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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Stitching Today.


Amazon Books

I’d like to ask each of you to descend upon my little town in Kansas and help me stitch today. I’m doing the appliqué work on the Medallion, and admittedly, I’m quaking a bit in my boots. This always happens to me when it comes time to do the Final Finish on a project. I end up hesitating, putting off, thinking through the process about a gazillion times before I actually leap.

Funny thing is, once I leap, I find out it wasn’t that big of a deal!

Girl Stitching Woodcut

Admittedly, Kansas isn’t the Vacation Capital of the World, and the enticements are a bit slim! Still, if you came, I’d give you a nice cup of tea, we could have a good chat, lose track of time, and avoid doing the appliqué altogether. Wouldn’t that be terrific?!

The image above is a woodcut from the Handbook of Wood Engraving by William Emerson, published in the 1880’s. I think it’s a precious little picture. Little Woodcut Girl always makes me happy when I see her!

You can find the Handbook of Wood Engraving at Godfrey’s Bookshelf, which is an interesting list of downloadable books from the 15th through 19th centuries. Needlework-wise, there’s only one book in the list, (The Needles Excellency) but if you’re an Old-Book Junkie, you may find many of the others fun to look at.

Enjoy the resource!


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(53) Comments

  1. I know what you mean, but Tuesday is. Really a good day for appliqué. I’m going to try to finish my columbines.

    1. Yes, it was a perfect day for appliqué. From now on, all appliqué will be done on Tuesdays! Can’t wait to see your finished columbines and trout!

  2. Alas, Kansas is a bit far for me to travel today! However, I wanted to thank you for the resource (I love access to old needlework books!) and wish you well with the applique. I understand getting daunted by a task. I sew and for me, the worst part is cutting the cloth. It seems so… final.

    1. You’re right, Katie. It’s a long trip for a cup of tea. Not only that, but in NY, you’re bound to have the same tea we have in Kansas! 🙂

  3. Dear Mary

    There’s nothing more I would love then to come to Kansas and visit you, spend time with you and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and while away the hours chatting in your work room and looking at all the wonderful embroidery you have done over the years.
    Oh Mary don’t be afraid it’s always the thought of doing something rather then the action. Once you start it’s not so bad and once you get into a rhythm you will soon wonder what you were afraid of. Go, Go you can do it.


    Anita Simmance

    1. You are so very right, Anita – it wasn’t so bad, after all. I have a delightful way of building up the “finishing” part of any project into something huge and unmanageable! But thanks to everyone’s encouragement, it got done!!


  4. Hi Mary,

    Teatime! Would like a cup of tea now, or two….
    No talk about the medaillon, I guess.

    I won the lefthanded Schwalm book in your giveaway.
    Luzine has sent me the package, with the book and matrials required. I tore it open, but was a bit intimidated by the size of the project. I prefer smaller things, there is a reason I have a dollhouse, lol.
    I started reading the book, the instructions are very clear up to now.
    I did not have to do anything with the first chapter, Luzine has provided a piece of linen with the pattern already printed. So straight onto the stitching.
    First stitch: coral knot. Practised it first, then on to the real thing. Am I going to spoil it? My lines of coral knot are still a bit wobbly. Luzine had an answer to that in her book: start with the big circles. Those will have other stitches against the coral knots on both sides, any wobblyness won’ t be noticable. After the circles, go on to the rest, the titches should be more even then. I am still on the circles, but getting more even.

    Did you see the last issue of Inspirations? There is a nice pincushion I wanted to make. Just about got to the stage of getting the materials for it, when the Schwalm headed my way. That will be the next project.

    Have you ever done tatting? I love tatting, have been tatting since I was 16.
    Am doing tatting for my dollhouse now, as gifts for friends I will meet in 2 weeks. Tatting with silk sewing thread.

    Thank you for the tea, and the nice visit! Feel free not to publish this lengthy chat!

    1. Hi, Winnie! I’m so glad to hear you’ve started on the Schwalm piece – can’t wait to hear how it goes. Coral knots always start off shaky, but they improve quickly. I’ve done a bit of needle tatting, but not shuttle tatting. Tatting with silk sewing thread sounds amazingly tiny! Would love to see it! ~MC

  5. Oh! The best part of the project! If I could get away from Minnesota for the day, I’d bring along a delightful bowl of fresh berries and fruit to enjoy on the porch with a cup of tea to top off your afternoon of sewing. You’ll do splendid on this as well.

    Please take pictures if you have a chance and the time. Are you using anything as a backing behind the St. Margaret fabric?

    Sending you best wishes over a delightful bowl of strawberries.

    1. Thanks, Carrie! I took a few pictures (now we just have to see if any of them came out…) I’ll post them soon. Yes, there is a thinner interfacing right behind the ground fabric, sewn to it with the galloons (or trim), then, sandwiched between the ground fabric and the lining of the chasuble, there’s a thicker fabric interfacing. The style of the chasuble is Roman, so it’s somewhat stiff. I only had to sew through the ground fabric and the non-woven lighter interfacing, though (thank goodness!)…

      Strawberries sound Really Good right now!


  6. I’d love to visit too but NC is a bit far off too 🙁 Someday maybe though, you never know! If you are ever over on the east coast you have an open invitation! Time to crank up your favorite music and white knuckle through this last bit. (((hugs))) How proud your family must be!

    1. Thanks a bunch, Heather! You know, I started out with music, but I had to turn it off… too much mumbling to myself, and I couldn’t hear what I was saying! 🙂

  7. Hi Mary,
    There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Your almost there. Can you see the finish line? God will bless you and especially your hands through the last steps.He will guide you and give you strength to finish.
    Bless You!

  8. Hi Mary! I laughed because I am the same way when it comes to that last part of the project — usually part of the “finishing”. After ALL the hours and toil spent on the embroidery, I could mess this up in seconds!! High anxiety. You are also right that the days/weeks of anxiety is probably a lot more painful (and time consuming) than just Doing It!!! I have a whole list of “distracting chores” for just such times. All those stupid little jobs you never get to — well, just give yourself something like THIS to jump right in and get ’em done INSTEAD of doing the scary part of your project. Buck up, ole girl — I have complete confidence that it will all work out!!! But I’d love that cup of tea……!

    1. Thanks, Bobbi, for the shot in the arm! It worked. I did finish it, with great relief. Now the whole thing is out of my hands and I can get on with other stuff! 🙂

  9. Hi Mary I feel your pain. I just sewed a medallion for a church altar frontal onto the fabric it is going on. It took WAY longer than I thought that it would and was quite boring. Perhaps it took so long because I am teaching myself to embroider as I go along. (not such a great idea, but at least I am learning from my mistakes.) Endless thanks to you for all of your great posts. I would not have gotten as far as I have without them. I still have a long way to go though.

    Hopefully for you it is raining and you won’t be tempted to garden instead. We’ll be getting rain all week here, so I am hopeful to make some progress.

    1. Hi, Karen! No, no rain today – but dreadfully hot and windy, so better to be inside, anyway! The appliqué part didn’t take too long, but you’re right, it’s on the more monotonous side of things! Thanks for the encouragement! ~MC

  10. Careful of what you wish for…I might just book a flight and take you up on your offer! I actually went to Hesston College in Hesston, KS. So Kansas AND you hold a special place in my heart.

    Here that chanting of your name? That’s us cheering you to the finish!

    Wendi G

    1. Thanks, Wendi! It worked! I finished! Hesston is down by Wichita, right? I think I drove through there once. I’ve only been to that area of Kansas about twice, strangely enough – it’s about a 3-ish hour drive from here. It’s a beautiful drive, I think, especially on the back roads. But then, I happen to be one of those strange folk who thinks that Kansas is really beautiful in its own way! ~MC

  11. I’m with you in spirit, girl! I am the same way about finishing things.

    Marilyn P. in Las Cruces, NM

  12. Dear Mary,
    I would love to join you for a cuppa in Kansas – if only I could make it home in time host the wedding shower at my house this evening!

    But I will join you virtually. I started stitching a crewel sampler I purchased many, many years ago. Struggling with roumanian stitch but I think I have it figured out thanks to you great videos. Also, I am trying to make a final decision on what linen to use for a Long Dog pattern. 30 ct, 36 ct or 40 ct and then what color. Sometimes there are too many choices. I know that if we were having tea, you could help me make my decision! Oh well!

    I hope the appliquing goes well. I am sure it will. Sending lots of good stitching thoughts to Kansas from Brooklyn!

    1. Thanks, Tania! Must’ve worked – it’s finished! Oh, I’d definitely go with the higher count on the sampler (36, probably). Are you doing a monochrome? The crewel project sounds fun. I need to get another project going… musing over that these days…

  13. Good luck stitching today. I can’t wait to see the finished chasuble! I have thoroughly enjoyed each installment of this project. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi, Liz – Well, I will post photos of the back of the chasuble, unfinished (it has galloons and trim on it, but it is not lined or sewn up yet), but I may never actually see the finished chasuble. If I do, I’ll get photos, though, I promise. Glad you enjoyed the project! ~MC

  14. I find eating or sleeping good avoidance techniques. I’m quite adept at both. But really, you know what you’re doing, and you’ve proven you know how and when to take things apart and redo them if they’re not quite right. Soldier on!

    1. Hi, Jusa – Me, too! I find eating, sleeping, cleaning, shopping, cooking, writing, reading, re-shingling the roof — anything, actually, helps hone my avoidance techniques! Sometimes, I’m quite the master at those techniques, too. But this time, I bit the bullet and got it done. Thanks for the encouragement! ~MC

  15. Hi-Mary- Okay…Kansas…from New York! Well, thank you for the open invitation to us all, if I’m ever in town, I’ll look you up!
    I thought you were done with the medallion – what is left to do?
    I’d love to help, albeit from a distance, but I do really well with applique.

    1. I thought I was done, too, Laura! Funny, that. I wasn’t really planning on doing the appliqué part myself, but I’ll have to tell you how that came about when I write up the appliqué process. It was one of those “no choice” situations, involving a zipper foot on a sewing machine….

  16. G’day Mary, I’m there, right there. Thanks for the cuppa and the yarn. I’d better leave you now though, and let you get on with it. Give you a chance to unpick my contribution also!
    May the good fairy of industriousness hover over you all day.
    Yes, the woodcut girl is darling as well as a really good drawing.
    Cheers, Kath

    1. Yep, the good fairy must’ve been there, Kath. Didn’t take as long as my mind built it up to taking! Isn’t that always the way of it?

    2. Good for you Mary and, yes, that’s how it, our minds try to trick us. There is something to be said about mind over matter. Puts the ball back into the mind’s court and let’s us get on with it. Thanks for your inspiration, and not just with Needle ‘n Thread. Cheers, Kath

  17. Good Morning, Mary!
    Delightful! I love the Earl Grey and the scones are perfection! Thank you. It’s soooo good to get out of the desert and visit a friend for a cup of tea and a chat every once in a while and Kansas is lovely this time of year. Isn’t the viburnum in bloom right about now? Anyway, as to the applique (bummer, right?). Remember, you have spent 450 hours on this beauty and even if you spent two hours for each quarter segment of the roundel, it would be nothing compared to the whole project. Just take a deep breath, drink your tea, share one more laugh (or two) with your friends, and buckle down, Missy! You will applique that baby better than anyone else in the world could do and you know it! What you are feeling is separation anxiety and a reluctance to say goodbye to a child (of sorts). Well, Mama, that baby is grown and needs to go off to start it’s life as the beautiful creation you’ve given to this world. Congratulations and enjoy – you’ve earned it!

    Denise in Palm Desert

    1. LOL! Thanks for the cheer, Denise! I took your advice – bit the bullet and got it done. And it only required one break for tea! (And then another one for coffee…..) Thanks for the smile! ~MC

  18. Kansas is a bit far from where I live (Italy) but sooner or later I must meet you! next time I travel to the States ;o)))
    Thank you so much for sharing all your resources, tips, book reviews …..

  19. Beam me up Scotty, there is a fantastic person in Kansas and she just invited me for tea and a chat:) xxx Elza, Cape Town

  20. You go girl! but i empathize. I do counted cross stitch xmas stocking for my gkids and after stitching for MONTHS i take the finished piece to someone else to make into the actual stocking. i’m terrified of screwing up a months long project and would rather pay somebody else to do it!!!!

    1. Ahhhh…. me, too, Sharyn. I’ll have to tell you all how my conversation with the seamstress about the appliqué went. I think we were both trying to pawn it off on the other! ~MC

    2. In some ways it is better to do it yourself. I found (while working at an inner-city school) that to have someone else ruin something you have done (or unfinished in my case) because they have no “blood and sweat” in it, hurts more than if you honestly do EVERYTHING you can to make it perfect and then you SNAFU it. I mean you know that have honestly done your best, and the other person may not know or care how much time and effort you have spent on it.

  21. Aloha Mary,
    I would love to visit you in Kansas just because I have never been there. Could we sub coffee for tea?
    When you need a break come visit me in Honolulu. You will see so many different colors of green here it makes your head spin. Then there are the different colors of blue in the ocean. If you haven’t seen them you would not believe they are real colors.
    So, what do you think ?
    All the best,

    1. Hawaii sounds LOVELY. That’s one thing I definitely miss here in Kansas (after growing up in Florida) – the water! Who knows, maybe some day I’ll fall out of the sky over your island! 🙂


  22. I would love to come to Kansas for a coffee. I live in Australia but will be in Partridge, KS soon for a visit. Do you live close by?

    1. Hi, Kathy – wow, from Australia to Patridge, KS! It’s not actually very close – Partridge is down by Wichita, which is a good three hours or so from my corner of the state… Hope you enjoy Kansas! It’s quite warm here now, so bring your summer clothes! -MC

  23. I will take a raincheck on the tea. My kitchen and table rarely close over here. You may bring your stitchin’ .. or not. No prereq’s for the kitchen table …

  24. Thanks for the kind invitation. I love doing hand applique and actually consider it as my favorite form of piecing. It isn’t fast, but it is amazingly accurate and beautiful. I actually practice the hidden applique stitch as I hand hem clothes during my sewing classes or when I bind quilt edges. If I could get to KS today, I would not allow you to sit and drink tea and avoid the finishing work, but help you get started and then I would work on my own long put off project so I could also start something new. Best Wishes for a great stitching day!

    1. Glad to read that you got the stitching finished. Since I live in suburban St. Louis, one never knows when I may need a retreat spot. Unfortunately you are right, KS is usually a drive through to Denver or a cut through to Omaha, although once in a while we do get to KC. Maybe now I have an excuse to explore more of your lovely state. BTW, if your road brings you this direction, please feel welcome to drop by.

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