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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Hand Embroidered Monogram – Finished!


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The other day, I ranted about my love of satin stitch for monogramming – and I still haven’t changed my mind! It’s just a glorious stitch!

So here’s the finish of the monogrammed linen towel I was working on, with a few hints and tips along the way.

Hand Embroidered Monogram on Linen Glass Towel

In these photos, the towel has been hand laundered and ironed. Unlike an unfinished piece of linen that can be damp stretched and blocked, a finished towel probably shouldn’t be pinned all around the edge as you would to block an unfinished piece. Ironing while the linen is still slightly damp will give you a smooth and beautiful finish, as long as you go about ironing the right way. Remember that this monogram is highly padded, but even if it weren’t, any time you iron an embroidered piece, you’ll want to iron the embroidered area from the back, on a padded surface so that the embroidery sinks into the padding and isn’t squished by the iron.

I went into a little more detail on ironing your embroidery projects when working on this linen pouch, so you might want to read that post if you’ve an interest in ironing your own embroidered towels.

Hand Embroidered Monogram on Linen Glass Towel

The towel is a woven linen glass towel, and it is a Perfect Surface for this type of needlework. It’s also suited to counted thread embroidery, so your monogram can be counted cross stitch as well – the kind of counted work seen on those stunning French linens of yore. The towels are about 60 cm square (or at least, very close to square), and are imported into the US from France by Access Commodities. They’re available through any fine needlework store that stocks goods from Access Commodities – you can always ask your local needlework shop to special order the towels if you’re looking for them. I know that Attic Needlework in Mesa, Arizona, carries them, and they do take mail orders (the contact information is on their website). The towels come in white linen, with red, blue, or green striping on the edge.

Hand Embroidered Monogram on Linen Glass Towel

What interested me particularly about the towels and compelled me to try them for monogramming is that they are linen. If you’ve been reading along with me for a while, you’ve figured out that I’m a linen freak. Stitching on good linen is an experience in itself – it is not like stitching on cotton, and it is not like stitching on inferior linen, either. I figured if I want to teach a class in monogramming (which is my plan with this), then I want to have a quality ground fabric that helps ensure excellent and pleasing results, even for beginners.

I have this theory, you see, that quality materials always give a better result. Good embroidery will look close to perfect when worked on quality materials – and, believe it or not, poorly done embroidery will often look good on quality materials! But embroidery poorly done on inferior materials pretty much looks like embroidery poorly done. And perfect embroidery done on poor quality materials will not shine as it could, if done on better quality materials. So even if the embroidery itself is not perfect, it will look perfect (or pretty darned close to perfection) on good materials – at least, it will look a lot better worked with good quality materials than not. I’m sure you’ve found the same to be true, whether you’re doing needlework, quilting, knitting, or the myriad other crafts and activities that require you to invest in supplies. Maybe I’m off the mark here – I’m not trying to sound “snobby” about materials at all! But I know when I put time, effort, and expense into a project, I want it to come out as nice as possible, and the materials I work with have a lot to do with that. But that’s just the way I see it. What do you think?

Ok. Off the soapbox. Sorry!

In any case, I was really pleased to find these towels and try them out. I discovered that they are indeed a real pleasure to work on!

Hand Embroidered Monogram on Linen Glass Towel

The towel with monogram makes a stunning presentation, and a single monogrammed towel on its own will make an excellent and special gift – think housewarming, birthdays, a holiday gift for the host, a bridal gift, and so forth. I’m planning on folding this towel with the monogram up, and tying it with a red ribbon, first to display for a class sample and then to give as a gift.

Hand Embroidered Monogram on Linen Glass Towel

My next monogramming venture will be with one of these towels, in counted work. The towels are not even weave, but they are close enough that they will give a good result. I’m not sure yet if I’ll stitch over one or two threads, and I haven’t done any marking or counting to figure out the thread count of the towels, but as soon as I do, I’ll let you know what I discover. It’ll be one of those trial-and-error escapades, I’m sure! But… fun!

Project Recap

  • Linen glass towel from Access Commodities, in red
  • Cotton floche, in red #321, which you can find through Lacis.com online
  • Sajou monogram, from the old Sajou pamphlet #346

Set-up and stitching time: about 5 hours

Monogram Patterns!

If you’re looking for the whole monogram alphabet for this letter, you’ll find it in my e-book, Favorite Monograms, along with 15 other complete alphabets for hand embroidery.

Other Helpful Articles on the Subject:

Satin Stitch video tutorial (for padded satin stitch)
Satin Stitch Padding
Satin Stitched Dot tutorial
Notes on Satin Stitch
Stitching Tight Curves with Satin Stitch
Using Satin Stitch for Lettering & Text
Satin Stitching with Metal Threads (Reader’s Embroidery)
Some Monograms for Hand Embroidery


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(39) Comments

  1. Just beautiful!! If I ever made or received a towel like that I would just keep it for decoration – never use it.
    Happy Easter!

  2. Dear Mary, May I join you on your soapbox? I couldn’t agree with you more. When you think about the time and effort spent on an embroidery piece or any handcraft for that matter, it is always best to use the best material that is available. It will last a life time and will also be a legacy to leave behind for the younger generation. Hope you are enjoying a blessed Easter. Lots of love Elza, Cape Town. xxx

  3. Mary,
    This is just gorgeous and your embroidery came out beautifully! I’m with you, I love good quality materials as well, everything just looks so much better. I’ve received towels with machine embroidery done on somewhat inexpensive towels, and they shrunk after the first washing and never looked good. At least it was machine embroidery and not quite so much wasted effort.

  4. OMG!!! It is SOOO beautiful! Is it possible to get the pamphlet with the patern? I just can’t tell you how much I enjoy and appreciate your work and your generosity in sharing your knowledge. Can you move in next door to me? jane12734@aol.com

  5. Exquisite! I too love linen, and after finishing my first embroidery project on linen I accidentally scorched the fabric while ironing it. I was so disappointed, but after some research I discovered a tip that saved the whole project: soak a scrap of white cotton fabric in hydrogen peroxide, lay over the scorched area, and iron gently on a lower setting. It immediately disappeared! Note that I don’t know how this would affect embroidered areas as I used it on plain linen, and I also don’t know if it weakens the fabric, but I figured I had nothing to lose.

  6. Hi Mary…your satin stitch is just lovely. I guess I need to practice more on mine because mine sure does not look as pretty as yours. Thanks for all you do and Happy Easter.

  7. Hi Mary, Happy Easter weekend! WOW!!! What more can I say? Thank you for sharing this process and lovely result. I’ve been wanting to try embroidering a monogram for so long… you’ve just inspired me to get going. Can I follow the same instructions for the satin stitch and padding, as in your towel, for a pillow case that is 100% cotton?

  8. Exquisite work!

    I do have a question though. I love the brightness of the red threads but hesitate to use them because they might bleed when washed. Should I wash (soak) the thread before starting the embroidery to make sure they won’t bleed later?

  9. Hi Mary,
    Absolutely stunning in the red. Thank you for sharing and the tips for all of us. I was wondering…on a project like that how much floche was used. I see there are 2 different amounts you can buy of it at Hedgehog. Thank you for the information on that if possible.
    Happy Easter weekend.

  10. Happy Easter to you and to all who post here!Your monogram turned out gorgeous!
    Have to agree with you on the subject of quality supplies. They are a joy to work with, the end result is beautiful and they have lasting power. Can’t ask for more 🙂
    Thanks for sharing this pretty project!

  11. Just beautiful, Mary! Your great photos do such a good job of showing off the satin stitching. I don’t think you’re being snobby, Mary. I agree with you 100%, even though I may not always practice that opinion.

  12. Hi Mary,

    This piece of embroidery is exquisite! Your satin stitch is so precise and beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Mary, this monogram is stunning! You said your monogram patterns was vintage….is there anyway it could be published on your blog? Or can you help locate them?

    1. Hi, Lynn – yes, it’s Sajou #346, and if you Google that, you’ll come up with the patternmaker website, where you’ll find it posted. There’s a link further up in one of the comments, if you want to go directly to it. One of these days when I have time, I’ll “vectorize” this set and put it on the site. Hopefully! When time allows! 🙂 ~MC

  14. Mary, this is superb. Absolutely stunning.
    I also agree on the subject of always using the best quality materials you can. They’re a delight to work with and the results are so rewarding.
    Two questions about this gorgeous project:
    What are the chances that the red thread will run into the white linen when it’s washed?
    Would you mind posting a pic of the back please?
    I’m hoping to do something like this but am always disappointed in the look of the back of my work, no matter how careful I am. I feel that the threads need to be firmly secured on something that is going to be washed a lot, but if I do that, you can see where I’ve woven the ends in at the back. What do you do?
    Happy Easter to you and all who read this, Warm regards, Suzy

    1. Hi, Suzy – I start my thread with anchor stitches in an area that will be covered up, and then, to end, I weave them under on the back, and make a little backstitch and then run them under more threads, to catch the thread. I’ve not had a problem with the threads coming out. I’ve washed this once, in room temp water, without a problem, and damp ironed it – the colors didn’t run. I haven’t washed it in a machine, nor have I used soap on it yet, so I don’t know what it would do in those circumstances. The floche is DMC, and DMC today is generally color fast, though I’m always pretty careful with reds, “just in case.” I’m not too worried about this one, though, as I haven’t had problems with the color running on DMC floche before. Hope that helps! ~MC

  15. It’s so beautiful and I want to pat the bumps like patting a kitten. They look so soft and fluffy. But like someone else mentioned, I’d be afraid to toss it in the wash. Not only worried about it being red (you know how rowdy those reds can be) but just having all those stitches get bent out of shape. I think it’s a beautiful cloth just to drape somewhere and show it off. Again, I love those pretty bumps (pat, pat).

  16. G’day Mary, from the bush.
    Away for Easter but have managed a few mins on the net. This monogram is SO appealing. It’s beautiful.
    The granddaughter was 2 yesterday so enjoying being out here again and sharing with family.
    Cheers, Kath

  17. Just exquisite. Never have I seen something so lovely. I’ve never seen one of the Sanjou alphabets actually sewn up, and this is an outstanding inspiration

  18. Mary,
    5 hours prep and stitching? I have visions of the needle and thread flying through the linen at such speed that its a blur! People tell me Im a quick stitcher, but it would take me at least a day to even come close to completing this monogram and then it would look rushed.. Oh one day to be as fine and fast a stitcher as you..

  19. Mary
    Your monogram is beautiful. Thank you for all your tips on Satin stitch. Actually one of your tips to keep things sdatin stitched 1 inch or under led me to do a small cat in another stitch. I did it in detacheched padded buttonhole. I think I liked the texture of this stitch on the cat better. I am practising Satin stitch though.

  20. Hi Mary — This monogram is so beautiful and your photography is excellent; thank you so much for sharing your projects and your expertise!
    I’m curious to know if you have recommendations about the type of towel you would use for a bun warmer. I’m thinking that would require a bit thicker material, but maybe not . . ?

  21. The monogram is just stunning! Your satin stitch is really perfect. And I fullly agree with you on the materials! Considering how much time we put in these embroideries, why not invest in the materials that will make the outcome be as perfect as possible? I have never stitched on linen though, because I pretty much embroider only for costume, and that is most often on silk. But a good quality silk makes so much difference from stitching on a bad quality silk, so it sounds comparable.

  22. Amazing! the BEST monogram I’ve seen so far! I finally found the rest of the alphabets, and now have a new ‘project’ at hand!

  23. Todos los correos que me mandan me encantan.
    Pero ni idea de como aprender hacer esas bellezas, solo hago punto de cruz.
    Y como dice una de las amigas si lo hago solo lo tendria para adorno.
    Las felicito.

  24. Hi Mary, it is just so pretty… I love it!!! It stands out because of the padding. Thanks So Much for sharing this.

  25. Hi Mary,

    Have always loved this monogram, the design & your execution. My friends are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary in December and I thought I’d use this monogram on some towels & table linen as a gift. I downloaded the monogram design from the net but it looks very small for the satin stitch. What size is your monogram? It is so clear.


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