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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Floral Glove Needlecase: Decisions, Decisions…


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Do you ever reach a point in a hand embroidery project where you stop and say, “Ok, wait. Do I go any farther on this thing, or do I stop now and start all over?” That’s about where I am with the Floral Glove Needlecase. Last time we talked about this particular embroidery project, I had made a decision that, in spite of the faulty transfer of the embroidery design, I was going to plug on ahead. And now I’m debating all over again.

Floral Glove Needlecase Project from Thistle Threads

The circled areas in the photo above are the two points that are Really Irritating me.

You can see that the green part of the flower on the left is crazy-off. I stitched absolutely over the lines on the design, and I regret that – you’ll see below that the shape didn’t improve much with the satin stitched filling. The flower in the center is not as bad – but it still bothers me. The lack of symmetry and the fact that the center section stretches out to the left bug me. Will this improve when I outline the layers of the flower in gold twist? I don’t know. But in the meantime, I find myself bugged.

The transfer on this design (the fabric for the project came with the transfer traced on it – I didn’t do it myself) was a bit on the wonky side, and not just in one spot. In my opinion, the piece was sloppily transferred. Noting the comments on my last article on the progress on this piece, I wasn’t the only one struggling with the question of whether I should re-draw the design on a different piece of linen. I chose not to. My mistake – I should have started over at the very beginning!

And this is an interesting lesson for me, but it’s not a new lesson. I’ve faced it before! I have started embroidery projects before, knowing something was Not Quite Right, and plowed ahead anyway because I was eager to get going on the thing. Sometimes, I’ve regretted it. Sometimes, I haven’t. It depends on the piece. With this particular piece, you see me wallowing in regret. Wallowing, I tell you!

I have come to the conclusion that, in life, the ratio of wallowing-to-cost-of-thing-wallowed-over remains constant. As the cost of the thing increases, wallowing increases proportionately.

And so I kick myself for a bad decision from the beginning. The lesson: if you have invested heavily in a particular needlework project, make sure you are satisfied from the very beginning, so that you don’t have to wallow in regret later on!

I should have started over. But I didn’t. And so this is where I am:

Floral Glove Needlecase Project from Thistle Threads

I do not like the shape of the green at the base of the flower. Maybe this will improve when the green is covered with silk purl, which is supposed to be couched horizontally over it.

Floral Glove Needlecase Project from Thistle Threads

The green on the left flower is much better – the shape is more consistent.

So, the decision I am facing right now:

1. Do I start over? I probably have enough thread to start the whole thing over, though I’m not quite certain. But ugh. I really can’t stand the thought of going through the set-up process all over again, and this time having to transfer the design. The design that came in the kit – the line drawing of the piece – is a good bit larger than the actual design on the fabric, so I’d also have to fiddle with the design to get it to the right size. I’m not overly fond of this part of the process.

2. Do I just plow ahead and assume that it will all turn out ok enough, and chalk it up to a learning experience?

3. Do I try a third route – correct the green thing on the right side (pick it out, alter the lines, and re-stitch it), adjust the middle flower when I do the outlining in gold, and take care of any off kilter transfer problems on the rest of the design as I come to them?

I’m inclined towards #3. What do YOU think? Any advice to offer? Have you ever been in a similar situation? What did you do? Were you happy with your decision? Leave a comment and help me out here! Troubleshooting is always easier when there are more heads than one involved!


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(98) Comments

  1. I say, discard it and start over. Even if you fix it it will still bother you and you will still feel it isn’t perfect. That’s what I will do. Or give it to someone who isn’t bothered by the imperfections and let them finish it.

  2. Hi Mary, Nature comes in all shapes and sizes, that make things beautiful. Leave the stem as it is. it beautiful on its own.

  3. Do you have to pick out the green? If you correct the slant, the line will be outside the current green; so couldn’t you just fill in the new part…and then overstitch all of it with the purl?

    The flower bud in the center doesn’t bother me too much…but I agree that the green in the side flower looks kinda lopsided.

    Of course mother nature does not always make symmetrical flowers…so you could be just obsessing. (smile)

    You already know what you have to do to make yourself happy…so just do it.

  4. Good morning Mary,
    I would go with three. I agree with you on all points and this would certainly bug me as well, but I think these things should be corrected from the onset of the project. To start over would be more of a defeat at this point and you have learned a valuable lesson and so to me this is the most important…”The Lesson Learned.”

  5. As a newcomer, who am I to give YOU, Mary, advice, but I think it all depends on how important this piece is to you. Personally, I´d opt for (3) and hope for the best, but I´m not a perfectionist…

  6. Mary, I think you are stressing way too much.
    Flowers in nature are never exact or even.
    The needle case will have a more natural look, if it isn’t exactly even. I personally don’t mind the uneven of the flowers.
    Keep up the good work….and your work is always wonderful.

  7. Hi Mary,
    Some assumptions or questions…is the background fabric of high enough quality that it will withstand removal of the silk work? Some will, some won’t. If it will, I’d say try this first before discarding the whole works. I’m with you, I hate the initial setup and I hate wasting my time so I would probably move on to another project rather than repeating myself. Maybe you are more disciplined? So, try #3 and see if you can salvage the project first.

  8. I am inclined to agree with you to go with option #3. The thought of starting over again and resizing and tracing the design seems like punishment to me. That is probably owing to the fact that I had horrible penmanship as a child and was always forced to rewrite any assignments for class.

  9. Mary, you have identified the problem areas and though picking out the stitching is tedious, that is what I would vote for as that may just do the trick. You have a good idea as to what is wrong with the design transfer and I am sure that with a little restitching this piece will look great

  10. It depends on what you want from the course. If you are mostly interested in the learning, keep going, you will learn if the wonkiness matters in the long run 8) If you want a finished item that you are going to love and treasure for ever (or gift to someone) you have to start over, I don’t think you will ever be satisfied with the wonky design.

    I’ve just taken a long look at my unstarted kit. Mine is not nearly as wonky as yours. I think I looked at it following your last post and decided I would use it. Now I’m not so sure, maybe I should learn from your experience. I know that will want it to be the best I am able to do!

  11. Hi, Mary. Considering the cost of the kit, it is a shame that the quality wasn’t better. That said, I would probably contact Tricia and let her know the problems I am having with her design. The only other option I see is unpicking that green portion, redrawing and starting that portion over. And if there is not enough thread for that, I would again let Tricia know the problem and ask for help. I personally feel her projects are rather expensive, and so she should stand behind them.

  12. #1 — too much. That solution takes the project to a pre-pattern state.
    #2 — too little. That solution is flawed because you see the mistake and it will forever haunt you.
    #3 — just right. The left and right flowers are symmetrical so the stitching should be identical.

    My vote? #3.

  13. I’ll do #3 as well, Mary.

    I’m looking for a good goldwork kit – do you know any?
    A little one with good directions, all kind of needed threads, and not too expensive? 😉

  14. I say, continue with your project. The needlework is beautiful. Remember, things in nature and biology are not necessarily symmetric. Their symmetry is rather approximate. For example leaves rarely match up exactly; petals, sepals, stamens, etc. are only roughly identical.

  15. I well know how you are feeling in this moment, I have learned the lesson any time ago and now I never start if I’m not totally convinced that all is ok, also if it seems to be maniacal but I don’t want to have this bad sensation again!
    I believe that in this case, the bad drawing is not sooo bad, if was mine work, I will adjust it as you said in #3 and surely with the silk purl on it this will be less noticeable.
    Now your eyes are fixed on it and probably it seems you worse that how really is.
    After all at the end, I think you will get a good result ! This project is so nice, enjoy it..

  16. First of all, remind yourself that flowers are not uniform in size and shape. Second, remind yourself that while the problems are glaringly apparent to you (to the point where you cannot even see the rest of the project, in parts and as a whole)they are not apparent to the casual observer. Then put the project for several months where yout cannot see it. Then take it out and make the decision about what to do.

  17. I would opt for number 3. For one, I think that some amount of irregularity was intended in this piece (perhaps to make it appear more ‘period’). Secondly, embroidery (unlike lace) is rarely more than a stitch or two away from being made right. Your proposed modification to the wonky calyx will probably fix it, as will fudging on the central flower. They stand out now because you are just at the start of the stitching. When everything else is filled in, the irregularities will recede.

    For the rest of the piece, you will simply have to be vigilant as you stitch, and make corrections as necessary.

  18. As in anything, there is not one thing on this earth that is without imperfection. Needle work and quilting go hand and hand, if there is even the slightest of imperfections, than that makes the work your own. Who can say that that isn’t the way that it is supposed to be.

  19. When I don’t like what I have done I put it back, way back, and work on it very reluctantly until it is finished. Good luck. No flowers are perfect in nature. From my view, I can’t see anything wrong, but I’m not the one working on it.

  20. i Mary,
    Oh, I SO understand your dilemma! Anything not perfectly symmetrical – when it’s supposed to be symmetrical – drives me nuts! I think you could correct enough the middle bit with the gold but I couldn’t live with the flowers on the right. So, option 3 would be my choice, too.

    Any great piece of work must have a solid foundation, just like a building. If the design wasn’t transferred well, then it’s an uphill battle for the rest of the project. ggggrrrrr

    And definitely correct as you go! I have had to do that when I wasn’t as careful as I should have been in transferring the design. It has worked pretty well so far. But I never QUITE trust my eye and I have to stitch more slowly and look at the whole piece more often.

    Good luck! I love the overall idea of the piece and the colors are really lovely!

  21. Hi,
    Regrets! How well I know them.
    Two things come to mind. Fix from first. Copy design.Use library copier. Enlarge to spare your eyesight. Trace half of each flower top to bottom, fold tracing paper and finish design to insure symmetry. Fine Sharpie works well here. Pack up and do all at library and won’t take long! Redraw and start stitching. (*I always HATED the kits where they make you start by sorting the thread.

    Now? Write to company and COMPLAIN.
    Request more thread! When/if you get it unpick
    offending parts until you can redraw design. Restitch. Wouldn’t matter with less formal design but there’s no point putting more time into this. You’ll never be happy with it.

  22. I would start over with a properly transferred design. If you are going to spend all of this time and effort on something why take a chance that you won’t like it in the end? And personally I would complain about the transfer quality to those who created it in the first place!

  23. Two things come to mind. To resize picture just go to library copier and up and down by percentage. Much easier. Although in this case I’d trace half of the design of each flower top to bottom on to tracing paper and fold in half to complete to insure symmetry. A Sharpier works well here.
    Now I would write to company to COMPLAIN and request more thread. After all it’s their fault! When/if you get thread unpick bad parts and as much of good as you need to in order to redraw design. Restitch. Otherwise ditch it now. You will never be happy with it
    as it is.

  24. Forgive me but, nothing is perfect. I like things that are a little off. That is what makes them special. I would go with option #3. I look forward to the finished item.

  25. I say number 3. Remember that not all flowers in nature are exact copies of all the others. Some have slight imperfections. Plus, if it’s a needle case the sides are going to folded to make the case, right? They aren’t going to laid out next to each other for such close inspection anyway. It’s beautiful change a little and keep on plugging away! 🙂

  26. I would follow #3. If you pick out the green, you can ‘straighten out’ the left side of the curve a little, and it should be fine. This looks like a copy of a old design, so maybe that was what was originally there – if not, I can only say that until machines, some asymmetry was normal.

    The middle flower isn’t so bad and can be fixed with the goldwork, I think.

    The main point would be, to me, to think about making such changes before stitching them the first time!

  27. I have found that when I am working on something that doesn’t turn out the way I envisioned it, I correct it. I figure that someone will notice what I have seen and think of me as sloppy, oblivious, or an idiot. I don’t want to be attached to these terms, so as long as my name is attached to my project (whether I designed it or not) I will correct it to fit my standards. I vote for #3.

  28. I go along with #3. I believe it can be salvaged as long as you have enough of the green. I too have a problem with perfection, I expect my projects to look perfect, and in proportion.
    As you pointed out,it wasn’t right from the beginning and you probably should have corrected at that time for your own self satisfaction. I still like it even with the wobbles, I think the colors and the design on a whole are good. Good Luck

  29. My vote is to start over. Your embroidery – your talent – deserves a better start.
    Interestingly, I just pulled out my kit of this project (purchased years ago) and the design is not drawn onto the linen. The full color blow-up of the embroidery, however, shows both the right and left florals a little too close to the inner trim lines. I had made a note to myself to compensate for that whenever I got around to transferring the design to the linen.
    I hope this process hasn’t turned you totally off of the project … that has definitely happened to me in the past.

  30. I personally wouldn’t start over. I would simply adjust as I went along. The green base of the flower? Just extend the left side so it looks balanced (as you’ve done). The lumpy flower? Since you’ll be stitching over the lines anyway, just remove the stitches on the chubby side and stitch the petals so they’re more symmetrical. Great advice from someone who doesn’t even do embroidery, huh? Not even worth 2 cents. LOL

  31. Hello Mary,
    I’ve been looking back at when you first looked at this project and I honestly think that it was doomed from the start! You had misgivings before you even started sewing. I, like you, hate things that aren’t quite right. So, my suggestion is that you give it to a charity shop for somebody to buy, or offer it as a prize on your site – whatever: just get rid!

  32. I think I’d start over. Even if I tweaked it I would *still* look at it when it was finished and wish I had just fixed it to begin with. I think once you start putting the couched threads on top you won’t be able to go back and fix the underlying transfer problems.

    I suffer from this problem, too:

    ‘I have started embroidery projects before, knowing something was Not Quite Right, and plowed ahead anyway because I was eager to get going on the thing.’

    I’m trying to get better! 🙂

  33. I say keep going. (1) They are flowers – depending on how they grew and whether or not there is a stiff breeze, flowers are not perfectly symmetrical. Nature’s beauty is often in its imperfections. (2) It is handmade. That is my favorite excuse for mistakes and asymmetry. If everything was done perfectly, a machine could have done it. BUT – if it is REALLY going to bother you til the end of time, then start over. No need to add stress to your life!

  34. I’m a beginner so I’ve not faced this problem but in other things I have done, it’s always worked out best when I take the time to correct it before forging ahead. Your #3 option makes the most sense to me. Is there any way one can look at the entire pattern before we start embroidering to see if there are any badly drawn parts and correct them at that stage? Judith

  35. Mary, let me begin by saying you are a beautiful stitcher, and your perfectionism is why you are a beautiful stitcher. You’ve probably heard that no one will notice imperfections but you. And if your piece is lucky enough to survive into a future generation, the “unevenness” of the design will probably make it more interesting and valuable. That’s the difference between a hand versus machine- embroidered item.

    As to starting over, I would go with #3 if you have enough thread in the kit to do it. It will probably be a creative exercise to figure a way to make it look right.

    Good luck,

  36. I think it will always bother you, but it is possible that the original gloves were a little on the wonky side as well. This may actually look more like the original than we expect. So perhaps you can press on and regard it as a historical reproduction, including the imperfections, rather than the work you would do if it were your design start to finish.

  37. I would pick option 3. Some imperfection makes it charming, and gives a human touch, rather than machine precision, but the green part on the right isn’t even close to slightly imperfect. This saves the good work, and improves the parts that bother you.

  38. I would go for (3). (1) is a huge and tedious job and you are already frustrated with the project.

    It’s going to get a lot of goldwork on top. Between your corrections and the goldwork, I don’t think much wobbliness will be visible in the end.

    The other factor is your head.
    Do you think you should do the corrections then put it away for awhile, then approach it like a brand new project,
    or fix it then plough ahead in order to achieve some happiness with the piece (I’d say the second option, else it risks becoming a UFO)

  39. #3, definitely – the less you have to do over, the more likely you will not be overwhelmed, and will get it done. In response to one of your earlier posts, on why we don’t keep much of our own needlework – for me, the perfectionist, it’s because I see all the mistakes or all the little places I could have done better – while someone else sees the whole, and therefore the beauty, of the finished piece.

  40. I’d definitely go for option 3. Seeing how much work you’ve already put in and adding the fact that there might not enough yarn left…
    On the other hand I’m used to finding imperfections in my work all the time and trying to teach myself not to mind too much.
    Whatever you do, I’m pretty sure it will look great.

  41. I find that there is nothing a bit of time away won’t fix. Stop looking at it for a few days and come back. The green, although a bit wonky, won’t be so bad with the couching and the flower is actually kind of quirky. The stitching is beautiful and that is what people notice.

    Although I understand the frustration (especially when it is not your fault!), don’t beat yourself up over it. Unless you draw big red circles on the final piece, it is doubtful that anyone will be able to see what is wrong.

    Good luck, it’s still beautiful.

  42. Mary,

    Sometimes the wonkiness contributes to the charm of the piece, but I suspect that you don’t agree in this case, or it wouldn’t be bothering you so much. I would not discard it or give it away, it’s just too expensive a piece for that. So if you can’t stand the thought of redrawing the whole thing (I don’t think I would) I agree with #3, fix what you can now, and adjust the odd tracings as you come to them. That should give you a pretty good result without being too drastic. This has happened to me, and fixing things as I come to them generally seems to be the best solution.

  43. Mary, Mary, don’t be contrary; let your garden grow! I think you should let it be. I am, myself, a perfectionist but I am sore grieved to find that which is bothering you. What if you did start over and didn’t have enough thread? When in nature is every flower the same as every other? Perhaps a little compensation here and there will remedy? Maybe there is someone in your life that would absolutely LOVE to have this and wouldn’t even notice the “imperfections”. In the end, though, you are the master and the garden is yours!

  44. Honestly if it were me I would call it the charming inconsistency of handwork and go on, but… I totally understand when something is bugging the fire out of you. There are things I can live with and things I can’t. If you are sure you will never be happy with this as it is, then re-do it, give it away to someone else to finish or just plain abandon it and go on to something else which will bring more satisfaction than this seems to be doing.

  45. How frustrating! If you are like me then you will never be happy with it, it will continue to irk you; I would have to start over. I never fret about undoing work as that is the only way I will be satisfied with the finished result. Is there anyway that the original transferred piece could have been replaced by the producer? Surely they will be unhappy that you are unhappy and that your disatisfaction has been aired.

  46. since it bugs you,go with your 3rd choice and fix the part you don’t like. you will be happy later.don’t give up. i think its nice

  47. Hey, flowers in nature are NEVER perfect, so chill out and enjoy embroidering it as it. As a former “Type A,” I can tell you that life gets a lot less stressful when you ALLOW yourself to not be perfect. The completed project will be LOVELY even with a flaw or two..or three, or four.

  48. WOW – I went to have my nails done (for the first time in my life!) and I came home to 52 comments. (Maybe I should get my nails done more often?)

    I read each and every one of these comments with great interest, and each one of you has expressed, in one way or another, the various thought processes that I’ve gone through on the piece.

    I’m going to sit down with the piece this evening and see what happens. #3 seems to get the vote here, and I’m leaning in that direction. I think Kathy (Shaw) commented on fixing the angle easily, without worrying too much about it, since the area will be covered with silk purl, anyway. And that’s pretty much what I was thinking, too – so I’ll try it and see how it goes!

    Oh, so many of you are spot on when it comes to understanding how it’s Very Difficult to finish a project (or at least to finish it with enthusiasm) when we are dissatisfied with it!

    Thanks again for all the comments! I appreciate your feedback so much! I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!


  49. Hi Mary

    I work with Sandy who is also doing this project. In our discussion about the same issues you are having I was wondering if this project is a reproduction of an original old piece of work and the inconsistencies of the original piece have been kept. It could be worth emailing -is it Thistle- and asking them about it. If you are reproducing an old work it puts a different light on the inconsistencies.

    Your new website and newsletter look great.

  50. while you would probably go with number 3
    i think that i would try to reshape with a bit of drawing the outside lines just a bit with a darker green

  51. Hello, Mary, just my two cents: I would leave the green part of the left flower and pick out and redraw the green part of the right hand flower. I agree that it looks a little screwy. I think the circle you’ve drawn around the flower makes it look a lot worse than it really is! I’d go with leaving it alone and I think the gold twist will fix it. Good Luck with your choice.

  52. Dear Mary:

    As a devoted fan of your blog, I was very interested in your dilemma with the Floral Glove Needlecase. I am an embroiderer too, and as a manufacturer and distributor of needlework materials and kits I have observed the comments of you and your readers with interest. This sort of reminds me of an Oscar Wilde quote: “No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly.”

    I feel compelled to respond because this situation is one I have found myself in as well—to continue or not when faced with something that is not giving me the result I have worked so hard to accomplish. Never mind the “opportunity cost” of my time.

    Have you heard the term: teachable moment? In all the years I have embroidered and slogged my way through things that in retrospect were not going well I tried to “train” myself to think along the following lines:

    1) Even when I know better, to begin with why don’t I listen to the little voice that says, “Send this back and have it made right.” I have sent things back, and I have kept them, been miserable and never purchased from the company or designer again.

    2) Every embroiderer, (especially if you have stitched as long as I have) possesses a level of conceit that we KNOW HOW to fix things. Yet, given the cost of materials of a kit—is that really what we should be doing? Are we doing our sister/brother embroiderers any favors by keeping something that makes us unhappy?

    3) “It’s not the materials, It’s you!” This is where despite our best efforts, we cannot wrestle the embroidery materials (no matter how hard we try) to achieve what the designer did. Sometimes this is true and sometimes it is not, as I learned to my chagrin. But that is another story for another time.

    Now as a manufacturer of kits and materials I have a few more things to say about this.

    At Access Commodities, when we make a kit it is with the intention to make the user a success with the project. Our employees take pride in every detail of packaging, presentation and element of design. It matters to me, and here it is personal—that beautiful materials ensure the embroiderer the best finished result—regardless of their ability as a stitcher. Tricia and I have had many discussions about the importance of quality materials as one of the ingredients to making sure there remains a customer base for not just silk and linen but other designer’s work as well.

    As the cost of really good embroidery materials continues to rise, your readers have an obligation as consumers to demand that if something isn’t right that it be remedied.

    I applaud and support your efforts, Mary. You make me want to do better as a manufacturer and be a better consumer, too.


    Lamora Lucia Haidar
    Access Commodities, Inc.
    Terrell, Texas

  53. I would rework the green connection of the flower to the stem. As for the flowers—Mother Nature does not make “perfect flowers.” They do not always sit in a symmetrical arrangement and look “perfect.” I would leave the flowers alone and work on accepting the fact that Mother Nature creates beauty in imperfection. I was told once by an art teacher to “paint the perfect picture.” I looked at him like he was crazy. His reply to my look was, “So why do your pictures have to be perfect?” Lesson learned.
    Marianne Udell

  54. Flowers are not perfect in nature! I would keep going. I think things a little “off” are quite ok.

  55. Mary,
    I am almost exactly at the stage you are, except I have done a few of the gold petals. I switched to Bargello for a while to take my mind off this confounded project.

  56. Mary,

    I am working this project too, and I’ve gotten to the gold work part. I took a look at my flower calyx and they both end up looking the same to me once the olive purl is on (I can send you a pic via e-mail). I think there’s “enough going on in there” (to quote my brother-in-law) that the imperfections won’t be terribly noticeable.

    The Soie Paris was wonderful and I am sorry the silk part is all done!

  57. Personally–well, I’m lazy, and I’ve looked at a lot of 16th century embroidery, and while they were fantastic embroiderers technically and artistically, the people drawing the patterns on the fabric were generally not perfect at it (and they didn’t have lightboxes, among other things). That level of irregularity seems entirely within the range of 16th century embroidery.

    So it wouldn’t bother me personally. It looks beautiful so far!

    But if it’s bothering YOU this much, I don’t think #2 sounds like something you can live with.

  58. The older I get the more I accept small imperfections, I find I enjoy my embroidery that way…Far too many UFO’s otherwise..
    Love the new site…Thankyou

  59. Well I came late to the dicussion 🙂 I also vote #3 and wanted to comment on how well this project’s colours coordinates with your new site! Which is very pretty, by the way 🙂

  60. Personally, I think that NONE of this project is worthy of the outstanding, superior, gorgeous and impressive things you produce. I am used to seeing works of art from your needle. To say (you said) things look a bit wonky in this project is too, too kind. The fabric doesn’t look too great either. I say chuck it and move on to something that will give you joy rather than strugle (even if it’s only emotional…rspecially if it’s emotional). Love and blessings, Natalie

  61. I spent years and years restoring the embroidery on old crewel pieces and they are all over the place so far as order, consistency, etc. It’s obvious that the main rule, whether deliberate or not, was that the work please someone, and not necessarily the same someone, I’d say, in each piece :).

    On some pieces you can tell that one person did the whole thing, but on many, many pieces you can pick out that a number of people worked on the one piece. Sometimes the same motif was apparently used as a ‘pattern’ but the actual embroidery differs in the technique, or stitching, or choice of stitches, threads, etc—they can really be all over the place…lopsided, embellished with impossible details, etc. Probably from the English influence the leaves don’t at all match up to the flower component (acanthus leaves ruled for a long time!)in the early pieces but do get more consistently correct as time goes by. On some pieces it’s clear that somebody tried to “neaten up” motifs after the fact (even if the thread is very similar dyes often age differently and give secrets away), so even long ago there seems not to have been a lot of agreement about what might be best, or even acceptable. It’s especially interesting in light of our current-day tendency to set up designs with a 3-bubble level and a try-square, as one of my kids accused me of a couple years ago.

    So you’ve lots of leeway to make your own decision and my vote would be to do what ‘feels’ right for you depending on your eventual use/intended deposition of the piece. It’s your’n, as they say in the south, do as you find comfortable.

  62. Mary, leaving that would drive me nuts. Redoing it would fill me with resentment. So…what to do? I think I would be contacting the provider of the project and asking for a replacement. For something so expensive, I would expect a lot better quality. I know it will be a pain to start all over but that has to be better than unpicking and maybe running the risk of running short of thread. Given the hype in the advertising for this project, I think you are right to expect symmetrical transfers. All the best with your needlecase.

  63. I am SO glad I waited to work on mine. I have been reading all the comments (not just here) on how off the design is, and haven’t decided if I want to redo the design or not. Now, I will redo the design before I start. If you really really don’t want to do #1, do #3. But make sure this is what you want to do with before you use your gold threads provided. Otherwise, you will be buying more gold threads, too. If it doesn’t go in the trash by then!

    As for the comments on wonky is good and flowers in nature are not perfect, it has nothing to do with buying a project which is presented as a symetrical design, and getting something you have to redo because the time required (which we are paying for) was not put into the most important part of the design – which is transferring the design to the fabric. The amount of silk threads given is fine, as we have more than enough. I now face buying more fabric (another exspense), resizing the design to the correct size when we don’t have a correctly sized design, and taking hours to transfer a design to my newly bought fabric, which should have been taken care of to begin with. I don’t think complaining will do much good. I do think those of us who object to what we did receive should let Tricia know this.

    For now, it sits on the very backest of back burners. If I resize incorrectly, the rest of the project will not fit together.

  64. I would go with #3. No matter what you do you will still have to correct what was wrong so it is a waste of time to start over. Just fix as you go. The other side is that all flowers are not the same so you could do it the way it is.

  65. I would go with Number 3 – once the whole project is finished I am sure it will look o.k. Love the new website.
    Cheers Margaret

  66. number 3, of course!
    Don’t be so hard on yourself or the embroidery! It looks great!
    Even if it is not perfect…so what? is anytnhing in life perfect? And are not the imperfections that give salt to it?

  67. As a long time devotee to antique needlework, and having a fair amount of experience, I have to say that it seems you kit is copying an exact pattern of an old design with all it’s faults…old needlework is not exact nor perfectly aligned.That’s part of the joy of looking at old embroidery…it’s imperfections are special to each piece. You did not design this piece, you are in effect copying an original piece of work (via someone else’s version) and if you did design this piece you would have done it differently…making all the parts equal, symetrical etc…changed the colour selection…that’s what makes your piece of embroidery unique.

    So now you are faced with a choice, change the design to suit yourself, redraw it and start again, or carry on and stitch it with all it’s faults, and emulate someone else’s work, or finally carry on and change the things that bother you about the design and make it your own version.

    Good luck, Ursula

  68. I doubt it would be historically accurate to be perfectly symmetrical – I visited the Bayeux Tapestry a few years ago and while I admit that is several hundred years older than what we are aiming for here, it was really very uneven indeed. It is the unevenness that gives these things life.

  69. Me thinks you fret too much. Where in nature are things perfect? Each bloom is wonky, each is unique…when this project is complete, the flowers will look beautiful, because of your beautiful stitching and noone will measure or criticize or probably even notice what is off,
    especially if you don’t point it out! Continue on, adjust where you can and enjoy the beauty of the wonky beautiful flowers!

  70. Well, I have to tell you that I find all of your work absolutely amazing, including the piece that you are discussing at the moment. I think that it is VERY common for all of us to be extremely critical of our own work.
    Nothing hand made is perfect and although some works turn out better than others, all are full of so much creativity, they are beautiful in their own right.
    Usually, leaving a piece that I am not happy with puts in into perspective. If I am not happy with it, I just look at it again in a couple of days and I either see the solution or I see more beauty than I did the first time, and carry on.
    Just to put your current piece into perspective…..I happened upon your site about 2 months ago, when I was researching some of my late grandmother’s embroidery pieces and trying to duplicate some of the stitches. Out of all of the art/craft sites on the Internet, yours has become my absolute favorite. You and your incredible talent have inspired me to learn all aspects of embroidery and I now have several projects on the go, encompassing not only embroidery but also some crewel work. I absolutely love finding beautiful threads and materials to work with and I have never had so much fun with a craft/hobby before (I usually knit and crochet, but embroidery is bringing me a new found sense of glee!!).
    So, I would say carry on and you might surprise yourself at the end of your project!
    Just remember that what your eyes see as a problem, my eyes see as a work of art.

  71. I try to fix (when it is understitching) places that are just not symetrical while stitching them. If one side is more what I want it to be, I just make extra stitches on the off side to make it look more like I want. Especially when using a kit. I just take the side I like, and turn it over so I can see it on the wrong side and then make the wrong side’s shape like the right side’s. Then when the satin stitching is done, there is nothing wrong with it. If one side is bigger and all the rest is smaller, I try to fix that before the stitching is done. Just my take on how to ‘fix’ patterns that are wonky and will make the piece look skewed.

  72. Personally I’d go with #3 – As as designer of other things, I have always found that if you start with something off plumb it will magnify itself into one big distortion if you keep trying to plow with the original concept. The only way I know of to deal with it is to compensate through design changes as you go on with the rest of the piece. It won’t be the same as the idea you started with but it might even be better. It depends on how attached you are with the original concept.

  73. Hi Mary,
    I spent 5 hours redrawing the design on 1mm graph paper before I started (a fellow perfectionist!!) I just couldn’t cope with the assymetry even if it was reproduction. I have now progressed to the ovals and goldwork and it is well worth persevering with!! It is now looking quite beautiful. I agree with one of the other ladys – there is now so much embellishment on it i am not noticing the imperfections quite as much. (When I redrew I still ended up with one Oval slightly too high – whenever I show anyone I feel like covering that one oval).

    Back to your calyx’s, the purl really does change the shape and I suspect will cover any slight differences. I found that the purl was very vulnerable to any changes in tension, even when I ended off my thread.

    Look forward to watchimg you progress.

  74. I’d probably try #3, except that if there are more areas I think might be “wonky” I might try to adjust the lines (maybe use a brown pigma so I’ll know which were my lines. Only where the lines will be covered, of course.

    I have a similar issue right now with my long-delayed “big project.” It’s mostly dressed to the slate frame and it’s off kilter. I have to finish stretching it, but I’m afraid that I’ve managed to mis-trace it so that it’s not quite “true” If that’s the case I have to decide what to do — probably it will be remove it, get a new piece of linen out (fortunately, I have more) and re-draw — which will be a bit of a pain since it’s very very big, but I know if I start stitching I’ll be unhappy. Reading your “I knew I was unhappy to start with” thoughts make me lean more towards “do it right to start with silly” 🙂 Maybe I’ll be lucky and it will turn out to be ok when I finish stretching.

  75. I`m afraid I can`t tell you what you should do Mary, but I know what I would do…I would scrap it and start over, redrawing the whole thing. The flower in the middle is what would bug me most, as I adore the symbol of the Tudor rose, and it is the focal point for me, and I couldn`t bear for it to be so distorted…

  76. Hi Mary,

    I’m a beginner, and so although my feelings tend to #3, I don’t really have the experience to say how much better/worse each option would be.

    But I have gone through your previous posts, and looking at the other design flaws you pointed out, especially the medallion being so obviously offcentre, I would personally send it back for a refund/replace (including threads, of course).

    You’re way too good an embroiderer to waste time on something like this, and too experienced to need the lessons 🙂 Unless you choose to turn it into another lesson for us acolytes, in which case I would not complain in the least way

    Thank you, by the way, for turning these musings and mistakes into public articles. I’m learning so much more from them and the photo tutorials than plain “this is how to do stem stitch”

    My 2c

  77. Hi, Mary! Definitely #3. If starting over from scratch would be no fun for you – and you stitch for fun, after all! – why should you do it?
    Keeping it fun is the most important part, I think. Even if some things in embroidery look like hard work, we should enjoy doing them, or just pick something else to stitch.

  78. Hi, I am new to your website and just read your comments on problems with this piece. Not wanting to cast a vote for sloppy transfers or poor design, I dare to say that I like it as is. It appears that the designer was attempting to capture an organic and natural perspective, hence the differences that you have noted. No flower unless absolutely perfect and viewed from straight on, would be totally even on both sides. If it were, to me it would seem very artificial and not resemble the real world. Thanks, Edie

  79. Mary – I would go with #3 for the simple reason that if this were me, I would be “correcting” it anyway – I would not be able to stand the problems. 🙂 Can you just re-draw the problem areas? Add new stitching lines? I think my optimum choice would be #4 – request a redo or refund from the seller. I think sloppy workmanship is unacceptable, especially when you have paid good money for it! But since you have already started, #3 is a good choice. It would be driving me crazy to work on it as is, I would have to correct it in spite of myself. lol

  80. I know that feeling… when something bothers so much that you know that you would not be happy with it later. But I’m learning to love the occasional mistakes ;-). Do what makes you happy ! Have fun !
    PS (though sometimes nature show its beauty in the less perfect ways)

  81. Olá Mary, venho seguindo seus posts há pouco tempo mas gostaria de opinar.
    Em meus trabalhos jamais sigo a regra. Para a flor do meio, aumente as pétalas, crie mais alguns matizados, misturando vermelho e branco para dar luz/ para o cálice verde, em seu lugar eu faria com que êle entrassse em matiz no meio da flor, exatamente como encontramos na natureza! Espero que minhas opiniões possam colaborar nesse dilema
    Abraços Dolly

  82. Hi Mary:
    I’ve found that the more I try to fix something (my design, or that of others), the more irritated I get! However, I don’t feel this piece is a lost cause. Option #3 would be my choice. In the words of a Folk Art painter, a little disparity is “charming…”
    Go for it!!!

  83. First, I want to say how much I love your blog. I do mostly cross stitch myself, and your dilemma here affirms why! Here is my thinking. This is a respresenation of nature and while natural things may be perfect specimens, they aren’t all alike, symetrical or perfect. Unless you just can’t bear the thought of leaving it the way it is, I suggest going with it as it is; it’s really lovely and the stitching is superb, as all your projects are. I find that when just a small part of a project bothers me, when it’s finished, the overall effect is what is attractive and any small flaws are not noticed. I’m looking forward to finding out what you decide and your thinking.

  84. Hi Mary, I go with option 4 contact Tricia, I’d think she’d want to know if there are problems with the tracing. Option 2 go with option #3 but I would carefully look over the tracing and check for other problem ares. Good Luck Stacey

  85. Because frogging stitches out gives me nightmares. I would have made new lins and ajusted the desigh, because when things are off balance it makes me crazy.

  86. Hi Mary,

    I have this project too and at first the wonky lopsidedness of the piece bothered me also, but I reminded myself of the history of the piece and decided I’m make some small ‘changes’ along the way but treat is as an historical piece (not well-aligned). For me, that approach is working. Good Luck and as always, thanks so much for all your musings. I have learned so much from you 🙂

    Best of Regards,

  87. I think you have drafting talents and it is always time to focus on developing your own Mary Corbet brand designs! ^_^

  88. I must say you are crazy perfecionist but I really adore such routine. Any time looking at how many times you are looking for perfect stitch its is amazed for me how patient you are!
    That is absolutely true that nature is not perfect. But as mentioned I fully understand you. My advice lets try #3. Cross my fingers for great results!

  89. I`m like you; anxious to get started on a project even though I feel that something is Not Quite Right…I would go ahead and finish this and chalk it up to lessons learned! Besides…I want to see the finished project! 🙂

  90. I absolutely love the Valdani threads. Very easy to work with. Used on a Mirabella project and it came out awesome!

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