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



2017 (82) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (353) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Gingham Embroidery Watermelons: Free Pattern & Instructions


A few years ago, I wrote a tutorial for Commonthread by DMC, for working this watermelon design in gingham embroidery.

Since then, the article has been archived so it’s hard to find over there. To help out those who are looking for the pattern and instructions and who have requested it recently for this summer, I’m condensing the instructions and offering the pattern below.

Watermelons on Gingham Embroidery - Chicken Scratch
Continue reading “Gingham Embroidery Watermelons: Free Pattern & Instructions”

Shisha & Variations: How to Add the Magic of Mirrors (& More) to Your Needlework!


I’ve long been enchanted with shisha – or mirror embroidery – and all the fascinating things you can do with it!

There’s a certain magic about embroidery with mirrors. What hooked me on shisha is the spectacular effect of using any kind of tantalizing thread to fix brilliant or colorful objects to fabric. And they don’t have to be mirrors – they can be found objects, buttons, seashells, sea glass, gems, paper, plastic…

Shisha is pretty neat stuff, and it opens up all kinds of possibilities for different types of needlework, whether you’re into surface embroidery, crazy quilting, embroidered clothing, needlepoint, counted work – any type of needlework that lends itself to embellishment!

I’ve compiled a collection of shisha tutorials into a downloadable PDF for you. The techniques range from super simple shisha that takes almost no effort at all but yields stunning results, to traditional shisha, to several stitch and foundation variations that will add all kinds of interest and sparkle to your embroidery projects!

Here’s what you’ll find in the PDF…

Shisha Embroidery Techniques: Mirror Embroidery Stitches
Continue reading “Shisha & Variations: How to Add the Magic of Mirrors (& More) to Your Needlework!”

Embroidery Archeology: Salvaging Ecclesiastical Embroidery


I’ve been asked to salvage a couple embroidered figures from a piece of ecclesiastical embroidery.

I said yes, without first having seen the pieces in person…which could have been a mistake. But, hey! I love this kind of work. There’s no set deadline, either, so I don’t feel super pressured about it. My excitement will provide momentum (I hope!), even without a deadline.

Now that the piece has arrived, I’m thrilled about the project – it’ll be interesting, and it will be challenging to pull the whole project off successfully!

I thought I’d share my explorations with you. Along the way, we’ll run into some snags, I’m sure. But we’ll muddle through! And, whether you’re into ecclesiastical embroidery or not, I’m betting we’ll pick up a few tips along the way that can be applied to other types of embroidery, too.

Today, I’ll introduce you to the original embroidery and talk a little bit about it.

Salvaging ecclesiastical embroidery
Continue reading “Embroidery Archeology: Salvaging Ecclesiastical Embroidery”

How to Stitch a Leafy Border in Chicken Scratch Embroidery on Gingham


Gingham lace, chicken scratch, gingham embroidery, snowflake embroidery, Depression lace – whatever you want to call it, embroidery on gingham, using a combination of cross stitches, double cross stitches and laced stitches, is an endearing, easy, cheerful type of needlework!

While it’s often seen worked on 1/4″ gingham or larger, I like working gingham lace in miniature, on 1/8″ gingham. The smaller gingham makes for a more delicate design that looks great on children’s clothing, household goods, and other accessories made out of gingham. Anything we do here, though, can also be worked on 1/4″ gingham or larger – just remember to increase the weight or thickness of the thread, to compensate for the larger stitches.

If you’ve never dabbled in chicken scratch but you want to – after all, summer is a perfect time to sport some gingham for picnics and parties – you’ll find several tutorials and patterns here on Needle ‘n Thread for gingham embroidery.

Today, I’ll show you step-by-step how to work a leafy border in gingham embroidery, that’s perfect for dressing up your chicken scratch with a little color and flair!

How to do Chicken Scratch Embroidery: adding a leafy border
Continue reading “How to Stitch a Leafy Border in Chicken Scratch Embroidery on Gingham”

Beads for Embroidery: Packaging is (Almost) Everything!


Have you ever had repeated frustrating experiences with the same needlework-related product and told yourself, I will never use this again?

I have!

Every time I work with these particular things that I’m going to talk about today, I say to myself, Never again!

And then, next thing I know, I’m using them again, because, strangely enough, I do like them!

Let me explain, by way of a very rare rant…

Mill Hill Beads: Packaging Frustrations
Continue reading “Beads for Embroidery: Packaging is (Almost) Everything!”

Fun Fabric that Begs to Be Embroidered


Yep. This fabric just Begs to be embroidered!

The coloring book craze overflowed into the fabric industry quite a while ago, and although these particular fabrics have been on the market for a bit, I didn’t take the plunge at first.

You can imagine, though, what my first thoughts were when I saw different lines of “coloring book” fabric coming out. Coloring with ink? No, no! Coloring with thread? Oh yes!

Earlier in the spring, when I started thinking towards summer activities for kids, birthday present ideas, and so forth, my mind went back to coloring book fabric.

Have you seen this stuff? What else is a stitcher supposed to do, when faced with fabric like this? Embroidery really is the only option!

Coloring Book Fabric for Embroidery
Continue reading “Fun Fabric that Begs to Be Embroidered”