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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2019 (58) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (353) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Tool Talk: Thimbles – Types & Usage



We’ve talked about thimbles somewhat frequently here on Needle ‘n Thread. I think they’re an interesting subject among embroiderers because generally, the topic can be divided into two camps: stitchers who use them and stitchers who don’t.

The majority of those who use thimbles learned to stitch using them and they use them habitually all the time. To stitch without them would seem awkward to the regular thimble-user.

Those who don’t use thimbles when they stitch find thimbles generally awkward and difficult to get used to.

I fall in the latter camp, when it comes to using thimbles with embroidery. I rarely use them, except in emergencies. To use a “real” metal thimble when I embroider slows me down and, in fact, makes every movement bumbly and awkward.

But, weirdly enough, I fall into the former camp when using (certain types of) thimbles for hand sewing. I always use one. I’ll explain the difference in usage of the terms embroidery and hand sewing below – and the difference in thimble usage – for me, anyway!

Let’s talk a little bit about thimbles, types, and usage. I’ll show you what I use when I need thimbles in an emergency when embroidering, I’ll talk about what works for me (and doesn’t work for me) when hand sewing, and we’ll chat about the difference between embroidery and hand sewing. I’ll share some resources with you, and open the topic up for your comments and recommendations.

Leather thimble used for hand sewing
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Small Progress: Padding Needlepainting


I’ve enjoyed a couple short stitching sessions this week, working on the small flower design I introduced you to on Monday.

This isn’t exactly a “side project” – I’m working on it with a purpose, as it belongs to a collection of other small floral elements I’ve been putting together. But I’ve been treating it like a side project, by picking it up only when I have a little bit of spare time here or there. It’s turning into Thinking Project, one of those projects I pick up when I am between other tasks, but I need a moment or two to think!

I find this kind of needlepainting, or long and short stitch shading, very (very) relaxing. Almost too relaxing. Sometimes, it’s not until after I finish a section that I realize I should have done something differently. Had I been a little more alert and a little less relaxed, maybe I would have thought about it before the section was finished!

In any case, here’s my minuscule progress, and a couple tips for you.

Needlepainting embroidery - long and short stitch flower
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Embroidered Boxes: Techniques & Projects – Book Review


Over the last several years, my fascination with what the French call “cartonnage” has steadily grown.

What apparently began as a technique for creating funerary masks in Ancient Egypt has developed today into the craft of box-making, using different weights of card and board (like book-binding board or mat board) covered with fabric or paper to create beautiful receptacles, organizers, trays, etuis, and the like.

Today, I want to show you a book that will help you do all of the above. I have a pretty thorough collection of books dedicated to making fabric (or paper) covered boxes, and when this one came out, I knew I had to add it to my shelf! I’m glad I did, because I found within its pages many tidbits that have made me much more confident about undertaking my next box construction project.

If you have an obsession with creating embroidered, fabric, or paper-covered boxes, Embroidered Boxes: Techniques and Projects by Emma Broughton is well worth adding to your own library!

Embroidered Boxes: Techniques and Projects
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Weekend Stitching: An Exercise for Needlepainting


This past weekend, I began one of many little embroidery projects that I’m putting together, that are exercises of one sort or another. This particular one is an exercise in needlepainting.

Needlepainting – also called long and short stitch shading, soft shading, silk shading, thread painting – is working with long and short stitch and sometimes a few other stitches to create embroidery that is realistically shaded in a way that mimics painting.

Needlepainting in Embroidery - Flower from Side View
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Needlework News Snips – May, 2019


It’s been a long time since we’ve meandered together through needlework content online. Since there are a few things I want to tell you about that are time sensitive, I thought today would be a good day for a little browse through various needlework-related topics.

For those who are recently joining us on Needle ‘n Thread, occasionally, I compile these little lists of needlework things that I’ve come across, that I think you all will find interesting, too. I call them news snips because they’re just little snippets here and there that happen to catch my attention.

Generally, I write these lists while I’m sipping a cup of tea, and when one of two things happens – either my tea is gone or it is cold – we call it quits!

So pour yourself a cup and join me vicariously for a friendly chat while we meander together through the list…

Needlework News Snips, May 2019
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The Amazing Stitching Handbook for (not only?) Kids


Summer will be shortly upon us here in this half of the world! And along with summer comes a fantastic opportunity to introduce kids to embroidery, giving them a gift that will last them all their lives – an appreciation for making something with their own two hands.

Usually around this time of year, I get a lot of requests for recommendations for children’s embroidery projects or books that can help introduce a child to embroidery.

Well, if you have children in your life, and you’re eager to spread the joy of needlework to them, there’s a fantastic new book out aimed just at kids, called The Amazing Stitching Handbook for Kids.

After seeing mediocre needlework books and kits and whatnot aimed at children come and go over the years, I’m really happy to see this particular book. It’s a terrific information, reference, instructional, and project book.

I like it a lot! I like it so much that I’ve purchased copies of it to use for summer birthdays (and other occasions) and bundled it with basic supplies. It’s an ideal book for helping a child to start stitching!

Let’s look at it in detail…

The Amazing Stitching Handbook for Kids
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Seventh Heaven: A Free Hand Embroidery Design


Good morning, my friends!

Today, let’s keep things short and sweet! This morning, I’m sending along a free hand embroidery design for a kaleidoscope that I call Seventh Heaven.

The reason for the name? Well, it’s a kaleidoscope of seven parts: seven arms and seven layers that can be broken down or grouped different ways.

So I’ll share the design with you below, in a handy PDF printable, and chat a bit about embroidery ideas for the design.

Free Hand Embroidered Kaleidoscope Design: Seventh Heaven
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