Itajime and a notebook

I made another notebook cover yesterday using some cloth that I’d dyed a little while ago using the ancient Japanese clamping method called itajimi. It’s a technique I learned from textile artist Janice Gunner a few years back.  Basically, this is a shibori technique that involves much folding and then clamping the fabric between boards. The boards used can be different shapes to produce different patterns. The shapes I used here were triangles and that’s what gives this flower within a hexagon kind of patterning across the cloth.

The notebook plus it's cover
The notebook plus it’s cover

Traditionally, pieces like this would have been dyed in indigo and I do have quite a few pieces that I have dyed in indigo giving that gorgeous deep blue. Indigo is an exciting dye to use giving gorgeous and unpredictable results but its downside is it’s toxicity and a tendency to continue to share its blue colour even after multiple washes to clear away any excess dye. Ask the Tuareg men and women of north Africa who traditionally wear Indigo dyed clothes and are known for their blue skin sometimes being called the ‘blue people’. So, I’ve used cold water Procion Mx dyes in this piece, meaning you can enjoy the patterning but not have it spread anywhere else.  Never looks good on your hands.

Shibori dyed notebook cover
Shibori dyed notebook cover – the from laying open flat showing the patterning of the dyes.

I’ve used a little fleece to give it a nice plush feel and protect the notebook beneath.  Although covers can disguise wear and tear as well as prevent it… but you knew that didn’t you.  There are no raw edges and it’s lined giving it the possibility of a nice long life.  Plus, because the fabrics have been washed you may wash it too.  (Cool wash with non-bleach containing detergent and iron when slightly damp. )

The Open cover showing the 'pockets'
The Open cover showing the ‘pockets’

I have a ‘real hang-up’ at the moment that we’re all being homogenised… our thoughts… our aspirations to suit the needs of big business… you need the biggest car… no… probably one per family member and one for the weekends…. you need to pave the front garden ‘cos it gets weeds in it…  and you need to pressure wash the roof ….   that’s my soap box by the way.  That’s why handmade is important to me.  I see it as an antidote to being made to feel that I should be the same as my neighbours in terms of  possessions and big label clothes etc.  I don’t work that way.  Perhaps I should but I don’t.  It causes a bit of personal tension as my neighbours need me to to appreciate the work they’ve had done (they’re ok people)…. and really I don’t.  I much prefer weeds to tarmac.  So, I see handmade as an antidote to all that, the feeling that you’re being shoehorned into a category you don’t want to fit into.  I claim the right to be individual.

Enough of my whingeing.  (Wanders off to put soap box away.) Notebooks are an item where you can be yourself and display your individuality by possessing one.  They are an antidote to all our many technical gadgets, a very nice way to record things. This is  particularly good if the thoughts, recipes, plans or intentions are something you’d like to share with someone  else.  I think that handwritten thoughts can be more spontaneous and your own handwriting makes it all so much more personal.

A fabric covered notebook would also add a certain style to your life.  The fabric of this particular notebook is unique as no two cloths dyed this way will turn out the same even if you’re trying desperately to do so and of course the notebook cover itself, cut from this cloth is entirely handmade which also means that that is also unique.  I’m sure that one of those ‘uniques’ is redundant but you know what I’m trying to say.

Shibori techniques are intended to give a little control over the outcome of the dyes patterning and to a a certain extent they do. But that unpredictability still breaks through in how the dye flows and moves across the cloth giving  unanticipated texture and exciting pattern within a larger pattern.  Always gorgeous.

Notebook with cover

Scream it from the rooftops… Live a life more beautiful and in your own way.


A few notebooks

I’ve a bit of a stash of notebooks and these last few weeks I’ve been exploring a few different ways of making covers for them.  As well as  different styles and materials.

This one is a silver grey silk dupioni with it’s slightly slubby texture and nice sheen.

Applique and free motion embroidered butterfly notebook cover

All the fabric notebook covers I’ve been making are interlined with either a low loft fleece or a medium loft one.  My choice depended on the exterior fabric and what I was doing to it.

This butterfly obviously isn’t one you’re going to see when you’re out in the garden (Sorry!)  It is entirely fictitious.  The lower wings are a liberty tana lawn fabric which is brilliant to work with for applique, light but not flimsy and takes some quite intense stitching without seeming to sag under it all.

The upper wings are made from a ‘French Script’ printed linen fabric and you can just see some of the writing on one of the wings and the hints of roses on the other.  I loved how it turned out.

The cover unwrapped
The cover unwrapped

There are also ‘pockets’ which slip onto a notebook.  This one is a ruled A5 notebook. and are lined to give finished edges and a glimpse of pretty colour when it’s closed.

Undercover ... (actually the insides - but that was too much to resist)
Undercover … (actually the insides – but that was too much to resist)

I really enjoy making them particularly as they give a nice surface  for this type of appliqué.

A few more pictures….

This one is hand embroidered on a linen/cotton mix fabric.  It’s a pretty little daisy design interspersed with french knots.

Charming little daisies
Charming little daisies

And this one which is a simpler look in many ways with a fabric panel in grey showing the alphabet and stitched at the sides to make a feature of it.

Alphabet notebook cover
Alphabet notebook cover

They’re all A5 in size and come with a ruled notebook so you can get writing immediately.

Find them in my shop if you’re interested.