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 Embroidered Curtains? No.


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Remember those hand embroidered curtains I’ve been harping on lately? Guess what?

If you said to yourself, “She changed her mind,” you are, in short, correct. I have changed my mind. Let me show you why.

Hand Embroidery on Sheer Curtains

After progressing pretty far up the first embroidered line, it suddenly struck me that I should probably hang the curtains in front of a sunny window to test out this whole concept of embroidery on sheer curtains. The room in which they will hang gets a goodly bit of sun most of the day in one window or another, from morning until late afternoon.

Embroidering on sheer curtains that will be back-lighted by the sun most of the time is not quite the thing, methinks. The embroidery stands out, but not in a desirable way. It looks dark – and every warble and wobble in the stitching, every stray peeking thread end stands out in an obnoxiously noticeable manner.

I suppose I should have realized this sooner, but the whole question of whether or not I really should embroider the curtains never occured to me until I hung one set of the (un-embroidered) curtains in the room. They are white and crisp and airy, hanging over wide white slatted blinds, in a periwinkle room with white trim. Very cool and breezy looking! I love them! And while I was looking at them and admiring the overall effect, I tried to picture them embroidered. And suddenly, the whole question of backlighting jumped into my head. So I took the sheer I was working on, stuck it on a window, and said….


This was followed rather closely by…


And the subsequent ritual of head banging and forehead slapping was followed up by placing an order for a new panel.

I’ll keep the sheer I was stitching on. I think that the voile will make a good foundation fabric for embroidering on velvet. I’ll recycle it for some use, anyway.

But in the meantime, I’ve crossed curtains off my List of Things To Do. Sorry for stringing you along on that one!

On the bright side, I think I’ll concentrate on Schwalm for a bit – it’ll be my new 15-Minute Project.

School has begun, by the way. To the dear reader who sent me an encouraging e-mail yesterday, wondering how I manage to do what I do – teaching, stitching, blogging regularly, and so forth – my only reply at the end of the first day of classes is this:



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(13) Comments

  1. How about if you put a thin coloured curtain behind the thin one? that way you could use it anyway.Maybe a colour that you use in the embroidery?

  2. Wait! Don't give up the ship! Or rather your dream of embroiderd curtains! Since I just got really interested in embroidery I checked out a few books from my local library – I am the YA librarian after all so I won't have to pay those pesky late fines – and found two books that have embroidered curtains among other useful items. They aren't sheers, they are made of linen. One uses DMC crewel wool and the other DMC Cutwork and Embroidery Cotton (neither of which I have ever seen for sale, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.)The one using crewel wool obviously is embroidered – there are two different patterns shown and both look like a beginner like me could make them, but the cotton thread uses drawn-thread work is labeled 'difficult' and is truly beautiful. Look for "Embroidery: Techniques & Patterns" by Marie-Noelle Bayard for the drawn-thread curtains – she groups stich families together and makes a project at the end of each lesson and "Embroidery with Wool" by Mary Norden for the crewel wool curtains – Most of the projects use basic stitches and are contemporary and fun in design. I am going to hate to return either book!

  3. I'm so glad you tell us these things. I don't know how many times I've done this same thing myself. I'm very slowly trying to decorate our new (very old) house and I get something in my head that will be "just right", only to realize later it wouldn't do at all. Fortunately, I haven't made any expensive mistakes, yet.

  4. Some things we just don't know until we try — something I talk about every time I teach, no matter what the specific topic — do "proof of concept." Test the threads you've chosen with the fabric type, etc. Better to buy and "waste" a little extra than to get seriously into a project and then decide that the colors don't work, or the thread's not the one you want to use, etc…

  5. So sorry that this one didn't work out. But I loved the way you put it across. Guess what I loved most about this post ? – ugh,ick and AAaaaacckkkk …. 🙂
    Sense of humour is a great weapon at times of failure.

  6. That is so me! I've wanted to embroider the white curtains and other things in our daughters' room, but have found that I prefer them in their original simplicity. On the other hand, I think your "blackwork in whitework" idea would be lovely in curtains — simple and reversible. You do such lovely work anyway. Thank you for sharing it.

  7. It never dawned on me that the colored embroidery might not be pleasing on the panels. I have embroidered sheer panels in my living room that I love, but the embroidery is white on white. So I guess if you decided you wanted the embroidery later, you could try doing it in white. 🙂 I'm glad you had this revelation before doing any more work, though!

  8. Perhaps the idea of Kitchen curtains might be more appealing. On linen or mid weight cotton? I've been toying with that idea since your embroidered curtains adventure began. The silk threads are beautiful, I can see my dmc collection gathering dust if I ever get started on silk threads.
    By the way, are there any special cleaning instructions for work using silk?

  9. Oh rats. Oh well. Ideas evolve, and it sounds like even tho there are ways around it (like a backing curtain) you've gone off the idea now in favour of loads and loads of beautiful swaying and billowing white

  10. Hummmm….I'm working on some curtains too-mixed techniques with embroidery and piecework. Although they'll have a total of at least 3 layers of fabric, I'm wondering how the thread ends, seams, etc, will appear in the sunlight. The room only gets morning sun at least. Thanks for the post.

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