A Machine-Stitching Tutorial
First, get to know the controls on your machine. Read your manual or google your specific model to learn more about it. You will want to know how to adjust the space between the stitches (on my Singer, I have a knob that adjusts from 1-4), how to change the type of stitch, and of course how to thread your machine and fill up the bobbin.
When first choosing what type of needle you'll use on your machine, you'll want a bigger size because paper (especially several layers) can be difficult to stitch through. The sizes range from 8 (the finest) to 19 (the most heavy duty). After having many needles break off while stitching, I have finally settled upon a denim-grade needle which is a size 16. I haven't had one of these break on me yet.
As far as the foot goes, I use a standard presser foot. It works perfectly for straight stitching and zig zags which are the stitches I primarily use.
The tension of my sewing machine always sits at auto, although you could stand to go just a little bit up if you were having troubles with the auto setting.
Once your machine is threaded and ready to go, get yourself a scrap piece of paper and test out your first stitches. Adjust the space between stitches so they aren't too close together. I usually use a 3 on my machine, but can get away with a 2. The reason you don't want them too close together is because the paper will tear if you don't give each hole ample space.
Some people have asked me the key to sewing straight lines. First, go slow. I am generally in a hurry in all things in my life, so I naturally wanted to push down full throttle on the pedal. But when I slowed down and took things at a steady pace, I was much more pleased with the results. Second, don't become caught up with watching the needle. The needle moves so much that it isn't a good indicator of where the stitches are going on your paper. Third, resist the urge to guide the paper too much. The machine does a good job of pulling the paper through on its own that there is no need to push the paper in the direction you want to go. Keep a light hold on it to make sure it doesn't go wild, but generally just let it guide itself.
When needing to stitch around a corner, stitch until you reach the point where you would like to turn the corner. In the last hole of the first line, leave the needle down in the paper and flip the foot up.
Manually turn your paper so the needle turns the corner and is facing in the direction you want it to go. Then flip the foot back down and continue sewing. This should allow you to stitch around corners seamlessly.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make while sewing on your paper-crafting projects is to use too much adhesive where you'll be stitching. The adhesive will gummy up the needle and cause the thread to pull out from the needle or become tangled. I try to plan ahead where I will be stitching and then avoid putting any adhesive in that area at all. If adhesive is necessary to hold the paper on before stitching, then I use the smallest amount possible.
Some people, when ending their stitching on their projects, will do a backstitch (which on my machine is done by flipping up a lever) to keep the thread from unraveling. I, personally, do not do this but it might be something you want to try if you are having problems with your thread coming undone.
I practiced on scrap paper a lot before I got up the courage to try on an actual project. And when I did move on to my projects, I made mistakes of course. But I try to remember that these flaws are what indicate that it is handmade. I try to view them as part of the design.
Now that we've covered some of the basics, let's move on to how you can incorporate sewing into your paper-crafting.
I often use machine-stitching in place of adhesive. I've been hard-pressed to find refills locally of the adhesive I've been using, so my sewing machine has really come in handy. I line up the papers how I want them to be and place them into the sewing machine, adjusting for straightness up until the point that I am ready to start stitching. Again, if it ends up being a little imperfect, I simply embrace it, but for the most part I am able to stitch things as straight as I desire them to be. You can see on this layout how I used stitching to adhere the yellow Blissful Foundations paper to the kraft cardstock.
You can using stitching to create fun, subtle designs on your projects like I did on this project I made for CHA. I did an argyle-like pattern when sewing through these circles on this fun paper from Celebrate.
I simply sewed on a diagonal line through the circles.
Stitching is also a great way to outline a design, like I did with the sun on this project.
I didn't worry too much about keeping the thread evenly spaced from the outer edge of the paper, but if you wanted, you could trace the lines you wish to stitch with a pencil in an effort to make them more even.
To keep you from being overwhelmed and this post from being too long, that's all I will share with you here. If you are still wanting to know more project ideas (including stitching through chipboard alphas and binding a mini album), please head on over to my blog. You might also find an awesome giveaway over there. Just sayin'.
Paper: Authentique Delightful, Gathering, Celebrate, and Blissful