Stitching Paper Zigzags

I love to sew and I love experimenting with mixed media, so I guess it was kinda inevitable that one day I’d try stitching on paper.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”

– Rumi

stitching on paper

I love to sew and I love experimenting with mixed media, so I guess it was kinda inevitable that one day I’d try stitching on paper.

I forget when it was I first tried – but it was like two parts of my world colliding – and I have been low-level obsessed with it ever since.

Here are a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Piercing the stitch holes in the paper before you begin is far easier than straight up sewing the paper. Depending on its thickness, it will either put up a forceful struggle against the needle, or else it will tear against the pull of the thread.
  • Piercing with a regular sewing needle is usually fine, but thick paper (like watercolor) or card stock might require something like a darning needle, a compass or even a bradawl.
  • Have a stab-proof surface to pierce onto. Polystyrene is great (yay for not throwing out the packaging from something fragile that came in the mail!) I’ve also got a cork tile and a cutting mat I use. This keeps the paper flat when fromit tries to fold under pressure of the needle, and protects the hand that’s holding the paper from getting holes in it.
  • Unlike sewing on fabric, the loose ends of the thread can be glued down at the back to secure them from unravelling.
  • I like experimenting with different threads, yarns, single ply and multiple. Just the same as my drawing, I like to make lines vary in weight, this can be done by over stitching some places.
  • If I don’t have the color I want to use, I always have white thread, which can be painted with ink or watercolor after the stitching is done.

painted stitches

For this week’s experiments I doodled about with a stitched zigzag pattern (white thread on white paper – because that was easier than rummaging for the colors I wanted. Plus it’s fun to paint.)

I coloured the stitches with watercolor in dioxazine purple and imperial purple.

painted stitched zigzags

Here’s how my purple zigzagging happened

“Twelvty” 12 Colors in 12 Months

Every month this year I am making a series of mixed media pieces in just one color. At the end of the year I’ll combine them into one big multicolored work. 

I’m sharing my process throughout this adventure here in this blog. (So far this year I’ve explored Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green, Blue-Green, Blue & Violet-Blue)

I’d love for you to join me. TWELVTY is open to everyone, and better yet, it’s free!

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New Year: New Projects!


Day 2, and so far I’m quite liking 2013.

It’s demanded nothing to arduous from me.


It’s given me time to play with these square things!


They’re a work in progress, I think a little more to be done, then framing.


More pics soons! 😀


never say never (ever)

If there’s one thing that will motivate me into action, it’s being told that I can’t do something. Even (or especially) when the person doing the telling is me.

In reaction to a phrase in my last post “When space limits me to work on just one project at time…” Uha, really? I went on “… working within the parameters of my living/painting space, I have to exercise a little more self discipline…” I have to what? Says who??

ink drips on handmade paper

Working on small (8″ x 10″ and smaller … often scraps) scale, there’s really no excuse, there’s no ‘no space’ that can’t be remedied with a small amount of putting stuff away!

Opaque white ink dropped into puddles of transparent colored inks, left to flow.

Settled with a selection of old doodles on watercolor paper, some bottles of ink and water; and the giddy enthusiasm of new colors, I soon had a small dripping/drying/oozing/dribbling production line set up.

Aided greatly by the way I work – splashy and messy – no harm can come from cross contamination and minor spillages.

In fact, I ended up using the least soggy works to mop up some of the more puddly over waterings

drips of ink, then water, then ink…etc, wet on wet + wet on dry

Release from these self imposed boundaries!

inks dripped onto wet threads draws up the pigment leaving outlines. Highlighted with stitching (recycling that thread!)

ink dribbles

Remember the watermarked dyed paper ?

This week I’ve been playing with ink (quite a lot!) So it followed that where water does one thing, ink should do similar but with more colorful results!

I used Pebeo Colorex ink (Chartreuse. My fav color de jour!) they have a real glowing transparency and mouth-wateringly rich color! On pre-scrumpled paper they run deliciously through the landscape of the paper’s surface.

The quilt-making (more on that later) is my current obsession, and the urge to stitch is cropping up everywhere!


“Take care of the spaces, and the lines will take care of themselves”

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from Practical knowledge for all by Sir John Hammerton c1950

On seeing with a pencil. Drawing is a means of education, of training hand and eye. It quickens the powers of perception and gives scope to the inventive faculties. It trains the eye to accuracy in observation, and the mind to attention, comparison, reflection and judgement

visual echos

Thursday’s page focused on utilising bits of the dyed paper through stacking n stitching, to exploring cut and torn shapes

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The echoing shapes from previous pages are now just indentations. To continue the theme of the swirling frond shape that has lasted all week I cut a stencil from acetate and used this with ink and then acrylic glaze for a subtle sheeny shape here n there.
The roughed up surface, sheen of the glaze and the warm earthy colors put me in mind of a leathery effect.

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