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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Ecclesiastical Figure Embroidery



Figures have played a dominant role in ecclesiastical embroidery since the Middle Ages.

During the era of Opus Anglicanum embroidery (1100’s through the end of the 1300’s), figures were the focal element of the style. The embroidering of saints and biblical figures to adorn vestments continued to develop after the Middle Ages. During the Renaissance, beautiful figure embroidery mixed with exquisite goldwork developed in Belgium, especially, and also in Spain, Italy, and other parts of Europe.

Into and through the 1700’s, floral elements became more common on vestments and vesture. And by the Industrial Revolution of the mid-1800’s, figures – while still figuring in ecclesiastical embroidery – began to deteriorate, in some regards, as far as quality is concerned. The fully embroidered figure began to recede from the more common ecclesiastical use, and figures that were a combination of paint and embroidery began to emerge, in keeping with the trends and desires for quicker turnout in textile-related production.

Still, figure embroidery even today is part of ecclesiastical embroidery.

Here are a few images of figure embroidery that are relevant for today. If you haven’t ever seen pieces like these up close, hopefully you’ll find them as fascinating as I do!

Ecce Homo in Figure Embroidery
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Jacobean Whitework: Rethinking & a New Start


I loved the blue linen that I used when I first set up this Jacobean “whitework” embroidery project.

But since it is a discontinued fabric, and since I had some design tweaking I wanted to do, I decided to start over.

I couldn’t find a blue linen I liked well enough that is suitable for surface embroidery like this, so I’ve opted for a natural colored linen. I still intend to incorporate some blue – but we will see how that plan pans out a little further down the road!

Now, it’s not unusual that I start a project and then re-think it pretty soon after the start. I prefer it when this doesn’t happen, but sometimes, it just does. And while starting over may seem like a waste of time and resources, I always learn something useful in that process. Plus, the materials from the first attempt come in handy for testing theories for the next attempt.

Combine those positive benefits with the fact that I don’t like to put a lot of time into something that I already know is dissatisfactory, and those provide me with my excuses (they’re good enough!) to start over.

Jacobean whitework embroidery on blue linen
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Weekend Stitching: Making Adjustments on Flowers


Happy Monday! Did you enjoy much time with your needle and thread this weekend?

As it turns out, I didn’t. I managed to squeeze in a little bit of stitching time late Sunday afternoon – and it didn’t last very long!

But I almost finished the five motifs that are featured in Elizabetta’s booklet In a Wheat Field that I reviewed a couple weeks ago.

I made some changes as I went along. I’ll show you and explain my reasoning…

Embroidered Flowers on Linen from In a Wheat Field by Elisabetta Sforza
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Magnifier / Light Combo for Needlework – A Review


For many of us, it’s inevitable. We hit 40, and our eyesight changes. And for those of us who love needlework, this can be problematic.

I’ve written about magnification options for needlework many times here on Needle ‘n Thread. Today, I’m going to review a magnifier I recently purchased solely in order to answer your questions about it.

As an embroiderer who has had Really Bad Eyesight all my life, this is a topic that’s near and dear to me – having the right tools that allow us to pursue the things we love to do.

Brightech Magnifier Light Combo Review on Needle 'n Thread
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Huck or Swedish Weaving & a Towel from Julie


Last year, as winter was setting in, my niece Julie accosted me, looking for some needlework to do that wasn’t difficult, that worked up easily and quickly, and that would give her something creative to do with her hands during the evening hours.

We foraged about in my Bin of Sundry Collected Needlework Goods, and came across a couple Huck weaving (also called Swedish weaving, among other names) towel kits. So I passed them off to her – and guess what came back to me last weekend? A finished towel!

Huck weaving also came up in our Needle ‘n Thread group over on Facebook not too long ago, too, so I thought I’d touch on the topic here, mention some resources, and direct you to the free pattern that you’ll see on Julie’s towel.

Swedish or Huck Weaving on a Towel
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The Easter Onion: Felt, Embroidery, and Failure!


There are some things I really shouldn’t blog about.

Felt and embroidery seem like a pretty good subject, though. And usually, it is!

But in this case? Maybe not!

The way I see it, though, is that sometimes, it’s more fun to learn from other people’s mistakes than it is to make our own – so here is a little lesson in… I don’t know what.

I thought I had the right concept (and maybe I do), but wow, this thing didn’t come out the way I intended at all!

Felt and Embroidery - Easter Egg Failure
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Bloomin’ Poppies… & Other Addictive Embroidery


I almost feel like I’ve been suckered into embroidering these motifs from Elisabetta’s wheat field alphabet. They’re just too addictive to put down.

My Project Wall is feeling rather neglected (I’ll tell you about my Project Wall some day…) and my eggs are stagnating. I’m embroidering some eggs of a sort – I’ll share them with you soon!

The poppies are The Most Fun Ever. They make me laugh.

Hand Embroidered Poppies
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