I don’t know about you guys but I often find within the papercrafting (or crafting in general) world there are some things people just presume you know how to do. Things that may seem simple to some but if you don’t know how… then you don’t know how!
One of those things is paper stitching by hand (or sewing). Something that is, yes, relatively simple, but something that is assumed that you just KNOW what to do. For those who have a background or even basic knowledge of sewing or cross stitch (such as myself) it seems easy and straightforward. But to some people it’s not; and that’s ok.
It’s ok to not know how to do stuff, stuff that seems so simple to the rest of the world. I guarantee you there are more people than you think wondering how to do it.
So I’m going to show you how to paper stitch by hand. I am by no means an expert, but I’ll make it simple and won’t use fancy-wancy words (or if I do I’ll explain them).
So first, what you’ll need:
First you’ll need a pointy tool of some kind to make holes in the paper. You could, I suppose, use a large needle, but your hands and fingers won’t thank you for it. Search on eBay (or your website of choice) for a ‘paper pricking tool’, or get an awl. Technically an awl is for beading and jewellery making type stuff but it does the same job. The Tim Holtz Retractable Craft Picker is a popular choice, but not the cheapest.
Then you will need some sort of mat to do your pricking on (don’t laugh!). You can get proper pricking or piercing mats from all sorts of places, but I’m cheap – so I use this foam heart covered in felt I bought in Hobbycraft (in the kids section!) for less than £1. Sure it won’t last as long as a ‘proper’ mat, but it does the job! You could also use foam mats or corrugated cardboard from an old box. They won’t be as easy to use, particularly the cardboard, but if it’s your first time you don’t want to really splash out on the equipment.
Next you’ll need a needle, ideally an embroidery needle that doesn’t have a sharp end (ouchies!) but really you can use whatever. Just as long as the eye is big enough for the thread to go through and it’s not too wide to go through the holes you pierce!
Last is some thread, obviously. Most people, including yours truly, use embroidery thread/silk. I buy mine from eBay in bulk (I only really need cream and white) but you can pick the stuff up from all sorts of places.
Oh, and I nearly forgot – some paper! Well, card or cardstock really – paper is a little flimsy. I’ve just punched out a 3″ heart from a random bit of cardstock I had lying around for the purpose of this how to as I wanted it to be a simple shape.
Ok, let’s get started. Step one – PRICK!
I don’t think there’s too much to explain here. Don’t push the tool too far through or your holes will be too big. Space them however you want, except don’t go too close or they might tear and leave you with one giant hole. And don’t make them too near the edge of the card, you want a few millimetres or when you start stitching the thread will fall out the sides – one thing to remember is card is not as sturdy as material, and is way more likely to tear when making holes in it!
Step Two – thread dat needle!
Two things to say about this: one, embroidery thread/silk is made of six very small strands. You do not want to do this with all six strands, so split it into two strands of three. Don’t go too fast or you’ll end up with a big knot.
You can actually use however many strands you damn well please, but I find three to be the best.
I forgot to picture it, but it will save you lots of stress and frustration if you use a needle threader with that embroidery silk. Those multiple strands can be an absolute pain to get through the eye.
Step Three – start stitching! With your first stitch start from the bottom through to the top, then underneath secure with some washi.
If you’re old school or simply inclined to do so, you can of course make a knot or two instead- or if you don’t have washi to use (in which case we need to have words). But securing your thread down with washi is just SO much easier.
Step Four – continue to stitch!
Now, there’s two ways we can go about this, the first is the simple up-down-up-down stitch, which is fine, but doesn’t look as nice. To get the traditional ‘paper stitching’ look, you need to back-stitch. Many of you will be thinking ‘DUH, I know how back stitch!’, but as I said at the beginning of this post, not everyone does, so here goes:
Bring your needle through from the bottom/underneath of your card, then instead of going forward, go backward, when you bring the needle back through the card. Then from underneath, skip over a hole when you bring the needle back through to the top.
Then just do the same thing again. Up through, go backwards a hole to pull it down through the bottom, skip a hole underneath, and bring it back through the top. Repeat ad nauseam.
And that’s it!
When you’ve finished and snipped off the excess thread remember to secure down the last little bit with washi again. If you’ve run out of thread at any point during it’s fine, just start again from where the thread ran out! The backs of my paper stitching projects are always a mess of washi because I’m hilariously terrible at estimating how much thread I’ll need!
I very quickly did an example of how the stitching would look if you did the very simple up-down stitch rather than the back-stitch:
I got away with these due to the dots on the paper making it look from a distance like I’ve done more stitching than I have. But I definitely think the back-stitch looks best.
So there we go! A, hopefully, very simple guide on how to do paper stitching. I chose very simple shapes for this post but you can stitch any shape you want to. I do lot of word stitching, which is a smidgen more complicated as it just requires a bit more attention. I may do another post on how to do that in the future, so look out for that!
For now, I shall leave you, and wish you the best for all your paper stitching projects!
If there’s any papercrafting related thing you’ve always wanted to know how to do, but been afraid that it’s too ‘simple’ to ask about, or that people might laugh at you for asking, please ask! I’d be more than happy to do a tutorial on it.
Grace ❤ @ms.paperlover