BOOKMAKING 104 – QUESTIONS ON LAYOUT AND DESIGN

On to the rest of the border and filling out the field…

I’ve gotten a few questions and feedback notes on this project. I’ll try to answer.

How do you know where to put the centers and corners?

It’s hard to make out on the in process pix because I snip away/tease out the bits as I encroach upon them, but I have basted guidelines showing me the exact center of my piece both north/south and east/west. They are in light blue thread. I’ve also marked the borders of my stitching area in lilac thread. You can just make out the guideline remnants on the photo below.

Also, if you page back in this tutorial series, you’ll see that I started in the center, then worked out to the right, leaving room for my as-yet-unchosen border. Then I picked one and started stitching. When I neared the corner I looked at what I’d done and doodled up a corner, then worked it. I repeated the process, stitching back to the center and doodling up the center bit, working it on the exact center of my marked stitching area. Then I worked the other side of the center bit mirror image of the established stitching.

No photo description available.
How did you get the second top corner to line up perfectly with your basted edge?

It’s counted. The center line of my stitching area is at the exact center of the area to be stitched. That means if there are (picking a number at random) 43 stitches to the right of it, there will be 43 to the left. If my pattern is symmetrical, it’s easy to see when you’ve gotten to the same point on the left as you ended off on the right.

What would you have done if you were one thread off?

It happens. Sometimes for every bit of measuring, exact folding, and counting (and especially on even weave) that center line ends up being one thread or even one full stitch off. In this case – no big deal. I would work my repeat totally symmetrical as I have above, and “push” that tiny bit of overage into the spine of the book.

How do you keep track of where you are with all those colors?

I admit it’s a challenge, and this design would be a lot easier in monochrome. I don’t like to leave long skips on the back, so for the most part, there are a lot of starts and stops. The longest leap I will take is three stitches, and I prefer not even to do that. This means that in the main field of flowers, while I can keep a baseline double running logic chaining flower after flower together, those little crosshatched interlaces of yellow between them are “islands” – each one begun and ended off separately.

You can see in the photo at the top of the page that there are two green threads dangling off the right side of the hoop. Those are the strands I am using for the border outlines. Rather then ending them off at the edge of my hoop, I’ve chosen to keep them “alive.” Pretty soon I’ll be advancing the hoop to finish off the bottom of the stitched area, and I’ll use them up as the border area progresses. Sometimes I’ll take a pin and insert it in the waste edge of my design (or another spot where any perturbing of the ground cloth weave will not matter), then wind the excess thread around it to keep it up and out of the way while I stitch nearby.

And in the border area at the top – I just did some of the green striped “column” that runs down the center of my border. I know that the red ribbon that wraps it is three stitches wide. I started at the edge of the existing red ribbon and worked “heresy style” across the first line, then hopped down and worked standard double running for the center one, and again for the one after that. That meant my working thread was now positioned at the left side of that block of three stripes, and ready to hop over three again to begin the next block of three stripes. I kept going in this manner until I used up my green working thread. Next I will go back and fill in the red ribbon, and finish up with the short spurts of yellow. And yes, that does mean a lot of ends. I would never attempt a multicolor piece that was totally double-sided.

It’s hard enough to pick a pattern, now you want me to design centers and corners, too?

Perhaps I did get a bit ahead of myself and I could have chosen a simpler border. One that isn’t directional like this one with its wrapping is. And mirroring around the center can look a bit daunting, as can doodling up a custom join. But there’s no reason to be intimidated.

I noodled up #1 in the set below. But I didn’t have to. My treatment could have been much simpler.

#3 for example ignores mirroring, directionality, centers, and corners. It just starts at a random point of the repeat, goes across the area to be covered, and arbitrarily ends at the edge of the desired space. Then it starts up again, butted against the bit already stitched. And it doesn’t matter if it’s centered or truncated. (By the way, plain butted pieces with truncated rather than an elegantly ended or mitered repeat is the most represented treatment for corners in museum collections of historical stitching)

In #2 and #4, I’ve kept the mirroring (but I didn’t have to) and inserted small simple shapes to fill the contested areas. #2 uses plain old squares. Nothing fancy. #4 reserves those spots for personalization. Initials, dates, small stars, whatever. What I’m trying to show here is that there is no one right way, and all treatments look good. Go simple, go complex. It doesn’t matter, your piece will be beautiful, and best of all – it will be uniquely yours.

More questions?

Idly curious or wanting to do you own book cover? All is good. Happy to help. Got a question? Send it in.

2 responses

  1. Thank you for being so thorough with this. This is actually a project that I have planned for this year. I made a leather cover for a flip book for my spouse, but this is a bit more complicated. It’s hard to decide what to do about a border. I’m thinking about reserving an area for the title of the book. I’m looking forward to the finishing bits.

    1. Text is the one thing for which I break my “don’t plan ahead” work habit. I’d find a nifty alphabet and draft out the words, then draw a box around them. I’d place that box where I wanted it to be on my cover – possibly centered in the upper third (the traditional spot), and counting left and right from my center line, baste a stitching-limit line around where it would be. Then I’d work my fills on the cover as usual – but I’d leave the space for the title blank until I was ready to place the words within it. Those I’d then stitch-transcribe from my handy pre-drafted piece of paper. Figuring out the optimal placement of the letters/ doing proper kerning and leading (space between letters and space between lines) – that really does require a bit of fiddling with pen and paper (or in my case – keyboard and design program).

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