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 (60) 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)

Two Down, Two to Go, and Where’s My Black Thread??


Amazon Books

This past weekend, I took a wee hiatus from blogging. Sometimes, a break is good! This particular break was supposed to see me succeed in setting up multiple embroidery projects that I plan to have underway at the same time. Because the set-up process for each embroidery project can be a real pain in the neck, I figured if I set up several projects that are brewing in my head, I can move more seamlessly between them as time allows and my interests dictate. As it turns out – and as is often the case – the weekend was not as productive as I wished! Still, I managed to set up two projects, which I’ll show you here, and then I managed to waste a lot of time looking for black thread!

The two new embroidery projects I managed to put together are actually somewhat similar in type: the Pomegranate in the Round pattern I posted a while ago was first on the list, and will be a goldwork and silk project; second up was the floral glove needlecase from Thistle Threads.

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

My first step was to make adjustments on the design. I reduced the number of lattice lines in the center of the stylized pomegranate, and I added turn-overs on the tip of the pomegranate and on every swirly thing around the edge. This may seem like overkill on the turn-overs – and it might be – but this is where I plan on showing a contrast between the silk and the gold. We shall see!

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

After tweaking the design, I decided to rummage through my goldwork supplies, to make sure I had enough of the types of metal threads I wanted to use on this project. There’s nothing worse than planning out a project a certain way, only to find the supplies aren’t on hand!

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

This is when I discovered that I have fairly large stash of goldwork supplies, and yet, it seems I rarely use them. I need to change that!

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

Next step was to sit down with the light table, a handy-dandy Sakura Micron Art Pen®, in black, size 005. I love these pens for transferring designs when I know that the transfer lines will be covered.

I’m using Legacy Linen Twill for this goldwork project. I just love this fabric, and I want to see how it operates with goldwork and silk shading. I think it’ll work well! It’s a pretty fabric – I love the twill weave and the color.

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

When tracing the pattern with the Micron pen, it’s really important to use the lightest touch you can manage. If I can feel the surface underneath the fabric, I’m pressing too hard. Generally, I can only feel the pen touching across the surface of the fabric. Be careful of resting the pen in one place on the fabric, too. As you come to intersections of lines, don’t let the pen sit on the fabric, or the ink will form a larger spot. In the photo above, you can see where this started to happen a bit, and that was with a minute pause!

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

Now, this is cotton muslin in the photo above. I lined the linen twill with the cotton muslin, to give the goldwork more support. The twill is actually a pretty substantial fabric, so the muslin isn’t necessarily necessary, but when I do goldwork, I like extra stability in the ground fabric. I also don’t like anything that seems remotely sheer – not that the twill is sheer at all! It isn’t. I still wanted the extra backing, so I tore up some muslin to go behind the twill.

It’s very important, if you back your ground fabric with muslin or cotton or even another linen, that the backing fabric is cut square, on the grain. If it’s at all cut on the bias or mounted on the frame on the bias, it’ll pucker. To make sure the fabric is square, I tear my muslin on the weave instead of cutting it. The ends end up looking a bit gnarled, but nothing that can’t be fixed with an iron.

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

I ironed both the muslin and the twill (the twill before tracing the design on it!) until they were good and smooth, no wrinkles, and nice and square. Then the twill went on the table first, with the muslin lined up on top, both fabrics on the grain, lined up straight.

Some folks like to baste their backing fabric to the ground fabric at this point – to baste the muslin to the twill, in this case. This would help ensure that the fabrics frame up well together, without one or the other slipping. You can do that – you can baste a couple inches around the outside of the design, for example, if you are worried about the fabrics slipping.

I don’t baste mine. I work slowly and carefully, tacking the fabrics to the frame together, and keeping them smooth and lined up as I go, and it works out fine.

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

Here’s the pomegranate on the frame. There’s an extra inch of fabric skirting the frame there….

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

… but nothing that a little trim won’t take care of. It’s true. I don’t stitch or bind the edges on the fabric. They will initially shed a few threads, but after that, they’ll be fine.

Goldwork Project Underway: Goldwork Pomegranate

The floral glove project is on the left, framed up, and the pomegranate on the right. I was surprised (Really Surprised!) how sheer the linen is for the floral glove project, and I oscillated between lining the linen and not lining it. I finally settled on not lining it, thinking it’s best just to follow directions as they are written on someone else’s project. I have a feeling I may regret not lining it. The instructions say that it is “Napier Ivory Linen” – I think they mean Legacy linen’s Napery Ivory, which is about a 50 count “dower quality” linen. It does seem a bit more sheer than most Legacy linens I’ve worked with. I’m going to have to dig some out to compare.

In the meantime, though, these are the two projects I managed to set up this past weekend. Not that impressive….

There are two other projects I want to set up, one of which I’m really excited about (Really Excited!), but doggonit if I can’t find the threads! I’m going to do a kind of blackwork project (non-counted), which I’ll tell you more about once I get it set up. I have a wonderful set of 8 blackwork threads (Leon Conrad’
s Ebony Collection) that I have practically roosted on like a doting hen over eggs for the past several years, being very careful of them, not wanting to lose them, not wanting anything to happen to them (do you see where this is going?!?!), wanting to save them for Just The Right Project.

The Right Project has come.

The Threads….. Where are the Threads?????! I think they must’ve hatched and headed off. I can’t find them anywhere. I can picture them perfectly in several different places, but I can’t for the life of me find them now. I spent hours this weekend going through every thread box in the studio.

Today, I’m going to repeat the procedure. Things don’t just disappear. They must be somewhere!

In the meantime, does anyone know if there are any shops in the States that carry this collection of threads? Just in case?

That’s how my weekend went, stitching-wise. Today, we have a snow day in Kansas, so I plan to make good use of it and finish up the things I didn’t get finished over the weekend! Wish me luck!

Have a terrific Monday!


Leave A Comment

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


(16) Comments

  1. Dear Mary, I am glad I am not the only one who put stuff away, and when I need it, just can't find it. Normally what happens, I find it when I am looking for something else. I really hope you find your black threads. Talking about threads, I can only but admire your selection of gold threads. It is absolutely beautiful, wish we had shops locally that stocked it. To buy on line is rather pricey. Good luck with the new projects, Will be looking forward to your letters every day. Kind regards Elza Bester, Cape Town.

  2. Haha! I have the same set of Leon Conrad black threads and don't know where MINE are either!!! Maybe they do sprout legs!…….Looking forward to the new projects. Thanks, Mary.

  3. Oh, Mary, how infuriating! I know exactly what it's like – I'm frantically looking for a set of photographs of some past work I want to show someone….

    Never mind, all that preparation work has gone well!

  4. Aaaaargh. I just spent two and a half hours taking apart every possible container in my work space…. all to no avail!! And now the studio is a wreck. But – some good things came out of it. I found stuff to give away – some nice stuff! I also realized I have enough linen to wrap the state of Kansas – or the whole Midwest – in. And, I've forced myself to clean out some shelves and boxes….. I haven't done that part yet, though. I've just stacked everything out everywhere, so there's no room to do anything!!! All for 8 little spools of thread!!!!!

  5. Such lovely projects for us to admire while you do all the work!

    In the meantime, worry not for the black threads. I once heard the tale of where Leprechauns get all their gold (since St. Patty's day is coming up, it seems apropos). It seems they enter peoples' houses whilst they sleep, taking small, seemingly inconsequential items. Then, when the householders need those items, they hold them for ransom, requiring gold for their soon return.

    If, however, you remain stalwart, refusing to panic, the Leprechauns fun is quickly spoilt, and they end by returning the item to someplace you've already searched so that you trip over the item, then wonder how you could have missed it before.

    Since you have such juicy projects to jump into for the meantime, good luck spoiling some imp's fun!


  6. I believe Mimi's Attic Needlework Shoppe is the main US contact for Leon Conrad's products. You might check there should you not find your Ebony Collection.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement, Karen. I'll leave it at that, then! Hahahah.

    Ah, Joey – I knew you would know what threads I was talking about!
    I think I told you a while back I was "saving them." Now they're well and truly saved. High and low – I've searched everywhere! i keep telling myself I put them somewhere safe! Boy, they are the safest threads in the world right now.

    Thanks for the heads up on Mimi's Attic – I actually e-mailed them first thing this morning, but haven't heard back yet.

    In the meantime, I suppose I shall set up the project and pretend that it's going to happen. Worst case scenario: I'll buy separate types of thread!

    Thanks again, all!


  8. Dear Mary,

    Glad to know that others appear to have "black holes" in their homes as well. Sorry couldn't resist!

    Your new projects look great. I really love how you walk through your project set-up. I usually dive in and end up with jumbled messes/masses of thread and and/or positioning my work in such a way that doesn't leave enough seam allowance.

    Enjoy the snow day. We had one a few weeks ago and it was fun!

  9. Oh dear, Mary,

    I'm sorry you've had a dissapointing search for those threads.

    I think a snow day must be when your snowed in. Have a cosy, comfy one.

    Am very glad of the clear instructions. Nothing like knowing your properly setup. Hope the glove project works ok without the lining for you.

    I like what you've done with the lattice and turnovers. Specially the ones on the tip of the pomegranate.
    The turnover word conjures up visions of hot raspberry jam in pastry turnovers. Mmmmmmm.

    Thank you Mary, Cheers, Kath.

  10. I just can't wait to see your goldwork and silk pomegranate, I'm learning goldwork this winter (june for me) and am really excited I think I may have to revisit this design then…. I'm really excited to see your finished glove too and hope all works out well!!


  11. Mary, when I can't find something, I pretend I'm actually looking for something else, and then I find the first thing. LOL! I can't wait to see the goldwork in progress, I've never seen it "in the works"

  12. Mary, nothing more frustrating (in the sewing world) when you can't find something you want right now. I can feel the blood pressure rising. Didn't you have a search box to search your site rather than a google search at one time?

  13. I just recently started reading your blog and I'm not all that proficient an embroiderer yet. I haven't found a technique to transfer a design that I like yet but I haven't tried drawing on the fabric with pen the way you do. I had tried poking holes in the design and using charcoal which failed miserably. I tried using a pencil thinking that would be ok but the lines got all wonky. I'd not found a pen that was good for it but hadn't considered the Sakura pens~ I'm going to try it next project and see if I can swing it~!

  14. I'm doing the Floral Glove, too, and now you've got me worried about the weight of the fabric. If you were going to use a different fabric for this what would it be?? I'm not sure what linen to subsitute if I decide to do so. The (unworked) goldwork kits I own have velvety material for the ground fabric, so that's no help.

  15. Hi, Janice – I went ahead with the fabric in the kit, and so far, it is working fine. I'm sure they would not have packaged the kit with a fabric that wasn't just right, so I'll just trust that, when it comes to the goldwork, it'll be good. I think most of the goldwork is completely on the surface. The only thread that looks as if it passes to the back is the Elizabethan twist, which is very fine, so I'm sure it'll be ok. So far, it's stitching up really easy!


  16. Thanks, Mary. I'll go ahead with the fabric provided, then. So far I'm still working on the gold flowers, so it wouldn't have been a big deal to start over — but I'd just as soon not! No need to publish this if you don't want to, just wanted to say thanks for the response.

More Comments