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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Tag: organization

Embroidery Books: I Have a Problem.


I mentioned at some point last week that I’ll be doing some organizing and cleaning up in my workroom over the next couple weeks.

Just mentioning “organizing the workroom” sparked a lot of interest. You asked if I’d share before and after pictures, if I’d share tips on organizing and so forth.

Organizing can be a real bear! And I’m probably the last one in the world to offer tips on how to do it efficiently, on what storage solutions to use and all that kind of stuff. Because right now, I’m completely disorganized.

My Biggest Problem right now is a Book Problem.

Here’s a question for you: Can you have Too Many Embroidery Books?

My answer: a resounding YES.

To give you a better understanding of my Embroidery Book Problem, let’s take a little peek in my book cabinet:

Embroidery Book Cabinet - too many books!
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Hotel Room Stitching: The Whats and Whys


Certain times of the year, the yearn to go road tripping overwhelms me. There’s nothing I love better than a good road trip!

One of my favorite aspects of a road trip is staying in different hotels along the way. I love hotel life! I don’t really know why. It’s not as if I stay at swanky hotels or anything. But I think it’s fun to stay in hotels, especially if you’re traveling with family or friends.

When road tripping, I rarely bother to take embroidery with me anymore, because the fact is, I never get to it. There’s just too much else to do on vacation – too many things to see, people to visit, places to go. Embroidery ends up taking a back seat, if I remember it at all.

But lately, I’ve had the unique opportunity to stay in a hotel for some extended bouts of time, without the vacation vibe hovering over the whole experience, while I take care of some medical treatments. And I’ve been staying alone, so there’s lots of time on my hands! When I prepare to pack up for these chunks of hotel living, you can bet that, in these circumstances, my embroidery plays first fiddle. I’m not exactly getting out and about and “doing the town,” so I need something to do to while away those hotel-room hours.

Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure, or necessity, packing needlework stuff for hotel stays is a good idea, if you know you’re going to have time to stitch.

Here are the stitchy things I’ve been taking along with me lately – maybe they’ll give you some good ideas for your next hotel stay.

Stitching in a Hotel Room
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Floss Pulling – One Strand at a Time


When you work with stranded embroidery floss (like DMC or Anchor cotton floss, stranded silks, and the like), it’s pretty standard procedure to separate the number of strands of floss, one at a time, from the whole thread of six, and then put the number you’re going to use back together again to stitch with them.

This is called stripping your embroidery floss, and I show you how to do that in this tutorial here.

Stripping your floss serves a purpose: it keeps the strands (if you’re using two or more) from twisting around each other, so that you get good and smooth coverage with every stitch.

Whether you’re doing counted work or surface embroidery – whether it’s cross stitch or stem stitch – stripping the floss makes a huge difference in the way your stitches look. It’s a good practice.

When I wrote about this thread organization system the other day, I made the comment that I like using precut threads hitched through a hole, because they allow me to pull out individual strands of floss without having to strip them from the rest of the threads (well, the comment was something to that effect, anyway). I don’t have to replace the unused portion of the strand. I can just pull out one tiny little thread at a time.

This garnered a bit of comment and a whole flood of questions via email, so I promised I would clarify.

And here’s the clarification of how this whole one-strand-at-a-time floss pulling trick works.

Separating one strand of embroidery floss at a time
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Thread Organizing for a Large Needlework Project – All Done!


Last week, I asked you all how you organize threads for large needlework projects – because, you see, I’ve gone off the deep end and I’ve set up a pretty ridiculously large project that will probably take me three hundred years to complete.

When I asked the question, I was already hooked into organizing the 200 colors required for this project – there are 95 solid colors in it, and 105 blended colors.

I found that the organizational aspect was actually kind of fun, but it took So Much Time. It was a project in itself! Still, I figure if I’m going to subject myself to a super-duper-long-range project, it makes good sense (based on the Principle of P’s: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance) to organize thoroughly in advance.

So many of you offered great suggestions for organizing threads for projects! A couple of you mentioned the system that I’m using, which is called Annie’s Keepers. Today, I’ll show you that system, the parts involved, and how I’m using them for this particular project.

Annie's Keepers Thread Organization System for large needlework project - slides and tabs
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Organizing Lots of Thread for Big Projects – How do You do it?


So, I mentioned the other day that I’m setting up this crazy-big needlework project.

It’s essentially a counted cross stitch project, but I’ll be working it in tent stitch on a 30-count linen.

Last night, as sleep was wafting over me, I found myself contemplating switching to a 40-count silk gauze, by the way. When I awoke this morning, I instantly recalled the thought, and then I forthwith brushed it aside as a nightmare.

The project involves 200 colors, a little less than half of which are solid (only one color of thread in the needle at a time) and the rest, blended (two colors in the needle at a time).

Now, when you’re dealing with This Much Thread for one project, there is no way around it: you must come up with a reasonable, logical, efficient organizing system for your thread.

I know this. You know this. But the question is, what system to use? How does one go about organizing this much thread for a project of this scope?

Organizing Embroidery Thread for Large Needlework Projects
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Bead Embroidery Tip: Make Your Own Portable Bead Tray


For stitchers who are interested in adding sparkle to their embroidery using beads, you’ll quickly find that some kind of bead tray is a good thing to have on hand.

A bead tray is pretty much just what it sounds like: a tray (or something similar) where you put your beads while you’re working with them.

It keeps your working beads confined, so that they don’t roll about on the table, but it also allows you to easily access them with your needle.

I imagine bead embroiderers who have been at the whole Bead Thing for a long time have definite preferences for a work tray. I’m not super particular about mine – at first, I simply used the lid of a small gift card tin. If I ended a work session, but I wasn’t finished with the beads in the lid, I’d just put the base of the tin upside down into the lid and my beads would be covered and contained until the next session.

But I noticed that, when I was working with just the tin lid, the beads had a tendency to be very active. They’d scoot and slide, pop away from the needle, and sometimes, with a shiver or a shake, they’d dance a jolly jig. Give the lid a bump, and they’d fly. Ornery, I tell you!

At first, I was going to line the inside of the tin with some velveteen, in the same style as this goldwork tray that I use for cutting and containing real metal embroidery threads. Any fabric with a nap (like velvet or velveteen) – or even just a rough surface (like felt) – will go a long way to keeping beads calm and easier to manage.

But then, instead, I decided to get tacky.

Beadalon Tacky Mat for bead embroidery
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Organizing Beads for Embroidery


One recurring question that keeps showing up in my inbox ever since we broached the subject of adding beads to embroidery is this:

How do you organize and store your beads?

A month ago, my first reaction to the question was pretty forthright:

Organization? Hahahahhahahahahaha!

It’s not something I’d actually bothered with… until recently.

How did I store and organize beads? In the little ziplock bags they arrive in, or in the tubes and cylinders they’re packaged in, all jumbled together in a box here, a basket there, a larger bag inside that particular box, tossed into this drawer or that drawer.

You get the point: I had no organizational or storage solution for beads until about a month ago.

I finally capitulated. I was fed up with foraging and weary of wondering what beads I have, in what color, size, and type.

Bead Storage Solution Box - storing and organizing beads for embroidery
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