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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Needlebook Progress: Satin Stitch Drawbacks


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This past weekend, I actually managed to get some stitching in! While I didn’t progress a whole lot on the needlebook I’m working on, I did manage some trial-and-error (mostly error!) with satin stitching, which I thought I’d share with you. This is one of those “teaching moments” that translates into “don’t make the same mistakes I make!”

I mentioned earlier when I showed you this needlebook embroidery kit that the fabric is not necessarily ideal for surface embroidery. Still, it works. But it can be frustrating at times!

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

First, I finished the top bar of the T, but I’m not too keen on that squiggle right in the middle. From a distance, it’s not noticeable enough to pick the stitching out!

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

I also managed filling the bulk of the monogram.

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

Again, I’m using split stitch on the edge (which you can see clearly on the left edge of the letter there) and then filling with long split stitches and straight stitches. You can also see in the photo above the open weave of the fabric – great for counted work, but more difficult for surface embroidery, especially stitches like satin stitch.

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

The upwards loop on the T is also outlined and filled, ready for satin stitching.

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

I began satin stitching on the body of the T (the back spine, more or less) in the direction you see in the photo above. I thought this slant would make the little off-shoot curls easier to handle.

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

I didn’t like the stitching. See how the edges jog in where the arrows are pointing? Was this a problem with the fabric, or with my stitching? Well, it’d be nice to have an excuse – to be able to say it’s the fabric! – but this wasn’t necessarily the case! Still, I’m finding it hard to see the lines clearly for stitching on this fabric, and the colors don’t help much either. The grey is difficult to see on top of the natural linen, so judging the very edge was a bit frustrating.

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

I picked the stitching out (careful not to cut any of the padding or outlining underneath!), and re-stitched. I was much more satisfied with the edge – it’s much cleaner…

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

… but good golly, Miss Molly! That thing, in the circle up there, looks bizarre, to say the least!

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

So I picked all the stitching out again! (Well, sometimes, you just have to!) Where the arrow is pointing, you can see how the actual threads of the fabric have to be split, in order for the satin stitching to look good.

Hand Embroidery on a Needlebook

Ah. Now things are looking better!

I decided to go with very little slant in the satin stitching, right in the middle of the back of the T. As I work downwards and upwards on the curve, I know I’ll have to slant my stitches a bit, but right in the middle, I found that horizontal stitches worked pretty well.

I’m much more satisfied with this bit of satin stitching! Whew.

Like I said… I didn’t progress a whole lot. But hey! Every bit counts!

More Monograms – Tutorials & Patterns!

If you’re looking for more information on hand embroidered monograms, enjoy links to other articles, tutorials, and resources:

Embroidered Monograms: Tips & Techniques – This is a colorful list of several styles of monograms I’ve stitched, with pictures and discussion of techniques.

Favorite Monograms – this is an ebook with 16 full monogram alphabets in it, ready to trace and stitch!


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(5) Comments

  1. Why couldn't you use a finer woven interfacing underneath the counted fabric, such as a fine muslin? That's generally what I do to help when working on linen like this. You still have to fiddle with the linen and split threads, but I think the stitches hold nicer with the underlayer. Marjorie

  2. I'm sorry for your trouble, Mary, but I must confess it's good to hear these kinds of trials present themselves to you, too. Thanks for sharing that. It certainly looks beautiful now.

  3. Mary, Mary, Mary!!

    Let me introduce myself. I am Roberta Chase (commonly known as Bobbi), the designer of the kit, Nichole, of the Needle Maid Series. Lamora, of Access Commodities, alerted me to your blog comments. I am absolutely thrilled to "meet" you! You are the EXACT customer I was hoping to design for! And that you appreciate it makes my heart sing!

    The venture started out when Lamora and I were fabric shopping and found these gorgeous French 18th Century reproduction cotton prints. We just WANTED to BUY them! That planted the seed for making, what we thought of as, "beautiful kits". A beautiful project with beautiful materials, that a stitcher could successfully complete. This had to be something that we, ourselves, would buy. The fine materials, complete finishing instructions, and presentation were almost more important than the actual embroidery design. We wanted the embroiderer to be thrilled (and successful)with the project AND be able to personalize the project (if she so desired) and make it "her own". This is exactly what you have done by choosing to do a surface stitched monogram!

    Your stitching is beautiful on a "not so friendly" surface-stitching ground! I agree with Marjorie. If I was doing this style of embroidery, a fine woven backing fabric would hold the stitches in place better. I have even, on occasion, been able to find iron-on 100% cotton interfacing that can help to stabilize the linen, as well. I am so looking forward to watching your progress (now that I have found your website).

    Also, thank you for noting that the contents of the kit bears out its seemingly high price. Each needlebook in the series is priced according to its own contents. It was also hoped that once the kitted NeedleBook was complete, the embroiderer would be able to take the framework (instructions) and create her own needlebooks, having benefitted from following the process mapped out in the kit. (I am a teacher first, designer second!)

    Anyway, the fourth in the series, Laurette, is soon to be released. Each subsequent kit has something special and unique about it, including its own French cotton print lining. I hope you will take a look.

    Again, Mary, thank you so much for the glowing report on the Needle Maid Needlebooks. It makes me feel successful, and THAT is very gratifying!

    Bobbi Chase

  4. Hi, All –

    Yes, good (VERY good) idea, Marjorie – I should've started that way. I normally line any finicky fabric with a light cotton or linen…. but I didn't think before I started this one, I was so eager to start! Now I know, for the next one!

    Hi, Tricia-Renee – Oh, boy. I love having problems like this! It gives me something to blog about! 😉 It's working out, actually, pretty well, and I'm pleased with it so far. Now, if that changes, you all will be the first to hear!

    Hi, Bobbi! Congratulations on designing a truly beautiful kit, with the best materials and excellent instructions! I'm loving it so far – I hope you don't mind the liberties with the style of embroidery! I bought the second kit, too, actually (I'm a sucker for beautiful kits like these). I think it's called "Marjorie" (with the R on the front, and the dove with the envelope on the back). It's really lovely. On this kit (Nicole), I can't wait to do the fancy little stripes!

    I haven't seen the third kit available anywhere – where can I find it? Do you have any idea who's carrying it? I'll definitely keep an eye open for the 4th one, too. Feel free to drop me a line when it's released. The reproduction fabrics are beautiful – and the designs and color choices for embroidery are really beautiful.

    Thanks heaps for your comment!

    I'll keep you all posted on my…. well, slooooooooow progress!


  5. Mary:

    Two people that I know carry the Needle Maid kits with online presence are: Attic Needlework and 3stitches

    I know they have Germaine (#3). I will be happy to alert you when #4 is released. There is a possibility they will be reviewed on the Access Commodities Blog. Happy Monogramming!!


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