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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Hand Embroidery on a Corner


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I finished the hand embroidery on the corner of this bread basket liner — well, it’s a towel, actually, but it’ll be used as a bread basket liner.

I made a mistake on part of the embroidered design – can you find it?

Hand Embroidery for the Home: Embroidered Towel

Unfortunately, I tend to be the type of stitcher who gets caught up in the mistakes on my work. I really see them! And perhaps that’s the case with most stitchers and crafters. But sometimes, I think it’s quite alright to let a mistake go, and that’s absolutely what I’m doing in this case!! But I’d be interested to know what you would do… would you take it out and re-do it?

Hand Embroidery for the Home: Embroidered Towel

Have you found it yet? Here’s a hint:

Hand Embroidery for the Home: Embroidered Towel

And here’s the other hint:

Hand Embroidery for the Home: Embroidered Towel

Would you re-do the little circles? I’m not. If nothing else, they make it characteristically hand stitched. A machine would not have made the mistake of stitching a mirror image using a completely different stitch!

I’m making a series of these towels, with similar, simple corner designs, for my sister for Christmas. She’s a cook and an entertainer – she has large crowds at her home often for big meals. In fact, I think her daily meals for her family (and friends – there always seem to be guests at her table) would be considered “fancy” meals for most people. She’s the Queen of Hospitality, and a great cook. She always sets a nice table, not just on formal occasions, but for casual daily dinners as well. One of her signature items is bread. A day doesn’t go by that she doesn’t have bread going – rising, baking, rising, baking – the smell permeates the house. She makes artisan loaves of naturally leavened bread; she makes French and Italian breads; she makes great crusty dinner rolls and melt-in-your-mouth soft rolls and fruit and nut breads; she grinds her own wheat and makes a wonderful, nutty wheat bread as a regular staple for the family. With crowds at the table, she uses large baskets lined with flour sack towels for bread. I thought a set of nicely embroidered flour sack towels to use solely for lining bread baskets would be a good gift.

So, let’s see – how far away is Christmas? I’ve finished one towel. I have a Christmas-themed one in the works. I intended to make six towels altogether. I figured I could make two a week, and still stitch on other necessary items, if I stuck with Really Simple Designs, like the one featured here. But the Christmas one is slowing me down! I wasn’t supposed to fill in the designs, but satin stitch seemed perfect for the berries, and the pine cones look better in long and short stitch than they do merely outlined. Aaargh. Six might be a bit ambitious at this rate!

Anyway, I’m still trying to dig up some simple corner patterns. The one I used on this towel above was a lot of fun – I may do it again, in a different color scheme. I may draw up a wheat pattern to use, too, if time allows! I’d like to share this pattern with you, but it isn’t mine. I need to check the source (it’s from a huge envelope of older patterns that a friend dropped off one day) to see if it’s copyrighted.

And, finally, speaking of time – I’m out of time for the day! I hope all you Americans have a great Thanksgiving weekend. Teaching has its advantages – I’ve got a four day weekend, during which I plan to get some serious embroidery done and I hope to devote a lot of time to the website, too. I’ve scheduled a filming session for Saturday mid-morning, so keep your fingers crossed for me! If I have sunshine and a relatively quiet day, I should be able to actually finish some of those hanging video tutorials of more embroidery stitches!

For now – I must go bake pies!


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(15) Comments

  1. I spent ages looking for the mistake…that’s what comes of priding oneself on having a good eye!Now that I know, I can see it,but I always think of a quote my father used to say,”Perfection is finality.Finality is death.Nothing is perfect.There are lumps in the stirabout.” (porridge).
    It’s a lovely piece!Charlie.

  2. I would leave it. We tend to see all our mistakes but we really shouldn’t and this is not really a mistake. I didn’t find it until you pointed it out. This gift will be admired for a long time. It is beautiful the way it is. Happy Turkey Day.

  3. I didn’t see the mistake until I saw the close up photo, but I think you should take it out. If it bothers you, and it seems to be on your mind, then snip it out and stitch it again. It’s only a few minutes work and will set your mind at rest. If it was a mistake that would take much longer to correct, then my answer would probably be to leave it because of your deadline.

  4. I LOVE the pattern, and your color selection is beautiful! WOW — your sister is sure to LOVE it! I buy old embroidery transfers from ebay sometimes. I know you are going to check on the copyright to see if you can share the pattern, but in the meantime, can you share with us which company made the pattern?

  5. I very much like your pattern. I never would have looked at the red berries twice – they are fine. I would have changed the GREEN berry at the bottom to red to give it continuity.

    And, as a suggestion, if you are planning to use a satin stitch; I would use the American Satin. Because, you don’t want a lot of loose threads in the back to catch. You are making them for every day use.

    I know because I have been working on tea towels and I have wanted to put in fancier stitches but have held back because they will be used and you don’t want any snagging.

    Looking forward to your next towel.

  6. I couldn’t find the mistake from the image on my laptop. I’d leave it and stop trying to be so perfect. You are only human and perfection is God’s only. To err is human. This is what makes this piece a one of a kind. Any error is not enough to harm the integrity of the design and only adds character.

    I love reading your threads, thank you for sharing your thoughts and works.

  7. Mary, the towel is wonderful. Your stitches are so appropriate for the fabric. Lucky sister.

    I know what you mean about always looking at your own work with too critical an eye. If I absolulely cannot look at the piece without seeing the mistake, I usually end up taking it out. But in your case, I would consider the use and leave it!

    By the way, how does one go about getting inviting to your sister’s for a meal!!


  8. Hi Mary, I think that the towel is great! Whenever I have a mistake (like yours) and I get upset, I picture the following (fictional) scene…
    “Wasn’t that a nice dinner party by _____? The food was tasty and the company even better. But… did you see those leaves on the embroidered towel? It was not the right color (stitch, direction…). Did you ever?”
    I rest my case.
    Happy Chanuka from Israel!

  9. I thought the “mistake” was the green stitching inside the top blossom, but instead, it’s those little circles?

    I usually correct my mistakes when I find them and recall people referring to stitching as part stitching and part picking (out the wrong stitches…)

  10. Hi! This looks so nice. What kind of floss do you use for this type of project? I am embroidering linen and cotton bread bags and kitchen towels with casual designs and am not sure what to use. Coton a Broder is too thin; I started using some Floche a Broder and it seems just thick enough to look okay (I use two strands) but I am wondering if other threads would be better, such as regular DMC 25 or DMC Coton Perle 5? Thanks!

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