Hand stitching is slow, meditative work and lends simple beauty to special handmade notecards with this project from The Weaving Explorer.

In this age of email and texts, receiving a handwritten note is a treat. It’s especially charming to get one on a handmade card. All three of the following patterns use the slow stitching needlework style, with each version a bit more challenging than the previous one. Making all three proved a wonderful way to learn this tradition and gave me lots of practice regulating my stitching. I got into the weaving spirit by pushing my needle up and down, in and out of the fabric, creating designs in the cloth.

thoughtful threads notecards

My inspiration for the Thoughtful Threads Note Cards came from two traditional Asian methods of reusing cloth to make new and improved fabric. Sashiko is a Japanese stitching style that became a popular domestic craft more 400 years ago, but has origins well before then. Kantha is a style of stitching that originated in eastern India and the surrounding areas, perhaps as far back as 500 years ago. Both methods incorporate linear stitching on cloth in ways that share some similarities with both embroidery and quilting, but that also relate to the basic over/under flow of weaving. I find it fascinating that such similar styles of stitching were developed in different times and parts of the world and that I can use them as inspiration for my projects in modern times.

I have come to think of the threads making up the cloth as the warp and my stitching thread as the weft. By following the grain line of the woven threads in the cloth, my stitching goes over and under as with other weaving. While many designs are possible in each method, I find the grid-like patterns appeal to me the most, as they resemble weaving in the regular interlacement of the threads. I purchased a few fat quarters at the fabric store and used those as the basis of my projects.

Thoughtful Threads Notecards

You Will Need:

  • Piece of stiff paper that is larger than your card
  • Medium-weight fabric, ironed (One fat quarter will make 4 cards.)
  • Scissors
  • Photo frame cards
  • Fabric marking pencil (I like a mechanical fabric-chalk pencil.)
  • Ruler
  • Long stitching needle (A sashiko needle works best.)
  • Size 3, 5, or 10 crochet cotton (3/2, 5/2, or 10/2 pearl cotton)
  • Washcloth
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Fabric glue (optional)

General Instructions

Step 1. Using the stiff paper, make a template that is slightly smaller than the front of your card.

Step 2. Trace the template on the fat quarter as many times as possible. Cut the rectangles apart.

Step 3. Center the opening in the card on the fabric. Using the fabric marking pencil, mark the outline of this area.

Step 4. Using the fabric marking pencil and ruler, draw parallel lines on the fabric. Specifics for each pattern are included below.

Step 5. Thread the needle with a piece of crochet cotton about 20″ long. (Much longer than that and the thread tangles and becomes difficult to work with.)

Step 6. Follow the first line using a running stitch; try to keep the length of the stitches and the unstitched areas evenly spaced on the line.

Step 7. After the 1st row is stitched, move to the 2nd row, following the spacing of the stitches on the 1st row.

Step 8. Stitch the remaining rows, always following the spacing set by the 1st row.

Step 9. Use a damp washcloth on the fabric to help the disappearing chalk lines fade away.

Step 10. Iron the fabric if it has puckered a bit.

Step 11. Most cards have adhesive tape to attach the fabric under the opening. Sometimes a bit of glue will help hold the fabric in place. Use just a small amount of glue; otherwise the paper may crinkle.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS

Carefully iron the fabric before stitching to remove any fold marks or wrinkles.

Measure carefully as you stitch the 1st row to keep the spacing of the stitches the proper length. Once you have completed the 1st row of stitching, it’s easy to follow the spacing for the remainder of the project.

Keep the knots at the ends of the rows to make a cleaner join when adding new lengths of thread.

To keep the fabric from puckering, avoid pulling the stitching too tight.

PATTERNS

All in a Row

Set up the fabric by following the General Instructions steps 1 and 2 (above).

1. Draw parallel lines ⅜” apart. Extend the lines about ½” beyond the area marked for the opening on the card.

2. Following each line, sew a running stitch, making the length of each stitch slightly more than ¼” and the space between the stitches slightly less than ¼”.

Follow the General Instructions steps 7–11 to finish.

Compact Parallels

Set up the fabric by following the General Instructions steps 1 and 2 (above).

1. Draw parallel lines ³⁄₁₆” apart. Extend the lines about ½” beyond the area marked for the opening on the card.

2. Following each line, sew a running stitch, making the length of each stitch ¼” and the space between stitches about ³⁄₁₆”.

Follow the General Instructions steps 7–11 to finish.

Crosses

Set up the fabric by following the General Instructions steps 1 and 2 (above).

1. Draw parallel lines ¼” apart. Extend the lines about ½” beyond the area marked for the opening on the card.

2. Following the first line, sew a running stitch, making the length of each stitch ¼” and the space between the stitches ¼”.

3. For the second line, use the same spacing as the first line, but sew where the open spaces fell in the first line and leave open spaces where the stitches are in the first line. In other words, stagger the placement of the stitches.

4. Alternate stitching the lines as in steps 2 and 3 above.

5. Turn the piece a quarter turn and place a ¼” stitch crossing each existing stitch.

Follow the General Instructions steps 8–11 to finish.

Text excerpted from The Weaving Explorer © 2019 by Gwen W. Steege and Deborah Jarchow. Photos by Mars Vilaubi. All rights reserved.

Deborah Jarchow

Deborah Jarchow is the coauthor of The Weaving Explorer. She is a full-time weaver and artist who teaches and lectures on fiber arts, creates and sells wearable… See Bio

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The Weaving Explorer

by Deborah Jarchow and Gwen W. Steege

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