I am writing this blog post from Sedona, AZ., a few days before attending Tangie’s workshop at the new Artspirations Studio…totally exciting!
This week we will take a closer look at the making of the Junque Journal cover, pictured below, with a focus on couching:
Couching is basically where threads are laid onto the surface of paper or fabric and stitched down with another thread. The couching technique is often utilized for larger threads and yarns that do not pass through the eye of a needle or paper easily. I couched several heavier yarns and embroidery threads onto the printed Gypsy Diaries page for the Journal cover by machine, then used the threads for lacing with other threads and beads.
The paper or fabric needs to be heavy enough to support the attached layer of heavier threads on top, or be stabilized with other paper, fabric, or interfacing.
If I am couching to form an edge treatment, I will use a wider zigzag stitch so that the couching yarn is totally encapsulated with the edge of the piece. Literally any machine stitch may be used to couch threads by sewing machine, including straight, zigzag, satin, in either free motion or automatic mode, as well as automatic decorative stitches.
Couching works for an amazing array of embellishments from wire and pipe cleaners to feathers, knitted I-cord, and paper beads, in addition to any size of threads and yarns.
Couching using hand embroidery stitches has all the same variations and considerations, and will often require piercing holes into the base paper or fabric first for a hand needle to pass through the fabric or paper.
Some options for hand couching:
*One thread in the needle straight stitching over a single or double strand of yarn or thread.
*Couching any number of strands with a cross stitch, open chain stitch, blanket stitch, or herringbone.
Below is an image of some automatic stitch notes from one of my sketchbooks:
Below is another example of couched felt strips and yarns using various machine stitches:
Let’s look at the making of the Junque Journal cover:
By machine, for a book or journal cover I line up the front and back cover and stitch at the same time. In the image below I am laying down thread to lace, or use as the base of couching or interlacing. I have both the front and back cover lined up, and make a jump stitch between by anchoring the thread at the end of one and the beginning of the other cover, pulling the thread between.
Below: Here are the covers with the base stitching complete:
So far I have added both free motion and automatic decorative stitches to the stabilized covers. Below is an image of threads and yarns also couched by machine added to the covers. Now I will use the base stitches to add further couching and beads as embellishments.
In the image below I am using hand-dyed embroidery threads to lace and stitch onto the machine base stitches. I have also threaded beads onto some of the threads and interlaced between the rows of couched and machine stitches.
Below is another image of a Junque Journal cover that I am just beginning to pierce and stitch. I will also be adding beads and couched yarns to this cover. This is again a page I printed from Tangie’s Gypsy Diaries Workshop. So until next week, I hope you find some time to make art!
This week we will take a closer look at interlacing and piercing with paper, and begin to look at couching. These are wonderful skills to have in your toolbox for art journal pages, scrapbook or sketchbooks, or other art projects.
Interlacing and Piercing
Many thicker and heavier threads, yarns, and ribbons are too big to pass through a sewing machine needle, a smaller hand needle, and really shouldn’t be pulled through paper over and over since eventually both the fiber and the paper will fall apart. This is where piercing a channel through the paper first makes a huge difference, particularly if the hole is stabilized with a brad, an eyelet, or stitching. Piercing a hole before hand stitching on paper also makes it far easier on your wrists and fingers to form the stitch since paper will not fold and bend as easily as a fabric.
Below are a few pages from my hand stitching sketchbook:
Below is another image of holes that were punched with the larger Japanese hole punch into painted sketchbook paper, and the beginnings of chain stitch.
The next two images are the front and back side of one page out of my hand stitching book, with pen, ink, paint and marker drawings. The edges of the page were pierced with a seam ripper first, then overhand stitched first with yellow, then back the opposite way with green. In the lower right corner you can see the back side of the chain and feather stitching.
And another edge with pierced holes:
Below is another page from the same book, this one a stitched collage of my painted and monoprinted paper. I am using the machine stitches of the collaged bits to anchor hand stitches with a thicker thread. Since the automatic decorative stitches have a lot of thread bars, I can pick and choose where to insert the needle for my design.
It isn’t necessary to have a sewing machine to make the thread bars, you can also just lace thread through pre-punched holes, then use those thread bars as an anchor for further embellishment.
Let’s look at a “Junque Journal” cover I made from a printed page from Tangie’s “Gypsy Diaries” workshop. Below is the finished and mounted cover:
In part 2 of Interlacing, Piercing, and Couching, we will take a close look at making this journal cover which includes all of these techniques.
Until next week, take care and have some fun making art!