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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Pouches & Cases: They’re for Needlework, Too


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Not every needlework accessory or needlework tool needs to come from the craft industry.

Take, for example, the magnet wand (like this one I wrote about here). Buy the unadorned, simple magnet wand at a needlework shop, and it could cost you upwards to $14. Step over to a hardware store and you can purchase essentially the same thing for about $4.

Today’s case in point (hardy-har-har) is the pencil case / make up bag / pouch-made-for-just-about-any-other-industry.

This conversation came up thanks to a post over in my Needle ‘n Thread Facebook Community, where Sara Rossi shared a photo of her travel embroidery supplies nicely tucked into a pencil case.

Pouches and cases used for embroidery travel kits
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Testing Embroidery Ideas: It Doesn’t Always Work!


Design ideas and embroidery ideas don’t always work.

It’s true! They don’t! Sometimes, in fact, they’re utter failures.

It takes testing, time, and sometimes a good dose of frustration to arrive at a design, a technique, a thread, a stitch, or an embellishment that leads to a resounding, “Oh yes! That will work! Yay!”

Some people might think it takes a lot of waste, too.

It’s true that there are pieces of embroidery that I entirely scrap, because they won’t work out. It’s true that I might go through a spool or a skein of thread before I admit that, as much as I like the thread, it won’t work for this. It’s true that I might spend a whole afternoon – maybe even a whole day – maybe even three days! – on a particular design or working with a particular thread, before I say, “No. This Just Won’t Work.”

None of that is waste. It’s called process – more specifically, it’s called the learning process. And all of us go through it to some degree or another every time we sit down to stitch. Embroidery designers go through it pretty often – mostly so that you don’t have to!

I’ve been working through a collection of snowflakes, and some have worked out fine. Others have been a wash. Here’s a bit of process for you, in case you ever wonder what goes on when I’m exploring and testing embroidery designs and ideas.

Testing embroidery ideas on snowflakes
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CraftOptics & a Discount for Readers


Here’s a subject that should be dear the heart of any embroiderer: eyesight.

We often talk about all the tools and accessories and favorite little things that make needlework enjoyable for us. But, hands down, the Most Important tools we have are built right in and we take them with us everywhere. We could not do the needlework we do without our very precious eyes.

I have lousy eyesight, and it’s been that way ever since I can remember seeing things (or rather, not seeing them). My first glasses came about when I first went to school and the teacher realized I couldn’t see the board.

I remember as a kid going to church and staring at a huge stain glass window and being mesmerized by the colors that all swirled together. I could move my eyes and my head around, squinting, and make the colors blend and move. It was all just color to me. There were no pictures. It wasn’t until I had my first pair of glasses that I realized there was actually a story to see in that window.

The drive home from the optometrist when we picked up my first pair of glasses was an eye-opener, too. It was the first time I actually saw, from a distance, leaves on trees – and it just happened to be fall in New England. That drive home is seared in my brain. I can close my eyes and see it as clearly now as I saw it then.

The upshot is this: glasses – or the equivalent – have been a necessary part of my life since then.

In fact, I’m going I’m going to the optometrist today.

CraftOptics with a Discount
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Can you Satin Stitch with It? Exploring Metallics!


Last week, when I updated you on my snowflake embroidery projects, Beth asked a very good question in the comment section, and never being one to shirk a stitching challenge when it really intrigues me, I decided to try something.

Beth asked me if I could satin stitch with the metallic threads I was using.

I should have been able to say, “Of course you can. They are made for stitching, after all.” But since I had not satin stitched with them, I figured I better try it before confirming or denying.

If you’d just like the long and short of it, here it is: “Of course you can satin stitch with this thread. It is made for stitching, after all.”

A Ver a Soie Metallics and Satin Stitch
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Jenny’s Little Laying Tool / Stiletto


This has been a long time coming!

Well over a year ago, I was sent a wee needlework gift (Thank you, Holly!). And ever since then, I’ve wanted to tell you about it. But I couldn’t, without burdening the person behind it.

But now I can! Yay! Why? Because Jenny Adin-Christie, needlework designer and teacher extraordinaire, finally has a new website with an online shop. If you haven’t seen her new site, you must.

I said it was a wee needlework gift – and it is small. Small, but Mighty! A testament that big things really do come in small packages.

Jenny's Little Laying Tool / Stiletto
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Flaking About: Color, Variety, and Workspace


Whenever I start playing around with a new project that I’m excited about, I tend to jump right into the experimental stage without any rhyme or reason, grabbing this piece of fabric, that skein of thread… just to “play” with the initial idea and see how it works out.

Once I decide that I like the idea, I try to take a more organized approach with things – especially because I usually write about or publish the projects here on the website, which means that the supplies I’m using can’t be too far out there (as in, no longer available or too hard to find).

I also make sure that I document the supplies and stitches I use as I go along.

When it gets to this stage, things slow down a bit – especially if I have to take progress photos. Wow. Progress photos can really slow things down! But worse than slowing down to take them is forgetting to take them altogether – which sometimes happens. That just means I have to stitch the thing over again. Heh heh.

I mentioned week before last that I was doodling about with snowflakes. Well, what started with a concept and some simple doodling has turned into a serious flaking adventure!

Snowflakes in hand embroidery
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