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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Maybe or…Maybe Not? Hand Embroidery Start Up Library Class


A couple weekends back, I mentioned a new hand embroidery class on Craftsy, as part of their “Start Up Library” series.

Several folks wrote in, asking if I’d review the class in detail. I’ve finally had a chance to go through the class in detail, take some notes and think about it a bit, and then write (and re-write, and re-write again) a review from what I hope is an objective eye, wanting what’s best for you.

So, if you’re curious about this Hand Embroidery Start Up Library Class on Craftsy, this short review – with pros and cons – is for you!

Craftsy Hand Embroidery Start Up Library class review
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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Since then, the article has been archived so it’s hard to find over there.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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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