Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to make a Fabric Valentine Book

The premise
I love books, I do not mean I love to read( I like it just fine). I love holding books; turning the pages slowly and quickly. I love the intimate interaction demanded by a book. I love the historical references of books; the implications of freedom and equality that are aroused from ones mind when you think of the history of book making and the spread of knowledge to the common folk( my peeps).
I love making books. I have spent years keeping art journals and then making books; every art project was premeditated, inspired by and made record with the help of a book. I am sure my tactile fascination with books was born when I was a wee little Darling', of which I have no memory( I have a terrible memory). However I can remember how books became more and more involved in my creative process. .....This is getting too drawn out. Sorry book making brings out the art nerd in me.
It is all from journals, I believe, In the beginning of my " serious study of art" my journals were always more interesting (to me and to others) than the actual finished art piece. So I must conclude now in retrospect, That I started making books, as art, out of my desire to bring the viewer closer to me; to give them a more realistic and honest rendering of my view point.
When I was teaching a beginning design class at The university of Arizona , I assigned a very similar project to this tutorial. Each student was asked to write down four words describing something in there room at home. Then write one word for the thing. We then made pamphlet style collage books and used the words as the text for the book. I liked doing this project in the very first class because the result was so informative about the student; Like little visual autobiographies. I suggest you make the paper book first to get a feel for this.This is a great first run to hash out ideas and understand the folding method of the pamphlet. They are actually great to have around for making little memory books or we love making "comic" books out of them.

The project...these books are to be valentines. Choose who you are making the Valentine for. I made three(well I am still working on the third)I chose as my valentine : mother, lover, and burger. For the 4 words you can use almost anything. Just choose something that is relevant and fun loving for your recipient. The fifth word will be a term of endearment.
For my mother I decided to do the traditional 4 descriptive words...using her as my muse. I actually decide on the words by writing like 10 or 20 ideas and using a dictionary to help me decide on the words I liked best together. For my lover I decided to use the title to a song by one of our shared favorite musicians, Allen Toussaint.

His music conjures up such sweet memories of our courtship and we became engaged in N'orleans. For burger I chose a movie( star wars of course) and his favorite characters from the movie.( I am still working on burgers...so no photos yet)

The materials

Base fabric cut to 19"x13"
heat and bond lite
lots of fabric scraps
hand needles
buttons/ beads/ other embellishments
spray starch
printing and drawing tools : stamps, stencils( some method of putting text to fabric) paint brush, pencil,
marking chalk
sewing machine
spray starch

The process

1. cut and starch iron your base fabric. This 19" x 13 " fabric should be at least med weight. I chose one darker value one lighter value and one that had printed images. This will allow me to layer from dark to light and one from light to dark and on the third deal with the challenge of editing the printed images.2. cut, iron, and attach your back ground fabric.
Apply the heat and bond to all your back ground fabrics. I used translucent sheer fabrics that would help me create depth in my layering and help create a variety of values.

3. Make your pamphlet.
a. fold in half vertically and Iron
b. fold in half horizontally and iron
c. fold both ends to meet in the middle creating four fold across
d.unfold your ends and cut from the middle to the first fold .... creating a slit in the center.
4. Fold and iron you pamphlet . Hold on to the fabric on both sides of the slit, ....pull open ....and fold your pamphlet

into shape.
Iron the entire book shaping it as you go along.

This book will be whimsical and loose don't worry if all your edges don't match up perfectly, because they will not; you can work that into your design.
5. Create your lay out.Using pins and your memory, start designing each page. Now it is time to dig into your creativity and have fun. This is when I establish the flow of my text. That helps me start working each page individually. Of course you want your book to have continuity. This can be established by using color,repitition; of shapes and fabric, and stitching lines. The colors, shapes, and fabric choices should start happening now.The stitching will come later when I deal withthe books final flow. This is also the time I try to give each page an individual look. I can always add elements of continuity on top of these initial design elements.

6. Attach your design elements.
I used heat and bond on all my fabric pieces, some I then added stiching by hand ...and machine. I used stamps, stencils and embroidery to illustrate my text. I suggest stamping on bits of fabric then attaching that to your book. This gives you another layer and saves your book from accidents. Add buttons or other imbellishments that you will be wanting to hide the work in the interior of the book.

7. Finsh your edges...or not.
If this is an artist book not something you will be laundering( like a kids book) you could skip this all together( just heat bond everything), but I just love stitches too much . One method is to topstitch about 1/4 to 1/8 from the edge. I actually sewed around my book several times ...using the machine to draw some ephemeral lines of continuity throughout my pages. (speaking of machines LOOK!!! at my, new to me, necchi let me just say...whole new world lalalalalaalove it!)
Another method for finishing your pages is to turn and press all your edges in about 1/8 of an inch then fold your pamphlet and top stitch the edges together.

I find the method slightly tedious looking for my aesthetic( but not my mothers so I finished hers like this).

Whichever finish you choose from above , Follow this sequence as you sew your book edges up:
After you have chosen an edge finish
- fold your book back into shape and PRESS.-
Sew your edges together starting with the front pages -then iron- next the back pages -iron - then work the middle pages taking care to iron and keep the shape of your book all along.

8.Press with Iron.
one final shaping with the iron....nice and hot

9. share your love


Self & Co. said...

this is great, an heirloom. can't wait to try it out, starting tomorrow.
ps: love Touissant, he was on Austin City Limits recently

Angie said...

This is probably my new favorite tutorial of yours (the first one was your Valentine heart project). I am seriously going to have to make this! Thank you so much for taking the time to make this tutorial!

Unknown said...

As usual, your creations leave me in AWE.

Shorty said...

Great idea! Thank you for sharing your tutorial. Love how your books turned out.

Lo Christine said...

Great tutorial! These are amazing:)

kelly mae said...

oh so lovely! thanks for sharing!

Susan said...

Fantastic idea -- I can't wait to try it! Thanks for the great tutorial, Chas, it must have taken you ages.

Deb said...

These are so beautiful! Love them! Great tutorial too. Thanks for sharing. (:

Holly said...

OMG, I love it! You're so artistic and clever.

Beta said...

Thanks for this beautiful idea! I have thought about sharing it with my readers and I hope you are not sorry if I have inserted her in my post of S. Valentine (http://bimbumbeta.blogspot.com/2010/02/s-valentino-piccoli-pensieri-amorosi.html). If you had to not make you like I will handle to remove the link to your blog. Regards, Beta

Devona said...

This is a great idea. It leaves so much room for interpretation and variance depending on the recipient. My husband is a bibliophile, so this would be an excellent gift to him.

Thanks for the inspiration!

Harmony said...

How beautiful. I'm thinking of taking some fabrics from some old outfits of mine that were my husbands favorites and making the book at of those. Another thing I might do is make a copy of some old love notes onto iron transfer and putting little fragments into the book. Thank you for the tutorial. I feel very inspired!

Elsa said...

so very clever! love it! thanks so much for generously sharing your work!

Michelle Frae Cummings said...

so beautiful! thanks for sharing! I love stuff like this!

jessica en fuego said...

these are so great! i also love those scrappy hearts. great way to use my fabric scraps.

Judy said...


oxo Judy

Sakhi said...

Thanks a bunch for such an awesome tutorial. :)

Ingrid Dijkers said...

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

Kim Taylor Kruse said...

Found your post via Craft.com. Great tutorial! I just love all of the texture in your books. And the technique you used for creating the book itself is very cool.

I'm also loving the connections we seem to have. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities, as well. And one of my printmaking friends was at the University of Arizona. Did you ever meet a gal named April Flanders when you were there?

Unknown said...

What a lovely little gift for your Valentines!
I saw this in Craftzine & had to stop by & take a look.
Thanks for posting this tutorial & great idea.

nualan said...

GREAT tutorial!!
Could i post it in my blog??
please take a look on it


Lilly Higgins said...

This is such a cute project! Well done! Its a great way to use up small treasured scraps of fabric that I can't bear to throw away. x

Tina Johnston said...

I make fabric books and am familiar with this fold for paper books, but will apply it to fabric now!

Lagene said...

This is such a Fantastic idea!!! Thanks for the tutorial!!!

NicNacManiac said...

WOW..this is fabulous...thanks for the tutorial...you make it look so easy!! Enjoy the rest of your day!!
xOxO Nerina :)

規格 said...
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Salaam & Shanti Bariatric Yoga said...

I featured your books on my blog. on wordpress. knittingourwaytopeace.wordpress.com

-rebecca said...

i absolutely love these! thanks so much for sharing! i would like to share this link on my blog?

Kristin Ann said...

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! This is wonderful. I can't wait to try it!

vitarlenology said...

this book absolutely great! thanks for this idea, using fabric for this technique..thank you for tutorial..:)

Helsbells said...


I have had a go at this fab idea, its not as neat as yours!! But I love it anyway. Thanks so much for the tutorial. Made for a great Valentines day. I would love it if you had time to have a look at it on my blog.

Unknown said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



Jane Davies said...

This is fabulous and inspiring. THANKS!

iHanna said...

Extremely cute books, and a great and easy to follow tutorial. Thanks for sharing your creativity!

CraftCrave said...

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave.com in the Handcraft category today [17 Mar 12:53pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

Anonymous said...

Awsome project. I found you on FAVE radio. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Fantastic idea Thanks for the inspiration!

Caroline White

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archery hunting equipment said...
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Colleen said...

Thanks again for the splendid tutorial! I am soo happy with how mine turned out. I plan on making another one!