Book review = 4* for ‘365 days of stitches’ by Steph Arnold

For transparency: I was given a copy of this book on exchange for a review. The review, however, is 100% genuine with my own thoughts and feelings.

The review:

Textiles have historically acted as vehicles for recording lives through stitch. It seems that over recent years, there’s been an increase in people using stitch to create, more specifically, embroidered journals as a record of their lives. This is the first book that I’ve come across that is specifically aimed at supporting and inspiring people to keep an embroidered journal of their own.

365 Days of Stitches is written by Steph Arnold, owner and creator of Oh Sew Bootiful, and published by Search Press.

This book will absolutely guide you through the process of keeping your own embroidered journal!

The idea of starting a year-long project can be quite daunting so this book is really good as a resource book and an inspiration to get you started.

You can see from the contents page alone, just how much this book covers and yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming as it is so clearly presented in an easy-to-follow format.

The book starts by introducing Steph, the book’s author and Oh Sew Bootiful owner, as well as information about how to use the book (motifs, months starting) and some artist examples of stitched journals.

Chapter 1 covers core techniques and stitches.

I love how even the headings pages are so beautiful! There are photos of small stitched motifs as well as the heading and information about what the chapter covers.

In chapter 1, we learn about tools and materials, colours, how to use the templates to section your fabric into the 12 months of the year, how to use the motifs, and 15 core stitches that are referred back to throughout the book.

There are instructions and visual guides for how to embroider each of the 15 stitches as well as tips on starting and ending your thread.

Chapter 2 is the ‘Motif Directory’ which houses 1,000 motifs that you can use in your own embroidered journal.

These motifs are broken down into 12 subsections such as ‘nature’, ‘animals’, ‘home’, ‘celebrations’, and more.

Within each subsection, there are small motifs that you can either copy or use as inspiration to freehand your own versions. There is information underneath each motif that says recommended colours and recommended stitches (which are part of the 15 core stitches covered at the start of the book) but also that you can choose to use your own stitches/colours.

There is a colour chart down the left side of each page that says the recommended DMC threads for the suggested colours as well as a photo on the right showing the real life versions of each motif. I love the variety of motifs presented, how easy they are to find thanks to the really helpful headings, and the suggestions for recommended DMC threads. I would have liked more information about how to stitch such teeny tiny motifs. I’ve been an embroiderer for many, many years and I felt a bit daunted seeing how tiny the details are on some of the motifs especially if I were to freehand draw it (tracing is hard even with a lightbox once the fabric is in an embroidery hoop).

Following the motifs, there is also a double page spread with motifs for alphabets, numbers and diacritics.

What I also love about the book is the index!

Given that there are 1,000 motifs, this index is a game changer as it means you can easily look up the motif that you want to stitch rather than trying to guess which subheading it might come under. This makes it so much easier to use which means you have more stitching time!

Lastly, there is an envelope inside the book (on the back page) which includes different templates for creating the monthly sections on your embroidered journal. They are iron on templates so you can follow the instructions (at the start of the book) and just get stitching!

This is a really beautiful book which is jam-packed with ideas, motifs and creativity. It has beautiful photography throughout with a really clear and easy-to-follow format. I’d highly recommend it for anyone interested in embroidery, stitching, journalling, creativity or textiles!