Notes About Sewing {Paper}

❝Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky. When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth. We walk through it, yell into it, rake leaves, wash the dog, and drive cars in it. We breathe it deep within us. With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules of sky, heat them briefly, and then exhale them back into the world.❞
Diane Ackerman

Sewing is not something I expected to love. But I was entranced with the idea of stitching on my art journal pages, of adding texture with thread. So in 2010 I bought a sewing machine and have been sewing paper ever since. I cannot imagine "not" sewing paper at this point; I make travel journals, collages on index cards, stitch paper that I've painted... and paint paper that I've stitched.

It's something I do just for fun. I get a lot of questions about sewing paper so I thought I would share info about the tools that I use and my sewing process. 

stitched collages and mail art postcards

stitched collages and mail art postcards

sewing a grid.

sewing a grid.

The machine and needles. I sew on a Janome 7330 Magnolia using a standard sewing machine needle. In addition, I make small art quilts, drapes, school play costumes {a Little Red Riding Hood cape, a gypsy, a green monster...} 

As for thread... For paper stitching, use good quality thread because it's what holds your stuff together! Get some fun colors, while you are at it. If you are going to stitch pages where you will see both sides, like mail art or a journal tip-in, spice it up by using a different color in the bobbin and the top thread. 

The sewing machine brings together two discrete objects using thread.

The base for my paper collages.  I use manilla folder paper, heavy card stock, bristol paper, watercolor paper or index cards. If the index cards are thin, I just use two.

Some of the materials I use for cutting & sewing paper:

  • Plastic cutting guide. Shape Cut Plus 12x18" Slotted Ruler. Like all of the tools here, this can be used for fabric as well.
  • Rotary cutting tool. Fiskars 45mm Stick Rotary Cutter. Make sure you use a tool with a locking mechanism! Some folks have a rotary cutting tool for paper and one for fabric since cutting paper can dull the blade. I use the same one for everything.
  • Under the cutting guide, I have a self-healing cutting mat. It's an Olfa Gridded Cutting Mat. These are fantastic! Get the mat slightly larger than the ruler you plan to use. I've been using mine since 2010 so they last a long time.
  • Scissors.  Fiskars Scissors. I've had hand and elbow surgery and cutting with scissors is difficult. These are only scissors that don't make my hand pain worse. I have multiple pairs of scissors and one pair is ONLY used for fabric.
  • Thread. I get good quality thread from Red Rock Threads.

Sewing foot. There's a standard sewing machine foot attached. A foot is like a connector under the needle that holds on to the sewing material or guides it in a certain way. 

The feed dogs. Feed dogs are grippy pieces of metal that "pull" your fabric/paper through under the needle. They can be up or down. If they are up, they move the fabric/paper along like a conveyor belt. Usually the feed dogs are up. I don't know if there is a more technical name for them!

There's also freestyle stitching. Aka free motion. This is sewing with the feed dogs down and usually a darning foot. So you power the paper movement by hand. The results are completely different and it's more challenging! And I'm quite spatially challenged, so it's tricky but I keep practicing. 

Free-motion stitching on fabric, 2013

Free-motion stitching on fabric, 2013

PS. If you are interested in learning how to sew paper, including stitching, adding ink, watercolor or gouache, you can learn more in my Crossroads Workshop at 21 Secrets 2015

Heirloom Digital ICAD Badges

Here's an authentic, one-of-a kind, heirloom, organic, collector's edition, non-GMO, certified real, hypo-allergenic, digital commemorative patch to celebrate participating in ICAD. If you've experienced the ICAD challenge, you are an ICADian. If you rocked ICAD {by creating 61 cards... any challenge year from 2011 to present... even if it took more than 61 days... go for it} or you want to support the concept of free-wheeling, experimental art on index cards... here goes! Sending index card art love to all of you. 

There are three sizes, 500px, 250px and 180px. Some are square, others rectangular. Generally you would right click on the graphic and do "save as" to download to your computer. Then on your blog, in a spot where you can put an image, like on the sidebar, upload! It would be extra super duper cool if you could link back to Daisy Yellow... to 

In the ICAD FB Group for the 2015 challenge, there was a running joke about participants being ICADians... newbies are ICADettes, we live in ICADia, and lots of plays on words. We had so much fun with this! I believe it was Robin Mead who started the naming trend, and it just carried on! I like the concept of an ICAD guru, a person who has experienced an entire, extensive, intensive 61-day challenge. I'm proud of all of you and I hope that you are celebrating your accomplishments! Or perhaps you are frantically making index card art to build to 61-cards!!! That's OK too!!!

Whatever the case, rock on, keep making art!

A NOTE TO READERS. If you find value in the content, prompts, tutorials & challenges shared at Daisy Yellow, please consider a contribution to the Tip Jar. Any amount is appreciated! Contributions are like a little pat on the back, and help support my endeavors here at Daisy Yellow. 

The Bitter and the Sweet

Yup. ICAD #61. The last day of the fifth annual ICAD Challenge.

"Set up a situation that presents you 
with something slightly beyond your reach."
Brian Eno

"When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If you really don't know where to start or if you're stuck, start generating random connections and allow your intuition to tell you if one might lead somewhere interesting."
John Cleese

"Write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself."
Neil Gaiman

There is a definite MORE EQUALS MORE with regard to art - at least in my experience. I think the more creative stuff you do {and no matter what you choose... to paint/write/sketch/knit/collage/quilt/etc}, the more ideas you will have. The ideas multiply, intersect, re-arrange in your mind. There is synergy, man! Now is your chance to jump into a journal {just follow the same process and approach that you have with your index cards}, splash paint on a canvas, start a bunch of quilt blocks, learn how to knit-in-the-round, make a gelatin printing plate, sketch at Starbucks.

Do something that you have always wanted to do! 

Thank you all for playing along with this crazy daily challenge. Let this be the beginning of something amazing. 

More collage from the moleskine

Making simple collages is a really playful thing to do. This journal evolved into a place where I make these collections....


I like having a space to put things that I find interesting. It might be the color, the typography, the color palette, something that makes me smile, a pattern I painted, a word/phrase. 


I really love the edges and the fact that the book doesn't close.


5x8" Moleskine drawing journal

The bottom photo shows stickers that I made from my art; another fun thing to use on my cut + tape collage pages too. It's like art-within-art. I made these back in February at MOO. 

If I don't like a page I keep adding or covering things up via more layers... until I like the way it looks... I want to give myself something to smile about or think about or give myself an idea... when I look back through my journal.

This sort of journal can be so therapeutic! I just get lost in making these pages and tune out anxiety for a bit. And I love paging through them months later, finding all of this stuff that I adore. Lots of ideas for this type of journal in the Prompt60 Series.

PS. The latest Zine is now available in the Etsy shop!

PSS. If you'd like to get updates when I launch a workshop, a new issue of the Zine or a new challenge, sign up for the DY Newsletter.

Almost-the-End-of-ICAD with Bonus Link-Love

The end of the index-card-a-day challenge is a mixed bag. ICAD starts for me at the beginning of April when I start revamping everything related to ICAD, starting my own cards, writing blog posts, creating graphics and buttons. This year I made videos as well. SIXTY-ONE is the magic number that coincides with July 31. This year there were 2,270 folks in the FB group and 1000's {yes, multiples of a thousand, seems surreal, incomprehensible} of index cards posted across FB, Flickr, Instagram and bloglandia at spots like Lost Coast PostI am RushmorePaula Jeffery and Fiddlesnips

Index Cards 59-60. One to go!!!

I've been paging back through the art you guys have posted at FB, Flickr and your blogs and W-O-W! So much variety!  So proud of all of you! Creative thinking, clever ideas, plays on words, sketches, collages, drips, landscapes, hand-lettering, doodles, abstracts, rainbows, stripes, caricatures, portraits, jokes, hearts, mandalas, optical illusions, dogs, cats, monochromatic work, paper cutting, stencils, acrylic, watercolor, gouache, pastel, crayon, pencil, pen, ink, stitching, gelatin printing, texture, metal, natural materials, finger-painting, quotes, lyrics, origami, ephemera, book text, flowers, markers, hand-carved stamps.... 

I'd like to spotlight the folks who've been blogging about their ICAD experience!!!  It's a massive blogging endeavor, to document a two-month, 61+ card challenge. At some point you question your own sanity, or you start thinking that your entire world revolves around these little cards, and really it does... for awhile! 

If you have blogged about the ICAD challenge - any blog post which includes your index card artwork - please add a link below. Then please pop over to 2-3 of the blog posts and say hello, do a little cheerleading, congratulations, celebrations, all of that good stuff that makes ICAD so warm and wonderful. There will be another Mister Linky on August 1st so that you can add a link to any sort of ICAD celebration or review that you do at your blog. Like photographs of your stack-of-ICADs or lessons learned, a look back at the experience, maybe your insight into why you participated, how it changed your art experience. Pour it all out. It is a long, intensive challenge, so take the time to honor your work and think about it.  

Please do not link to your home page or anything other than a blog. Click on one of your yummy blog posts and go up to the URL address and copy/paste it into the Mister Linky below. Just one link per blog; folks will stop by and say hello!

Pink Flowers and White Stairs

"Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem."
Rollo May

Painting with reference images from interior design magazines... drawn in pencil and painted with gouache.


9x12" Strathmore watercolor paper, pencil, gouache

I woke up early yesterday with an achy jaw after unpleasant dental work the day before. So as I sat at the breakfast table drinking leftover coffee waiting for the Advil to kick in I decided to try to paint some pages from a magazine like Architectural Digest or Elle Decor. I looked through the magazines for a living room but the green shutters in the bathroom photograph caught my eye. The photo is of a bathroom in a house in Chile. I didn't want to draw the full page in portrait format, just way too big, so I drew a vertical line down the middle to make two smaller portrait style spaces.

Anyhow, I started with the green shutters and then built out the room in pencil from there. My nemesis is definitely perspective. The tub probably wouldn't hold water! This was really an interesting exercise - I usually draw in pen - but I didn't want the pen bleeds in the finished pages - I wanted the lines to be softer. But I didn't use an eraser - they just frustrate me - if a line didn't work I drew another better line and when I painted just ignored the lines that didn't make sense.


So then I paged through a magazine and selected the foyer with the rustic white stairs. I think what pulled me in was the composition and the painting on the door under the stairs. I started drawing the second one with the diagonal line of the stairs and built the page out from there. 

As for painting, I really got into mixing colors, especially colors I don't often use. Really got my mind thinking! Like to make the taupe-terra cotta-sort of color for the bathroom wall I mixed sepia, scarlet and white! I just love gouache. So full of wild opportunity.

PS. I'm using W&N gouache and M. Graham gouache. These are luscious and rewet nicely {I squeeze out the paint onto a covered palette and then rewet with a spritz of water. These have been out of the tube for months}. I have a few tubes of Maimeri gouache, but I don't like it as much. It's good out of the tube but doesn't rewet nicely.

Drawn and painted while standing at the kitchen counter!