There is no better way to remember a special trip than to have it hanging on the wall. That is why I have gotten into the habit of stitching my trips onto paper maps. That way I can be reminded of and inspired by past trips as I walk through my home. Is it weird that I rarely take selfies while traveling or ever for that matter? When you walk into my apartment, you won’t see me smiling in front of waterfalls or on tops of mountains, nope, none of that. Cheers to you if that’s your style, but I’m just a little too camera shy and usually I’m the one taking all the pictures. It does not even cross my mind to ask someone else to take my picture in front of amazing landscapes. Sometimes I think I would like to work on that, but then a trip comes and goes without a selfie thought and here I am stitching maps in my free time.
Stitched maps make great gifts for your road trip buddies too. It is also a cool way to tell someone you are taking them on a trip. Imagine opening up a framed stitched map of Europe and having your sister yell, “Surprise! Pack your bags!” Or whatever else really amazing sisters say when they are taking you to Europe. [Katie here : now I’m hoping a stitched map shows up in the mail today! ;)] Grab your chosen map and let’s get started.
Materials and Tools
- Frame (optional)
A Few Tips:
- Visualize your route. I like to trace it with my finger so my eyes can get accustomed to the path I’ll be stitching.
- Paper is harder to work with than fabric. You cannot feel your way around like you would while stitching fabric so work delicately.
- The smaller your stitches, and therefore the closer together the holes, the easier the map tears. If you rip through the map, do not fret, it happened to me a time or two on the east coast. Put a piece of tape on the back of the map, restitch it using the same holes, and reinforce it with another piece of tape that way your stitches will not fall out.
- Place your map on a flat surface that has a little bit of give, like a big flat piece of cardboard or a carpeted floor. Take a fairly big needle and poke holes into your map along your chosen route.
- Poke the holes in a pattern, long distance, short distance, long distance, short distance, think of it as the stitch you’ll see (long) and the stitch on the underside of the map (short). The further apart the holes (the bigger the stitches) the easier and quicker the project will be. (The stitches on the west coast range from 1/4 of an inch to 1/2 of an inch, the underside stitches are about 1/4 of an inch. On the east coast the stitches are only 1/8 of an inch and the underside stitches are about 1/16 of an inch.) Don’t worry about measuring out each stitch just eye it up and poke, poke, poke.
- Split your embroidery thread and use three strands to thread a smaller needle than the one used to poke the holes.
- Hold the map vertically so you can see the back and push your needle through the first hole. Pull the thread almost all the way through and tape the tail of the thread to the back of the map.
- Poke the needle back through to the back and then to the front and so on. Take care to place the tip of the needle directly into each hole. The map will tear quite easily so work slowly, don’t pull the thread too tightly and every ten stitches or so place a piece of tape on the back of the map. Taping the back every so often will reinforce the map and reduce ripping a bunch of stitches if you happen to pull too hard.
- After you’re finished stitching, snip off the extra thread and secure your final stitch with tape. Flatten and frame your map if you choose. Or you could group them on a wall and secure the corners with washi tape.
Some day I would like to stitch all my trips on a big world map, but I haven’t found the perfect map for that project yet. If you know of any great map resources, please share them. What adventure are you planning to stitch? Will it be one you have already traveled or perhaps one that you’re saving up for? Let us know in a comment or share your stitching via instagram and tag @liveseasoned. Safe travels!