I personally like to start by tearing/ripping the edges of my substrate against a ruler; you may prefer a straighter cleaner cut edge, but I do like to be able to ink the raw edges and often consider sewing from the artwork onto the mount area as a finishing touch, which, in my opinion, balances nicely with a raw edge. You could also try using a deckled edged ruler for a more controlled uneven ripped edge. I tend to use the heavier weighted papers or card stock as machine stitching tears holes through lighter weight paper leaving the stitching uneven or hanging.
I started with collaging some recycled papers that have a simple coloured map image on it. I didn't want a full colour image or just plain book pages as I wanted to use the map as a peek through bit of colour in an otherwise neutral design.
Now that my background was prepared I wanted to add some stitching details in. With the overall feel of the theme I chose being music I decided that I would add a stave (5 lines for music) as one of the focal points along with a treble clef. Here I was going to strip some old wires from a disused pc lead and attempt to put it through my sewing machine. I think my machine actually sighed with relief when I found that the wire was not pliable enough to move freely from either the bobbin or the top spool. Regardless of altering the bobbin tension the wire was too easy to bend and stop dead as it folded...and so, I decided to stitch the stave on using regular cotton thread. I went over each line three times to make each line heavier. I chose a light neutral colour thread as again I did not want it to detract from the words or the features yet to be added.
I look forward to sharing more with you soon,