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 Mistakes – Needlework Frustrations…


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I think one photo will serve to show you how this past weekend went for me, embroidery-wise…

Remember the embroidery project I set up on my slate frame?

One of those Bad Embroidery Experiences

Have you ever had a weekend like that? Ugh!

I’ve almost lost my determination to overcome this one. Starting over can be really painful!

I’m ripping out (picking out, I should say) my stitching I accomplished this weekend. I just didn’t like it At All. There are a number of reasons, I suppose – one of which is that the pencil – for the first time ever, for me – picked up all over the white threads. I tried to tell myself it would wash out in the end, but I couldn’t get over the sick feeling of “What if it doesn’t?” Rather stop at this point, than finish the whole thing and find out the pencil markings wouldn’t quite come out of the coton a broder! And so, I pick away…

My plan is this: I will pick out all the stitching, and set this piece of linen aside. I’ll set up a new project on Saturday, and stitch it double-time fast, as I’m already behind on this one. I probably won’t use a slate frame. In fact, I may just settle for a hoop. And I will transfer the design using blue dressmaker’s carbon. It’s always safest to use blue when working with white, anyway, because the white absorbs the blue. I should’ve known that. I DID know it. But for some reason, I just didn’t put enough weight on that thought ahead of time.

Oh, the woes of the imprudent stitcher….


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(10) Comments

  1. Ohhh!
    I DID not know that such a thing could happen!!!
    I’m a perfect ignorant! The main problem is that “ignorance is too bold” we used to say… i suspect that some day something like that or other big problem will happens with me
    Can I conclude we must NOT use pencil with white threads? Only BLUE dressmaker carbon?

  2. Well…. like I said, it was a first for me. I won’t use it again with whitework, that’s for sure. The blue dressmaker’s carbon works fine – or there’s also a blue tracing pencil that’s sold at sewing stores…

    I’ve used pencil in the past for whitework without a problem like this. There was just a slightly greyish color developing on the edges of the threads – and especially on the padding threads (not as much on the top satin stitching) – but I just didn’t want to risk it. I also wasn’t satisfied, overall, with the way the letters were turning out.

    So… snip, snip, snip…

  3. 🙁 Well, that’s a bummer! But your lesson learned and shared is much appreciated. Thank you, Mary.

  4. Hi Mary,
    Im an expert Frogger… ( rip it.. rip it.. )LOL
    I have used the blue wash out “mark be gone” fine point for years. I have marked entire quilt tops with feather designs. Just remember never to apply heat on the marks before removing them with cold water. A small spray bottle works great. You would have to use a light box to mark the design.

  5. Nicole got in first with the “Frogger” comment.

    Thankyou for your candour from me too – and an “arrrrgh” for you from me, as well.

  6. I know what you mean. I am working on a Norman Rockwell needlepoint project that I designed. I used too many stitches in the face of the first boy in the picture, trying to get the detail that Rockwell is famous for. Anyway, I don’t like the result. I’m going to continue to stitch the rest of the piece (dropping some detail as I go) and then return to fix the face when I am done. That way, I’ll see if the entire piece is worth it before I go to the trouble of tearing out the face…Oh well, it’s good to know I am not the only one being frustrated…
    An encyclopedia of needlepoint stitches…

  7. Hey, Mary, I can really sympathise. Once I had to tear out a whole chrysanthemum, 6″wide with silk and gold. I was happy after I did it, but I couldn’t even cry because it was all silk! So, I am really sorry. Have you ever used architect’s pencils to transfer designs? They don’t have wax, I think and they fade over time and supposedly don’t hurt the fabric. Enjoy stitching, Anne

  8. the Royal School of Needlework’s Whitework class (I attended in July) recommends blue lead pencils, as used by architects. In the UK, Pentel produces the lead (use it in a propelling pencil). I’m using it on all my whitework and it’s great!

  9. Mary,
    I recently did a sampler and although I used vanishing ink for it, I somehow grabbed a pencil to add an extra touch and did it in the wrong place. I had trouble covering over it with thread, now I cannot get the lead pencil mark(s) off the fabric. Is there something I can do to remove the pencil lead? Thank you again for the great advise you give to all of us!

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