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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A Beautiful Embroidery Treat!


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Here’s a real treat! Margaret Cobleigh, who has become a really good online embroidery friend, is an excellent stitcher. She strives for perfection in all her embroidery, and everything she touches with her needle and thread turns out beautiful! Her approach is a lot like mine – she troubleshoots her way through her projects, making adjustments and corrections as she goes, and the results are outstanding. I count myself lucky to be privy to her progress notes on the various things she stitches. She was happy to let me show off the following finish, and since it is, after all, Spring, it’s mighty appropriate!

Reader's Embroidery: Spring

The piece that Margaret recently finished is titled “Spring,” designed by Helen Stevens.

Margaret ordered the four seasons kits from Helen Stevens, and launched into Spring first. The kits are stitched with Piper’s Silk, which Helen sells under the name of TESS (True Embroideries Sleave Silk). It is a flat silk – very fine and with no discernible twist.

Reader's Embroidery: Spring

The thread has a wonderful sheen to it! You can see it especially in the leaves and flowers on this piece. And don’t you like the initials on the left, where Margaret signed her work? I usually forget to sign my needlework, but Margaret makes her signature a little work of art!

Here’s the whole piece for your enjoyment. If you click on it, you’ll get a larger version.

Reader's Embroidery: Spring

Doesn’t it make you happy just to look at it? It does me! I love the bird perched up there in a semi-be-fluffed state, the flowers, the leaves, the vines, the bugs, and the shoots of grass. It is a piece that really cheers me, and I love the way Margaret stitched it.

Thanks, Margaret, for sharing Spring! I can’t wait to see the other seasons!

So, dear readers, what are you stitching on? Any big projects (or little) going right now? Have you finished anything lately that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below and tell us what you’re up to – and if you have a blog or a flickr account you can link to, we’ll come visit! If you’re interested in sharing your work here on Needle ‘n Thread under Reader’s Embroidery, you’re welcome to drop me a line and I’ll tell you how!

Enjoy your Monday – I hope it’s a good start to a good week!


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(45) Comments

  1. That is such a beautiful picture. For the first time this year, we’ve been seeing a goldfinch in our garden ….. they have a lovely song. So this picture strikes a chord (no pun intended!) with me 🙂

    I’m usually left somewhat green with envy at the wonderful sources for supplies that you have in the states but, for once, I discovered that we in the UK can get the Piper’s silks quite easily at:

    (And I’m not linked with them in any way BTW).

    Cheshunt, UK

  2. I perhaps aught to add that the bird is an English goldfinch. It almost doesn’t have anough gold colour to deserve the name.

    The American goldfinch is completely different 🙂


  3. Really a beautiful embroidery treat!!! if you allow me to use your words!
    Congatulations to Margaret!

    Long ago you’ve talked about Fritillary and Helen Stevens and you make me to buy my first kit!lol But I was too insecure in using those beautiful silks… so never did it!
    Now it’s time to give it a try, after complete the linen towel for my grand niece First Communion!

  4. Hi Mary!
    I’m working on several things at the moment. A very big cross stitch design and a crewel design I made myself on a footstool cover. I made the design for the footstool after browsing through your Needle ‘n Thread site! I bet you can see where I got my ideas from…
    Here’s my Flickr! link, so you can take a look if you like:

  5. This does make me smile. We’ve had so much rain and wind, this is a real picker-upper. I adore the little moth and two hanging buds nearby. That small bit would look nice on a greeting card. The one large green leaf seems to glow from within. Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Sweet little bird. Margaret, is the ground fabric linen or silk? Also, did you put it on a frame and use a laying tool for the flat silk?
    I’m going to finish the icon I’ve been working on for 6 months RIGHT NOW! Today. God willing. That’s why I haven’t been around a lot. Picture will follow.
    PS There goldfinches at my feeder right now!

  7. At the moment, just a little project, that do not required precision. I do not really feel the motivation for something complicated.
    The work of Margareth is just so beautiful, congratulation to her !

  8. Thank you for sharing and thanks to Margaret for letting you share 🙂 !
    It is lovely !!!!
    I have Helen’s Embroiderer’s Countryside book and I love all the projects in it, how she gives clear guidelines as how to work them and all the “chat” and advice in the book.
    Sadly, currently I’m not working on any particular project that inspires/challenges me… though in a couple of weeks things will change !
    In the meantime I keep dreaming about all the hand embroidery projects and ideas and letting my thoughts drift and get lost in them.

  9. I just discovered your beautiful website last week. I bought a pre-printed pillowcase kit several years ago. I had an embroidered pillowcase as a little girl. I kept it until it fell to pieces sometime after college. (I am sure my laundering technique in college added to its demise.)I wanted my daughter to have something hand made by me, her mother, that she wouldn’t out grow. The kit came with a little one page instruction sheet describing three stitches. I finally started and finished the first pillowcase for Easter and am almost finished with the second.

    Upon discovering your succinct and clear video tutorials and looking at the sumptuous creations posted on your sight like today’s Spring collection, I am inspired to attempted a new project using a few new stitches. Knowing your web site is available to show me over and over just how to do it is like having a sister to run to with questions, but without having to loan her my clothes.

    Thank yo for this great gift of a resource.

  10. Hi Mary,

    I ordered a pattern for embroidered quilt blocks. The author states that white muslin is to be used behind the fabric hence requiring embroidering through two layers. Is this something new? Why the extra layer?

    Helen in SW FL

  11. Hello to all. Ive just had some fun embroidering on “felted Rocks.”.For a fairly quick fun project it is to be recommended and they make great gifts.
    2 went as Mothers day gifts.:)
    Helens work is certainly to be admired. I love it.

  12. Mary, what am I going to do with you! Every time I think I have gathered all the information I can, all the books, websites, etc. You come up with something new I can’t resist! I spent hours researching Helen Stevens books & website after I fell in love with the sample of her design you displayed today by Mary. It just made me smile. Helen’s designs, embroidery & books are incredible. I think I am starting a library here at home. I’m beginning to wonder if this is my way of procrastinating, afraid to start stitching my Di van Niekerk masterpiece for fear I’ll fail – I hope not!

    1. Oh, Pauline! You should launch in! It’s fun to collect the accessories and the books and the tools and the supplies – but just think of the satisfaction you’ll have when you work through the first part of your Di van Niekerk piece! But … who am I to talk? I think we must be a lot alike! I spent an hour on Helen’s website this morning, catching up and browsing and … and coveting certain things. Tsk tsk!

  13. Hi, All! Thanks for your comments! It is a gorgeous piece, isn’t it? I’ve come back to look at it at least four times already today.

    The goldfinch is beautiful – thanks for the heads up on the bird, Elaine! You’re right – our goldfinch is completely different, as it’s almost all bright yellow and black, though in winter, I believe the plumage is more muted. We have them here in Kansas, and quite a few of them flitter in and out of my backyard to the birdbath. They’re neat little birds.

    Irene – I have never seen a wetter-colder-longer winter than the one we had this past year in Kansas. I was really getting tired of cloudy skies when Spring finally showed up. But it showed up for something like a couple minutes, and then jumped into summer! Hot and humid! But I think you’re right – the attraction to the piece for me is the same!

    Anne – I can’t wait to see the icon! The background fabric is silk. She used a slate frame to set it up, to avoid any kind of hoop marks.

    Bambina – I hope the next couple weeks go by fast and you can launch into something fun and fantastic!

    Michelle! LOL! I have SIX (6) sisters. I understand the clothes comment better than most! Welcome aboard – I’m glad you enjoy the site!

    Helen – yes, that’s normal. Backing the fabric with another layer of muslin will give the embroidery support for one thing, and for the other (and more to the point) it will help hide any shadows that would show through on the front from the threads on the back. So if you have to carry threads a short distance, that carry line won’t show. If you hoop up both layers of fabric at the same time, and then work a light basting stitch around the design area (that can be picked out), it’ll be easy to work through both layers, and you’ll appreciate having the second layer there the first time you have to work two French knots that are only a quarter inch away from each other! No shadow! Hope that helps!

    I want to embroider felted rocks, Phillipa! I saw some on a website a while back and fell in love with them! They’d make great little pincushions, or paperweights, or just…. rocks! Fun!

    Well, I’m going to take one more glance at Spring (as it should be – not as it is outside my window, which is windy and hot and dusty!) and then do a spot of stitching!

    Enjoy your evening!


  14. Thank you all for the compliments! Thank you to Mary for such a lovely write up.

    Meri: do the Stevens piece! I had some challenges with the Pipers silks at first, but it quickly became fairly easy to work with. I found that I needed to slow down to make it behave. It’s a fun thread to work with and the shine is addictive.

    AnneG: I’m quite fond of the bird. I will miss seeing him watching over my work as I stitched. I did not use a laying tool, just good tension and careful stitching. The fabric is actually–are you sitting down?–a woven polyester cotton blend! I would have expected to use silk or linen, but I bought the fabric from the Stevens web site and when it arrived it was a plain old medium weight poly-cotton. Also, I did not back the piece with a second piece of fabric. (I just didn’t want to. 🙂 ) As Mary mentioned, I employed a nice small slate frame which I enjoyed using very much. It keeps the tension so even.

    Mary asked what we are all currently working on…I am working on two more bird pieces, a Trish Burr bluebird and an original design that incorporates a dove. I hope to start on ‘Summer’ in the summer, but I don’t know if that will work out with my schedule or not. I always reserve the right to change my mind!

  15. Hi Mary,
    I love Helen Stevens’ work. This is wonderful, and it is only a picture on my screen. Wish I could touch. Congratulations to Margaret and many thanks to you for showing us those marvellous things.

  16. Gorgeous Work! I am busily finishing up a 1940’s dresser scarf that I just love and looking forward to spring. Margaret’s piece makes me antsy for the garden.

  17. i have lkd ur all embroidery motif i`m fashion designer by profession so i use to chk ur side day by day n get the design from ur side now i`m loooking more specific design of hand embroidey.

    anjali chauhan

  18. Mary, I was so impressed with your article on Helen Steven’s beautiful embroidery and the pictures on your site that I immediately sent for 2 of her books. They are also lovely works of art. Thank you for introducing me to her work. When I can work it in I hope to take one of her on-line classes.

    I don’t know what I did with the note you sent me about the CD or DVD (I get them confused) of your stitch video. I don’t care which it is, PLEASE put me down for a copy of it. I know you haven’t finished it yet but I want to be on your list for a definite copy. If you want a check just let me know & I will send you one. I just don’t want to miss out on getting a copy of your stitch video asap. Thank you. I cannot say enough about what an ANGEL you are to educate ALL OF US. It is like having a dear friend teaching you all these glorious things. How lucky we are!

  19. Thanks for a really wonderful site. I am an amateur embroiderer and don’t think I’d ever be able to make 50% of what I’ve seen here. But still it’s been a treat to go through everything and pick up some inspiration and tips.

  20. Dear Mary,

    Im from the Netherlands and just saw yr post about this beautiful embroidery treat.
    I really love it.

    Is there a pattern known to make this?

    Its maybe a silly question but I sure would like to make this.

    Kind regards,

    Wendy Hardy
    Houten (Utr)
    The Netherlands

    1. Hi, Wendy – this is a Helen Stevens design. If you google her, you’ll find her website. She also has lots of books with similar designs and instructions in them.

  21. Ik dont know if my first message have been sent to….something went wrong…if so I apologize for this second one.

    If I want to go to the website Fritillary I got the message that the website doesnt excist.

    Is it possible for you to sent me a link or website where I can find the pattern of the beautiful embroidery from above…..with the bird and the flowers.

    With kind regards,

    Wendy Hardy
    (The Netherlands)

  22. J’aimerais avoir, si possible, des motifs semblables pour broder moi même, comment faire.

    Si j’ai déjà fait une demande de ce genre, et bien je n’ai pas eu de réponse.

    1. Hi, Annie – try googling “Helen Stevens” to see if you can find her embroidery website. I do not think her original website, Fritillary, is still functional. Thanks!

  23. I really lovely type of embroidery, even though I’m not very good at. It gives such an amazing finish. Thank you for sharing

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