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 Patter: Quaker Motif for Surface Stitches


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Right now, Quaker motifs are very popular for counted cross stitch, and I really love the look of them. When I was working on this perforated paper embroidery project last week, I couldn’t help wondering if Quaker motifs would ‘work’ with surface embroidery stitches. So I’m going to try an experiment.

I’ve drawn up a hand embroidery pattern based on the Quaker motif I used on the paper project. It is, in shape and layout, pretty much the same design, but the use of surface embroidery stitches, I suspect, will change the look of the design quite a bit.

Here’s my line version of the motif:

Hand Embroidery Pattern: Quaker Motif for Surface Embroidery Stitches

Here’s a PDF of the same pattern:

Hand Embroidery Pattern: Quaker Motif for Surface Embroidery Stitches

Ussing the PDF, the pattern should print at approximately 4.5 inches square. It can probably be taken smaller, but for this test run, I thought a medium-sized medallion would work best.

I’m going to combine a variety of stitches on this piece, sticking with the notion that the Quaker motifs generally come from samplers. My plan so far includes the following stitches:

Palestrina Stitch
Mountmellick Stitch
Satin Stitch
Long and Short Stitch
Fly Stitch or Fishbone Stitch (haven’t decided which on that one yet)
Daisy Stitch
French Knot

I’ll be working on this project over the next few weeks. I’ll be stitching on a sturdy linen (Thank you, Méi! I can’t wait to use some Portuguese linen!), but I haven’t decided 100% on the threads yet. I think it will take some playing to figure out the best options.

What think you? Will this come off, or should I leave the Quaker motifs in their regular form, as counted cross stitch pieces? What’s your take?

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(15) Comments

  1. Go on your project! Not counted cross stitch 🙂

    When I have a pattern my problem is always to choose the stitches – where do this and where use that… i'm absolutely not good about it

  2. I think this will make a lovely surface embroidery project. My first thought for threads was "flower thread" — the somewhat muted colors would be lovely. Or silk perles like Elegance, etc. — maybe different sizes for different portions.

  3. The sketch is very nice. When I saw it and your stitch choices I thought "whitework," but then it occurred to me you might be replicating the original colors. Can you tell us how you created this? Did you simply use the draw function in Word?

  4. Ah, flower thread is a good idea, but I don't have a very good selection of colors – only about 4 dark colors. It'll probably be more prudent to use something in my stash.

    I, too, was thinking whitework, by the way… I'm still considering that one.

    The pattern was made in Inkscape, which is a freeware SVG graphics editor. You could do the same thing in Illustrator or Corel Draw.

    Meri – stitch choice can be a real difficulty. With this one, I'm still debating a couple stitches, but I'll only know for sure what will look best once I try them out!

    Thanks for your comments, all!


  5. I love the idea of "hybrid" embroidery, interpreting traditional designs in nontraditional forms. Look forward to seeing your vision come to life, Mary.

  6. I would love to see what you do for the motif in surface embroidery. Even though I have done most of the needle arts for the past 50 years, since I have started following you daily, I find myself renewing old skills, and better yet learning new ones, thanks. Barb in WNC

  7. I think working in one or two colors would be really great especially for those of us who are dirt poor and want to do this. Right now I can't afford too many colors. Awesome motif by the way, I've been thinking about doing a redwork Pensylvania Dutch hex sign sampler for awhile but I think this could fill my need.

  8. I have been following some of the Needleprint SALs on quaker samplers. I haven't quite connected all the dots yet. Maybe you can share how this form of needlework received it's name and what are its unique features. I've been wondering…the one called "Beatrix Potter"–did BP enjoy needlework too? Or is it named after her?

  9. Hi, Lynn – I'm not sure about the Beatrix Potter sampler. I wondered the same thing. I'm a Huge Beatrix Potter fan, actually – I love her stories and her illustrations. I should inquire about that. It would be interesting interesting to know about.

    The "Quaker" name came from the motifs on the samplers, I think, from the Ackworth school and similar schools for girls. They were Quaker schools. I think the style of motif was common on their needlework samplers.

    Thanks, all, for your comments!

    I'll keep you posted on my progress!

    Now, could someone please grant me 38 hour days??


  10. Beatrix Potter did enjoy embroidery. Her embroidery frame still stands in her Hill Top farmhouse in England. She embroidered some green hangings for a tester bed. Photos can be found in the book At Home With Beatrix Potter by Susan Denyer.

  11. Wow. Nice motif. I love this Dutch style look (even though I am not Dutch at all!) I love the Bavarian, German-ish Deutch or (now) Dutch! They seem intermingled almost!
    But I plan to use this design, Mary – the "old-fashioned" way–on bright wool felt with primary crayon colors!

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