Constructing the needle book part 1

Today I’m going to explain how I made my new needle book…at least the first part of the process. Next time you’ll be ble to read all about the rest of the process and see the finished needle book.

After I’d finished the stitching, the first thing that needed to be done was to cut it to the correct size. Remember when cutting the finished embroidery, you will need to leave 3/4 inch or 2 cm extra fabric beyond the edge of the cover. This extra fabric will be turned under later.

The best way to ensure straight lines when cutting the embroidered linen is to pull threads out of the linen at the top, bottom, left and right sides of the design.

Decide how large you want to finished needle book to be, then measure and mark on the fabric. My needle book is 5 inches tall and 8 inches wide when it’s NOT folded in half so the rectangle I measured out on the fabric was 7.5 inches x 9.5 inches (or 19 cm x 24 cm). Remember, leave some extra to turn under!

Once the measurements were on the fabric, I then found threads in those places that ran vertically and horizontally and pulled those 4 individual threads out of the fabric. When the threads have been pulled out, it leaves a narrow strip where there is a gap in the weave and a perfect place to cut your fabric. The cut will be exactly on the grain and the fabric will lay flat when attached to the lining.

Now it’s time to cut out the lining, or inside of the cover. For this you will need three pieces of fabric: a piece of printed cotton of your choice, a piece of muslin and a piece of flannel. Measure the flannel so it’s exactly the same size as the finished cover. Do NOT include any extra along the edges to turn under – you won’t need it.

Next, measure the piece of printed fabric and the muslin to be a little bit smaller than the embroidered fabric. Make them about 1/4 inch or 0.5 cm smaller over all. These fabrics need to be a bit smaller so the inside cover won’t hang over the embroidered fabric when the needle book is folded shut.

Place the flannel on the printed fabric, equidistant from each of the four sides. Fold over each of the four sides of the printed fabric, using your thumbnail to crease the fabric. When you’re happy that the flannel fits perfectly inside the printed fabric, iron it with a warm steam iron.

Now turn the printed fabric with the flannel over and use it as a template to measure, fold and crease the muslin. Again, when you are happy that both fabrics are the same size, iron the muslin as well.

Place the muslin and the printed fabric, with the flannel in between, wrong sides together. Stitch together using an invisible stitch.

Now it’s time to cut your pages for the needle book. Again, measure each page so it’s 1 inch or 2 cm smaller than the outside cover. When you close the needle book the pages will move towards the edges and hang outside the cover if you don’t make the pages smaller than the cover.

Here’s where things started to go wrong. The next thing I did was to stitch all the pages onto the inside cover/lining using my sewing machine. The pressure foot stretched the pages so when they were all sewn together the most inside page was actually longer at the bottom than the other pages. Read next time to see how I addressed this first problem.

Although the pages weren’t perfect, I decided to go ahead and border them with blanket stitch. I don’t have pinking shears – at least that I can find – and I needed to finish the pages somehow so they wouldn’t fray. Blanket stitch works well for this…usually. I began with the first page and used the lightest green thread.  As I worked, I noticed that the flannel was beginning to fray. I should explain here that I couldn’t find solid colored “doctor’s flannel” .All I could find was white, slightly fuzzy flannel.

After stitching the first page I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to work. I trimmed the little fluffy bits off, however, and moved on to the second page. About half way around the second page I gave it up as a bad idea. The inside finish (or lack of finish!) was going to ruin the beautiful design and stitching on the outside.

It was time to stop and begin again the next day. I knew I would be taking the flannel pages out and, on the bright side, thought this would be a good chance to address the problem caused by the sewing machine stretching the flannel pages.

Read next time to see what I did and how I did it – and see how well it turned out!

2 thoughts on “Constructing the needle book part 1

  1. “…the problem caused by the sewing machine stretching the flannel pages.”

    Unless you’ve decided you want to stitch them in by hand what you need to do is to let up on the presser foot pressure. The teeth below are feeding but the pressure on the foot above is pushing the upper layer(s) forward.

    Depends on your machine (sorry I don’t recognize it by what shows) but the adjustment is often at the upper left hand side in the form of a large knurled knob. Put one piece of fabric under the foot and lower it onto the fabric. Tug at it, feel the tension. Then lift the foot, turn the knurled knob (usually to left)a bit, replace fabric, lower foot onto it and tug again. That way you can get a feel both for where it was in the beginning and how much tension there is at a given time. Adjust knob so there is a noticeable bit less pressure and try stitching again across a sandwich, watch how much pushing there is of the upper layer, adjust til they align at the end of the seam.

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