Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2016 (113) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (353) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Needlework & Inspiration Around the Traps


Needlework inspiration can come from a lot of places. Not all these places are necessarily needlework-related, either. When I can, I like to squiz around online to see what’s going on in the embroidery and textile world, but I don’t always have lots of time to do so. I figure most of us are in the same boat, time-wise, so after meandering a bit online this week, I thought I’d point out some places that caught my eye and update you on a few goings-on, just in case you haven’t had time for browsing lately. (Actually, I’m just trying to justify the hours spent on the computer!)

So, come along with me, and let’s browse a bit, shall we?

Needlework Inspiration

All Things Paper isn’t exactly a needlework website – it’s all paper. But oh, what paper! Lately, Ann Martin has been displaying some beautiful quilled lettering, including quilled monograms. (There’s a great tutorial for quilled monograms on there, by the way). You know I love working monograms for hand embroidery projects. I do, I do! And I love the look of these quilled monograms. And I find myself wondering how this look can be translated into hand embroidery. But then I find myself wanting to get out the quilling supplies and do a monogram in paper. But then I think I really should be concentrating on needlework, because I have a website to write. But then I think (this, by the way, is called Inspirational Glut) it’s always a good idea to break from one craft and work on another to limber things up a bit. But then… and this is the ultimate dilemma … I start pondering how the quilling and the needlework could all be combined in one project. And then I stop thinking.

Whatever the case – I love this look. And I find myself thinking of it a lot lately. Can you see it translated into hand embroidery? If you were given a piece of quilled lettering like the ones Ann Martin is featuring, and you were told “Translate this into hand embroidery,” how would you go about doing it? I’ve got some ideas, and I’ve put them on The List. So maybe in the future, the topic will come up again.

Needlework Inspiration

Vincent, at worksofhands, started work on an embroidery kit called Bridge of Sighs (in English, anyway). Vincent’s embroidery work is amazing; if you haven’t seen the goldwork vestments for the Infant Jesus statue that he embroidered, you should take time to look at those!

But back to the Bridge of Sighs kit. I like sketchy art, especially sketches of places. This kit looks like a lot of fun – line stitches over the sketchy lines, and voilá – you’ve got sketchy art and embroidery all in one. The other reason the kit caught my eye was the title. I love Thomas Hood’s poem by the same name!

But I digress…

Needlework Inspiration

Next up, for fun, color, and ingenuity, you have got to visit Susan Elliott’s blog, Plays with Needles, where Susan is constructing an Alice in Wonderland crazy quilt block that is whimsical, colorful, and really clever. I’ve enjoyed watching this progress! As each element is added, you’ll find yourself saying, “Wow, what a good idea!” Take a look at the block! It’s a lot of fun.

Needlework Inspiration

Over on Stitching with a Shimmy, you’ll find a thorough tutorial on Jacobean stumpwork. DeRomilly takes us step-by-step through the completion of a small Jacobean motif, replete with three-dimensional and padded petals and mounds of French knots. It’s a good tutorial, worth taking a look at if you’re interested in stumpwork.

Needlework Inspiration

And, finally, over on Kathy’s blog Shawkl, you’ll find a terrific tutorial on embroidering three-dimensional trees. This tree is fantastic! Kathy’s method of bark decorating can be translated into different types of stitches, too. You could use her tree foundation and then embroider the trunk and limbs with different stitches, like raised chain stitch or raised stem stitch… lots of interpretive possibilities there.

Oh, and there were more! Many more sites that captured my interest and imagination while I was browsing! What about you? What are your favorite spots for inspiration online? Do you look for needlework inspiration solely at needlework websites, or do you have other sites that get the creative juices flowing? Leave a comment and fill us in on what inspires your needlework and where you find your inspiration!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(18) Comments

  1. Thank you for the shout out Mary! Imagine my delight when I opened my reader this morning…final touches are today and then I can call it a wrap! It’s an honor to be mentioned here…one of my favorite places…LOVE the new look; already I have no memory for what came before *wink xo Susan

    1. Hi, Sarah – I’ll be starting up a few of the flowers from Embroidered Flowers for Elizabeth by Susan O’Connor, as soon as I finishing up my pending projects. If you haven’t seen that book yet, you might take a look at it or at my review – it’s the same style of embroidery, and the book is excellent. The instruction is very clear!

      Hi, Susan! The block is amazing! It fascinates me – and at the same time, it makes me chuckle. I’m glad your memory is working so well in my favor!

      Thanks for your comments!

  2. Thanks so much for the link,

    You have hit the nail on the head with a book that i would love 🙂 will see if i can grab a copy on my other favourite website “ebay”

    in the meanwhile i must get back to studying dopamine pathways 🙂 exams tomorrow sigh…

    Will await your posts.

  3. My inspiration this week is a combination of this pattern: http://thehappyzombie.com/blog/?p=379, as well as designs from Aimee Ray and Cinderberry Stitches. It’s at least going to be a 4 patch quilt, and if I have the time and enough fabric, I may add a few more blocks. I wanted to get a few more projects in before my arm surgery next month, since I won’t be doing any sewing or stitching for a long time while I heal.

  4. Thanks you for the link, Mary, AND for the link to the quilling site! Talk about synchronicity. i bought a beginning quilling book for a friend’s daughter’s birthday this week, and was just about to get my quilling set out to play with again. I started out in paper art, and I’ve been avoiding it recently in favor of needles. 🙂

    Did you see the Jacobean crewel pattern she turned into quilled art at Tthanksgiving?! WOW! Talk about reminding me that inspiration can cross craft lines…

  5. Mary this is getting spooky!! “How Come” you are continually and amazingly always publishing something that I need !!?? The cue to the 3D embroidered tree is exactly what I need for the Pastoral Scene I’m doing for a Xmas gift. Been looking and racking my brain for various ways to depict trees and shrubs. Flowers, I have plenty of resources but the trees and shrubs and grasses I definitely need creative ideas. THANKS AGAIN… Judy in Pittsburgh !

  6. I love “sight-seeing” with you! Thank you for introducing us to so many different stitching sights and techniques. Oh and by the way….I also want to thank you for increasing my vocabulary once again! Squiz!!! I love it! Blessing to you!

  7. This is such a great site..thanks so much for all the usefull information…It’s been years since I’ve done any embroidery, and recently got back into it, as I am making a Christening gown for our grandson…and in looking for patterns I came across your site..it’s been very helpful…I also ordered a few things from one of the links you had, the needle arts shop in Italy…thanks again for all this great information..and for all the hard work you getting it to us…look forward to coming back often and to doing more embroidery.

  8. Mary, thanks so much for including my blog in your list of inspiration – what a lovely surprise. Your site is such a treasure trove of inspiration as needlework patterns often get my wheels turning – so it works both ways!

  9. Hello Mary!

    I’ve just gotten back from northern Germany where I had no internet access, but could get email via my phone. You cannot imagine how excited I was when your daily email opened and I saw my name on your site! You are such an inspiration to us all and a wonderful long distance teacher. To have my work recognized by you is something really special.

    My father mentioned something to me via email when he’d visited my site earlier: “How ever could you have shown so many people what you can do without the net? Technology does some marvelous things in ways most of us would not have imagined.”

    It’s another unbroken thread – the fiber optic cable that lets us communicate with one another and be part of a group of embroiderers no matter where we are in the world. I am so happy to be part of the community.

    Thank you again!

  10. Definitely haven’t had the time for browsing the internet this week, even if I did I would not have found the great blogs posted here.

    Thanks for the sharing.

  11. G’day there Mary,

    Great post. I mostly only browse off the sites included in your posts. They’re really spot on.

    My inspiration comes from countless sources. I’m an over the top inspired person. The old brain is constantly on the go. Where some are stumped for inspiration to the point of artist’s, writer’s or embroiderer’s block, I have the problem of pinning down an idea from dozens. I think you may have mentioned the same one time, or someone in a comment.

    The ceramic patterns mentioned in the Estence Embroidery post re my comment.
    The shape/colour of a leaf, stone, bug, feather,root,butterfly wing, or a zoomed in section of the afore mentioned or anything at all really.
    Abstract shapes of shaddows/light on buildings, pavement, cows backs, puddles etc.
    And other artist’s work of any kind. Maybe not as a whole but bits and pieces all go into the melting pot.

    I find though, that no matter what original idea I form myself, absolutely original without a thread of someone elses ideas, it is not long and I come across the same or very similar idea already executed by someone else! Either recently done or many, many years ago. So there it is.

    Thanks for all the inspiration, interest, instruction and, not least, amusement.
    Cheers, Kath.

More Comments