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

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Church Embroidery Step-by-Step: Agnus Dei


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In the spring of 2007, I began and finished a church embroidery project featuring the Agnus Dei symbol. The project is worked in silk and metal threads, and in a sense, it was another experimental project for me. I had to discover how some of the stitching would work to produce the effect I wanted. Here, I’m including all the posts that work through this project step-by-step. While they are not necessarily lessons in embroidery, the various articles contain some valuable tips on working the project.

This church embroidery project began in December, 2006, with designing the piece. I began stitching the piece in the middle of February, and finished it in April, on time for Easter. The project took in excess of 300 hours, including design, set up, some practice stitching, and the stitching and finishing of the piece.

Church embroidery: Agnus Dei

If you would like to follow this project as it developed, please visit the following links, which is are listed chronologically:

Italian Stitch – experimenting with the background stitches
Project Set Up and First Stitches
Finishing the Hill and Beginning the Background
The Sky is In and Beginning the Nimbus
Couching Flat Silk with Gold Passing Thread
The Halo and Banner are Completed
The Lamb is Finished
The Completed Project


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(19) Comments

  1. I like your posts that show a project from start to finish. I like to see what you do and how you do it. It gives me ideas for projects in the future.

  2. Mary, it's so nice to see this piece again. This is how I originally found Needle 'n Thread and have been an avid and enthusiastic reader ever since!

  3. Mary,
    Thanks, I'm so glad you posted all the links for this project. I'm on vacation in Colorado (visiting the granddaughter :)) and am struggling with a slow connection. I look forward to sitting down and slowly going through the whole project.

  4. G'day Mary,
    I came in on the last of this one. Always intended to trace back but…So this is a good and easy prompt.
    Thanks, Kath

  5. I just found this website and I AM IN LOVE! This is so useful and helpful and wonderful!!!

    Our pastor wants me to start embroidering for the church and I am a total amateur! He bought an vintage stole in London and is toying with the idea of me fixing it. Yikes!

    With your guidance, I might be able to do some of the things he wants. This piece [Agnus Dei] is beautiful! You are a master! Thanks for all your posts! I’ll keep reading!

  6. Mary,
    I grew up doing cross-stitch with my mom, but it fell by the wayside in my 20s. In the past few years I’ve gotten into it again but this time designing my own stuff. Lately I’ve begun to be interested in learning and experimenting more with other types of embroidery and I’ve been looking around at what’s available online. I just came across your site and immediately realized this is just the perfect thing! Your collection of videos in itself is going to be incredibly helpful, but then you offer so much more! I really like your blog entries too. Having found your site I’m really excited about starting to learn more. Thanks so much!

  7. Mary, I was enthralled while watching your journey through eclesiatical embroidery. As a retired teacher I especially appreciate the way you described the steps and reflected on the work – both that which you liked and that which was less than you had anticipated. Did I miss the photos of the vestment with its sewn-on embroidery? Is there a journal entry where you describe the reaction of priest and laity? Both would be of interest. Your work is awe inspiring. Thank you! Noel

    1. Hi, Noel – Well, as luck would have it – or just inexperience at that point – I never did photograph the finished product. It was sent to the seamstress, and that was the last I saw of it!

      Of course, now I know better! 🙂


  8. Your newsletter with pictures of projects and explanations are wonderful. I am also very interested in the church related projects and have made some things for our church because of your information and with diagrams and demonstrations that you have posted. Thank you for all.

  9. Hello Mary, I just found your blog a couple of days ago and am astounded at the beautiful work you do. As a beginning embroiderer (well practically a beginner, only work I’ve ever done was when I was a child and that was about 55 years ago), I’m looking at the little ad on the left side of the page, the “country bumpkin”, with the gorgeous little bird! Oh MY! I’ve never seen such a thing, it looks so soft, yet so dimensional! What kind of stitch can produce such an effect?

    Will finish by saying I’m very glad I came across your blog and looking forward to your posts (and going back and reading old ones too). Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. Hi, Jamie – That’s long and short stitch shading, also called needle painting or thread painting. That particular little bird was designed by Trish Burr, who has authored quite a few excellent books on the technique. I’ve got some long & short stitch lessons here on Needle ‘n Thread that will familiarize you with the basic technique and how it works, if you want to take a look at them. You’ll find them here: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/2009/08/long-and-short-stitch-lessons-index.html Hope that helps! ~MC

  10. Hi Mary, you are opening up a whole new world of embroidery, literally. I am finding the courage and confidence to use my skill to another level.

  11. Good evening!

    Absolutely stunning work on the lamb.

    The fluffy fur conveyed by your stitches is wonderful! Now I have an idea about how to make critters look furry…. but I do have a few questions that I hope youll answer. Ive been looking all over your website but I cannot find the answers… If theres an article related plase do direct me.

    1) How do you go about setting the direction of the stem filling? With an animal I thought filling in the direction pattern of the fur would be best but when I tried it was definitely noticable. Which can be useful on limbs, but definitely not on the head if not exactly right on. Any suggestions? Ive looked through the how to tutorials but I havent found it. If ones not there it could be added tk an existing post or maybe a whole new one!

    2) You mentioned in one of your articles the usefulness of adding brown to other colors. How exactly does one do that? Did you use it on the lamb? Do you have examples of other works youve done it on? Could you maybe do a followup article on browns? Even a stitch play article? Pretty please?

    3) Do you find it easier when combining stem filling with say buillion knots for nostrils, or other little accent stitches, to do those stitchs first before the filling or vice versa? I noticed that in my last project thkse accent stitches were not as noticable as I wanted. Perhaps using more stands for the buillion knots than I did with the stem filling would have helped?

    Thank you for your patience! I know Ive been submitting alot of questions in my comments. I just joined the forum so hopefully I can post my questions there! Ive just begun learning embroidery and Im like an eager little kid who keeps interrupting tbe teacher with questions. So much to learn and see and practice and theres a ton of ideas floating around in my head. Sry about that!



  13. Hi, I just LOVE this piece. By chance will you be putting the pattern and instructions out in your shop?
    I have been a sponge for all embroidery and I keep coming back to this one.
    I use all your tutorials to learn stitching and tips.
    Thank you for teaching me how to embroider. I only wish I had learned sooner.

    Thank you for reading my email.

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