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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A More Complex Hand Embroidery Pattern: Psuedo-Original Love


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It all started around Christmas, when I was playing with my monogram alphabets, wanting to put them together into “tiles” that made up words. For example, I was kind of excited about messing around with N-O-E-L… but then I realized that had been done before (in cross stitch, myriad times), and wasn’t really that original, and the monograms weren’t that Christmassy, and so I dropped it.

I went back to it the other day, playing with L-O-V-E. I’m not sure what inspired it – perhaps it was the over-abundance of Valentine stuff floating around on the internet, or perhaps it was the idea of my folks’ 52nd wedding anniversary in a few months, perhaps it was the idea that I needed to post a free pattern for “something” soon and I wanted something larger than usual, or perhaps it was just that urge to do SOMETHING with those blasted monograms that I cleaned up but have never bothered using.

Whatever the case was, I decided to go back to the word-tile concept with a nice four letter word (!no – really – a nice one!), L-O-V-E.

I played and fiddled and had fun with it – making it more complex, then less complex. I had vines running hither and thither, filling stitches between the tiles, and so forth… but it was too much. Finally, I simplified, and is the result of all the tinkering:

Free Hand Embroidery Design: Love

If you click on the image above, you’ll get a very-much-larger (in the realm of huge) image, which you can scale to a smaller size, or slice up to make a large pattern.

You can also have the PDF of the pattern:

Free Hand Embroidery Design: Love

It would make a great anniversary gift, wedding gift, Valentine, Mother’s Day gift, birthday present, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…

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(21) Comments

  1. It was also a postage stamp for a LONG time! Used a lot for wedding invitations and such.

    Still I like your design better.


  2. Well *I* like it, Mary!

    (I think almost every 4-letter word that’s fit to print has been done as cross stitch tiles.. and some that aren’t fit to print, too… Tiles like that were very popular in the late 80s.) This is a WONDERFUL twist on it, though.

    I may design cross stitch, but I love freestyle embroidery with no crosses visible! 🙂

  3. I love this, and the first thing I thought was how it would be perfect in the center of a quilt for say newly weds (or me and my husband). Thanks!

  4. Aaaaaack!!!! I don’t mind posting the comment – because you’re RIGHT – and I’m such a MORON!!

    Actually, can I save face and chalk it up to a typo?

    No, it was definitely a spelling mistake!!

    THANK YOU FOR THE CORRECTION! I completely appreciate it!

    (Unfortunately, because it’s in the heading, I can’t change it, without losing the link to the post. Darn…)


    Don’t let my students see this!

  5. Family! Sometime you just don’t know what to do with them 🙂

    I think it’s a great idea and I have never seen it done up as surface embroidery, only in cross stitch and needlepoint.

    I am doing my guest/craft room in vintage/cottage style and am going to use this for that room.

    Thanks, Mary.

    Hugs, Marlon

  6. Thank you Mary. I love this design. I was thinking about something to give to my boyfriend and this is just perfect.
    Good thing you decided to post it cause i have never come across this design.

  7. I am new to basic needlepoint and am volunteering at at school for the poor and homeless in India. I would like some very simple patterns as I am also just learning. Any ideas?

    1. Hi, Ann – It really depends on your level of embroidery skill. Beginners would probably outline the letters, using an attractive line stitch like stem stitch, chain stitch, Palestrina stitch, etc. (you can find these stitches and more in my how-to videos: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/videos). If your skills are up to it, different types of filling stitches would work well, including satin stitch, stem stitch filling, and the like. So it’s really up to the individual stitcher, how the letters are treated. Hope that helps! ~MC

  8. Hi Mary, Thank you very much for sharing this beautiful design. I have seen something along these lines…can’t remember now how it was used, or for what, but I can tell you for certain that the letters were not nearly as gorgeous as these.

    If memory serves (rarely!) the letters used in the one I saw were block and rather uninteresting when compared to the one you shared.

    1. P.S. Someone mentioned stitches to use for this, and I wanted to say that when I first looked at it I saw “shadow embroidery” written all over this one! LOL!

      Probably because I’m into shadow embroidery at the moment ; ).

  9. Mary – your sister is not the only person with an opinion, and in my opinion you are as creative as you are generous and this tile design and you’re offering it to us confirms both!

    I see multiple uses for your design. Imagine it propped up in a baby’s crib or against the back of a rocker in a nursery – as you suggested, white on colored linen. A keepsake to be enjoyed and treasured.

    Mary Louise

  10. I’m thinking of quilting this design just using the outlines as stitch guides. I have lots of leftover T-shirt backs and I can used the graphics on the blanks. Of course I think of quilting everything. BTW, it printed out great on 11 X 17 paper with room at the bottom to take notes with no sizing. Thanks.

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