Stitching on my layouts used to be one of those things that I'd do every once in awhile. My friend Sandy has always done a lot of stitching on her pages, and I really liked the way the stitched borders and other elements looked on her pages. (It didn't hurt that Sandy is a fabulous designer, too, but that's a post for another day.) Stitching seems to add a textural element to a layout, but in a subtle and interesting way. But, it was cumbersome to drag my sewing machine out every time I wanted to stitch on a page, so invariably my zest for stitching would wane, and I'd forget about doing it for awhile, until Sandy's work or someone else's page incorporating stitching would get me revved up again.
So, finally, I made a permanent space for my sewing machine in my craft room. It's not ideal, I'll admit that. My sewing machine shares a long table with my computer, keyboard, and a CD organizer. But it's there, and it's readily available pretty much anytime the mood to stitch on a layout strikes me. The result, not surprisingly, is that I stitch on my pages more often than I used to, and that makes me happy. (I do actually sew clothes and things, too, and having my machine out has made that interest easier to indulge, as well.)
If you've never stitched on a layout, there's really nothing to fear. You can use your regular old sewing machine without any special techniques or attachments. Just be sure to use a different needle than you use for fabrics, and you may need to adjust the tension if the bottom threads tangle on the back of your layout. But other than that, there's nothing to it. Oh, do be sure to have an idea of what you want to do before you slide that layout under the presser foot. Unlike fabric, the holes made by your sewing machine in paper will be permanent, so you can't really undo something you don't like. But the great thing is that stitching doesn't have to be perfect to look fantastic; in fact, a stitched border around the edge of a layout generally looks better if it's NOT perfectly straight and aligned. The handmade look and all of that.
The layout above is one of my all-time favorite layouts where I incorporated stitching. On this layout, I zig-zag stitched the edges of all of the photographs, and on the bottom photos, I used the stitched edge to kind of bring the photos together visually. I also stitched the strip of patterned paper at the top along both edges. But the stitched wavy lines in the middle of the layout are my favorite design detail. I got the idea of adding the tiny flowers and brads along the lines from a layout I saw in a magazine, and I'm just crazy about the way it came out. If you can't see the detail of the layout very well (it's white stitching on a white background, after all), click on the photo and you can see an enlarged version.
Here's another layout that uses stitching in a different way:
On this layout, which features my handsome nephew at his graduation from Texas Tech University a couple of years ago, I stitched the patterned paper along the side using a zig-zag stitch, and then I made a "frame" around the photo using several rows of straight stitching, which almost, but not quite, meet. I left room along the bottom to journal the year. This is a great example of "messy" stitching actually looking better than perfectly straight stitched lines would have looked. I think that the "messiness" of the stitched frame adds a certain charm to the page. Obviously, in this layout, I was going for a random, slightly wavy look on purpose, but I've occasionally aimed for straight and managed to mess it up, so I try to keep an open mind about that "handmade" look. In any case, if you haven't tried stitching on your layouts, what are you waiting for? Give it a go!