Exploring Embroidery Journals [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.
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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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
- Cotton Fabric
- Fusible Interfacing (Optional)
- Thread or Embroidery Floss
- Pencil or FRIXON Erasable Pen
- Support, Encouragement, Advice
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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!
Originally posted on December 30, 2023.