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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Spontaneous Hand Embroidery, Spontaneous Musing


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Remember that felt and floche embroidery project I started the other day? It’s the only project I’ve ever named that actually had some sense in the name – Embroidered Chaos! Thank you all so much for your name input on yesterday’s embroidery pattern – your comments were so fun to read! It was fun to see how people’s perceptions are in many ways the same, and in many ways completely different!

Beginning the felt and floche embroidery project was rather fortuitous. It’s gotten an interesting reaction from among my students, and has raised a compelling question.

Felt and Floche in Hand Embroidery

You see, this isn’t exactly what I would call an embroidery project, proper. To me, a project is something that you set out doing, with a particular goal in mind. And, as I mentioned the other day, this was completely spontaneous. I just wanted to stitch a sample – I wasn’t actually making anything. (Yet. I might, though… this type of stitching can be addicting!)

Felt and Floche in Hand Embroidery

I don’t contend that you have to be “making something” every time you stitch. Some stitching may just be for complete fun (this piece, so far, is.) Some may be for the sake of learning one little thing – and once that’s learned, you may have no set use for the piece anymore and no interest in it.

Felt and Floche in Hand Embroidery

Well, the fact that I am just randomly stitching stitches in circles and swirls on a piece of felt – using bright and not-necessarily-perfectly-matched colors – has fascinated some of my students.

Felt and Floche in Hand Embroidery

They see the piece, and they think it’s “cool.”

Felt and Floche in Hand Embroidery

But what has fascinated them more is my answer to their inevitable questions: “What is it?” or “What are you making?”

Felt and Floche in Hand Embroidery

I have had great fun answering them: “Nothing.”



Felt and Floche in Hand Embroidery

And it starts to sink in.

“Do I have to be making something?” I ask.

“I guess not.”

“I’m having fun.”

“Oh. [Pause] It looks fun.”

And they look. And they wonder.

And that, my friends, is the beginning of wisdom!



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(17) Comments

  1. I think it’s fun to look at. My eyes are drawn to different areas; I find myself following the pink line or the yellow line to see where it goes. Something freestyle like this would be great for a small handbag.

  2. You know, this reminds me a little of doing City & Guilds samples. Part of it is very purposeful indeed, i.e. learning/sampling a new technique/stitch and building up design skills etc, but part is very much for fun as there’s no completed piece to be framed as such from it. Kinda miss it in some ways. Maybe I’ll get back to it in the autumn.=)

  3. Oh, goodness Mary! This “random” stitching is not only turning out beautiful, but becoming a lesson on FUN and SERENDIPITY … how unexpectedly wonderful! That love and joy glows right out of this piece, and your students recognize it; what an amazing thing to discover. In most school environments there really is no time or place for just FUN. Maybe none of it is so unexpected though, when it comes from you 🙂

  4. You would think, after 45 years, I would have gained a little of that wisdom! Unfortunately, I get so wrapped up in what I’m “making” that I never get around to doing it “just for the fun of it!” Maybe that should be my New Years resolution… “make” something just for the fun of it!

  5. This is very reminiscent of your felt needlebook which I absolutely loved when you were stitching it. I can certainly see it capturing the imagination of your students. Enjoy!

    1. Hi, ALL! Thanks for your replies on this one. It is addictively fun to do this type of stitching, and yes, it’s a lot like the felt needlebook! The difference so far is that I have restricted my stitches to chain / buttonhole / feather-type stitches. But I suspect others are going to creeeeeep in.

      Freda – that’s the braid stitch, and I’ve got a video coming out for it next week! So do look for it!

      Speaking of videos, I was supposed to have the “pendant chain stitch” video up this week, but there was a problem with the original footage, so I need to re-film that one. Instead, I’ll have twisted chain stitch up tomorrow, and then next week, berwick and braid, and somewhere in there, the pendant chain…. And in fact, that’s how this whole felt-and-floche thing started – I just wanted a sample of pendant chain. Now I have samples of LOTS of stitches. Not sure I want them all on turquoise felt, but for now, I won’t complain!

      Thanks again for your comments! Have a terrific weekend!


  6. Hello, I am embroidering a tracing of my granddaugher’s hands. I would like to add her name and 2009 to the piece and have it framed for my son. Would you have a suggestion where I could obtain a pattern for simple letters? and numbers There are space constraints on the fabric so the letters and numbers need to be about 1″ to 1 1/5″ high but no larger.

    Thank you Kathy Nolan

  7. This is one of those things that will tell you when it’s done, and what it wants to be. A visual definition of serendipity!

    1. Hi, Wendy – I drew the circles with a protractor. The “thing” has progressed to a lot larger now, and so I used a compass for the larger circles, and to replace the broken protractor, I finally bought some “circle templates” in the drafting supplies section at an art store. Now I can make practically any sized circle!! Yippeeeee! On the downside, I have a feeling I’m stuck embroidering a piece of turquoise-blue felt that I will not end up doing anything with….. though someone did suggest a tote bag…..

  8. Hi Mary,
    Could you please tell me what’s that stitch in pink thread called (4th photo). I simply loved it. I think it would make a nice border.

  9. Dear Mary,

    Though this is the first time i am posting a comment,I am a regular viewer of ur site. I was looking for the pendant chain and berwick stitch u had promised…….cant find it…..pls tell me if there is a problem with my search…

    1. Hi, Rosleena – Thanks for your comment, and the reminder. I haven’t finished editing those two stitches. I filmed them both, and once I started editing, I wasn’t satisfied with the filming job, so I need to re-do them. This week? Hopefully!


  10. Hi, I found your site day before yesterday and am really enjoying reading it through, esp. the rooster and the lettering tutorials. Regarding the above, perhaps you would like the book Doodle Stitching, by Aimee Ray: http://www.amazon.com/Doodle-Stitching-Fresh-Embroidery-Beginners/dp/1600590616/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303249116&sr=1-1

    I got it last year and love it, though I admit that I haven’t put it into practice yet…

    thanks for your hard work on your site


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