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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2018 (86) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (353) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

The Stitch Sampler vs The Doodle Cloth


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One of my favorite aspects of playing with stitches is the resulting sample cloths that are peppered with a variety of color, stitch trials and errors, and other random bits of embroidery.

While preparing for summer embroidery classes for kids, one necessary item in each kit that we prepared was a blank piece of fabric, 10″ square. These pieces were linen of various types, pulled out of my stash, cut, rinsed, pressed, and surged along the edges. Their purpose is to give the kids a decent piece of fabric to practice on, so that they can master individual stitches before applying them to their projects.

As we were preparing the classes, I noticed that one of us called the piece of fabric “sampler fabric” and the other called it “a doodle cloth.” In class, we find ourselves each using our own pet term.

There’s a slight difference between a sampler and a doodle cloth, at least when it comes to concept, especially considering the way the term sampler has developed throughout the ages.

Sampler vs Doodle Cloth for embroidery
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Embroidery & Time – It’s Not Meant to be Fast


Good morning, and Happy Tuesday! I’m back home and settled into a flurry of work, thanks to the kids’ local embroidery classes that started yesterday.

It’s going to be a rather hairy week – the first round of classes for each class level takes a bit of preparation and time, and really cuts into the normal day! By next week, Anna (she’s my kindergarten-teaching-embroiderer-niece) will be taking the helm for all the classes, which means I can just melt away.

But during this week, as the kids are introduced to embroidery for the first time, she needs an extra set of hands in the class. So that’s where my time will be concentrated through Friday.

Time and embroidery are a funny thing. When you’re on the Total Enjoyment side of embroidery, when you’re not working against any deadlines and you don’t have to finish things quickly, the amount of time it takes to hand embroider something doesn’t really figure into a project choice. You pick a project because you like it, and you relish the amount of time you get to work on it. It’s like savoring a really good book – you don’t necessarily want it to end!

But when you need to do more, meet deadlines, and keep moving ahead with new and exciting things, the time it takes to hand embroider figures into a lot of decision-making!

Take, for example, this piece…

Voided Monogram in Hand Embroidery - E
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A Hearty Kaleidoscope: Free Hand Embroidery Pattern


A couple weeks ago, I prepared this embroidery pattern for you, and I was going to share it sooner, but time slipped away from me!

It worked out well, though, because I can give it to you while I’m away for a bit.

Appropriately, the design features several heart motifs, just so you know that I’m thinking of you and holding you in my heart, even if I’m not behind the computer screen this week.

This is a kaleidoscope pattern, much like those in my pattern e-book, Favorite Kaleidoscopes.

And as usual, I’ve chosen a rather cheesy title for the design.

Heart Kaleidoscope pattern for hand embroidery - free embroidery design
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Flour Sack Towels for Embroidery: Why & Wherefore!


Embroidered flour sack towels have been a Thing in America since the first half of the 20th century.

Today, we’ll talk a little bit about their history, why they work great for embroidery, and why they’re still a favored item in the home and in the commercial kitchen.

I’ll also share some resources for flour sack towels that I think work well for hand embroidery. I’m always on the look-out for the best flour sack towels, so I’ve run into both the good and the bad over the years.

Flour Sack Towels for Embroidery - Tips & Resources
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Needlework News Snips – July, 2018


It’s been a long time since we’ve taken a little browse together through bits of needlework information, inspiration, and instruction populating the online world.

This weekend, there’s quite a line-up of Interesting Stuff for you.

Before we get started, though…

A Website Notice

This coming week, from Sunday, July 8 – through Sunday, July 15, I will not be able to answer emails.

I have a few articles scheduled for you, but I will have comments turned off on those just for the week. I’ll turn them back on when I return. I’ll be completely unplugged while away. I’ll explain more at the end of today’s article, for the curious.

In the meantime, grab your favorite beverage – this summer, ice water sounds pretty good! – and let’s go for a stroll!

Needlework News Snips - July 2018
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Goldwork Embroidery Frame: Linen, Felt Padding, Silk & Gold


Friday at Last! Happy weekend!

Today I’m going to show you a little progress on my goldwork frame project that I started a few weeks ago. We’ll talk about what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and what I’m doing it with, while sharing a few tips along the way.

And, if you’re keen to try goldwork, or you want to read more about it, you’ll find some links at the end of the article for further explorations.

This is the bit that we’ll be talking about and looking at up close:

Goldwork Embroidery - Round Frame with Gold and Silk Threads
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Happy Fourth! & a Little Christmas in July for you!


Happy Fourth of July! Even if you’re not in the US, you can celebrate the fourth of July – we all have it on our calendars, after all. Just pick any reason to celebrate, and you’re good to go!

Independence Day here is the quintessential small-town-USA summer holiday, but since most interesting things don’t get underway until closer to evening, I’ll be spending most of the day in front of the computer, taking care of loose ends that have been piling up. No stitching! *Sigh*

But even though I’m not stitching today, that doesn’t mean you can’t! And to help you along, it strikes me as a great day for a Christmas sale.

Even if it is 100 degrees out…

Since Christmas is barely six months away, I thought I’d offer a little Christmas in July sale, just for the fun of it!

12 Trees for Christmas embroidery projects
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