Finished projects · Gift ideas · Hand Embroidery

Thank-you Embroideries

One of the many things I am grateful for when I moved to Japan is all of the help I received from other JET participants and coworkers. You would think since I’ve done this before that it would be easy and I would know what I’m doing.


I’m in a new prefecture, 11 years later, with a new contracting organization, so I couldn’t assume things would be the same in Nanto as they were on Sado Island. But the great thing about the people who live here are that they’re extremely helpful.

Other than my supervisor, the first point of contact I made in Nanto even before I left was my downstairs neighbor. She’s also a JET Program participant. DD and I asked her many questions to see what we should expect as far as our apartment goes, and she was super helpful. She still is! THANK YOU if you’re reading this! 😉

I wanted to make something as a thank-you for being so helpful, and the only thing I really knew about her at the time was that she played the viola. So I got to work on a viola embroidery (and also learned how to properly pronounce it in the meantime.. VEE-ola, not VAI-ola!).


I didn’t have a real plan before I started, I just knew I wanted it to have minimal, light colors and some kind of floral element that wasn’t too overpowering. I free-handed the sketch with a light-colored chalk pencil, using references from the internet.

This is a 4-inch hoop with 2 layers of leftover navy linen fabric from my Simplicity 1109 skirt and True Bias Lander Shorts. I separated the embroidery floss into 1, 2, and 3 strands.


I was worried at first because it wasn’t looking so great when I started, but I kept at it and I think it worked out fine! I think my favorite part is the strings.

I had not finished it yet before I moved to Japan, so I had to do so when I arrived. I didn’t have my hot glue gun to finish the back, so I improvised.


I folded both layers of linen over and ran a running stitch through the fold to cinch it in. It’s a little puffy, so I don’t think it would easily hang from a wall or door unless you used a long nail. Well, I think this would need a small easel since we can’t hang anything from our walls! Not because of apartment rules but because you seriously can’t hammer anything into the walls. They’re some sort of weird plastic-y material. Soooo, tape or those sticky-backed hooks only!


Anyway, it’s been happily received and I have more techniques under my belt. Win-win!

The next embroidery was for a coworker who was so sweet that when she heard I had nothing in my apartment (I’m a new position in Nanto City, so I had no predecessor to inherit anything from, which is the norm), she went home to get me essentials like a frying pan, plates, bento boxes, and hangers! I was so touched by her kindness that I thanked her the only way I knew how… make her an embroidery!


I went with my tried-and-true rosettes, leaves, and French knots. This was another 4-inch hoop and was the last one I had from the States.


The fabric was a “cut cloth” which I assume is a fat quarter or maybe smaller? I bought it from the locally owned handicrafts store down the street from my apartment. It’s some kind of cotton or linen blend and I thought the slight plaid pattern would give it an interesting texture.


And here’s a shot of the back, finished the same way as the viola piece since I had minimal supplies at the time.

I think she liked it as she said it was “more valuable” than the stuff she gave me. She also ended up getting me a toaster oven her friend didn’t want anymore so I think we’re more than even, lol. Dude, the toaster oven was a game-changer… especially since I was toasting my bread in the frying pan before that!


Speaking of toasting bread in a frying pan, most people would think I’m crazy (I’ve heard brave, but think crazy is truer) to give up everything to move abroad and start from zero again.

DD successfully sold our house and all of our extra or unnecessary belongings and is finally with me here in Japan as of last week. We thought when we started this process that we would miss all of the possessions we had, especially our big house, comfortable bed, and nice cars. But you know what? Even though we have to make do until we can accumulate what we minimally need bit by bit, and even though our apartment is literally the size of or smaller than our living room in Tucson, we’re having no regrets. Yet! Haha!

It got overwhelming to have a closet bursting with clothes. It seemed excessive to have a truck that I had to use a running board to get into. It was crazy that when there were no guests, we had one room reserved only for the litter box (the Poo Room, as you would).

We don’t need all of that “junk” to be happy. Now all we really need are our boys (cats) and a few more inches in the doorways so DD stops hitting his head everyday. ;-p


4 thoughts on “Thank-you Embroideries

  1. Thanks for the updates of this exciting new time in your life! I can’t wait to see what new adventures await you and DD 🙂
    Oh, and what clothes made the cut and traveled with you to Japan?


  2. Love the details on the instrument. The whole hoop has such a nice balance between the floral accents and the main component. Beautiful work! I get super excited when I see your posts. Not that I didn’t before, but I’m so curious about your new life! Hope you’re doing well!


    1. Thanks, Jamie! You’ll be happy to know I have a couple more posts coming soon! It’s really been hectic and now that DD is here, it’s hectic all over again getting him settled (plus the looming need to buy our own car – just leasing now – and get our official Japanese driver’s licenses, ugh!). I’m hoping to make better posts and give y’all snippets of Japanese life along with my sewing. DD and I are playing with vlogging now soooo maybe that will come soon enough if I stop the habit of making dead eyes and saying umm at the camera. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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