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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (73) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Silk on Silk & Satin Stitch


Amazon Books

Working on gold Italian silk, using soie d’alger by Au Ver a Soie, this stole is an on-going project that someday I hope to finish! The stole is approximately 40 inches (on each side) of satin stitching, with stem stitch also used as a filler. I drew the pattern on graph paper, inspired by a very old vestment that was falling apart. I’ve completed one whole side of the stole (shown here), and I’m halfway up the other side, which is identical.

This is the base of the stole. I am not particularly pleased with the stark contrast in the red and pink, although it is harsher in the photo than in real life. I tried to stick as much with the original color scheme on a very old vestment as I could, and the contrast between the reds and the “pinks” was rather stark. My sister says this reminds her of something out of “Little Shop of Horrors,” a comment which I didn’t entirely appreciate, but I can certainly see where she’s coming from! The rays off the cross are stem stitched, and then I added a touch of blending filament. All the satin stitch thoughout the stole is padded – with two threads of soie d’alger. The satin stitching itself is done with one thread. (I’m firmly convinced you can only get a smooth stitch in satin stitch using one thread – unless you’re supremely careful and employ a laying tool.)

This is the first flower just above the cross. Although I really like the stylized flower / pomegranite-ish look, I am not so keen on the soft colors. Again, it was a matter of sticking as close to possible to the color scheme in the antique vestment. Overall, it looks ok, but I would have chosen deeper colors, personally. Working the flowers was fun. The “branch” of the vine (the gold scrolly stuff) was fun, too, but it got a little monotonous.

This is the next flower up. I like the red and the green, and the cross-hatching in the middle of the flower. This was my favorite flower to work, but I wish I had worked the dark red “arms” sticking out there in satin stitch, as opposed to stem stitch.

The next flower up. Violet and green are two of my favorite color combinations, and I like it even better when red and gold are thrown in. (Think daffodils, irises, and red roses.) Here, I would have liked to have done something more “dimensional” with the pale green undersides of the side “petals.”

The next little fellow up – and something weird and warbley going on over there on the right. I should have been a little more careful there. At this point, I was racing against the clock to finish the whole stole (and that was a couple years ago! The other half is taking me forever!)

Now we’re getting up towards the tip of the stole. These two little guys are much smaller than they appear here. The cross hatching wasn’t done with super precision – but it’s really not noticeable except when looking really closely. The pink thing is a bud.

This is working right towards the tip. On the original vestment, where these little bleeding hearts are, there were other flowers – clusters of five round balls, each a differnt pastel-like color. I wanted to keep the deeper red traveling through the whole stole, so I substituted these guys. This looks larger in the photo than it really is.

Forty inches later – The End!

Now, if I could only arrive at that point on the second half!



Leave a Reply to kandeel 11 years old Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(65) Comments

  1. That is some absolutely amazing satin stitch. I can’t imagine how many hours of work this must have taken. Satin stitch with a single thread does seem like the way to get the best look…but oh so time consuming! Beautiful job.

  2. That is some absolutely amazing satin stitch. I can’t imagine how many hours of work this must have taken. Satin stitch with a single thread does seem like the way to get the best look…but oh so time consuming! Beautiful job.

  3. Thank you all so much for the compliments! This is probably the most fun thing I’ve ever worked on – it isn’t wild or varies, but it was challenging, and I was working with some really good materials, so the whole thing was a pleasure. Of course, I see now the things I wish I had done differently! But overall, I do like it, and am eager to get the second half of it finished!

  4. WOW..WOW..WOW!!!!!
    I’m at a loss for words!
    Absolutely stunning!
    I want to do work like this someday.

  5. I cannot believe the talent that one person has. Mary you not only have the talent you share it as well, what a gorgeous vestment this will make and thank-you for sharing. Lithigral patterns are so scarce and I would love to do some somday. Thank you for sharing your talents with all of us., and please don’t stop.

  6. Mary,
    I was googling for some embroidary sites and voila, I jumped to your site.
    This is exquisite work.I simply loved the videos.Extremely helpful.As they say, “Actions speak louder than words”
    Too good.I am completely in awe.


  7. I don’t think I’ve seen this piece yet, but this one is just as incredible as every other one you’ve ever done, Aunt Mary! 🙂

  8. Has your sister ever done needlework? Give her the section she thinks is so horrible and let her replicate it in better colors with the same quality of needlework. Your work is something I’ll only be able to aspire to but I’m favoriting your site so I can revisit this amazing work. God has given you a gift.

  9. what a happy discovery this site is! Thank God for the web and for gifts like yours. Boggles my mind, such precision. My satin work is soooo messy…but you encourage me to stick with it. Thank you for sharing. And for exercising your gifts.

    bubba’s mom

  10. Mary, you are an amazing artist. I hope to one day know as much as you do. I don’t see how you can possibly find anything wrong with your work, but artists are the hardest on themselves! Beautiful work.

  11. Thank you, Meenakshi, for your kind words! I’m glad you’re enjoying Needle ‘n Thread!

    And thanks to all who have complimented this piece. One day, I will finish it!!


  12. Mary, this is absolutely gorgeous work. I began embroidering just to make some stoles and so I have a more technical question…how do you mount these long pieces while you work on them. I thought I remembered you saying that you didn’t like scroll frames, but I can’t figure out any other way. Any tips you have would be appreciated. Thank you for the gift of your blog. You are inspiring.

  13. HI, Candyce –

    Yes, for a stole, I do use a scroll frame. I like them for this kind of work – but not just framed up. I learned (after working this piece) the importance of lacing the sides of the work to the sides of the scroll frame. It really helps keep a better tension all around. The problem with a wide scroll frame, if the sides are not laced, is that the firmest tension is directly in the center of the piece, and as you get closer to each side, you loose good tension.

    So, with the sides laced, yes, a scroll frame is really a perfect solution to framing up a long, narrow piece like a stole!

    Hope that helps!


  14. I happened onto your site and just love your work. The stole is fantastic and I loved that you have shared your find of using Solvy with embroidery. I had not realized that and so will definitely try it. Thank you for sharing.

    Jean W.

  15. This is an extraordinary piece of work. Your own preferences not withstanding, I find nothing to be critical about in either the colors or the execution.

    Your work is outstanding. God bless you for it and greetings to your Guardian Angel.

  16. This is my first “post” and I usually don’t do this… But, I have never seen such beautiful work. I was looking for some beginning stitches so I could improve on what I probably learned wrong when I first began needlework (100 years ago)lol, and came to this site. It’s the only site I now need. Aspire to be even a little talanted as you. Any suggestions to get going on the proper way to do stitches and what to begin as a first project?

  17. Hi, Kate –

    Thanks for your comment!

    Well, for stitches, you might take a look at the various stitch videos to see what interests you. I noticed your comment on the monograms, so perhaps you could start with a monogram?

    It’s difficult to advise on a project without knowing your tastes and interests! But monograms are always nice for gifts!


  18. hi,

    It is really amazing , Your site is excellent and your videos are so so use ful to beginners like me.
    thank you so much

  19. Thank you so much. I found you in my efforts to assist my 12 year old son in his first embroidery project. He is a champion basketball player and quite the renaissance man. For his school science project he made a “Layers of the Earth” embroidery on linen while watching basketball on the tele. I fell in love with your details of this stole and truly appreciated the video library of stitches. I am now searching for a project to do for myself. I found the Mother’s Day project on your site, and I am looking forward to that. It is amazing to watch your stitches on video, and makes me feel closer to my Mom and Aunt Jeri who passed away in the last 4 years ago very suddenly.

  20. Hi Mary,just found your blog ! I feel like I have just won the lottery !You have a wonderful blog !! And I can't wait to try some of the stitches I didn't have a clue how to stitch !
    Your stole is absolutely gorgeous !

    Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful blog !

  21. Hi Mary, this is really gorgeous ! A technical question, what are you using as a stabilizer for the silk ? I have used some iron on ones…. golden touch is a favorite. I'm just wondering what you use.


  22. Hi, Maria –

    Underneath the stitches, I added a layer of padding stitches, but I didn't use any stabilizer. I should have used another layer underneath – usually, for this type of work, I would put a layer of muslin behind it.

    Thanks for your comment!


  23. Awesome piece of work!! Your videos are really helpful for people like me who want to start learning embroidery.
    Keep going. Great work!!


  24. Mary
    I find your site awesome
    (the best really) Your instructions for stitches are very clear. You also seem to be such a giving and "real" person.
    By the way the stole work is absolutly beautiful. Even though the colors are not what you may have chosen, the overall effect is lovely
    I agree with someone's comment that artists can be their own worst critics.
    Believe me, you do fine work.
    How do I access your blog?

  25. Hi, Linda –

    Thanks so much for your comment!

    If you hit the Home link at the top of the page, you'll see the most current posts. Click on the title of any one, and it will take you to the full article!

    Hope that helps!

    Best regards,

  26. Absolutely wonderful! Stunning! wow ,if I could do work like this..I'M going to try it!! You should be so proud of yourself and show your sister the comments you have received on this pc..Good for you!! love it!! Sue

  27. What an inspiration you are, I am so impressed with your work. I have just ordered two books on crewel embroidery that are on your web site. Thank you so much.

  28. Mary I think you are being far to harsh on yourself about the contrasts of colours.
    Having been taugfht this style of embroidery in he monastery most people for get these designs are read by the folk on average from about 20 feet away at least.
    If the contrasts were a subtle as we think the impact of the design would be lost.
    This is very evident with many of the modern works seen in many churches to day.
    SO mush can be learnt from the study of colour and structure of the designs from old vestments that give them the impact.

  29. Oh my goodness, Mary, I love you! Just discovered your site, and I am overwhelmed by the beauty of your work, and your generosity, to make them available.
    I recently started digitizing designs to use for vestments, and have been working from digital photos of old vestments. I love doing it, but it’s so laborious working from the images. You have just sent me lightyears ahead. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart! and God bless you!

  30. Aloha from Hawaii!!! A quilter, I’m seriously looking into trying my hand in thread art… I love all of the pictures of the religious works and I’m going to start learning the basic stitches here on your site….Wish me luck!!!

  31. Me again! I am following your directions, Mary and here I am at your gorgeous stole. I would love to see the whole thing in one photo – is that possible? And how is the second side progressing now, two years or so later? Can’t wait to see it all.

    I gather that some parts, leaves and petals, are satin stitch and some are stem stitch; is that correct?

  32. This is absolutely gorgeous!! What an incredible piece of art!! Btw your videos are extremely helpful, I can’t wait to try my first satin stitch tomorrow!

  33. luuuuvvv ur videos and this is a beautiful piece ur videos have been really helpful since im a beginner

    kandeel 11 years old

  34. Hi Mary
    I followed your link from today’s post from you … WoW!! This is stunning … & I beg to differ with your sister! I LOVE the colours that you’ve chosen to do … as well as your plan to change the dots to bleeding hearts at the end. This is truly magnificent work! I just don’t know how you manage to do all that you do! You certainly are an amazing lady. Thank you so much for being so generous with your time & knowledge … & for sharing your beautiful work with us.

  35. It s really amazing. could you post a full picture of the stole. I love the color of the stole and the colors of the silk satin work. excellent. I wish I could really try this out!! keep going..

  36. Hi Mary, I am just having another look at this fantastic piece of work and noting your comments re the colours. You say you are matching yours to those on the antique piece – do you think perhaps the old ones may have faded some which is making your life difficult now, eg, the pink/red, as some reds are quite fugitive perhaps originally they were closer. Blues too can be fugitive so maybe the blue-violet colours were stronger in the original piece. This is more a question than anything else, I am probably way off the map here but I would appreciate your comments. Thank you.

    1. Hi, Christina – Well, though the original stole was old, all the thread was silk, and the piece was well preserved, more or less. There was no real sign of fading underneath any of the threads, or when I nudged stitches aside, or looked at some of the padding threads. So I think the colors were pretty true to the original… I did check when I started the project…. Thanks for the comment! ~MC

  37. Mary, a friend sent me pictures of your silk ribbon eggs. They blew me away, she knew they would. I know how to do most handwork, and seldom find something new to try. The eggs are wonderful and what a clever idea. You certainly have a lot of talent. It is such a pleasure to see your work; I enjoyed it so much. I’ll bet you spent some time figuring that technique out, and aslo doing the embroidery. Are you sharing the egg process? If so, please tell me where and how. Thanks for sharing your projects. Dean

    1. Hi, Dean – Thanks! Actually, they aren’t my eggs. In the article on the subject, I referred readers to the site where I originally found them. They’re incredible, aren’t they? I’d like to try the technique some day! I haven’t done it myself…. One day, one day…..


    1. Hi, Luis – the ground fabric is an Italian silk satin – so a little heavy, crisp, with good body. The thread is a stranded silk – Soie d’Alger by Au Ver a Soie. Hope that helps! ~MC

  38. Will you show the completed embroidery with name of each the hand embroidery stitches used in the picture and please indicate where it is used? That will help beginners like me.

  39. This is amazing work Mary you are an inspiration. May God Bless your hands and thank you for sharing your wonderful work with us.

  40. Your stitching on the stole is superb, Mary. You’re way to hard on yourself! I love the strong contrast in colours between the red, pink and the gold. I think a paler combination would not have the same effect.

  41. Hi Mary, I am a great admiration of your website, and your work. I have a question, I want embroider with satin stitch, long and short stitch, on a silk fabric, using DMC threads, it is possible ?? what advice you give me. I don`t have others threads
    Thousand thanks.


  42. Mary
    I envy you being able to make a living with embroidery though I am sure there are many tedious parts. Nonetheless I still *sigh* when I get your daily emails! The proof reading alone must be something!
    Here is my question: Where do you get the ecclesiastical repairs or commissions? On a burst of inspiration, as you finished the Marian medalion, I offered to make a piece for our church. Sadly our priest wanted far far too much input to the project and….missing the point, wanted felt flowers on burlap. I just let the project die a natural death.
    Keep on stitching in good heath. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year.

  43. Awesome piece of work! Thanks for sharing it!

    I embroidery, but never done much satin stitching. If I’m getting you right,you said it’s best to use 1 (single) thread. So does that work best on anything?

    Also I’d like to know about the time it takes for 1 stitch. So I can figure how long it will take me to do 1 fairly simple project.

    Thank you,


    1. Yes, one single strand for satin stitch will give you a much smoother result. I’m not quite sure what you mean by “does that work best on anything”? Do you mean on satin stitch worked on anything, or do you mean on any stitch? In most cases, unless you’re doing very casual embroidery, one strand works best for satin stitch, no matter what the project is. Sometimes, the thread might make a difference – but in most cases, one strand works best.

      As for how much time it takes for an individual stitch, I suppose that depends on the person, the person’s habits and techniques, what stitch it is, and whatnot. It’s not really a question I can answer – I’ve never actually timed how much time it takes to make one stitch.

More Comments