Thursday, February 25, 2010

My life this week was all hockey. And a book.

Somewhere in between watching the Olympics non-stop this week I decided to try something I've had on my mind for some time now. I ordered some silk thread off ebay a couple weeks ago and it arrived so I could begin! So I embroidered leather to make a book cover. I really wanted to wait until the silk got here because it's simply so much richer than cotton. It look terrific next to the leather, what a great contrast! I'm glad I used the good stuff, because it took freaking ages.

I love Moroccan design, so I choose a pattern I like, made it more complicated (because that's what I do, just because I'm me and like making things difficult) and then did it in different colours while I was at it. I found a nice Moroccan-themed colour swatch that made choosing the colours very simple. The embroidery itself is not terribly complicated, just rope stitch for the outline and lazy daisy inside. Just painstaking and well, painful. I couldn't find my thimble and sewing through leather is tough! It's also kind of weird because every single pinprick will leave a mark, and too many stitches close together will simple punch big hole in it. Which is why there's no filling stitch, just pattern. Which will make things interesting if I don more of these because I'll need to figure out how to fill in the spaces without, well, filling in the spaces.

After the spine was done I wanted the covers to have some attention as well, but not more embroidery, so I did a pattern under the leather, simply cutting out a thin piece of cardboard into more Moroccan shapes (a simplified version of the spine) and putting it on the binding board so that the leather took up the pattern, but subtly.

Continuing on with making the whole thing look very rich, the inside cover got a couple different papers. A richly textured handmade green to match the main thread, and a lovely neutral marbled paper that picks up all the colours. I'll admit, I did cherry pick the marbled papers from everything sent in for the paper swap because it was the only thing that matched. (By the way, I should have that all ready to go Sunday, I took the day off so that I can watch the game).

All in all, I'm fairly happy with how it all turned out. Luckily, no one can see the back of the embroidery, which got messy pretty frequently. It's hard to work on this stuff! And it didn't take many tried to figure out how many threads I needed to achieve the proper weight for the outline. If I manage to figure out an easy way to get my pattern on the leather then I'll really be rolling. Or at least creeping along a little faster, I'm trying not to think of how many hours went into this. But all in all, a successful attempt!


  1. Lovely! I really like how you achieved the pattern on the leather and got it to subtly match the stitching.

    I'm really wishing I had got myself organized enough to get in on the paper swap now, too.

  2. That is a truly fabulous piece of work! I love your attention to detail - matching authentic designs and colour schemes... cutting the card shapes to make the design on the leather cover.. matching up great papers for the inside. It's lovely and I hope you are very proud of it.

    If you want filling stitches for future designs, see if you can find a book or two about Hardanger Embroidery (Scandinavian) and/or European Blackwork Embroidery. They have lots of filling stitch patterns, which would probably work well on leather.
    To make stitching easier, you could use a wedge-ended leather needle (which of course you may have done!). Also, it's easier to prick the design first - so you can follow it with your stitching and also save your fingers a bit, from having to force the needle through the plain leather every time.
    Good luck with future projects. If they're as fab as this, there will be plenty to show off about!

  3. Terrific advice! I will definitely look into those things, thanks!