Hand-Embroidered Paperclip Bookmarks

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?

4 Responses to “Hand-Embroidered Paperclip Bookmarks”

  1. Harriet, Norway

    I really enjoy the combination of metal work and embroidery! I must try this 🙂

    February 22, 2015 @ 9:57 am
  2. Jen

    @Harriet: I know! There’s more I’d like to do with metal and embroidery.

    February 26, 2015 @ 10:40 pm
  3. Annette Briggs

    I am going to do some of these. I had a cold for about 3 weeks, I stitched 15 book marks, oh how I wish I had seen these.

    February 23, 2015 @ 6:16 am
  4. Jen

    If you need something to do with those bookmarks, Annette, we’re collecting them here in AK for a school donation in April. In truth, we could use some help. Email me at mail AT funkandweber DOT com if you’re willing to send some. I’ll give you the mailing address.

    February 26, 2015 @ 10:39 pm

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