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 (40) 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)

15 Minutes to Practically Nowhere


Amazon Books

When life is busy and the schedule gets hectic, I try to squeeze in some 15-minute sessions with needle and thread, figuring that if I can manage 15 minutes here and there, I might make some progress on needlework projects that would otherwise sit neglected until I convinced myself that I “have time” to embroider. Now that summer is over and life is returning to the hectic rat race of the school year, I’m back to my 15 minute concept. But sometimes, it doesn’t get me very far!

I’ve got two needlework projects presently going on the front burner. On the back burner, there are two other needlework projects floating, that I have every intention of addressing at some point, some time. Here’s a recap on those, and a 15 Minute Progress Report.

On the first front burner, you’ll find my curtain project. With a recently almost-refinished bedroom, I thought some hand embroidered curtains would be a nice touch. Unfortunately, my bedroom is not quite finished, but then again, neither are my curtains!

On the second front burner, there’s the Schwalm whitework project. Because my bedroom’s not finished, my studio is overloaded with … well, stuff from my bedroom, so I don’t have anywhere to work on the Schwalm project right now. When I’m working on a piece of linen that size, I like to sit at a table, so I can spread it out.

On the first back burner rests the poppy kit from Trish Burr. I’ve framed up the piece but haven’t started stitching. As soon as I make a start, though, I’ll be good to go on that one. But first, the curtains. And the Schwalm. Well, ok – the Schwalm and the poppy can be simultaneous. But since I’ve started the curtains and they’re part of my decor, I feel almost obliged to get them done first. (Operative word: almost!)

On the second back burner, my Long Dog Sampler is still stewing. I want to get back to this, and I will, as soon as things settle down. This particular project is a great 15-Minuter, because if it’s on a stand in the corner, and a thread is started, it’s really easy to launch in 15 minutes of straight stitching.

So, on to a project update, in pictures…

Hand Embroidery on Curtains

For the curtains, I decided to go with a chain stitched straight line in periwinkle, with a stem stitched yellow tendril working its way up the straight line. There are several lines of various heights (from 26″ – 40″ long) spaced about 6 inches apart, going up each panel.

Hand Embroidery on Curtains

I’m using three strands for DMC for both colors. Stitching on voile presents its own little difficulties. At first, I wanted to stitch in hand, without a hoop, but it is practically impossible to keep the tension right on this loosely woven, airy fabric. So I’m using a hoop, but the hoop presents other problems. It tends to distort the fabric considerably. Still, once the fabric is removed from the hoop, the stitching looks ok. Even with the hoop, it’s a challenge to keep the fabric from puckering, and I’m hoping that the slight pucker that is evident will iron out.

I didn’t transfer the design – I just doodled it free hand, using a ruler for the strait (periwinkle) line. It’s not as if it’s a design that could be messed up! I used one of those fine-tipped water soluble transfer markers from the notions section of a sewing store to draw the design, and I found that, in drawing with this pen on the voile, it was quite helpful to put another cloth (scrap) behind the curtain. This helped keep the ink from spreading.

And that represents my 15 minute session. Finished, it’s a total of about 5 inches. At this rate, the two sets of voile panels should be finished in about a year – or two!

Coming up this week, I’ll have Lesson 5 of the Long and Short Stitch Shading lessons up for you. You can look for that around Thursday, though I’ll try to get it posted before then. I’ve also got some product reviews, another episode of messing with transfer pens and pencils, and (hopefully, if the US Post Office is on my side) two beautiful books to show you.

I hope you have a Terrific Week, and get to spend lots of time with your own needle ‘n thread!


Leave A Comment

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


(5) Comments

  1. I also am trying to follow a 15 minutes a day program. It's not always easy to do, but it makes a big difference to my day.

    I'm liking the curtains. Would strips of water soluble fabric or film behind the fabric help to stablize the fabric while stitching?

  2. What do you mean, "a design that can't be messed up"? I am good — I can mess up ANYTHING! But you now, you can doodle lovely swirls onto sheer curtains and make it work!

  3. I love your 15 minute concept. And am starting to follow it too. I just try to think of completing one step (or one session) at a time. If I think of the whole project I find it too overwhelming. And then do nothing.

  4. I really need to follow your lead with this one. I now have less than 2 weeks to finish some goldwork… I think it may be a wedding gift for when they get back from the honeymoon now (oops!)
    If I just did 15 minutes on my myriad of projects I wouldn't be looking at them all in despair so often…. or perhaps instead of looking at them in despair I just need to got in and DO!

  5. Maybe the drapery panel isn't a total loss. You could cut up the panel, line with muslin, stuff and make matching pillows for your room. You could also make a gathered ruffle for the edges if you have enough fabric and if that style coordinates with what is happening in your room.

More Comments