Mary Corbet

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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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Embroidery on Paper: Perforated Paper Makes a Come-Back


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Embroidery on paper is not an innovative or new thing – it’s been around since the Victorian age, when it enjoyed great popularity. Recently, there’s been a resurgance in popularity for this “forgotten” art, and it’s no wonder. Quick and relatively simple, embroidering on paper is a great way to relax, to embellish the home, to decorate for Christmas, and to make personalized gifts.

During the Victorian era, embroidering on paper (“card work”) was a popular occupation for ladies, regardless of class. Since paper was less expensive than linen and even the newly popular cotton, this form of needleart was easily accessible. It was so simple that children often learned to embroider first on paper.

Today, paper embroidery has several “looks.” You can find kits for vintage embroidered mottoes that mimic the rustic, homey look of days gone by. Sage Stitchworks, a company founded by two sisters who collected antique embroidered paper mottoes and finally decided to make the art available again, offers a large variety of kits for embroidered mottoes. The kits work up quickly, making nice items for home decor as well as for gift-giving. Do you have a wedding coming up? How about making a Christmas present for your mother or grandmother? A beginner will have no problems with these kits, and advanced embroiderers will find in them a great way to spend a relaxing evening. Take a look at this pretty welcome sign. What a great gift for a new home! Vintage Needleworks also offers kits, including a variety of pretty Christmas designs.

If you want to make unique Christmas ornaments from punched paper, Tokens and Trifles offers several designs of small, fancy punched cards that could easily be made into ornaments, bookmarks, name or place cards, or even labels.

For a free pattern and instructions to make a simple card, you can check out Creative Life with Cheryl Fall, where she goes beyond cross stitch on a little embroidered flower card.

Speaking of cards, check out the embroidered paper cards by Linda Carlson on Terryfic Times. Linda incorporates metallic threads and beads to make incredible little pieces of art. Some of them may be slightly reminiscent of “string art” that we used to do on wood pounded with small nails, back in the ’70’s! But Linda takes the concept to a whole new dimension!

You can find a bunch of free patterns for easily stitchable cards at Stitching Cards. You’ll find a Christmas pattern or two there, as well, in case you’re thinking about really personalizing your cards this year. Card Inspirations also carries a few free patterns.

If you want to really get into stitching on paper and are looking for the tools to get you started, try Nordic Needle, where you can find a piercing pad, piercing needles in different sizes, and some great books on the subject of paper embroidery.

And don’t get stuck thinking embroidery on paper is just for counted work! You can work all kinds of line stitches on pierced paper, from stem to chain to whathaveyou. The only thing I haven’t had the best luck with is French knots, but lazy daisies look great! As do buttonhole wheels… and the list could go on.

Have fun with it!



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