June 26, 2010

tutorial : stitched circles

(items from June's Partly Sunny and add-ons + lemon mist + mustard seed ink + tiny attacher + pinking sheers)

Hi all! I'm sneaking in on Kelly and Maggie's favorites weeks to give you a few pointers on one of my favorite techniques - stitching. More specifically - stitching circles. This is a technique that takes a bit of practice but it's well worth it - I love the sense of movement that large stitched circles can add to a background, and stitching smaller circles can add a lot of texture and detail to your page.

(Collage Press + Jenni Bowlin Studio)

Since stitching larger circles is definitely easier, let's work on that first. Both of the above pages have large circles stitched on the background. I started them the same way - by laying out a circle template and tracing the circles onto my background with pencil. I tend to use my Fiskars USX templates, but if you don't have something similar, head to your kitchen. You'll find a multitude of perfect circles in your cabinets - search through your plates, bowls and cups until you find one that's the right size.

You'll want to have a rough idea where your other elements will be - there's nothing worse than adding in your photos and patterned paper and realizing that all of your hard work is now hidden!

You'll also want to make sure that your circle is the right size to accommodate any elements that you're planning to arrange around it.

Once you've got your circles drawn in pencil, it's time to sew! Go SLOW. You can always speed up, but it's easier to get a feel for how you need to move the paper when you're maching is going slow. I use one hand to guide my paper - you just want to steer it gently, and be sure not to push or pull it. If you push or pull too hard you can pull your needle out of it's natural position for the stitch you've selected, and it's going to hop back to where it's supposed to be the second you stop applying pressure.

When that happens, you'll end up with odd lumps around your circle, as you can see in the biggest circle on this example. What you're aiming for is the circle in the middle - the lines are smooth, and you can't even see the pencil lines. The smallest circle shows an easy fix for a stitch job with a few mistakes - add a couple more circles and your mistakes will all even out. ;)

(Studio Calico Documentary + Cosmo Cricket Joy Ride chipboard - available in the shop on 6.27 at noon EST + tiny attacher)

Once you get comfortable with big circles, it's time to start experimenting with little ones. I started this card with a circle punch, and arranged strips of paper around it to make a sun.

You'll stitch around small circles with the same technique that you used for larger ones - but go even slower. And chances are, you're going to make mistakes. I rarely manage to get a good clean circle when I'm working in the under 3in diameter ranger. This was not one of those times. =)

So I went around a couple more times and called it good. ;)

I'm hoping to see more circles popping up in the gallery - please link me up if you give it a try!


Courtney Erickson said...

What kind of sewing machine do you use? I don't have one and am dying to use one on my pages. I've looked at a couple "mini" machines but the reviews are terrible. I would appreciate any advice!

Courtney Erickson

lisa truesdell said...

hi courtney! i started sewing on my pages w/ a janome sew mini and would highly recommend it! i think it was $60 or $70, and it had straight and zig zag stitches. i currently have a brother cs600i. i bought it when i started doing more fabric sewing - the little janome just couldn't keep up with me! you can find entry level brothers, janomes and singers for under $100 at most big box stores, any of those would be a good bet for scrapping!

Debbie said...

great tutorial. love the circles on your pages. =)

Kari said...


I scraplifted one of your layouts from a while back because I loved it so much. The stitched circles were SO hard! LOL. I wish I would've tried big circles first! ha! :)

here is a link to my layout


thanks for all your amazing inspiration!

Gracie said...

Here's mine. I traced some coins that were laying on the desk, but really that was pointless as I just free handed them anyway.


Anonymous said...

just one big stitched circle on this layout-- but I'll be doing more on future layouts!!


the circle was the first thing my Husband commented on when I showed him the layout!