52 Weeks to Ms. Frizzle, a year-long embroidery project by Sara Barnes

Week 1, a sloth

If you’ve been a Brown Paper Bag reader for more than a year, you might know that I love projects with a set timeline. The #100dayproject is one of them. I’ve participated in #1YearofStitches (successfully, then not successfully twice). I love a series and I’m fascinated by how things can change and grow and shift in subtle ways over a period of time.

The last time I tried one of these projects was in 2021. It was #1Yearofstitches, in which every month I intended to stitch a pet portrait on an upcycled denim jacket. I made it to about March before I burned out. The level of detail I was putting into the portraits, along with my other responsibilities, just made the project too stressful to continue.

In the fall of 2022, I was scrolling through Poshmark—as I often do—and saw a cute denim dress that I immediately thought to fill with embroidery. 52 Weeks to Ms. Frizzle was born.


What is the 52 Weeks to Ms. Frizzle project?

If you’re familiar with The Magic School Bus (a staple of my 90s classroom experience), then you know about the teacher Ms. Frizzle, a true fashion icon. Inspired by her unique themed dresses, I’m creating a homage, of sorts, by stitching a new wild animal on my denim dress each week for the entire year.


52 Weeks to Ms. Frizzle, a year-long embroidery project by Sara Barnes

Week 2, a seal

How This Year-Long Embroidery Project is Different

The only time I’ve successfully completed #1YearofStitches was in 2017, and even then it was a challenge. To make sure the 52 Weeks project doesn’t fall by the wayside, I’ve tried to simplify it as much as possible. This includes:

  • Only stitching one color (black).
  • Keeping each design relatively small in size.
  • Required to share my progress only once a week (Sundays).

Limiting the design to one color lessens the decision-making for the project and also simplifies the animal portrait. Fitting 52 animals onto a garment is a lot, so they can’t be that large. And whereas #1YearofStitches is focused on sharing daily progress, I’m only requiring myself to share a video of my week of stitching on my Instagram and TikTok. (Although it’s often more.)


52 Weeks to Ms. Frizzle, a year-long embroidery project by Sara Barnes

Week 3, an anteater

So, how’s it going?

Good so far! I work off a sketch, and I started the year with an excess of drawings. This has taken some of the pressure off the project knowing that I have a stockpile. But I’ve asked for suggestions on what to stitch and have gotten so many amazing animals to sketch so I’ve created new drawings since then.

The first big test is coming in mid-February; I’m going on a four-day trip and won’t take the dress with me. I don’t leave until Thursday of that week, so my goal is to have the embroidery completely done by Wednesday (I typically finish it on Friday or Saturday) and have the footage done to compile a video for Sunday.

Stitch With Me (Sort Of)

Because I start all of my embroideries with a digital sketch, it lends itself to be a pattern that you can download and stitch, too! Check out my Etsy shop for downloadable embroidery patterns of the animals I’ve stitched. I’ll be adding them as I go along.


52 Weeks to Ms. Frizzle, a year-long embroidery project by Sara Barnes

Week 4, a skunk

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