There is nothing else quite like it: that line from your favorite book that soothes your heart and shines your soul.
It feels so good to open up to that underlined passage on the page with the well-thumbed edge. It also feels pretty dang good to run your finger over your handmade stitches spelling out all those perfect words, in perfect order.
It also feels pretty dang good knowing how easy and inexpensive it was, even if it looks rather fancy.
Mary Make And Do and I recently had the pleasure of teaching a Literary Embroidery workshop at Tulsa Library to complement the Adult Summer Reading program there. Here's the tutorial we gave on how to transform your favorite literary quote into needlework, start to finish.
*1 6-8" embroidery hoop.
*1 skein of embroidery floss
*1 embroidery needle
*A scrap of cotton fabric measuring at least 3-4 inches larger than your hoop
*A print-out of your favorite book quote, sized to fit within your chosen hoop (or a sketch of your quote exactly how you would like it to look—maybe it is in your everyday handwriting, or maybe you use your rad calligraphy skills in combination with hand-drawn banners and flourishes)
*Pencil or disappearing fabric pen
1. Transfer your favorite book quote to your fabric. An easy way to do this is to slip your print-out of your quote beneath your fabric and trace. Or, if you're working from a sketch, you can use a copy machine to darken it, and then slip it beneath your fabric to trace.
Look for a quote to embroider? Here is a list I compiled of my favorite book quotes to embroider (Word doc).
2. Making sure the weave of your fabric is straight, slip the small side of the hoop beneath your fabric, centering your book quote. Next, slide the large side of the hoop down over your fabric to interlock with the smaller hoop beneath, stretching your fabric across the hoop as evenly as you can.
3. Cut a length of embroidery thread measuring 12-18 inches. Notice that each thread is comprised of 6 smaller threads. You can split these threads to create different line weights in your design. I like to use three threads. I separate them by untwisting the first quarter-inch of the thread, then slowly and gently pulling them apart, being careful not to tangle my thread.
4. Thread your needle. Tie an overhand knot at one end of your thread.
5. Now you're ready to stitch!
Here are a few of the best stitches to use for book quotes:
Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching is the modern embroidery queen, and you can find lots more tutorials and diagrams on her site, SublimeStitching.com.
Simply choose a stitch and trace your quote/design! When you come to the end of your thread, insert your needle so that the thread goes to the back of your work, then use your needle to weave the thread into the backs of your stitches. Use your scissors to trim the thread close to the work.
Then thread up your needle with more floss and keep going!
An embroidery hoop serves as a beautiful and inexpensive frame for your finished work. Simply pin your fabric behind the hoop and hang by the metal ligature at the top.
You can also add it to a quilt, a pillow, or other sewing project.
I embroidered my favorite Shel Silverstein quote on one of my pieces of fabric I dip-dyed in indigo. Then I quilted it and sewed it into a throw pillow.
Here is the tutorial I used for the pillow: Envelope Pillow With Piping Tutorial
I would love to see what you do with your embroidered book quotes. Leave me links to your projects in the comments!
And thanks to Mary Make and Do, Tulsa Library, and all the attendees of this workshop for a fantastic time. It was a full house!