Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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5 Reasons to Make & Keep a Doodle Cloth


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Do you keep a doodle cloth?

In hand embroidery, a doodle cloth is usually an extra piece of fabric that you keep on hand, to practice embroidery stitches on before you apply those stitches to an embroidery project.

If you embroider, and especially if you’re a beginner (but even the experts do it!), a doodle cloth is a good idea!

Let’s look at five reasons you should use and keep a doodle cloth with your embroidery projects.

Doodle Cloth in Hand Embroidery

1. Practice makes perfect!

A doodle cloth gives you a dedicated place to practice unfamiliar or challenging embroidery stitches, techniques, color combinations, and thread types before you add them to your project.

Having a dedicated spot to practice on is a great thing, psychologically! It makes it ok to practice, ok to make mistakes, and ok to stitch only as much as you want to. It makes it ok to be experimental. It makes it ok to change your mind!

2. A doodle cloth saves your ground fabric.

You know that really nice, expensive fabric you’re using for your current embroidery project? If you approach that fabric with an unfamiliar stitch and have to remove that stitch, what will it do to the fabric?

Doodling with Embroidery Stitches

Ribbed Spider Web and Mountmellick Stitch

On some fabrics, it doesn’t matter so much. A very good linen fabric, for example, can handle the wear and tear of stitch removal quite a few times before it affects the fabric.

But most fabrics, especially cottons, certain silks, and most synthetic fabrics, can’t handle the stress of too much un-stitching.

3. A doodle cloth creates a record.

The embroidery stitches you learn, the threads you try, the color combinations you experiment with – all of these are worthy of record-keeping.

A doodle cloth – as a kind of sampler – is a great way to record your trials, errors, successes, failures – all the experiments of your stitching!

In the future, you can go back to your doodle cloths to remind yourself of stitches, color combinations, and so forth that you did or didn’t like.

Doodle Cloth for Hand Embroidery

Cast-On Stitch Flower with French Knot Center

At some point, you might return to your doodle cloth and find an unexpected treasure on it – something you forgot about – that you can resurrect on a different project.

4. A doodle cloth can become a project in itself.

You can arrange your doodle cloth so that it creates a pleasing or fun finished product.

Doodle Cloth for Hand Embroidery

You might be surprised how a doodle cloth can become a nice looking sampler that can be framed or finished into something else – a book cover, a needle book, a pin cushion.

A doodle cloth doesn’t have to be viewed as a “waste,” then. Even if you don’t do anything with it, it’s never a waste.

But if you cringe at the idea of using thread and fabric just to play around on, with no set purpose, you can make your doodle cloth purposeful and use it down the road!

5. A doodle cloth opens up possibilities.

By keeping a doodle cloth, you open up stitching possibilities. One stitch inspires another. One color urges you to test another color. This combination worked this way – what happens if I try it that way?

Doodle Cloth for Hand Embroidery

Trial and error with stitch experimentation is, believe it or not, inspiring. It leads you to knew territory, it opens up possibilities for future projects, it keeps those creating juices flowing.

The Essentials of a Doodle Cloth

To keep a doodle cloth, you really only need some scrap fabric and an extra embroidery hoop.

If you want to work a more organized doodle cloth that can be repurposed into some finished item, you might consider your fabric choice and the layout of your practice stitches and the like more carefully.

Sometimes, I use a larger cut of fabric that I leave set up on a frame (like the one in the last picture above). Usually, this is for photographing stitches as well as doodling. Other times, I’ll select a specific type of fabric that I want to try out – or a specific color of fabric. Sometimes, I’ll just use the cut ends of linen pieces or small left-overs that can’t be used for much else.

Just a hint, though: the fabric you choose for a doodle cloth should be easy to stitch on. Don’t select a synthetic or a flimsy fabric that won’t hold the stitches and that will cause frustration! When practicing, it’s very important to keep your controllable frustration factors in check, and fabric choice is one of those. So, don’t set up a doodle cloth on a slippery rayon, ok?

What About You?

Do you use a doodle cloth regularly? Is it something you go about in an organized way, with the intention of creating a sampler or a record of your work? Or is it more haphazard? Do you think doodle cloths are a good idea, or a waste of time and supplies? Let’s hear your take on the doodle cloth! Join the conversation below!


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(93) Comments

  1. I don´t keep a doodle-cloth like that, but I use parts of fabric I don´t need (yet, right now, anymore… I don´t really plan most of my purchases *blush*)
    Sometimes I decide to use a stitch /right now/, and so my project becomes a doodle-cloth, although I do not like that too much, because of the possibility of un-stitching or cutting away the thread. I like the round project above, but it is more project than trial and error to me, so I (sadly) chose not to do that. My embroidery is not really planned ahead, but more “let´s try this, that´ll look nice”, which I find frustrating sometimes, but it keeps me at it. Planning seems to make me /have/ to continue, and so I often don´t 🙁
    But your amazing work, your sharing of techniques and patterns and even mistakes makes me want to try something new all the time, and maybe a REAL project will come along where a doodle-cloth will be more necessary!

    Have a nice day! Marion

    PS: When you were talking about taking out the stitched tailfeather of the hummingbird-project, I was thinking why you hadn´t tried that one on a separate piece of cloth before?

    1. Well, that’s a good question – we already explored it earlier in the project. I’m not using any unfamiliar stitches on the hummingbird projects. It’s just a matter of getting the “whole look” to that project. And to do that (to see how one element works with the whole) would require stitching the project twice. That’s one reason (among many) that it’s on linen!

  2. What a good idea. I had never thought of it. I think it would be a way of remembering what you have learned. Especially if you dated it.
    I love this blog!

  3. What a great idea! A doodle cloth. I haven’t done much hand stitching, and this gives me permission to try. Thanks.

  4. I hate doodle cloths. Don’t use them, never will. I have too much stuff I want to stitch that I want to spend my stitching time doing something that leads to a finished product. Yes, I know you can turn them into something useful, but that requires planning, and for me, that’s time not spent stitching.

    If I have to practice a stitch, I prefer to do it in the margins of my project, with the thread I’m using in that area. Practicing a stitch on a different fabric with a different thread doesn’t make any sense to me.

    For someone who designs pieces, like you do, Mary, it makes sense. But I’m not really a designer, and so really don’t have the need to be making decisions about stitches or color combinations or thread types.

    Carol S.

    1. I agree Carol, my reason for not using doodle cloths is more space saving, but I can understand your reason also. 🙂

  5. My stitch samples/doodle cloths often end up as nametags (required for the guilds I belong to) or Christmas ornaments. Occasionally, I frame up with a few extra inches on one side of my piece and use that margin for my doodle cloth. That way it’s the same fabric as my piece.

  6. I always did keep a doodle cloth, but never knew it had a name! I didn’t think about doodling on it to become a project of sorts. I wish I had found your blog sooner-I missed so many of your great ideas!

  7. Dear Mary

    I really like you doodle cloths a work of art in themselves, it is definitely a good idea to doodle as practice makes perfect. As a rule I don’t doodle on cloths, but I should because of the five reasons above and it would be a good idea to practice on a particular design with the chosen stitches/threads which would create room to experiment more with various thread and stitch combination. I will try a doodle cloth on my next project and that way I can explore more possibilities instead of sticking with tried and tested stitch/thread combinations. Thanks for the advice and sharing your views on the importance of doodle cloths, have a great weekend.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  8. I only started using a doodle cloth. This is my first project using a fabric other than cotton. It’s a silk dupioni with several new stitches. I’m finding the doodle cloth relieves the stress of making a new stitch on silk.

  9. sI, creo que es buena idea tener a la vista todos los puntos que conoce, ademas tendria en distintos tipos de tela para ver como quedan o como lucen, diferentes tipos de hilo, mostrario para clientes,, etc

    1. (Translation for Claudia)
      Yes, I think it is a good ideas to have within sight all the stitches you’ve learned as well as using various types of cloth in order to see how different threads behave or look. also its a cloth to show to clients etc…


  10. Last night our EGA chapter had a Group Correspondence Course meeting. We are working on Bargello Challenge. Everyone is truly doing their own thing and it is fun to see how different each one is. One member is using a doodle cloth for each area. (We convinced her last night to make the doodle cloth into something because it is so beautiful.) Two others of us have taken at least one area out three times because we were not happy with the results. We admitted that it would have been much better to use a doodle cloth first. By the end of the evening, all of us plan to use doodle clothes in the future.

    1. I am also working on the EGA GCC Bargello Challenge and nothing has been stitched on my project until I try it out on the doodle canvas. Some patterns have been stitched 2 or 3 times, changing size, combination of colors. I use a doodle cloth for most projects although I often do what several others are doing and that is trying out the stitches in the margin. Sometimes I just need to try out a stitch and make sure I am comfortable with the technique and can work it correctly and smoothly–in other words, get the rhythm correct before actually stitching on the good canvas or fabric. Sometimes I need to various numbers of strands of thread–will 3 plies cover or do I need 4? Sometimes I want to see if the color works with the stitch, especially if I am using over dyes. I really depend on the doodle cloth.

  11. I have a project on silk with a muslin backing and I’ve tried unfamiliar stitches on the outside edges where it will be cut off. and unfamiliar threads as well such as the metallics. So I have auditioned and practiced a bit that way, but a doodle cloth sounds like a fun thing to have. That way I can keep these practice bits to refer to later. Love this site! Thanks.

  12. I use a doodle cloth all the time. Didn’t know it had a name! I have one for each project in the cloth of each. Sometimes I get inspiration from something I try on the doodle cloth for my next project. I never thought to set it up as it’s own project. Yours is beautiful !

  13. I sure do use a doodle cloth. It saves time to practice then to try and execute a stitch on the official piece only to have to them take out if I am unhappy with the results.


  14. Wow, what a great idea. I am going to draw a pattern like yours and use it for my doodle cloth. It will not be perfect so I will just use it for practice. I do use something similar. I took a piece of striped material, put a backing on it and overcast the edges and use it to put sample of flowers on. Sometimes I do the pattern in steps. I number the rows and record all the info. When trying different size threads it shows you what the flower will look like and if you even like it at all. Cannot wait for tomorrows blog.

  15. Hi Mary, Since I am fairly new to embroidery this is a grand idea. Also just wanted you to know you have the best advertisement on your blog pages. If I want to look for a site to purchase something..I always go to your blog and look at the ads. Funny huh.

  16. Hi Mary, I too use a doodle cloth. Mine is nothing to look at just hap-hazard.
    I do like the idea of making a sampler of my doodles…I’m going to try that starting today! Thanks for the tip!

  17. I usually grab a piece of scrap material that’s the same as what I’ll be stitching on and practice some stitches on that.

    But now, you have me wanting to make a pretty doodle cloth filled with colorful stitches and new stitches (I still need to figure out bullion, and I want to try a couple other ones I saw on here recently).

  18. Thank you for naming the thing I’ve been stitching practice stitches on. Now I know what to call it, especially in front of confused onlookers! Can’t tell you how much I love your website and especially these wonderfully helpful missives. BTW I’ve just finished the Lavender Honey Needlebook and LOVE it. I’m a beginner and it’s the first thing I’ve ever done. We have an art show here at our retirement community, and I’m going to enter it to show it off.

    1. Congratulations, Victoria, on the finish of Lavender Honey – it’s such a fun project, isn’t it? I had a blast making those things – makes me want to go back and make more and more!

  19. A Doodle Cloth! What a great place to do those interesting, quirky stitches that invoke an “OHH, I’ve got to try that” response while reading your newsletter, like the Drizzle Stitch, or the other Stitch Fun goodies you toss out from time to time. I must set one up right away for those frequent occasions. I will go to your Stitch Fun Index and pick out a few to get started on. Thanks, Mary. You are the greatest!

  20. I love to doodle, be it with beads, embroidery floss or paint. For me it’s a way of experimenting and trying something new or just mess about.

    But it’s also a way to come back from a creative rut. By not forcing myself to create an output, a planned project, but instead just start making something without putting any demands on the outcome, not forcing a finished piece from it, it’s easier for me to start creating again. You don’t need an idea or plan to begin, nor any certain materials as you just use whatever you find and whatever seems to fit or looks good when picking it up. (Which means I often use it to use up scraps or colours I rarely use in my projects.)

  21. I always just used a fabric from my stash and stitched until my hand was ready to make beautiful even stitches, but you have inspired me to keep the scraps instead of just see them as my hidden messes. I have recently created a quilt out of several antique embroidered cotton tea towels. Now I have a use for the rest of the toweling pieces I salvaged. I plan to “doodle” with some of the antique threads I have recently inherited and preserve some of my mother’s stitches currently used in my kitchen. I have enough leftovers to start a cotton/linen design wall curtain that friends, students and of course myself can add to as they desire.
    I don’t know what shape this will take, but a design wall of stitches is what is in my head. For now, I have another UFO to daydream about! Thanks!

  22. I’m the doodle queen! I do more doodling than anything else, I’m afraid. The thing I love about it is that it frees up my creativity. I have some awesome doodle cloths.
    The one “problem” I have with it is that occasionally I can’t remember how I created a particular stitch/stitch combo, which is frustrating. It’s on my list of things to figure out — how to keep a record of the more unusual stitches on the cloth.

  23. Love this idea!! A doodle cloth is exactly what I need!! Thanks Mary.

    PS – Do you have a pattern for the “sampler” in reason #4?

  24. I am glad I was introduced to doodle cloths early in my stitching life over 50 years ago. I keep two, or sometimes three, close at hand. On one I stitch random stitches I want to try, and on the other I arrange the stitches to eventually have a sampler. A few years ago I visited Williamsburg at the time an early American sampler display was there. I was fascinated by the “teachers’ manuals” which were carried from student to student with all the designs they could choose from–a large doodle cloth.

  25. Dear Mary
    One doodle cloth? Do stitchers operate with only one doodle cloth?

    Not me. I have several, in a plastic zippered bag with their own hoop and an assortment of needles and threads. Often, when I do not want to work on the real thing or between projects I will just doodle. doodle, doodle.
    Could not live without them.

  26. Ma encanta la idea de hacer de tus prácticas de obrado en un proyecto. Mis prácticas de calados y algunos bordados yo los organize en un pequeño álbum de fotos. Recorte y los separe en distintas páginas y les añadí una pequeña descripción del calado.
    Tu trabajo siempre es precioso, te admiro mucho.
    Saludos desde Puerto Rico.

    1. (For Elisa)
      I love the idea of turning your “doodle cloths” ( practice works ) into a project. I organize my practice works of lace and some embroidery in a small photo album. I trim and separate them into individual pages and add a small description of the lace

      Your work is always wonderful. I really admire you. Greetings from Puerto Rico

  27. Good Afternoon, Mrs. Corbet! Thanks for sending some of that rain my way. I assure you the grass appreciates it. I’m sorry for being, “late to lass,” this morning, but I’m trying to finish up a coloring project for my nephews.

    Do I have a doodle cloth? YES! It’s a 100% cotton pillowcase. Perfect for practicing new stitches, or training myself to tolerate working with one strand of thread! Do I keep records? Nope.

    I pick things out when I’m satisfied. Why? Well, for one thing, it saves room. For another, I have an almost photographic memory. I say almost because it isn’t ‘instant’ but if I see something for more than two minutes, 9 out of 10 times, it’s stuck in there for life!

  28. I do use a doodle cloth to practice new stitches until I’m comfortable working the stitch and it’s set in my mind. Thank you!

  29. It never occurred yo me to use a separate hoop to try out stitches. I have damaged a few of my projects, and wish I had thought of it! Alas! there is always your newsletter to suggest a better way! Thanks!!

  30. I use a small piece of my ground fabric as a doodle cloth along with the threads I plan to use. I often embroider children’s clothes and household linens. After serving as a practice place for stitches, the doodle clothes can be washed to determine if any threads will run or if the fabric will shrink when laundered.

  31. Yes, I always have pieces of trying-out fabric lying about. Mine are always very, very dis-organised and soon look fit for he rag-bag, but they work. They often save me making expensive mistakes and they inspire me by letting me get a feel for combinations of fabric and stitches I can use in designs.

    I always have several on the go at once, in different types of fabric – open evenweave, close evenweave, surface embroidery linen, aida, hardanger, etc, as well as scraps of fabric left over from projects. Sometimes I do use the edge of the fabric that will be cut off a project afterwards, especially if it isn’t a combination of fabric and stitch that I have used before and I don’t have enough of the same fabric for a proper try-out cloth.

  32. No, I was never taught about a doodle cloth as a child, and since I have almost no storage space, I have not wanted to do a doodle cloth that I would have to keep around.

  33. I don’t use a doodle cloth, but I do use dish towels to practice on. I can do all kinds of things and turn them into a little design. I get a functional item with cool designs on them.

  34. I love the idea. I was recently reading an article in Piecework magazine and the author was sharing something she found in an antique store. It was a long strip of cloth with small crochet samples tacked to it. The strip was approximately six feet or so and was a beautiful textile in its own right as far as I am concerned and a beautiful legacy left behind. I can see how a doodle cloth could become a similar legacy. Thanks for a great article and idea.

  35. Yes, doodle cloth, must have! I do keep and use them up, nothing fancy. I practice on them and experiment and use them all up. Then I keep them in a stack for reference.

  36. I doodle on t-shirts, found a real nice t-shirt at the dollar store no less and when I make a stain spot on it I doodle right over it, it will be a work of art or something for trick or treating but for one dollar what can I lose. It is a challenage to myself to turn it into something that I like and to spark conversations, it is fun 🙂

  37. I absolutely must use a doodle cloth. I look at it as my sketch book. I feel much more comfortable trying out new ideas with needle and thread than I do with my colored pencils and inks. I do refer back to them again and again for all the reasons you mention such as trying out great (and not so great) color combinations, seeing whether certain stitches play nicely together, and experimenting with a mixture of yarns, threads, beads, etc. I leave them on my design wall for ideas.

  38. Well, I have been embroidering for about 15-20 years and I have always just used the couple of simple stitches I learned at the beginning, (stem stitch, lazy daisy, chain, satin stitch and french knots). Just recently, in part due to this great blog filled with all the information and stitch videos, (Thanks Mary!), I have been trying out a few new stitches. I am going to start my doodle cloth now, I think it is a great idea!

  39. I have used a doodle cloth to practice stitches going into a piece I’m working on but recently I started doodle stitching on an old pair of jeans. It started out as a decorative patch using some questionably old thread picked up at a garage sale and now I can’t seem to stop. I have had some difficulties come my way recently and the more relaxed stitching with no pattern or plan works for me right now. I will get back to more traditional work but sometimes a doodle is just what the doctor ordered.

  40. When I use a doodle cloth it’s to try out stitches and weights of thread, so it’s always a piece of the same fabric I’m embroidering. I’ve come unstuck when I’ve launched straight in on stitching on unfamiliar fabrics – silk crepe was my worst. WIP doodles are discarded, but I keep a separate stitch catalogue on a strip of calico.

  41. Sorting through my many doodle cloths wasn’t as useful as I’d like.
    My sewing machine can make instant buttonholes in the upper left corner so I can hang them up on a nail and quickly leaf through them to find the one I want. I separate mine from the samples of teachers and friends.

  42. I have had many doodle cloths, as did my grandmother and mother. Some of the sections in the old ones have been trimmed and placed into greeting cards – so never a waste. I also use a separate cloth for beading practice, sometimes also to completely change a pattern.
    Thank you Mary, I look forward to your column every day and have recommended your site to many friends here in Queensland.

  43. So Right!! Although I have been embroidering since I was about 5 — on pieces of old sheets, whatever I was allowed and I am not — (nuf said), I still use doodle cloths! I may be a stitch that I have not used for many years — I don’t have the muscle movement now and I need to tweak the “muscle memory”! And it is a good index of stitches!
    Good advice!
    Do enjoy the blogs! keep up the good writing and reporting

  44. I am for this first time keeping a doodle cloth, for my current specific project, as opposed to a sampler. And I’m not using an easy-to-stitch fabric like linen twill, because of the reason I’m keeping this doodle cloth: The fabric for this project is a linen-rayon blend (“Brussels washer”) which while a dream to wear except in really hot weather (when rayon get swampy) is NOT a dream to embroider on; it’s very soft. I need to see if stitches I may already know, will work on THIS cloth.

  45. I don’t use them very often. I am working on a piece that I do practice on a small doodle cloth. It is important to get the tension correct.

  46. This is off subject, but does anyone read “Pickles” in their newspaper? The other day, they were sitting together (I think on a porch swing or couch), and she had an embroidery hoop in her hand. There is a tradition among knitters to “catch” someone knitting in a cartoon, but this is the first time I’ve seen someone embroidering in a cartoon.

  47. I don’t usually have a doodle cloth. I was taught to doodle in the margins of the fabric I was working on. The few doodle cloths I do have were from a class, and each stitch is labeled.

  48. In my usual haphazard fashion I use the calico (muslin) backing as my doodle cloth. You might see all sorts of strange little stitchy things around the edge of my embroidery, were you to look of course. And that assumes that you have been invited to look, which you probably won’t be, and that’s because it is so untidy and haphazard. If you get my drift.

    Another interesting post, Mary. Your brain must go non-stop, thinking of things to write about every day. How on earth do you keep up with it all? But don’t stop, please, because I love this blog too.

    1. Yeah, sometimes I wonder, too. My brain is usually a little like spaghetti. It goes off in this direction and that direction. It’s a wonder anything coherent ever comes out of it!

  49. What a terrific idea! I LOVE it. I have been stitching for fifty plus years and had never heard of this before today. Thank you. And thank you for your site, I have learned so much and feel much more confident in my work because of the history and your professionalism!

  50. Yes I do a doodle cloth. Have been stitiching 2.5 yrs.& filled 3 10″ hoops worth plus I label under each it`s name & sometimes what thread is used. I refer to them often. Thank you Mary for teaching me all I know.

  51. I like the idea of a doodle cloth that is attractive enough to display in some way. I have a frame set up with Aida cloth which is not an ideal ground but it works well with your videos as it enables me to easily count and keep stitches even in length as I learn to do them. Works for me but next time I am going to use linen even for play. So much better.

  52. I find a doodle cloth is a must in Brazilian Embroidery. I have to practice new stitches and go back to practice ‘old’ stitches. It is so much easier to use the doodle cloth than your final piece of fabric. Doodle on!

  53. I starting keeping a doodle cloth a few months ago when I plunged into Crewel Embroidery for the first time … you inspired me to stretch my wings beyond cross stitch. I’ve been using it to practice stitches and even to try out design transfer techniques. Because I’m very new to it all I have been labeling my trials using a pigment marker with the kind of stitches and anything else that’s salient.

    Recently I finished a cross stitch project and decided that I wanted to use plaited braid stitch to make a ‘frame’ for it. I’ve taken a spare piece of the same cloth, your instructions, and some spare thread of the weights I wish to use and am experimenting to see if I can get the effect I want.

    I find the use of doodle cloths to be very freeing. I’m not sure what I will do with them though as I don’t really want to through them away. Perhaps I will write a date (year) on them and put them away in a box for future reference.

    Thank you so much for your blog.

  54. Hi Mary, I love your newsletters and am following your hints and suggestions for some time now.
    They are very interesting and whern I have time I scroll through them and now and then I realise that a few hours have passed in a minute.
    I have been embroidering since I was a school girl and the Sisters in the College in what was once Rhoderia (Zimbabwe now) were teaching us the first stitches. I still have a few of these small works. Now I am 64 and still love embroidering.
    Sure enough I have an entire collection of doodle cloths. Some of them are finished piece of a particular tecnique, others are just a collection of various stitches but as you say, they are always inspiring and very usefull.

  55. Mary, are U psychic?! This blog is enchanting. I went for it last week, while working on a giant (cross) stitch project.
    I filled up all the top with stitch practising. despite my horrendous limitations I had great fun and am going to incorporate the fabric into a bedcover for me old age.

    Thanks again for your time.

  56. This is what I love about this website. The little tips and hints that I’ve never even thought of and can now see the wisdom of trying them out. Thanks!

  57. When I am doing a stitch or technique I have not done before I will try it on a spare piece of fabric.

    I have been demonstrating embroidery for around 20 years at a tricounty, county fair which is held at a late 19th century restoration village in the style of a county fair of the period.

    The first time I was to demonstrate I had big plans – before I went I would stitch the same flower with different stitches, number of threads, etc. So of course the day before I was to demonstrate I had nothing done. I grabbed a piece of fabric, a box of floss, a floor stand and large hoop, and a couple of books of stitches. I set up the hoop and started doing stitches at random. Some were stitches I knew, others were not. Some were individual stitches, sometimes I grouped stitches into a design or picture.

    People were fascinated by the idea that there was nothing drawn (occasionally when a stitch called for it I did make pencil markings). I was making a surprise Christmas stocking for my husband one year and under his nose (he came with me and did some needlework also and demonstrated leatherwork on other days with my help) I practiced new two stitches for stocking without him knowing what I was doing. As years went along I would joke that I take requests. I cannot tell you how many french knots I have done when people told me that they had problems with them.

    The floor stand hoop was a great idea as people could see what I was doing without having to climb over me to do so. I now have 3 clothes that I have worked on at the Fair over the years. I put the older cloths out while doing the newer ones.

    The past 2 years I have gotten some members of my EGA chapter to join me at the Fair. I no longer use the same setup, but do stitching on a piece instead. It was interesting to see how the stitches went together on their own into designs and to see people’s reactions.

  58. I use a doodle cloth all the time to practise new and old stitches–the latter when I haven’t done them for awhile. It’s generally a haphazard affair, but I use a marker to date the stitch. I think it really is a “must” to have a doodle cloth.

    Your article about the doodle cloth is an excellent one. This year I am editor of The NeedleNews, a publication of St. John’s Guild of Embroiderers, Newfoundland, CANADA which is published four times per year. I am asking your permission to reprint it for members of my guild as some of them do not have access to computers. I would give credit to you and add your web site information.

    Many, many thanks for your daily blog and all the valuable advice that you give. (I see that Yvette Stanton has high praise for your web site, as well.)

    Thank you,
    Marilyn Penney

  59. I haven’t embroidered Sunday I was 10 years of age with my Grandmother. She was one terrific teacher. However I stopped embroidering because of school, then work and marriage and kids. Now my kids no longer live with me and I have cancer. So I thought I would restart embroidery. But now after 46 years it seems harder but I like the idea of a doodle cloth, and your right you can make it into something attractive and even frame it. Thank you so much for allowing someone like myself to learn!

  60. A Doodle Cloth is a brilliant idea! It’s a sampler, right? My practice pieces are all over the place. should I ‘cut and paste’?
    On a quilt show , one person made a cloth
    book of stitch samples! I wish I’d inhereted somebody’s organizer gene!!!
    I don’t want a disaster to motivate me, but 75 is a little mature to clean up my act!!!!

  61. My sister comes to visit and takes all my doodle cloths home. Say,s that someday she’ll decide what to do with them. I do have one I’ve hidden from her. I like the doodle cloth for all the reasons you mentioned!

  62. Hello Mary, I think a ‘doodle cloth’ is a fabulous idea for all of the reasons already said. I will however like to say that although I am very Resourceful indeed and so very creative and Full to the Brim with ideas, I am Absolutely Amazed that I had not thought of it myself. I had not realised how very much I have needed a ‘doodle cloth’ for ages. I hesitate to pick up my project again when I came to a place in the pattern where I needed to go through it all and RETAIN IT IN MY HEAD “when I just Need To thread up, needle in to fabric and Embroider”…..how satisfying!! But No More. Thank you very much to ‘my hero’ for this Project Saving Idea which I wasn’t aware of how very much I need my new “TRUSTY DOODLE COMFORTER” x

  63. Mary, you are a godsend! Ninety percent of everything I’ve learned about embroidery has been from you! I only started about a year ago, but I enjoy everything about it. Thank you for sharing your incredible knowledge about embroidery and the joy it’s brought you. Blessings!!!!!!!

  64. Yhis will be my next project Mary!! Love this idea how to practice and create new stiches for the future projects!!!

  65. I bought one of those Zentangle patterns so I could embroidery doodle on it to try different techniques. I try different designs from your website mostly and here and there will see something different I want to try. I was working on it one day and my mother asked if she could have it to make a pillow when I finish. I said, yes, not realizing that an “Embroidery Doodle Cloth” is never finished. It’s been two years now (LOL).

    1. On these doodle cloths, I just use whatever fabric I have on hand, that’s scrappish – leftover pieces of any embroidery linen works fine. You don’t have to have a specific thread count. That said, the higher the thread count with linen, normally the better for surface embroidery stitches. It really just depends on the linen.

  66. I recently went through some of my mother’s stuff (never mind she died more than 25 years ago ) and found 60 – yes, sixty! – flour sack dish towels! I haven’t embroidered in decades and was never very adventurous, but want to make handmade gifts for friends now. I LOVE the idea of a doodle cloth to get back in the groove and maybe expand my stitch repertoire! I plan to use one of the towels that has a sketchy hem (so it’s not gift material) as my doodle cloth. I’ll pencil an abstract pattern onto it so one day it’ll, I hope, be a lovely, interestingly embroidered towel I can happily use in my own kitchen, and still have as reference material. Thank you for this wonderful idea! ❤️

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