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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Miniature Stitching: Cluny Project Finished


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Yesterday, I finished the miniature stitching project I’ve been working on for the past five months! So here are a couple shots of the finished project, and a little information about it.

Miniature Stitching Project Completed

This project is a petit point (or mini counted needlepoint) rendition of the “Sense of Hearing” Tapestry, from the six “Lady & the Unicorn” tapestries found in the Museum of the Middle Ages (Cluny Museum) in Paris, France. If you look at the image of the original “Sense of Hearing” tapestry on the museum’s website, you might be tempted to think that the miniature design I just finished is actually an inverted design. I haven’t seen the tapestries myself, but I do have a book with them in it, and in fact, the photo on the Cluny museum website shows an inverted image. I don’t know why. Anyone?

This miniature project comes from Bobbie Schoonmaker’s Micro-Stitchery. It is worked on 40 count silk gauze, with DMC threads. The chart for the project covers 9 pages. The finished dimensions are about 5″ wide and 5.5″ high.

Update, 2018: While MicroStitchery is still online, they are no longer honoring orders. I have heard from many folks who have placed orders with them, but have never received the orders and had to apply to PayPal for a refund. I’ve tried to contact Joy, the lady who took over the business, but with no luck. Just a word of caution, for those looking for miniature tapestries!

Miniature Stitching Project Completed

Here’s a shot of the piece, with a cutting mat at the top of the photo, so you can get a better sense of the size.

I began the project around January 10th of this year, and ended it May 18th – so, five months. I started the project so that I would have something to stitch on when I had little bits of time – 15 minutes here or there – and so that I would have a “mobile” project. There were some weekend days when I spent an hour or so on the piece at one sitting, but for the most part, the project was stitched in small bits.

There are 48,645 stitches in the finished piece.

My plans for the finished project: framing and hanging on the wall. I only have one piece of my own needlework and one piece of needlework from Trish Burr, so I figure I can add one more piece to my “huge” household collection!

Thanks for joining me on this project and for putting up with all the updates! Now, on to bigger and better things! (Well – definitely bigger!)


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(51) Comments

  1. Nice! I must be way more selfish than you – I don’t know that I could do all those stitching projects and then give almost all of it away!

    My guess on the inverted photos on the museum website are
    1. those looking at the website have no clue it’s backwards. I know I wouldn’t have realized it.
    2. no one has told them it’s backwards because everyone assumes someone else has told them.
    3. they are so under-staffed they haven’t had the chance to fix it.

  2. It’s beautiful Mary! And you deserve to keep it, and proudly hang it on your wall.

    Now, I must say that you’ve inspired me. I have two large cross stitch projects ‘in progress’. I’m going to get the first one out and apply your 15 min a day approach to it, and hope I get it done by Christmas. I purchased and started it 2 years ago for THAT Christmas! It’s not even half way done. I’d be happy if I could finish it for next Christmas! 🙂 Thanks for sharing – I’m sure I’m not the only one who was inspired. karen

  3. Enhorabuena por la finalización de este pequeño tapiz, ha quedado muy bonito y trabajado, seguro que el encontrarás un rincón especial en tu casa. Esperamos ver la foto del proyecto ya en su lugar definitivo.


  4. mary, it is gorgeous! i do not do well at all with counted work. what you have done is amazing. i am so impressed. it will look lovely hanging on your wall. i can’t wait to see what you pick out for your next pick up and go project.

  5. Congratulations on this lovely finish. I have really enjoyed following your progress and love the idea of finding 15 minutes a day to work on a special project.

  6. Dear Mary,
    Congratulations, your Cluny project really turned out a masterpiece and if you did not tell us about your little mistake, nobody would have been the wiser! Well done. So what is next? Love Elza, Cape Town. xxx

  7. Congratulations! its beautiful and Tiny! I can understand the scope of this project, I have never worked on canvas smaller than 18 so 40 is amazing. You really showed dedication and stick-to-it-ness! Please share a photo of it finished and framed in a manner that will showcase its excellence!!!

  8. What a lovely piece! I do not think I have the skills for such a detailed piece. It looks amazing! I am so glad you shared the finished piece with us.

  9. Ahhhh … the anticipation ! Congratulations Mary! This has turned out beautiful … I love it!

    Wonder what your next “go to” project will be?
    Right now I don’t have one and almost feel lost 🙂

  10. Wow! Job well done Mary! I’ve been watching this piece’s evolution and I had no idea how small this piece is. Fabulous.

  11. Sincere congratulations, Mary
    I followed your progress and I am in awe for this piece.
    Very beautiful and I am really happy that you shared with us.

  12. Dear Mary

    congratulations and well done for finishing such a detailed project, it looks absoloutely beautiful. I can’t believe that such a miniature project should have so many stitches, its amazing. You give so much to others I don’t blame you for keeping it.


  13. INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!! Mary, I have been watching your progress on this needlework project and the results are outstanding! What a delightful piece. Hang it in a place where you will derive pleasure daily from seeing it. I am almost at a complete loss for the appropriate words that fit the emotions I am feeling!

  14. Bravo! This is really impressive, all the more impressive that you actually stitched it in four months (not five!)I was convinced when I first read about your “15 minutes” approach. So I started a “15 minutes” project at the beginning of April and it acts as a carrot for me too! So now I have a bit of a challenge: I will do my best to end it up by the beginning of August! Thank you for sharing your stitching world whith us.

  15. I have a feeling that the reason the original is shown inverted is based on it’s age. If its old enough, the light from a direct flash could have damaging effects on it, so in order to help preserve it, pictures of it (and other older art pieces) are taken in a mirror resulting in an inverted image. 🙂

  16. Well done Mary. It’s truly lovely. It was great watching your progress and I now leave a thread in the needle for a quick stitch when I can.
    Question….Can we see the others that you kept and hung on the wall??
    I have quite a few in a box in the wardrobe and only two on the wall. They will probably come out at Christmas for gifts.

    1. Hi, All! Thanks for your comments! It was a fun project to work, that’s for sure – and I was glad to have it going through this semester, so I could eke out a little bit of time each day for stitching, without having to work on a larger project, or one that would take more time to set up and put away, or that required too much concentration. It was a great little thing to have going. I have plans to do the other matching piece (there are two of these at micro-stitchery; the other is “sense of sight” I believe), but probably not this year. I tend to average about one counted piece a year, and right now, I want to get away from the grid and work on a few other major things I’ve got planned.

      Severine – Bravo on setting a goal for August, to finish your 15-minute project! I think that’s great!

      Thanks, Peggy! I promise it’ll be hung up where it’s visible! (I’ve got a pretty small house, so just about anywhere would be visible!)

      Suzanna – the next project? Oh… I suppose you’ll have to wait and see! 🙂 (that’s an obvious ploy to stall for time, so I can get my wits about me after the end of the school year!)

      Karen – Well, here’s a picture of the Trish Burr piece I have: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/2008/10/artists-touch-long-and-short-stitch.html , though it’s not framed in the photo, and the other piece is my first needlepainted bird I had ever attempted, designed by Tanja Berlin: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/2007/02/needle-painting-embroidery-technique.html , and it’s not framed in the photo, either… but those are the two pieces I have framed and up. I’ve got a piece of Suzhou embroidery I’d like to frame and hang, and then this Cluny piece. That’s pretty much it for now!


  17. This piece solidifies your standing among those who create for posterity. It will probably be examined centuries from now, in awe, as we examine the remnants of samplers from the past; as the yardstick we now measure ourselves against.

  18. Squee!!!!



    It would make a lovely centrepiece for the front cover of a book, if you wanted to finish it like that. Tho I bet you’re eager to get it over and done with, and onto new projects!

  19. Congratulations Mary! Whew–what a job!! I’m sure you’ve given this a lot of thought–where to hang your masterpiece–but if you could be tempted, it would make a lovely, one-of-a-kind minaudiere. What a stunning accessory for a little black dress.

  20. It’s beautiful, Mary. I had no idea it was so small! I’m afraid my eyes wouldn’t be able to do such fine work without crossing. Please don’t tell us you COUNTED 48 thousand stitches!!!!!

  21. I’m so glad you were able to finish. Had you not shred your miscounting with us, no one would guess. It is absolutely beautiful, but I was hoping that i would have my project finished by now and I dont, although I have started and finished two others. I just can’t seem to get through to the end of this counted cross stitch. At least you have given me incentive to put in at least a few stitches a day knowing that I will eventually get to the end. Now you can think about what to do with tht beautiful silk!

  22. I’ve enjoyed following this piece of work. It is very beautiful. I’ll bet when you look at it now you are very proud. Thank you for the experience. I believe I will have to try one now.

  23. G’day Mary,
    You beaut, what a fabulous, very special achievment. The mind boggles. 48,645 stitches. Congratulations, it’s very beautiful.
    Cheers, Kath.

  24. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and lovely craft, Mary. You also have a very nice writing ‘voice’. How wonderful your embroidery work is.

  25. Beautiful! But my goodness, it is small. I’ve only attempted one counted cross stitch and it was on 40 ct linen but it had a lot of open space in it. I definitely would go cross-eyed it I did this one.

  26. Mary, what can I say that hasn’t been said already, so I’ll just stick with congratulations on a fantastic job.

    The smallest I have done was 25 stitches per inch linen, cross stitch of a street in a town in Australia. There were 2 in the series at the time I did them and I did them both. They are about 3 feet long and took ages.

    How do you plan to frame this? Will it be matted, box frame, or? I’d love to know and see it when it is done and on the wall.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey.

  27. It’s gorgeous! I only know about the Lady and the Unicorn series after reading a fiction book based on it by Tracy Chevalier. But it’s interested me ever since, and I think they are some of the prettiest tapestries! And your’s is just as nice!

  28. About the reversed image: I went to the website of the Cluny Museum thanks to your link. At the top of each image is an information that says the location of the piece. You’ll see that next to “Paris there is “cartons” in parenthesis, and then we are told the weaving was done in Flanders.
    Now I have researched a bit the tech regarding “cartons”, which are the models that weavers fix under the work. And on this website
    one learns that first the image was created on linen by an artist, then the “carton” was made by transfer therefore the carton was a mirror image of the original design.
    That is because the weavers worked from the wrong side of the piece, therefore in order to have the correct set up on the right side they needed to work with a mirror image.
    Remember these tapestries were not done by needlework but by a weaving technique.
    I hope this clears the mystery.
    By the way I would love to see some close ups of your finished piece. I have a book with this image on the front cover.
    I especially like the fact that a servant is working the bellows on this small organ so that the lady of the castle can play. I find it funny.

  29. Your newsletter is my one best treat each day and it is great that you finished the cluny piece. I learn so much from what you post and your repair of the dropped stitches was amazing!! Strong work!

  30. congratulations! it will be great whereever you put it…and such a good reminder that small, but good efforts and persistence really pays off!

  31. Just beautiful! There is everything to love about this piece: the size, the subject matter, the colors (red!), and seeing it appear over the last months. Thank you for sharing the process. I am glad you are going to frame and keep it.

  32. What a beautiful job Mary!
    I was going to tell you about the reverse image due to the “carton”, but I see someone already did with a great link. I have seen the tapestries in Cluny, they are huge and magnificent. I also went to the Gobelins in Paris to see the weaving. These are so expensive they have only orders from the government as gift to other countries. In the Prado museum in Madrid you can see many of the the “cartons”, or cartoons, painted by Goya. They are fascinating 🙂 http://100swallows.wordpress.com/2008/07/03/goyas-cartoons/

  33. I know I’m commenting on a post almost 3 years old, however I have been really trying to find some good places to find petit point resources… I have a couple of old patterns that I inherited from my great grandmother but I would like to find more? or maybe some kits? something? Interestingly (fun fact!) the women in my family all have chosen a different kind of embroidery to prefer the most.. my great grandmother did petit point, my grandmother likes traditional needlepoint the most, my mother does surface embroidery and I have been mostly dabbling in cross stitch.

  34. This project brings back incredible memories of the 1970’s when The Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters in New York were so popular. I had purchased the huge volume with the tapestries in it and a rectangle of #60 silk gauze and decided that I should have a miniature of the famed works. Many years later while still living in Chicago I finished it. I had to over dye silk to get the appropriate colors and of course add some metallic threads (a signature of mine). The mille fleur backgrounds were the most fun to do. My needlework tapestry now resides in a museum castle doll house. Merry Christmas!!

  35. I was lucky to see the original tapestries that these are based on and have always wanted to stitch one. They are beautiful. Thank you.

  36. This is my first day to receive your newsletter and I am so thankful to be in touch with such an accomplished needlewomen. Thank you so much for the sugestions about wise time management and stitching. I am looking forward to hearing from you again. Thanks again for sharing.

  37. I just this this on Penelope canvas with petite pointe organ. Wow 40ct. Ive used it but only for a 4 inch butterfly with blackwork.just saw a 60 ct done on a cross stitch fb.not as big though

  38. I am in awe at the many inspired people making such objects of beauty for the world. A hymn to the giftedness of living grace! So much goodness, color, tactile presence, storytelling and depiction of the gifts of same from generations ago within the very framework. We will never forget our heritage as creative people passing on ever more lovely works of needlework with such glimpses into our evolving past. Thank you, Mary, for this.

  39. Mary, in addition to your fantastic stitching to bring this piece of art to life, I especially like the animals who are more serene and who are NOT gobbling up one another!

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