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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Breath of Spring Embroidery Project: Fun and … Done!


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Last weekend, I put the final stitches on my “Breath of Spring” embroidery project! It was such a fun and colorful project to work that now I’m sorry I finished it. Working a project that you really enjoy is like reading a good book – you want to get to the end to see the finish, but when you get there, you’re disappointed that the journey is over!

Still, I’m happy the embroidery is finished. Now, it’s just a matter of sewing up the bag (oh dear).

So here’s the whole garden. The embroidery stitches employed in this project were all straightforward, easy stitches. The most difficult stitch was the bullion knot; otherwise, the project is worked predominantly in stem stitch, with lots of French knots (lots and lots of French knots), some blanket stitch, some long-and-short stitch, fly stitch, and straight stitch. That’s about it, actually!

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden

The whole project is about 16″ wide. It’s supposed to make up the outside pocket of a large linen tote bag. Everyone who’s seen it, though, seems to think it should be framed, and that it would only get ruined on a tote bag.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

Racing towards the finish line this weekend, I had heaps of fun embroidering this little guy! He’s a terrific grasshopper.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

He’s mostly worked in long and short stitch (the wings, the head, the lower body), and the front, jumpy parts of his back legs are long bullions. The skinny sections of the back legs are straight stitch, but because they were such long straight stitches, and since this is meant to be the outside pocket on a usable tote bag, I decided to anchor the straight stitches.

It is, in fact, the bugs that make this garden come alive, I think. Oh, don’t get me wrong – I love the colorful grasses and flowers – but the bugs are the lively element.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

There’s this fellow, that I already wrote about at length. I love this little guy!

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

Then there are the little ladybugs, worked in fly stitch, satin stitch, straight stitch, and French knots.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

I never did fix the one with the wonky dots. Should I? Methinks…. I probably won’t.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

Then there’s the bee, that actually has really widely spaced eyes. I read somewhere (I think it may have been a Snapple fact!) that bees have 5 eyes. Mine just has two eyes, far apart.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

Then there’s this water-bug mosquito-eater thing. You can tell my entomological skills are rather lacking – I have no idea what this one is. It reminds me of those bugs that I used to see, as a kid, skidding across the top of Parker’s Pond on frong-catching expeditions. It also reminds me of those really big mosquito-looking bugs that aren’t mosquitos that we grew up calling mosquito-eaters, because they were such big mosquitos that we figured they ate small mosquitos. Hm.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

This splash of brightness is probably the focal point of the garden – it certainly is the first thing you see. It’s worked in a variegated thread, except for the markings, in long and short stitch.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

This is the svelte side-view butterfly (I do like the white wings on the natural colored linen – they stand out!).

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

And this is the slightly overweight side-view butterfly, with the big head.

So those are the bugs – and here are some of my favorite garden views.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

I like the combination of the cheery yellow, the bright green, and the blue flowers in this clump of flora.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

And I like the thistle climbing the buttercup that points to the big butterfly…

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

And though it didn’t receive much attention in the blogging of this project, I like the wispy grasses that fill out the garden.

Breath of Spring Embroidered Garden from Inspirations Magazine

I also like my garden from the side. The caterpillar looks ripe and pudgy, and I like all the wavy grasses.

So that’s the project – ’twas great fun. If I can bring myself to tackle the construction of the tote it goes on, I’ll be amazed.

But what do you think, really? Should it go on the tote, or should it go on the wall? Maybe everyone else is right…

My next project, already underway, is a small goldwork project that I’m giving to my niece as a wedding present. The wedding is in November, but I won’t be there. Still, I’ll send along a little symbolic something in goldwork. I’ll show that to you eventually, but there’s a story behind the piece, so I can’t blog the whole thing right now. I think I can blog snippets, though, that don’t show the whole design. I’ll find out if I can, and if I can… welp. You’ll be the first to know!

So – tote? Wall hanging? or tote? or wall hanging? Decisions, decisions…

Project Update: It ended up on a tote bag!


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(49) Comments

  1. This is one of my favorite posts you’ve made! I love how it came together, and it’s been such fun watching the progress. I am leaning towards tote because it needs to be out and shown off in the world!

  2. Well, I think it should be professionally matted and framed and hung in a place of honor. I have the perfect spot in my dining/living room over my pottery cabinet! Just throw it in the package with my felt book!

    Seriously, it turned out so beautiful and the bugs really do make it come alive.

    Whatever you end up doing with it will be stunning I am sure. Can’t wait to see how it ends up.


  3. This is beautiful mary – youve inspired me to get the mag of the shelf and have another look! maybe you could frame the tote behind glass? lol. I like all the insects the best too – but Id be hardpressed to pick a favourite.

  4. I do know the feeling of not wanting a project to end – especially if the colors are pleasing and gorgeous! Some books affect me that way – when the prose is more beautiful than the story!

  5. I’m voting for the wall, because this is just too beautiful to put on a tote that will be used and could mar your lovely stitches.

  6. What fun! Though you say there are only a few different stitches it looks very varied and very alive. . . almost more like early summer than spring! 🙂

    It looks really great.

    How long did it take you to work, beginning to end?

    Can’t wait to see more goldwork, and pieces with special meanings are always particularly wonderful.

    Glad you’re feeling better!

  7. Hi Mary,
    Congratulations on completing the project..its just gorgeous. I simply love everything about it – the bugs, the flowers and the wavy grass. 🙂
    Good to know that you are doing better now. Wish you good health.

  8. I vote tote! Let’s get our embroidery out their for all the world to see 🙂

    When the Japanese masters began to teach their embroidery to the West, they were bemused that we wanted to put everything into a frame. Their embroidery is done on kimono and obi and worn.

    I love the bugs, they are all wonderful.


  9. I tend to vote for useful items, because when they wear out you’ve got an excuse (and space) to make a new one… And the world needs to see REAL embroidery, not that computer-generated stuff– not that it doesn’t have a place, but handwork is so undervalued…

    So anyway, I vote tote bag. 🙂

  10. I am so in love with this piece! It’s been a joy to watch its progress. I am torn…I do understand wanting to keep such a beautiful piece safe on the wall. But I think I’ll have to throw in another tote vote because I love the idea of it being shown off for many others to see and enjoy.

    I knew I would fall in love with that grasshopper! He’s fabulous!

  11. Hi, All –

    I’m so glad you like the finished piece! I like it, too!! It was great fun to work.

    Just a reminder – the pattern for this piece is in Inspirations Magazine, #56. I’ve had a couple requests to post the pattern – but it’s not my pattern, so I can’t help you out there. Your best bet, if you want to work this project, is to purchase the magazine. You can find it here:

    Inspirations #56 You may also be able to find it through sources here in the US, such as Wooly Thread, or even on eBay.

    Thanks for understanding!

    Thanks, again, for the rave review. I’m still debating on the whole tote bag thing. I agree – I want to show it off. On the other hand, my sewing skills are not so hot, so I could end up with a lopsided, ugly tote bag!! Aaack.

  12. Hi Mary,

    I found this Web site very interesting.

    Am not sure if u knew this link already. It has lovely pictures of embroidery projects done by many embroiderers. Please follow through the “older posts” link at the bottom of the page to see more embroidery and crazy quilt works. works.


  13. Mary, it turned out beautiful…embroidery stitches are just perfect as always. I know you bought this as a kit but two points come to my mind – ask your sister if she would like it to be hung on the wall or sewn on a totebag. Also, how often would she use the totebag to show the world. I know I don't ever use one and so I would choose to get this beautiful piece framed & be given as a gift.

  14. Super Super Super beautiful piece of Hand Embroidery. I just love “Breath of Spring”. I am amazed at the detailing. Wish I could be a neat needleworker. Gosh, my satin stiches go so haywire. I would like to send you images of some of the embroidery I have done. It feels good to share this with my fellow needlecraftspeople

  15. Thanks, all, for your enthusiasm over this project! I’m planning on the tote, actually, and I hope to cut out the fabric this weekend! Well, if life goes according to plan…

    Shobha, Thanks for stopping in and for your comments, and also for the link to your art gallery. I enjoyed looking at the pieces! You’re welcome to send along photos of your work. Just drop me an e-mail using the “contact us” link at the top of the website, and I’ll write back. Then you can attach photos.

    Thanks heaps, everyone!!! I’ll give you a tote update in the future!


  16. Thank you for posting the article online today! It really made me think about alternate ways of creating what I want. Posting the links really really helped too! You are an amazing woman!


  17. Its so beautiful that I can't stop looking at it.Everything about this project is breathtakingly beautiful. Great piece of work!!!

  18. Breath of Spring published through Inspiration Magazine, is the issue still available tp purchase ?

  19. I checked around and found this magazine in Australia for $5 but the shipping would be over $20 to the states! Then I found “Creative Sewing & Smocking” had the magazine to………… yahooo!

  20. Tote –
    or back of a chair –
    or a tote with a leather bottom to preserve the integrity of the tapestry/embroidery.

  21. Hi Mary,

    Definitely on the wall! If you put it on a tote, it will get old or dirty and you don’t want that! I love it, wish I had that pattern!! You should frame it and hang it on your wall, or even better, share it with someone else.

  22. Hi Mary
    I love the embroidery too but am rather put off by tracing the pattern onto water soluble fabric and then embroidering over the wsf ! ….or did you transfer the pattern onto the linen by tracing with a pencil ?

    I look forward to seeing the completed tote bag ……a girl can never have too many bags !!

    Dorothy McPetrie

  23. Do you prefer to use pearl thread or embroidery floss? Sometimes I just don’t like the fluffiness of the floss but perhaps I should pay attention to the thread length so that it doesn’t get overworked. So…did I just answer my own question? It’s just that I see your work and notice the how neat it turns out.

    1. Hi, Rebecca – you’re right. The key to keeping your floss from fuzzing is to use relatively short lengths. With DMC floss or Anchor, I find that 18-20″ is good. Another point: use quality floss – brands like DMC, Anchor, and Cosmo. “Craft” floss sold in packages at hobby stores does not hold up as well. – MC

  24. Merci pour la belle année passée avec vous et vos broderies….

    Joyeux Noel ! ! Bonne et Heureuse Année 2015


  25. Olala, this is great, what a beautiful embroidery. I wouldn’t spoil it on a tote bag for onions or potatoes – rather hang the tote bag up in the entrance to keep things in it which you need before you go out – lipstick etc. or letters to be posted. Is anyone still posting snail letters, ha?

  26. This is an absolutely beautiful garden of grasses and bugs! May I ask if that is a pattern you designed or purchased? I would love to have it and give it a try.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Rhonda – No, I didn’t design it! If you follow the links in the article, you’ll find the source of the design. It was originally published in Inspirations Magazine (#56, I think?) and it is from Canevas Folies, which is an embroidery company in Switzerland. Canevas Folies still sells it. You can find it on their website (just Google Canevas Folies embroidery). Hope that helps!

  27. Mary, you’ve done it again! I’m wandering around Pinterest and I see an embroidered garden that strikes my fancy. I look a little more at similar pins, and find a close-up of a portion of the first garden. Aha! Now I’m on the hunt, and I find several other close-ups of same – and then it happens. I finally find where it originated, at Needle n Thread! No matter what I’m looking at, somehow I find myself back here.

    I should know by now that when I find something on Pinterest that really interests me, I should just come here to get the details. Thanks for all you’ve given us, Mary.

  28. I am sorry it ended up on a tote ,it is to pretty and will get worn away on a tote. You could always do a smaller one for a wall hanging (kidding) I use your tutorials all the time and am so thankful they are there Mary. Keep stitching

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