Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Making a fiber book...Tutorial from my studio

I am no expert but I have received interest in sharing my method of making the little fabric books that I seem to be hooked on lately so here goes. Take what you want and gather more information through various creators. WARNING: Like crazy quilting, these are addictive!

First I decide on the subject matter. This was a book I just completed for a client in Indonesia. She sent great photos and letters to include in a book for her daughter's birthday. I added some backgrounds and played around in my editing program to get the colors I wanted. I printed them off on cotton poplin and organized them in the order they would appear in the book.

I then decide what size I want the book, usually smaller is sweeter in my opinion. This book was 5" by 7". I cut a muslin base for each side of a "page" usually going with three to four pages so I would need 6 to 8 muslin pieces.
I also cut a few smaller pieces of muslin for additional flaps on various pages for a more personal and fun book. The flap on page below opened downward exposing a small locket that opened to reveal a photo of mother and daughter. Each completed flap is sewn onto the page before book is assembled.

 The next step is to go to your lace/ doily/dyed textured fabric bin and begin selecting interesting bits.
Her daughter likes blue so I chose a few blue fabrics but tried to stay with neutrals to be safe. I then layout the photos on each page, telling a story as I go if possible.I decided since this was such a thoughtful gift for her daughter, I would put the photo of  the mother on the cover. She is a beautiful woman and what daughter wouldn't like to see her mother on the cover? I added a  birthday tag and a photo of a vintage girl. The next page included two photos of vintage mother and daughter and a little girl plus a sweet letter from mom. I just continue the layout of pages before I start selecting fabrics and such.

Instead of keeping everything straight and perfect, I angled photos and such for more interest. Now the fun part of choosing the fabrics and laces. This is a great way to use up those laces and trims you have been collecting. Keep in mind, the colors do not have to match, especially if you will be aging the pages. They are so much more enduring when aged I think. (Just my opinion)

 I iron fusible web (wonder under/pellon) to the back of the image sheet before cutting out. I also cut along the edges in an uneven waving pattern to make it appear torn and tattered.
The next steps are for your imagination but here is the layering process I use.
1. Muslin base

2. Fabric, either a determined color or a neutral shade

3.Sheer fabric or lace overlay allowing fabric to show through

4. Photo image (s) placed and ironed down to hold and not shift while embellishing

5. Trims, appliques, more lace bits, etc

6. Any sewing or silk ribbon embroidery

7.Buttons, beads, charms, etc.

8. If adding a "flap" to a page, use the same steps to make flap decorating both sides. Attach it on any side, top or from bottom.

9. That is one page, now finish the rest!

10. If you are going to age the book, make sure your images are waterproof. If not, spray with a product like Scotch-guard and allow to dry, then lay each page out on covered surface to protect from distressing method. I use a liquid distressing solution from Tisha's Needle Art Studio (810-678-8191) Just spray it wherever you want it to "age", I spray it all over then come back and spray edges where it it more likely to be worn/used.
Let air dry or place pressing cloth on page and press with iron while damp. This sets it as is and gives it even more of an aged look.

11. Layer pages in order, placing the last page on bottom and so on  ending with cover on top of stack then either glue pages back to back or sew around the edges. Either works, sometimes I do both. I leave the edges raggedy but trim any unwanted muslin showing through unless it was aged as well.

12. Mark where you want the binding to be. I use two methods, I cut a hole in the top left corner and feed several yarns, ribbons, rick rack through and tie off. Or I place 3 evenly spaced grommets along the left edge of pages then feed the fibers through.

12. Tie a few special charms, beads, etc to the thinner fibers and let hang. This can personalize and add interest to your book.

13. Check each page making sure it looks evenly embellished throughout the book. You can always add a button or applique if needed.

14. Wrap it up or send it off and smile knowing it will be warmly received because you put your heart into it.....not to mention at least 16 hours :-)

 Now I warned you, don't come knocking on my door because you have another addiction...unless you are here for tea.


  1. Oh what a tret Pat. I have been wanting to do this ever since I saw yours and your magazine. Now I know what I am doing today. Addictions? This is a great kind, no calories for the hips. Keep warm and thanks so much. I know everyone will love it and start playing to make a special book for a friend or loved one. xoxo

    1. me and my fingers : ) that should be what a treat. xo

  2. Anonymous12:10 PM CST

    Love this tutorial Pat... I know it will be another bad habit..but a fun creative one. I have been wanting to play with the fabric book idea for a long time..just have not went for it I cant think of anyone better to inspire me than you. I know that Jan, Terri, your client and her daughter are all going to love their special creations from have once again done an amazing job. It is so much fun to create for someone special and each book has a little story to tell.
    Thankyou again for always sharing and keeping us all busy with ideas.
    Takecare, Shannon

  3. What a lovely book! I bet she really enjoys it! Thanks for the tutorial. It's always fun to see how others construct books like these. You certainly gave me inspiration! Thank you!
    Sweet blessings, Chris

  4. Lovely book and thank you so much for the tutorial :)
    - Jeanette4

  5. Hallo Pat,

    Found you via Lovey's blog.
    What a beautiful fabric book!!
    and great tutorial.
    Hope to be here more often.

    Blessings Wilma.
    Shabby Royale


Your comments make me smile, I love hearing from you and thank you so much for taking a moment to stop by. Enjoy your day!