Exploring Embroidery Journals [365 Days of Stitches]

January 09, 2024 |
365 embroidered icons are stitched onto white fabric. title text reads "365 days of stitches"

Lots of crafters are looking back on 2023 and all the events that morphed together to define their year. It’s rarely difficult to recall the setbacks and struggles you face, but what about the tiny moments in between?

An embroidery journal is a wonderful way to remember both the big, loud moments in your year alongside the smaller, quieter days that might have otherwise gotten lost in the shuffle. By creating a new stitch each day, crafters end up with 365 days of stitches beautifully decorating their embroidery hoop, each carefully placed to mark and remember their year as they are experiencing it.

DFWCS participates in the Amazon affiliate program, but DFWCS is in no way associated with Amazon or the items listed in this post. This post may include affiliate links that support DFW Craft Shows at no additional cost to you.

an embroidery hoop is loaded with off white fabric and every cm of the fabric is decorated with tiny embroidered icons representing every day of the year
Lorna Driscoll has created stunning Embroidery Journals for both 2022 and 2023. Photo & Art Credit: Lorna Driscoll

What is an Embroidery Journal?

Keeping a traditional journal can be both helpful and therapeutic, but that little book locked away in a dusty, old, forgotten drawer is a far throw from something you might want to see and celebrate on a daily basis. Enter the Embroidery Journal: a visual exploration of all the small, beautiful (and not so beautiful) moments that blended together to create the year as you experienced it. Each tiny little icon in your Embroidery Journal works together to create one stunning piece of art that can help you remember and celebrate each and every day.

A person works hard on a new embroidery journal fresh in the hoop with blue fabric and beads.
Working on your Embroidery Journal can be a therapeutic experience.

Benefits of keeping an Embroidery Journal

Creating an embroidery journal can be great self care. Not only does an embroidery journal require you to take time to reflect on your day, it also encourages you to make time for yourself and your hobbies. Setting aside a special time each day to reflect on the day before can both encourage daily gratitude practices, but it also gives your creative mind free reign to express itself. Taking your Embroidery Journal one stitch at a time is also great practice in breaking larger, more intimidating projects down into smaller, bite size tasks.

I’ve definitely learnt so much through this journey: commitment to a 365 day project, persistence through times when motivation was severely lacking, acceptance of sometimes just doing “good enough,” satisfaction of completing a mammoth task, and being able to find something unique about every day, even the ones that didn’t seem very interesting at the time.

Ellen Maclaine

365 days meticulously stitched into an embroidery journal. many stitches are 3 dimensional and have moving parts
Many of Amy’s embroidered icons are 3D and some even feature moving parts. Photo & Art Credit: Amy Deacon

I knew the second I saw Jennifer’s journal back at the end of 2021 that this was something I would love. What I didn’t know was the importance of the friends I would make and the confidence they would give me.

Amy Deacon
Lines are traced onto an embroidery hoop with the text "2024" stitched in the middle. Everything else is blank.
Lana Ellwood’s 2024 Embroidery Journal is prepped and ready to go! Photo & Art Credit: Lana Ellwood

How to start an embroidery journal

Embroidery Journals may look daunting at first glance. Taking in 365 Days of Stitches all at once can look both overwhelming and intimidating. The important thing to remember is this: just as you experienced your year one day at a time, so should you experience your embroidery calendar one icon at a time! Focusing in on these smaller pieces of the puzzle can make it much easier to visualize how practically anyone can create their own Embroidery Journal work of art.


Several embroidery hoops sit side by side, some with stitches from 2021, 2022, and a blank one
Jennifer, the founder of Stitching A Round, shows off her Embroidery Journals from 2021, 2022. A blank canvas is ready to go for 2024! Photo Credit: Jennifer Kennedy Tidd

Perfect for all levels of experience

Embroidery Journals are great projects for both new and existing crafters for a variety of reasons. First, they do not require a lot of new craft gear or supplies. They also do not require years of experience or knowledge–part of the joy with Embroidery Journals is that anyone who wants to make one surely can, leveling up and learning new skills just one stitch a day. It’s not something you have to “be good at,” or a hobby that requires an enormous sacrifice of time or space. This very approachable craft is just a fun way to learn while recording and celebrating your own experiences. Join a community, make it a stitch-a-long, and pretty soon Embroidery Journals will also become a great way to connect with new people and find extra support and encouragement as a crafter.

An empty embroidery hoop sits on a pastel pink background next to two shades of pink embroidery floss and white fabric
Embroidery Journals do not require a lot of supplies to get started.

Embroidery Journal Supplies

As I mentioned earlier, Embroidery Journals do not require a lot of supplies, nor are those supplies expensive. You will just need a few things to get started:

Embroidery Hoop

The most commonly used embroidery hoop size seems to be 12″, but several folks have opted for a 14″ hoop just to give themselves a little more space for 365 days of stitching in their Embroidery Journal.


Cotton Fabric & Interfacing

Embroidery Journals are a great project for re-using materials! You can use pretty much any cotton fabric you’d like, whether it be straight off the bolt or an old t-shirt, sheet, cloth napkin, pillowcase, etc. Some folks choose to fortify their fabric with a bit of fusible interfacing for added support, but it is completely optional.

a stack of colorful embroidery floss sits next to gray handled scissors and an embroidery needle.  all piled on top of fabric
With just a hoop, fabric, embroidery floss, and a needle, you can get started on your Embroidery Journal right away.

Needle

Nothing fancy needed here, any small sharp needle will do. Embroidery and quilting needles tend to have a larger eye and work well with a variety of stitches.

Thread

Embroidery Journals are pretty forgiving when it comes to fabrics and threads. You can use sewing, embroidery thread, or everybody’s favorite: embroidery floss. Depending on what kind of Embroidery Journal and color scheme you are planning, having several shades of the same color may prove to be incredibly helpful.


embroidery journal is about 3/4ths the way through its 365 days of stitches
Barbara Ann worked meticulously to create colorful and creative icons, outlining each to give her Embroidery Journal a cohesive look. Photo & Art Credit: Barbara Ann

Support, Encouragement, Advice

Embroidery Journals are incredibly personal, but they also make for excellent social crafting projects. Jennifer Kennedy Tidd created a great community group on Facebook called Stitching A Round for the sole purpose of working on these tiny motif stitch-a-long projects together!

When the group was started, it was just meant to be for 40 or so people–it grew rapidly.

Jennifer Kennedy Tidd

The group contains both seasoned embroidery artists in addition to newer folks just learning the ropes of Embroidery Journaling or embroidery in general. I’ve been a part of the group since 2021 and it’s been such a blast to watch them lift each other up, share resources, and cheer each other on. I highly recommend checking out their Featured Posts for tons of info on getting started, different stitch types, and tons of inspiration. Oh, and be sure to post your progress shots so they can help and cheer you on!

A 14"embroidery hoop is filled to the edge with embroidered icons. A design notebook is held open by embroidery scissors to a page with sketches for the hoop
Randi Ross Marodi created 2 embroidery journals, one for each of her daughters. They worked together throughout the year to decide what each year should look like. Photo & Art Credit: Randi Ross Marodi

Inspiration for your Embroidery Journal

When planning out 365 Days of Stitches, most folks go with iconic reminders of their day to day. It might be as simple as a cup of coffee or a book you just finished. It could be a new lifer on your birding list or your favorite TV show. The sky is the limit, and let’s be honest… some uneventful days might require you to dig deep for ideas.

But not everyone decides to make their Embroidery Journal about their day. You can get creative and choose to work within all sorts of themes for your 365 Days of Stitches, such as favorite characters, types of flowers, temperatures, books you read, etc. Below are some awesome hoops that took advantage of these alternative themes for their 2023 Embroidery Journal.


365 disney characters are featured in this finished embroidery journal
Photo & Art Credit: Emily Steele

Characters

Emily Steele created her own personal Embroidery Stitch Journal for 2022, but this year she decided to stitch 365 Days of Disney Characters. Emily even managed to finish her Disney Embroidery Stitch Journal early, celebrating the completed project on Christmas Day!

365 days represented by flower stitches all coordinated colors to the high temp of the day
Photo & Art Credit: Courtney Pflug

Temperatures

After creating her Embroidery Stitch Journal in 2022, Courtney Pflug decided to try something new this year, instead focusing on temperatures. Each color in her embroidery hoop represents the high temperature for that day in the year. The layout template for her Embroidery Journal was provided in the Modern Hand Embroidery group.


embroidered journal displays every book that the artist read for 1 year. it is featured on the front of a large blue pillow, which sits next to her Australian Shepard.
Photo & Art Credit: Karli Ingle

Books

Karli Ingle decided to keep a Book Embroidery Stitch Journal for 2023, recording all 48 books that she has read so far. She then turned her Embroidery Journal into a pillow, perfect for snuggling up to read her next adventure.

a 3d embroidered tree stands tall against Amy's embroidery journal. many other 3d stitched icons can be seen around it, all christmas themed.
Photo & Art Credit: Amy Deacon

Inspiration Everywhere

Amy’s work is a perfect example of thinking outside the hoop. Your designs can be as simple or complex as you want; Not even embroidery is constrained to the flat canvas from whence it is born. Each new stitch is shared, explained, and celebrated in the group Stitching A Round, where Amy takes every opportunity to share her love for embroidery, frequently posting new techniques and cheering everyone on.


Embroidery Journal hoop stands against a linen background. Lots of 2d stitches fill the design.
Photo & Art Credit: Ellen Maclaine

Tips, Tricks, and Advice

Is there a learning curve when starting your Embroidery Journal? Of course! There will always be a learning curve when starting a new project, and creating a new stitch a day is no exception. That’s why I so highly recommend joining the Stitching A Round group as you are getting started on this new 365 Days of Stitches journey. They have templates, project suggestions, icon lists, stitch libraries, and so much more! Save yourself some time and headache and get started with folks who have been there, done that, and want nothing more than for you to succeed and enjoy your new Embroidery Journal. Here are just a few tips to get you started

  • Join the Stitching A Round Facebook Group (see? Highly recommend.)
  • Keep a notebook or digital list of days & icons for when you miss a day.
  • Not everyone finishes their year in stitches in 365 days. And that’s okay.
  • If you will be drawing your designs, erasable FRIXON pens have ink that will disappear with a blast from the blow dryer.
  • Motif help can be found by searching for icon art on Google or in books like 365 Days of Stitches.
  • And my absolute favorite tip courtesy of Jennifer Kennedy Tidd:

365 M&Ms of all colors lay atop a blank embroidery hoop
Jennifer of Stitching A Round has a sweet secret for determining icon size and spacing. Photo Credit: Jennifer Kennedy Tidd

Keep a jar of M&Ms nearby at all times

Yes, folks, this is a serious (and delicious) tip! This is 365 M&Ms placed in a 12″ hoop, representing 365 Days of Stitches! As it turns out, the average size of your icons should be about the size of a single M&M, and keeping a jar of these little helpers nearby will not only help you plan out your hoop… they might even boost your spirits! Mmmm, embroidery never tasted better. Find many more helpful tips in Stitching A Round.


finished embroidery journal tucked away inside it's original embroidery hoop frame
This Embroidery Journal was the first journal Pam Clark had ever kept, and it turned out beautifully! Photo Credit: Pam Clark

Displaying your Finished Embroidery Journal

While many folks choose to keep their finished Embroidery Journals displayed in the embroidery hoops that held them all year long, this is certainly not your only option. There are lots of creative ways you can finish and/or display your 365 Days of Stitches once you are finished, including as fully framed art, pillow cases, table runners, mats, and quite a lot more! Here are a few more finished Embroidery Journals on display:

A finished Embroidery journal is featured in a gorgeous round, wooden frame without glass
Photo & Art Credit: Emma Károlyi

Emma Károlyi prominently displays her beautiful 2022 Embroidery Journal in this gorgeous, handcrafted wooden frame made by Uliana Chornomydz. This was Emma’s first experience with embroidery. She kept a journal icon inspiration journal to help keep track of her days for the stitch journal.


A finished embroidery journal has been stitched onto a fluffy gray pillow
Photo & Art Credit: Linda Longworth

Once Linda Longworth finished up her awesome 2023 Embroidery Journal, she decided to turn it into a pillowcase. Now she can literally hold her artwork close and enjoy it as part of her everyday, including fidgeting with the hand embroidery, which has an extra special sensation to it. Creating a pillow from her artwork has allowed Linda to experience her Embroidery Journal in an entirely new way.

A finished embroidery journal has been put into a matted glass frame
Photo & Art Credit: Randi Ross Marodi

Randi Ross Marodi chose to frame the gorgeous Embroidery Journal she made in 2022, but the framed artwork was not hers to keep. Randi has now created 2 embroidery journals, one for each of her daughters. Randi collaborated with her daughters to document their years in each of these extra special projects. The first framed Embroidery Journal won first place AND best in show at the county fair. Now Randi is hard at work finishing the 2023 Embroidery Journal. (You can see Randi’s 2023 work in progress a little higher up in the Inspiration section. Her 2023 Embroidery Journal is also featured in our title image.)


an embroidery journal is stitched onto a large mat with a beautiful blue background
Photo & Art Credit: Sara Ramos

Sara Ramos decided to keep things colorful with a beautiful, bright background for her Embroidery Stitch Journal. She then glued it to this wooden frame as a final touch to this awesome artwork.

A finished Embroidery journal is featured in a gorgeous round, wooden frame without glass
Photo & Art Credit: Elise Hervé

Not every Embroidery Journal is finished on New Years Eve, matter of fact, many Embroidery Journals take more than 365 days to complete. I’m mentioning this in case anyone is starting to remember that daily project they started and quickly fell behind on. Elise Hervé wrapped up last year’s stitch Journal this February, and it is only more stunning from the extra time she spent. Elise’s Embroidery Journal is now beautifully displayed in a lovely wooden frame. It doesn’t matter when you finish it, the artwork you have created is worth cherishing for years to come!


hundreds of embroidery stitches can be seen in the background behind the text "365 days of stitches"
Embroidery designs created by Lorna Driscoll

Tell Your Story

Embroidery Journals make fun, accessible projects that are truly reflective of the artist at work. There is nothing more interesting than your story, however you choose to tell it. I can’t wait to see what you come up with, so feel free to tag me in Stitching A Round Group! See you there and Happy 365 Days of Stitching!

script text reads "happy crafting"

Originally posted on December 30, 2023.

share

Leave a Comment

A notebook is open to a single page with blue ink that reads "FOMO Fear Of Missing Out." Next to it sits a pen, some dried flowers, and a cactus. There is text around the image that reads "our directory is missing you"

Explore

Two makers are shown painting and knitting alongside the text that reads "our directory is missing you"

Illustrated character of DFW Craft Show's owner, Tania, stands with her hand relaxed on her hip. She is wearing an orange striped shirt and glasses. She is smiling and there is a bright blue ombre background behind her.

Hi, I'm Tania!

Thanks for stopping by DFW Craft Shows!  Our blog is home to tons of creative inspiration, gift guides, tutorials, featured artists, and tips for small businesses trying to make their mark in the arts & crafts world.