Category: sew-alongs and community

7 ideas for your 100 day stitchbook (#4 is my favorite)

sewing supplies on my messy work table for day 1 - scraps and cut pages

The 100 day stitch book challenge starts today! Please be sure to read these two pages completely before you start:

1 – Before you do anything else please read this page carefully.

2 – Find the tutorial for how to cut your pages and make the book here. We don’t assemble the book until the pages are done but it’s good to know where we are headed.

And it’s not mandatory but helpful : check out this blog post.


 

That’s it! And you’ve already done the hardest part – showing up. I’m so glad you’re here and I’ve got some tips to help make this daily commitment easy and productive for you.

1. Keep your materials easily accessible. Maybe you don’t have a permanently designated stitching area or table. I like to do my sewing and painting in the same sunny spot so I put all my stitch book supplies on a big tray so it can be whisked away when it’s time to paint. And when it’s time to stitch (usually in the morning) there is no significant obstacle to starting, just grab the tray.

2. Speaking of time to stitch, doing your 15 minutes at the same time each day can have a magical effect. Even if it’s not always possible, doing it most of the time can help get your subconscious on board. For me this benefit kicks in after a few weeks.

3. Invite the universe in. Find inspiration for shapes and marks in your day. Take a walk and see what you can see through the lens of your stitch book project. Invite happenstance, grab a scrap without looking for a place to start or splatter some paint or dye or your page before you stitch and see where that leads you.

4. Have a plan for the bad days. They are inevitable. I have lots of them. Decide ahead of time on a minimally acceptable effort for yourself. And keep a collection of inspiring/favorite scraps in reserve so if you’re stuck or super stretched for time you have an easy win. Trust me, keeping the daily commitment helps create and build momentum. It is much easier to keep going than to start. It’s also helpful to have a simple to-go kit. Last year a lot of my stitching happened while traveling.

5. Get the benefit of community. It’s so helpful. There are lots of ways you can do that. Share your pages on instagram using #annwoodstitchbook , join the stitch club community (lots of day 1 pages are already posted!) or team up with friends for group stitching.

6. There are no mistakes, only information. Having a healthy (and productive) attitude towards mistakes, failures and bad days is key to creative growth. Since I was a kid my process has begun with this direction to myself “start making your mistakes”. Mistakes and missteps are full of information and signposts towards work you end up liking.

7. The blank page can be scary and paralyzing. The idea of starting without any structure can be daunting. So give yourself a little structure but still preserve the spontaneity of the process. For example, decide to use one color – maybe just shades of red. It gives you a refreshed perspective on your stash and a place to start. You can do this with shapes too – what if you were limited to just circles for one page? I promise, circles will begin to present new possibilities to you.

a textile book with a vintage floral page and an applique chandelier

We won’t assemble the book until after the 100 days of stitching but I did want to offer a possibility for an alternative way of finishing the book so you can have it in the back of your mind while you’re making your pages. I taught a stitch book class in France last summer, a sort of travel journal. The edges of the pages are left raw and showing instead of turned in. I’m leaning towards finishing my 100 day book this way. We can talk more about how to do that when it’s time to assemble.

2023 day 1

stitch collage in blue

Good luck with your 100 days of stitching! Are you ready to get started? Let us know in the comments.

onward!

ann


support the stitchbook project

Support the 100 day stitch project and the always growing free pattern and tutorial library! The response to the stitch book project in particular has been astounding and resulted in significant additional server costs (it’s all about gigabytes and bandwidth…)  Thanks so much to everybody who has already made a contribution! This would not be happening without you.

the shimmering space between

materials, fabric and fabric scraps gathered on my worktable

When I began my first 100 day stitch book last year the plan was to be purely abstract. To commit to a “yes and” improvisational process, let go of outcome, be concerned only with making marks with stitches and responding to those marks. Create for the sake of creating.

a collection of very small fabric scraps and colored thread ends in a little ceramic dish

On the first day there was a little pile of fabric scraps and a blank page. The scraps were odd and unintentional shapes – off cuts from other projects.

The vision of pure abstraction dissolved almost immediately, representation crept in, sometimes obviously (to me) and sometimes subtly. There were boats and trees and castles and mushrooms, vessels, and lots more. My first impulse was to work to banish those recognizable images. The problem was they snuck in on their own. I didn’t plan for them. And that really was the improvisational process I had committed to.

day 6 2022

So I let them come. Sometimes they took over and sometimes they shimmered in and out as I worked. The revelation was the images I ended up liking the best, the pages where I felt like I got out of my own way (the whole point of the exercise) shift between abstraction and figure.

2 slow stitched collages in a textile book

Did I make the image or did it just appear?

It’s sort of like looking at clouds. Clouds don’t try to look like anything in particular but it happens all the time, we perceive an image. There is a word for it and everything – pareidolia

“ the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. “

That was the biggest revelation and lesson of last year’s 100 days. It pointed me towards a place that feels inspiring and creative and challenging, a good place to play. The ambiguity is freeing.

Let’s talk about another word- intuition

“the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

The point of this 100 day exercise is to listen to yourself, to learn to feel for and trust your intuition. Really listening, connecting to your intuition and expressing yourself is difficult. Daily practice helps. What might 100 days of showing up and listening reveal about your own work, process, imagination?

The 100 day stitch book begins on January 20th and ends on April 30th. Find the details here.

materials, fabric and fabric scraps gathered on my worktable

I’ll close this post with your warm up assignments :

Checkout the stitch book I made last year- starting at the bottom of the post you can see each page over the five days and you can see the book assembled here.

Gather some materials and put them in a box. Label the box 100 day stitch book 2023. The hard part is over, you already started.

Will you join me for 100 days of stitching? Let us know in the comments and join us in the stitch club community.

owl sew-along : week 4

feet and finishing touches

Let’s talk about the talons for a minute, they’re not even in him yet and they’ve already got personality. This time before wrapping them with fabric I applied a dot of black nail polish to the tips. I like the shiny black ends peaking out and it makes them easier to wrap. The stitching on the feet seems like it’s going to take forever but it’s really pretty quick.

Installing his feet brings him to life. Posture and the position of his talons help create an attitude and body language that imply a history, a point of view, a world of his own.

Get the feet loosely installed and add stuffing around them to stabilize things a little before experimenting with their position. Find his balance and then fine tune the attitude. Sometimes this has been a quick process for me, he just falls into the perfect position, and sometimes it’s required  a bunch of little adjustments.  This guy required a bunch of adjustments.

Once he was on his feet he clearly needed a black heart and a lacey cravat.

Making an owl during the holiday rush was a challenge. But here he is. It was definitely a baby steps process, 15 – 30 minutes here and there.   You can checkout lots of sew-along owls in the community.  And I think the next sew-along  (cardinal) will be mostly contained in the stitch club community (with a facebook group too).

owl sew-along : week one           owl sew-along : week two           owl sew-along : week three

Are you ready for talons? Does your owl need a cravat?  Let us know in the comments.

owl sew- along : week three

Week 3 – the feathers

This section is all about his feathers and wings.  The first layer is the foundation, the tail top and bottom, back cover and stomach cover.  

a textile owl in progress on my work table

Before we talk about that please notice the odd shapes on my cutting mat. They are what’s left after cutting pattern pieces for his features. The shapes are accidental, unconscious and intriguing, good to save for inspiration.  I’m saving them for my next 100 stitchbook project beginning early next year. If you feel like joining me you might want to save some too – they can be a great place to start.

The stomach cover is a major feature, nothing goes over it so the fabric choice and stitch detail makes a big contribution to the look of the owl. I went with a contrasting straight stitch and used the same bold pinstripe that’s on his head. Definitely going for a “suited” old timey menswear feeling for this guy.

The other foundation pieces peek out from underneath the wings and feathers, adding to the layered feel. The end result looks complex but it’s easy to create.

Also notice another owl has turned up. Despite barely being able to keep up with one owl I’ve added another. He’s been hanging around here almost done for years so I’d love to get the green guy over the finish line too.  You might also notice that her is velvet, so difficult to work with, I usually avoid it but this green velvet was irresistible.

Sticking with the same  browns used for the features I added the tail and side feathers. The wings were next and before adding the final two layers of feathers I pushed some stuffing under the wind for some extra dimension.

See you on 12/16 for talons and finishing touches!

owl sew-along : week one           owl sew-along : week two

owl sew-along : week two

It’s all about the eyes.

The next section of the owl pattern is huge so we’ll break it down into two posts/weeks. This week is focused on the head and features. We will talk a lot about one pattern piece – eye 3. The goal for this week is to complete the head, eyes, horns, beak, and head cover.

The eyes are a huge part of the attitude of your owl. How you use (or don’t use) eye pattern piece 3 makes a big difference in what sort of owl turns up. Adding a little extra fabric, changing the shape, fraying or not fraying an edge or skipping the overhanging lid entirely creates a lot of your owl’s personality.

let’s look at a few:

Chillingworth, a very bad owl, the original dastardly owl, devours you with his eyes. Probably don’t look directly into them… He is monochrome, all the same fabric with subtle differences in tone. The fabric is heavily frayed, eye piece 3 is pressed over the buttons for the hooded effect and his buttons don’t match exactly, adding to his diabolical gaze.

Skimpole, the narcissist,  is somewhere between with his wide-eyed affectation of innocence. Instead of eye piece 3 I used a circle (the size of a quarter).

And finally Mr. Tibbles and Mr. Wickles. Nothing sinister here, the effect is primitive and simple, just circles of fabric and buttons. This is why you need to make a lot of owls – so many possibilities!

sew-along links :  * owl – week one   *about sew-alongs   *owl sewing pattern

community links :  facebook group  and   stitch club – the ann wood handmade community

PS – Are you behind on your owl? Join the club. The holidays are super jammed but try to carve out even a few minutes everyday. It’s not so much about a deadline as consistency, so your owl does not drift onto the “to be finished someday pile”. I’m stretched time-wise this week but I’m gonna sew my beak tomorrow – do-able. And finish the eyes on Sunday – I can handle that. I’ll cut horns on Tuesday etc. etc. baby steps for the win. Join us in the community to see owls in progress!

See you next Friday for week 3 : feathers

Will your owl be a naughty or nice? Let us know in the comments!

 

owl sew-along : week one

Welcome to the owl sew-along! This week is focused on creating the body shape – that’s the first section in your pdf or booklet. We’ll also talk a little bit about installing button eyes.

All you need to participate is the owl sewing pattern.

Take your time and focus on one step at a time. You are going to make a fantastic owl. And join a community for extra support – it helps a lot, especially if you are a beginner. Find the facebook community here and the ann wood handmade community here.

For more info on how this sew-along works please click here.


choosing fabric

For the body shape choose a fabric that’s easy to work with. I’m using cotton. For feathers and features a variety is nice. And like the crow, stripes are great for feathers. We’ll talk more about that when we get the the feather section.

Let’s start with looking at how the pattern pieces magically come together to make the body shape. Please watch the video above. If you don’t see the video click here

making the owl body

Follow the steps and your pattern and a few key points are highlighted below. Cut out your 6 body pieces and mark the seam line on all the pieces. Also mark the opening for the back and the dot mark on the front body piece.  That dot is important.  Sew the first seam, joining the back body pieces. Pin them with right sides together and sew – leaving the opening  for turning and stuffing.

Mark the darts on the owl front pieces. Fold the leg over – so the right sides of the fabric are together. The fold should be exactly where the dot is and end where the leg meets the body.  Place  the dart template on the fold between the leg seam lines.

Sew the dart curves with small tight stitches. I prefer to hand sew the darts. I’m going to machine sew the rest of the body seams.

Add the front and back head pieces and your front and back bodies are complete and ready to join. The secret to success is lots of pins and careful edge matching.  Start pinning form the leg and work your way up.

It’s helpful to re-mark the seam line where the dart fold over. You’re going to stitch right through that fold. With the long seam stitched keep working on the same side of the body to stitch the back of the leg and the tail. Repeat for the other side of the body.

Stuff your owl with wool stuffing. Begin at the head adding a little at a time. I used about 3.5  ounces of wool.  The owl should be very firmly stuffed.  Check out this post about stuffing for some tips.  I put a little stuffing in the legs but we’ll mostly deal with those when we install the legs so save some stuffing for that.

owl eyes

Let’s get a head start on the features and feathers section by installing our eye buttons.  The pattern has instructions for shank and flat buttons. I chose shank buttons  so I’m making a little hole to sink the shank into.

The key here is to make the hole without breaking the threads of the fabric. Start making the hole with a big needle. Next use something pointy but larger like a bamboo skewer or a pencil.  You’ll need a sturdy thread to sew in the eyes – dental floss works too!.

Check back next friday for week 2 – feathers and features. We’re also going to talk about how to dramatically change the personality of your owl with little adjustments to the eye fabric. See you next Friday! Please use #annwoodpattern and #annwoodowlsewalong on instagram or join us in the community!

PS – happy thanksgiving!

the owl sew-along begins November 25th

indigo owl progress

indigo owl progress

What you’ll need to participate

The dastardly  pdf sewing pattern – available as a pdf digital pattern or  a booklet that comes in the mail. EU and UK owl makers please purchase your pattern on Etsy.

owl sewing pattern : stuffing the legsget the pattern buttonSome time  – the sew-along will take place over 4 weeks beginning November 25th. I’ll give you a schedule on the kick off day of what needs to be accomplished each week. Plan on having 2 – 4 -ish  hours per week to work on your owl steps.

Find the materials list in the pattern. As we did in the spectacularly successful crow sew-along we’ll begin by creating the body shape. 

You don’t need to sign up for anything to participate – just get the pattern, gather your materials and  look for the post on November 25th.

community

Community support is the best part of a sew-along especially if you’re feeling nervous or overwhelmed about starting a project. 

You can follow and post in the owl sew-along topic in the stitch club community – you can request to join the growing community here

There will also be a facebook group – I have not figured out yet if it should be a new group or if we should just change the crow group to an owl group – stay tuned on that and feel free to let me know what you think in the comments.

checkout some awesome owls made form the pattern

Will you join us for the owl-along? Are you an overachiver and have already gathered your fabric? Let us know in the comments.

owl color inspiration, a couple sneak peaks and stitch club test drive

Changes are afoot! The biggest is the brand new community. You can share what you’re working on, follow topics like the crow sew-along, the miss thistle society and finish line friday. 

What is finish line friday? At the beginning of the week choose a project or task that’s been hanging around in almost done-ness or not technically, actually started-ness, finish by friday and share with the stitch club community! It could be something super small – it’s all about momentum. Last week my FLF task was to fix the giant mess in the sewing/shipping room and it was magically tidy again by Friday. I sure do love a deadline

This week my task was pulling fabrics for an autumnal owl. The next sew-along will be the dastardly owl and the start date will be announced soon.  The pattern is available as a pdf or booklet and if you’re ordering the booklet you’ll want to do that pretty soon.  The fabrics I’m using are a mix of cotton, linen and light weight wool with lots of variety in texture and color.

There will be a group in the new community devoted to the owl and that’s especially helpful if you’re feeling anxious about trying the pattern.  The facebook group and stitch club members are superstars about helping and encouraging. 

The stitch club is still in the experimental stage but already a promising creative and supportive group, a bunch of friends who sew. There are currently over 400 members and if you feel like giving it a test drive you can sign up here.

so long kits

Kits are going away. Once the current stock is gone kits will be retired. As a stubbornly one person business the labor and expense of creating and shipping them has not worked. I’d rather spend that time creating new patterns or art work. The prospect of working 16 hours a day at the ann wood handmade fulfillment center (the little sewing/shipping room at the top of the post) again this holiday season is deeply unappealing. So many paper cuts…  I will still have booklets and soon some fabric packs. Find the kits in the shop while supplies last and then they are gone. 

new art work

It’s interesting how much framing affects how I think about the little paintings. The frames place them in another world, another time. They feel outside of me, who’s dark and dusty library did the swan hang in many years ago? That’s the feeling I want for them, relics from another life and time.

and story bottles

two little ceramic vases in blue and offwhite painted with and owl and a windmill

The imagery springs from the daily paintings. One thing really does lead to another. The bottles are wheel thrown stoneware, painted in underglaze and high fired.  The first collections of bottles and framed paintings will be in the shop in early November.

You can sign up for an email notification here.

ceramic bottles small - offwhite with blue painting in an early american style

 

christmas card with water color illustration of a mouse, seen through a baseboard mouse hole, decorating a tree

Also in the shopping department if holiday cards are on your list now is the time to order.

Are you ready for the owl sew-along? Also I’m rolling a couple ideas around for the winter including an ornament swap and a correspondence workshop for the soldier rag doll – meaning the lessons are delivered via weekly email to a limited number of participants and we have a dedicated group in the new community for discussion, videos and sharing images – is that something you’d be into? Let us know in the comments.

 

crow sew-along week 4 : finishing the crow

 parts of a textile crow on my worktable ready to be assembled

The final steps go fast. One minute there are a bunch of parts in front of you and the next thing you know there’s a big bird standing on your table.  It’s been a while since I made a crow and I expected the assembly to take way longer than it did. The reality was just a couple hours and that included me awkwardly filming myself. Let’s jump ahead and take a look at the finished guy before we talk about putting it all together. 

As soon as he was done I took him to the front yard for a photo. Just kidding! That’s the Henry Whitfield House in the background. It’s definitely haunted and the oldest house in Connecticut.

assembling the crow

don’t see the video? click here

Check out the video above  for a pretty solid look at stitching the eye, a little bit of the wing stitching plus a finishing tip at the end, something I do to all my feathered textile creatures. And keep reading for more assembly tips.

He got on his feet easily and did require a bunch of counter weight for balance (about 80 cents). Before closing up his back I pinned on his wings and tail for a test drive. The tail was fine but the wings felt like they needed a tiny bit more texture so I added a feather. 

The most difficult thing about assembling the crow is sewing everything on after the legs and beak are in. There are a couple things that help. Keep your thread pretty short, less to tangle, and hold your bird upside down, feet up, as much as possible, get gravity on your side.

I realized after his official photoshoot that I had forgotten the last step in the sewing pattern – shoving some stuffing up into his shoulders. I think maybe he doesn’t need it though, the extra ruffle detail on the top of his wings is enough.

Good luck assembling your crow! And congratulations where-ever you are in the process. This is the last of the 4 official  crow sew-along posts but we will need a finale post for sure, a parade of crows.  You can checkout crows in progress in the facebook group  and on instagram- #annwoodcrowsewalong.

Plus! the brand new ann wood handmade community – stitch club. Please click here to sign up.

sew along links:  week one     week two     week three

Are you ready to assemble your crow? Did you already cross the finish line? Just getting started? Let us know in the comments.

crow sew-along week 3 : add a little shimmer to the feet

Welcome to week 3!  Feet and beak. Before we start let’s talk about the schedule – are you way ahead? Way behind? Not exactly technically, officially started yet? It’s all fine. These posts aren’t going anywhere and know that where ever you are in the process a bunch of other people are too.  Plus life happens so do what you can.  My tail was late and I’m supposed to be in charge of this thing…

the feet and beak

The preferred paper covered wire has not been available so my crow-along feet are made using the masking tape method in the pattern. It works as well as the paper covered wire partly because floral tape is magic stuff. Wrapping tightly with the tape makes the legs stronger and smoother.

For color Decoart Americana craft paint is great. You can find it in most craft stores and it’s super cheap. The finish is very flat and it covers well. I ran into a bunch of it in a dollar store last year and have a lifetime supply that I use all the time.

A super simple way to add a little iridescent shimmer to the feet and legs is a lead pencil. It picks up some texture details and adds a subtle metallic shimmer. If you want to add a talon detail black or silver nail polish on the tips is great.

Sharpie is by far my favorite method for coloring the twig beak. It stains the wood and has a translucency that feels crow-ish.  My carving is pretty rough, leaving lots of texture. If you’re not comfortable with carving a twig, paper clay is a great alternative.

We are just past the half way point in the crow-along and I’m already thinking about the next sew-along – how about an autumnal owl? Let us know what you think in the comments. There are over 400!!  crow makers in the facebook group. The community is active, creative and supportive. Thanks so much to all of you.

Not a facebooker or instagrammer?  A community site is in progress now and is available to crow – sew-along participants only to test. It’s a private group and currently top secret. If you want to test it out add your name, location and email on this form.

What to expect: It’s pretty barebones at the moment but the basics are there. Some things will be changing over the next couple weeks as features and settings get tested and improved. Please be patient with me and yourself. I’ll roll out invitations a few at a time. When you are accepted you’ll get an email with tips and more info.

The hope is that by the crow sew-along finale there will be a place where everybody can share their crow on the new community site. Good luck with your feet and beak! Please leave your questions or tips in the comments.

sew along links:  week one     week two     week three

textile book tutorial part one – organizing and assembling

*This tutorial is divided into two parts. This is part 1, part 2 is here. Please read both completely before beginning (start here with part 1).

book made form cotton and linen fabric scraps rest on a worn blue table with sewing notions and a pile of scraps

The easiest way to understand how this little textile book is constructed is to watch the video of the last step –  assembling it –  first.   After that we can talk about creating the pages etc.

Don’t see the video? – find it here.

I used this book as a 100 day stitch book project  last year (2022) – my first two pages are above. You can check out the finished 2022 stitch book here. If you are stitching along with me this year stitch your pages before you assemble the book. I’m sharing the assembly tutorial now so you know where we are headed. Plus it’s a really cool way to make a textile book that you could use for all sorts of things.

Learn more about the 2023 stitch book project here 

To create your pages you need 20 rectangles – 7 X 5.5 inches – you can use the page template download below to make them.  Ignore the other marks on the pattern for now – just cut the rectangles. I’m using cotton and linen for the pages

Stitch whatever you like on your rectangles, embroidery, collage, mess around, try stuff, meander. Leave about 1/2 inch margin all around the edge to make book assembly easy.

To make the book  you will need these  templates:

download the page template here

download the page chart here

how to assemble the book

Before assembling the book finish stitching on each of your 20 rectangles however you like – (I’m using plain fabric rectangles for the demonstration book today).

Clearly mark the  – right side –  of each of the 20 finished pages with its number using masking tape and a sharpie marker.

The book has 20 pages, including cover and back. There are five sections – each composed of 4 rectangles/pages.

3 sections have slots.

and 2 sections have tabs.

Use the page chart to layout the sections.  For example The first section (a slot section) would look like this.

Use pages 6 and 1 for the front and 2 and 5 for the back of section one.  We are looking at the right sides of the fabric.

And here it is assembled – front and back – page 5 is on the back of page 6 and page 2 is behind one. Use the chart and it all works out.

Below is section 2 – a tab section.

Lay out your 20 numbered pages in 5 sections following the chart and then use the instructions here to sew the slot and tab sections.

With all your sections sewn assemble the book.

assembling the book

Get set up by laying out out your pages just like the left hand column of the chart. Then follow along with the video at the top of this post.

PS – the designer of the slot tab method of binding books is Michael Budiansky – checkout the handmade books blog for more– it’s a cool site.

textile book tutorial part two – making the sections

*  The tutorial is divided into 2 parts. Please read both parts entirely before beginning. Seriously, it helps. Start here.

The book has 20 pages, including cover and back. There are five sections – each composed of 4 rectangles/pages.

3 sections have slots.

and 2 sections have tabs.

This tutorial demonstrates how to construct the two kinds of sections in the book – slot and tab. Before you begin to sew the sections please read this post on how to create and organize the pages.

You will need:

  • your 20 pages/rectangles
  • chopstick or similar
  • a basic sewing kit
  • embroidery thread

make a slot section

1. To make a slot page take two rectangles and lay them out with the right sides facing you.

2. Place one over the other – right sides together.

3. Draw a half inch margin down the right hand side of the top piece.

4. Clip the short lines on your page pattern. Fold the center section back.

5. Place it over the rectangles and mark the short horizontal lines.

6. Sew the half inch seam above and below those marks.

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