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

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Tag: wool

Carol’s Rose Crewel Embroidery Kit Review


Earlier this year, I brought up the subject of “designer” embroidery kits – that is, embroidery kits made and sold directly from designers (as opposed to kits bought in a big box craft store) – and their value.

Since then, I’ve been reviewing several embroidery kits from different designers around the globe, so that you can see these kits up close and get an idea of what different embroidery designers have to offer in kit form.

Today, we’re going to take a close look at a crewel embroidery kit designed by Jessica Grimm, an RSN graduate who lives in and works her embroidery business from Bavaria, in Germany.

Jessica explores many different types of embroidery on her blog, and in her shop, she sells her own embroidery kits that cover different techniques, too.

Her crewel embroidery kit called Carol’s Rose caught my eye, and so that’s what we’re going to look at up close today.

Carol's Rose Crewel Embroidery Kit from Jessica Grimm
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Choosing the Right Fabric for Hand Embroidery


A frequently asked question here on Needle ‘n Thread is what fabric to choose for hand embroidery projects.

We’ve talked about testing specific ground fabrics for hand embroidery before (here and here, for example), we’ve discussed linen for embroidery numerous times (here and here are two articles with a lot of information in them), and we’ve discussed building a swatch collection of fabrics that are suitable for embroidery, but in all the years we’ve been chatting about embroidery together, I’ve never itemized what I look for in a ground fabric specifically for hand embroidery.

I thought I’d do that today and open up the topic for discussion. Most embroiderers have their favorite fabrics that they gravitate towards, so I’d love to hear about the fabrics you like to use for surface embroidery, the fabrics you avoid for surface embroidery projects, and the whys and wherefores behind your thoughts.

Here are my thoughts on the subject – I hope you join in with yours!

Choosing the right fabric for hand embroidery projects
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Needle Aweigh!


Have you ever heard of “woolies”?

Woolies are embroidered images of ships worked by sailors who were usually on those ships. Although they’re mostly a British thing, it’s not unusual to find woolies worked by sailors from other countries as well.

My interest in woolies was piqued some 15-ish years ago, when visiting DC. There, I saw the sailor’s embroidery that’s on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Unlike woolies, this piece is worked on linen with silk, and it features, along with a ship, many land-based scenes memorializing the Civil War. On the bottom of it, the sailor embroidered “Worked at Sea.”

Contemplating that piece, I thought, “Embroidery by sailors made sense – it would be a great way to occupy time. And surely this isn’t the only piece of embroidery ever done by a sailor!

And that thought led me to…

woolies. (Don’t you just love the name?!)

Woolies: Embroidered Ships by Sailors at Sea
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Ground Fabrics for Hand Embroidery – Some Blends


I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. And again. (And probably again!): Linen is my go-to fabric for hand embroidery, because, in my opinion, good linen is the Best Fabric for Hand Embroidery. There are many reasons for my tunnel vision when it comes to linen, and if you look up linen here on Needle ‘n Thread, you’ll find all kinds of articles devoted to that wondrous flaxy fabric, along with my reasons for loving it.

Now, this article is not about linen, so I’m not going to expound upon its glories herein. (Aren’t you glad?)

I do realize that linen is not the only fabric under the sun, and it just so happens that I also like stitching on other fabrics, too. There are times when silk makes a gorgeous ground for embroidery. There are times when it is appropriate to use cotton for hand embroidery. Velvet (silk velvet, or in a pinch, 100% cotton velveteen, even), wool – all are suitable for hand embroidery, depending on what you want to embroider. Some fabrics are more appropriate than others, depending on what you’re doing.

I draw the line at synthetics. I’m not a fan of synthetics as ground fabrics for hand embroidery. I find they are harder on the thread than natural fibers, they can be unpredictable regarding the finished outcome, and they are often a pain to work on. They’re tricky. And usually, they’re just downright icky.

But what about blends?

Ground Fabrics for Hand Embroidery
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Long & Short Stitch in Wool – Fixed, and…


Remember last week, when we discussed the angle of viewing this wool embroidery sample, where I’m playing with tambour embroidery in wool, along with a few other stitches?

Well, I fixed the long & short stitch filling on that little paisley shape in the center, and I thought you’d want to see it. And as things like this always go, once I fixed that, I started in, ripping out another section, too.

Don’t worry. Eventually I’ll get it.

Long & Short Stitch Shading in Wool
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Embroidery & Scotch Tape – A Match Made in Heaven


I know it’s hard to believe that embroidery and Scotch tape have much to do with each other.

But I’ll tell you what! If you don’t have a at least a small reel of Scotch tape somewhere in your stitching supplies, you should!

It doesn’t have to be Scotch tape in particular – as long as it’s an easy-release tape. I think it helps, too, if it’s at least somewhat transparent.

Allow me to demonstrate…

Wool Embroidery & Scotch Tape
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