Friday, September 16, 2016

How to Make a Memory Book

Hi, Knitters,
First and foremost, the winner for the MrsBrownsBags and the Rhinebeck Sweater Weather sock yarn from Nomadic Yarns is......

DCKnitdiva (rav username)!! Evelyn, congratulations! 

Evelyn and Nomadic Yarns have been contacted to exchange information and all should be set. Thank you for the enormous response to the giveaway. That makes it all the more fun. I'll host another one very soon. 

Now for today's topic at hand. Last summer my son got married to his high school sweetheart who we just adore. I wanted to make a small memory book for them that wouldn't take up an enormous amount of space but would be filled to the brim with snippets from their wedding. During the entire lead up to the wedding day I started saving things like shower invitations, save the date cards, printed out (!) photos, old and favorite recipes handwritten on recipe cards, etc. Any little thing that would fit on the pages of the book I saved.

I had the kids (when I say kids I mean my son and his wife) pick out the guest book they wanted for their wedding. I loved the book they picked. 

I began making the book cover by cutting out the fabric. I just made it up as I went along. I picked out a beautiful natural linen for the outside and the inside fabric is a natural cotton.  I opened the book at the center and laid it flat on top of the fabric. Then I took a few measurements for the length and width of the rectangle I would need to cut out. For the flaps on each end to hold the book cover I added 2 extra inches onto the horizontal length of the rectangle. 

Then all the way around each side of the opened book I added on 1/4-inch for the seam allowance. 

Basically just open the book, lay it flat, cut out a rectangle to fit the opened book cover adding on extra length for the flaps on each end and for seam allowance. Super simple! Use your book as the pattern template.

I cut out the fabric with a rotary cutter. I set aside the cotton inside fabric and figured out where the front of the book would be on the linen. I put my embroidery hoop on the fabric and pulled out some embroidery floss and dove into the stitching. I loved every minute of it, this is my favorite part.

On the front I embroidered some flowers, buds and grasses and their names and wedding date. I just did this free-hand. For writing things out taking really tiny back stitches works the best for me. That way you can make the curves easily on the letters. 

I embroidered on the back of the book, too. My friend and book editor sent a card with the sweetest quote and I am officially stealing it to use from now on. His card said, May your life be full of "moons and Junes and Ferris wheels." Do you know where that came from? I did but I had to tell the kids. It is a lyric from Joni Mitchell's song Both Sides Now. On the back of the book I stitched the sentence with a couple of different words but it's mainly the same.  It's a little hard to capture in the photo for some reason but it's clear as day in person.

I just love those words so much. 

After the embroidery was set I placed the inside fabric and the embroidered cover right sides together and sewed them together with my sewing machine leaving an opening to turn it right side out. I hand-stitched the opening closed then. I pressed the seams and pushed out the corners and got it looking nice and crisp. I added a gray binding around the edges for an extra detail, I think it looks good. I used the machine to attach the binding on one side and then hand-stitched it down on the other side, just like you would for a quilt. You wouldn't need the binding though, it looks good without it, too.

Next I folded over the flaps on both ends and hand-stitched those in place on the top and the bottom. The photo above shows the inside of the cover with the flaps stitched down. The front and back covers are inserted into the flaps to hold the fabric cover on the book. Think of it like a book jacket with the flaps sewn down at the top and bottom.

Here is a little tour of the inside of the book. I smudged out phone numbers and addresses and last names for privacy so if you see a little blur you'll understand.

I finished up the cover and put in some photos on the pages but then brought the book to the wedding to have the guests sign in. It's funny what happened. First people were signing the book with their names and addresses but by the end people were signing in with notes to the couple. I loved that so much because they already had the guests' addresses so notes and wishes seemed a lot more meaningful.

After the wedding I began putting the book together with everything I had collected.

Part of the fun was not being too neat and tidy about things. I pulled out my collection of washi tape and started taping everything down that I could find. There is so much cute washi tape on Amazon, I could really go crazy. Click here for a really cute set, for example! I am nuts over washi tape and I use it every chance I get.

I was touched that they used a bunch of my little sketches of leaves, acorns, and twigs on their invitations and other things. That was really a sweet touch. 

I layered cards and had things that could flip up to show something else underneath. There are cards hanging over the edges of the pages at times. Art books are just fun. There are no rules, stack, tape, write on the pages, throw in photos, tags, funny stories, heartfelt notes, a napkin, a leaf, a flower, etc. Anything goes! 

The pages became jam-packed with memories. I wrote a letter to the couple and put it in a sealed envelope in the book to read later. They still haven't read it and I suggested maybe waiting a year or two, space it out a bit. I like that idea.

The last thing I added was a button and a loop to close the book and hold the contents tight. You have to actually squeeze the covers to get the loop over the button. When the button loop is undone the book is kind of like a Jack-in-the-Box, it springs open and the pages explode. I used a smooth wood button that is engraved with a twig, I have a whole set of these for a cardigan, but I don't know where I purchased them. For the loop I hand-stitched a strand of hemp cord to the back. I made an over-hand knot with the ends of the cord to make the loop. I used sturdy thread and just let the knots show on the back. Again, there is nothing too neat and tidy about the book.

I made another book that was similar for my niece who got married just a few weeks later. Click here to see my niece's book! I packed this book chock full of shower cards, photos, notes, written messages from family and bridesmaids, invitations, etc. I used a blank book for this one. I love the little blank books from Bare Books. They are inexpensive, just the right size and have the perfect number of pages. They are not overwhelming to fill. Highly recommend. Click here for Bare Books.

I have to tell you that I could just sit and make these books all day long. I have the best time doing it but I didn't know if others would love it as much as I do. Well, my answer came when Molly politely asked about the book and I hadn't quite finished it yet. She spurred me on to get it done. When I finished it she came over to visit and I gave it to her. I was so touched that she immediately and quietly sat down at the kitchen table and slowly poured over each and every single page in that book. She drank it in. I could see how much she loved it as she ran her hands over the pages and smiled and giggled at the photos and notes. It was touching.

Honestly, I don't know if I've ever had something I've made received in a better way. 

That felt really good.

Love to you all. I'll be back soon with more.
xo ~ susan


Deb said...

What a wonderful keepsake and treasure for your sweet couple. I know the will LOVE it!! lots of handmade love in that project.

Pam D'Esopo said...

Wow, Susan, that book is fantastic! What a really spectacular thing to do for your son and his new wife. It's gorgeous. Pam
pamelajd on Rav

quiltcontemplation blogspot said...

A lovely gift for your 'kids'. They will always treasure it!

Anonymous said...

Susie---You are amazing. This book will be cherished for the rest of their lives. Everytime they look at they will remember a new detail and have another story to tell. Thanks for sharing your awesome with us and the world. --Ramona

Valerie said...

The memory book is amazing but I was more touched by the emotion you poured into the post. The tenderness for your son and Molly is very evident and your passion and love for your craft is moving. Thank you for this special sneak peak and inspiration.

Sarah said...

Such a wonderful and personal gift that will be treasured for years to come :)

Kathy said...

What a lovely handmade treasure of memories they will have for the rest of their lives. Such a special gift.

Heather J said...

What a fantastic gift. The love is in every stitch.

gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

I can't even tell you how much I love this. I save all the things you'd want to put in one of these books but I never get around to making them! Seeing yours is added inspiration. That is something they will treasure forever.

gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

I love everything about this! I save all the things you'd want to put in one of these, but I never get around to making them--and they are so very special. Maybe seeing yours will inspire me to get making.
That is a gift they will treasure forever!

Joanne said...

Those are gorgeous, with great memories are captured within.

Happy Camper said...

Beautiful idea!

Beverly said...

Susan - thanks for sharing such a beautiful and touching story. And thanks for sharing your recipe for making the memory book. Your children are blessed to have such a special mom.

BCGramma said...

Such an incredible keepsake! I'm sure it will be treasured for for all the moons and June's they share together. You are so talented and creative! I can only imagine, when the day comes that you become a grandma, what that book will be like!

Julie said...

I remember hearing that song for the first time & it stopped me in my tracks. What a sweet gift full of your creativity and love. Sniff sniff!

Lisa aka Turbogal said...

Thanks for sharing such a sweet and touching part of your family's life. Your instructions on how to do it make it so simple - I am so excited to try it!

Esther said...

Susan, this is such a beautiful memory book to give your children. It's like a huge hug from you that they can always have each time they open it. Thanks for sharing this so generously with us. My son and daughter in law are expecting their first baby very soon. This gives me the idea to make a similar book to give them in a year on the baby's birthday. Sort of like the baby book that I kept of my boys during their first year. I'm not sure working moms and dads have time for that anymore, so this would be perfect! Thanks for the inspiration. Xxoo

Kimmy said...

So beautiful. So special. So YOU! Hugs from Kimmy

Rose said...


Such an amazing gift full of love you have made for Molly and Evan. I can only imagine how your creative juices will flow when you find out you will be a grandmother ;-) I can hardly wait to see your gifts of grandmotherly love.

Liz Dewsnap said...

I totally LOVE this project!! So special and personal! I am definitely going to use this idea!

Deborah said...

Beautiful memory keepsake book. Thank you for sharing.

All Knit Up Designs said...

This is beautiful and so inspiring! Thanks for sharing with us. I've working on something semi-similar with my knitting. Adding in extra bit to my project info for more creativity! -Sierra

Unknown said...

Super sweet. What a lovely way to jazz up the book and make it more personal and full of love. You are a wonderful mum, Susan. And by golly to have your firstborn married off. That is amazing. I'm immersed in junior high and fourth grade now. It's crazy my girls are this old now.

Sharon Dawn said...

What a wonderful gift to enjoy over the years!!

PS...Just finished my first SOS and it is my new favorite way to do heels! It will make that dreaded section less feared ;)

Dea Felis said...

Thank you for sharing this with us Susan! I would have done just what Molly did. So much love went into this book, and it will just continue to pour out every time it is opened. What a wonderful gift!!

Melanie Skelton said...

What a cute project. I love the idea of it springing open like a jack-in-the box when you unbutton it. Thanks for sharing the details of putting this together and all that went into it. We just had a daughter get married and it got me thinking about what cute thing I could do for them. Thank you.

arvind said...

Thank you so much Susan, You are so creative , i love this project, who can thinks like you, so creative

Michelle Elise said...

I loved checking in on your blog when I was in college, knitting was my de-stressor, but I lost touch with the blog. I opened it today and was so surprised to see how much the kids have grown! I was married the same day as Molly and Evan this year in Milwaukee, such a beautiful day. Congratulations to you! This book is beautiful - it has inspired me to fill one with bits and pieces of our wedding, too!