Creative articles about embroidery

Dancing with Dragonflies special birthday book.

Dancing with Dragonflies very special birthday book

Hi everyone today is the first day of Autumn here in Melbourne Australia and it is a glorious day 34 c (93F) a gorgeous sunrise and the air is full of chattering parrots and warbling magpies.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
― Martha Graham



Closed toe free motion foot.

Khadi book – It is a bound, 20cm x 20cm, 30 pages book. Available at many places this is where I buy them. Khadi paper is hand made cotton rag paper you can use any hand made paper 0f approx 150g.

Silk fibres – I used degummed soft silk cocoons you can use similar fibres, I like to use this fibre because its full of interesting lumps, bumps, texture and colours.Any silk fibres that can be pull apart and layered will be perfect.

White cotton fabric to fit 2 dragonflies on and to back each page with.

Derwent inktense pencils or any fabric markers

Felt flimsie, prefelt or alternative, you can use any fabric if not a felt I suggest to back with cotton batting.

Small amount metallic threads and velvets or such again you can modify to what you have in your sewing room, threads, yarns and fabrics

Cover backing fabric I used hand dyed velvet.

Rayon machine embroidery threads .

Black thread for body

Fusible web

Ribbons, chords, bling, interesting fabrics for each month name.

Stencil and paint, this is optional

Fine black permanent pen marker.


To begin at the very beginning

The pages of the birthday book

To start tear out of your Khadi book 12 pages and rule up the months, 1 month per page.My grid was 6 across and 6 down. Number each month with the dates dont forget February can have 29 days .I have made each dated square 3cm sq with an outer edge boarder of approximately 1 1/2 cm.


Preparing your pages

Preparing your pages











After your pages are ruled up use fusible web attach a piece of fine cotton or calico to the back of each page. To do this cut the fusible web to the size of the ruled khadi page and cut the backing fabric just a little larger than the page for 2 reasons to be able to trim back and allowing the left hand side of every page to be able to be stitched together through the fabric to form the spine of the book.

When you have cut the fusible web to size lay it on the back of your page and fuse with a hot dry iron using baking paper to protect your iron and cloth. Make sure you leave a fabric edge on the left hand side of the page being viewed form the front of approx 2 1/2 cm, this is to secure all the pages together by stitch.

Preparing your pages

Backing your khadi paper with fabric strengthens the paper for stitch.Stitch your grid lines with any stitches your heart desires each page in my Birthday book is different.Then add the dates using your sewing machines fee motion embroidery settings this is quite time consuming so be patient its a fiddly part of the beautiful book. If you are not confident to stitch the numbers free motion you can write them in with a nice pen or marker.

stitching the grid dating the grid

Next its time to add the month at the top of the page. Again this is a organic process choosing lovely textures and colours of left over fabrics, I have used velvets, hand painted silks, embroidered fabrics, foil papers etc . Use a small zig zag stitch free motion to write the name of the month for machine needle and free motion settings allow you to stitch like the needle is a pen.

Naming your pages



This step is optional , I have painted in some of the grid and edges of my pages.

Colouring pages

Gather together all your pages and using double sided tape in the centre of each page attach January to February back to back continue on through the months, etc until there are a total of six pages ( i.e. 12 pages back to back make 6 pages) Hold these pages toghether with some decorative stitch around the outside edge of each 6 pages.


Naming your pages

The cover

Measure the cover making it a little larger than the cover of the khadi book, I have used a hand dyed wool flimsie, because it gives a lovely contrast to the silk fibres and enhances the textures.


Cover the flimsie with a piece of peeled fusible web cut to size.


Grab the silk fibre you are going to use I am using degummed soft silk cocoons because I like the texture.Pull your silk fibre apart to make a thin layer and place on top of fusible web.


Then add some metallic thread or yarns across the surface of the silk fibre.

Metallic thread

Choose a lovely fabric to enhance your textures and colours here I have used hand dyed silk velvet and cut small pieces which I have laid across the surface


Place another layer of fusible web on the top of the silk fibres, fabric and threads. The final layer is made by stretching and pulling silk fibre to make a fine layer, I have used the same hand dyed degummed soft cocoon silk.


Now place a piece of baking paper over the entire surface and press with a hot dry iron to fuse.A you are fusing through several layers this may take some time make sure the web is completely melted, see the image below .


Optional step I had just received a new stencil and wanted to use it to add another dimension to the cover of the birthday book .I used a metallic rub over my stencil but you could use paint etc



Trace your dragonfly design with a black permanent marker on to the cotton.When you have traced your dragonfly iron it to the fabric side of the fusible web, leaving the backing on while fusing.

dragonfly drawing


Cut out the dragonfly shape and then peel of backing paper and fuse onto the surface of your book cover using baking paper to protect your iron and fabric.


Colour in the wings with pencils and markers


Set up your machine for free motion embroidery and using some lovely rayon machine embroidery thread stitch organically in circles or such covering the whole back ground, remember to enjoy the texture enhance it with your stitching.I have also stitched decoratively into the body of the dragonfly.After stitching the bodies I have used a black permanent marker to colour in the body.



You can further embellish the surface of the dragonfly cover with circles of textural fabrics I have used metallic paper foil, hand dyed silk velvet and some hand printed cotton.Stitching around the raw edges with a straight stitch which attaches it to the cover fabric.



Gather toghether your 6 pages and trim them do not trim the left hand side fabric looking at the front of the page, as khadi paper is hand made there will be differing sizes and thicknesses which makes the book very bespoke.

Hold together all the edges and very carefully stitch through all the layers using a straight stitch and normal settings on your machine. If it is to hard to stitch all at once stitch 2 pages together and then another 2 pages until all 6 are stitched and then stitch the whole 6 together and are secure, or if you and your machine are not at one about the thickness you can hand stitch the pages.

stitching the pages



Add the tie up chords and inside lining.

Stitch two chords each of approx 50 cm in length to the centre back about 1cm apart.


To line the cover use a lovely fabric patterned or plain the enhances the cover you have made to do this cut the chosen fabric and a piece of fusible web to the same size as the cover, lay the fusible web on the back side of the cover fabric and place the chosen fabric on the top the web and fuse with a dry hot iron and baking paper to protect iron and fabric.


When the chosen fabric is fused machine stitch the edge with a decorative stitch.IMG_2641-28

Attaching the pages into the cover.

To attach your calendar pages into the cover, open up the cover and lay it flat place the stitched together pages centrally inside the cover and carefully and slowly straight stitch them to the back of the cover. As you can see below you stitch with the cover open and flat. Most sewing machines can mange this slowly and steadily but if not hand stitch the pages into the cover.


Fold the front cover over and hold in place turn the cover to work for the back under the sewing machine and stitch along the same stitch line which attaches the pages to the back cover.Again if your machine doesn’t like this thickness hand stitch will work. Now your stitch line will be through all layers of pages and both front and back cover .




Please visit my website to see more of my art works and find out about upcoming workshops .



I am teaching 2 2day work shops at Berry Quilt retreat Australia this is the project for one of thee workshops









IMG_2693-8  This cocoon jacket free motion embroidered on luscious hand dyes silk mesh is fully reversible and I will be teaching at Uluru  Australia 2018 .This is a 3 day workshop capturing the colours of Uluru in a wearable art garment.


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  • Jane Axell Axell EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    Amazing, and you make it look so easy.  I will try this – thank you!

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