good standard name for such a thing, I don’t know it. I’ve seen them called “plant pot sticks” and “floral cardholders.” How boring is that? I like “plant pokey.” It sounds like a dance I used to do, the Hokey Pokey. I like a “plant pokey” even better when it’s embroidered.

Embroidered ornaments stuck into the soil of potted plants

Embroidered plant pokies: A kind of stitched doo-dad.

Want to see how to make them? Let’s do this! Read more

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