Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Making of a Marker

At long last, I have finally decided on a marker for my blackwork bookmark!

Initially, I had all these visions of sparkly gold charms or beads to pick up the metallic gold in the fabric and the stitching. And I had some gold floral beads in my bead box that, in theory, were perfect. Only, when I pulled them out and tried them against my work, they didn't look quite right. I tried experimenting with glass beads, with pearls, with amethyst chips. But every combination I came up - no matter how nice it was on its own - did not mix well with my work. I was in quite a quandry.

Especially since I couldn't decide on what type or colour of ribbon to use either! I had purple ribbon, pink ribbon, gold mesh ribbon - and, like the beads, each looked right on their own and wrong with my bookmark. In exasperation, I appealed to my Mother for help. And she suggested wooden beads! Now, this isn't as out of left field as it might sound.

A few years ago, when a local fabric store changed ownership, they had a huge inventory clear-out and, among the odds and ends (and some were very odd, like doll's eyes and pom poms), I found this fabulous basket of wooden beads in all kinds of different colours that called out to me to take them home. Partly, it was the price (I only paid, if I can remember correctly, $10 for the lot - and it was a large lot, so big that I have to keep them somewhere other than my bead box) but mostly it was the unusual colours and the multiple applications for them that I dreamed up. At the time, I had visions of embroidered tote bags beaded with these wooden beads in flower shapes. Needless to say, that has not come to pass. Yet.

Anyway, for our purposes here, it is sufficient to say that I have a great many round wooden beads, in roughly 6mm and 4mm sizes, in all sorts of colours ranging from nigh-on-neon to natural. And, to my complete and utter surprise (and the smug satisfaction of my Mother), there were beads - in the larger of the two sizes (the 6mm) - in shades that almost exactly matched the purple and the magenta in my blackwork bookmark! And what's more, since wood is absorbent by nature, when these beads were dyed, they ended up with some colour variation, much like the colours shade from dark to very bright in the design of my backing material! At first, I worried that they were too simplistic and kitschy.

But, when I went back to first ribbon choice (a simple black grosgrain) this happened:

And the funny thing is that after all of the hours I spent fussing (the better part of two days, actually) I was finally pleased. By a simple black ribbon and a few wooden beads! Believe me, I'm still amazed by that. So, in keeping with the less-is-more dictates of this particular bookmark, I finished my marker simply - two overhead knots at the bottom and top of each stack of beads to keep them in place, and some quick stitching to keep the ends of the ribbon from fraying. My hand sewing needs work, as it's still a bit wonky, but it'll probably never be perfect. And if I can do it, anyone can do it. Seriously.

Here's a close-up view of the top of the marker (sorry for the shadow!):

As you can (hopefully) see, all I did was tuck the raw ribbon end into a little loop, and used Guterman 100% Polyester thread to sew the loop down, after which I used my stitching scissors to trim the excess close to my stitches. To be a little more fancy, you can first loop the raw edge back on itself and secure and then do the top loop, leaving no raw edges at all, no matter how neatly trimmed. Of course, this only occured to me after I finished off the second ribbon *rolls eyes*, so this is a trick I'll be trying sometime in the future.

Although this particular ribbon is double-sided, or "double-faced", meaning that it has the same finish on both sides, I added a few quick stitches at the bottom of the ribbon loop to secure the direction of both ribbons, so that the front side of my stitch loops would be showing instead of the back. Here is a close-up of the bottom of the marker:

There, on the right-hand side, you can see - if you peer at it closely and squint a little - the small line left by my stitches. I started at the bottom of the overlap and added about eight stitches, enough to keep the ribbons in place. The marker is a little long - I added the extra deliberately so I have some excess to play around with when sewing it in. You could cut off and sew in two entirely seperate ribbons, but having the overlap keeps them more secure and will make it easier to sew them in. Or at least I think it will.

Soon marker, bookmark and backing fabric will be united happily together to live out a long and useful life as the Very Important Keeper of My Pages. The stitching together is up next.

Wish me luck! :) 


stitch_days said...

Your stunning bookmark has been such a delight to follow. Beautiful stitching!
Thank you for sharing your pictures.

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thanks very much for your kind words Rita! I'll be posting more pictures when I finally get everything put together, so there will be more to come :)

CrazyStitcher said...

The choice of beads (the colour) on your marker work so well.

Will you be posting any additional photos, after the bookmark and backing fabric have been stitched together?

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thanks very much CrazyStitcher! I'm glad you think the colours work well too :) I really wasn't sure about them at first, but they grew on me! I will be posting more pictures up when I get everything finished, for sure!

Rainy Day Crafter said...

How incredible that you had those beads in the perfect shades - I think it was meant to be, lol! So strange though how things suddenly just fall into place like that! Anyway, I think it all looks beautiful together - I think the black ribbon is the perfect choice too. :)

Aurelia Eglantine said...

I know, right? It's truly serendipitous! I was totally surprised and honestly was skeptical at first. I kept trying to find ways that they wouldn't work, but I finally had to give up :) I'm so glad you like the colours and the ribbon! I hope it will all work well together when I get it stitched up :)

Rainy Day Crafter said...

Lol, well I'm glad you finally gave in and decided that they work :) I'm really looking forward to seeing it when it's all stitched together - I know it's going to look fab! :)

Karen said...

The beads compliment the stitching perfectly! Great choice! Your perseverence really paid off! :)

Aurelia Eglantine said...

Thanks very much Rainy Day :)

And thanks very much for your lovely comment Karen :)

I appreciate the encouragement! ;)