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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Embroidering Little Things – A Few Tips


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Behind the scenes here at Needle ‘n Thread, I’ve been working on several embroidery projects – some large, some small.

This one is small.

Lavender Honey: Hand Embroidered Little Thing

This is the finish of a little project (really little) called “Lavender Honey.” The finished piece can be used as an ornament, a scissor fob, a little decorative tag or gift or … whatever! It’s just a “little thing,” something that can be worked up in less than a weekend.

I like making Little Things for a number of reasons: they give quick gratification to the embroiderer; they make great little gifts that can almost be prepared last minute; they’re really fun to work as group projects, and they’re generally pretty charming.

There are a few points to take into consideration when embroidering Little Things:

1. Your perspective has to change. You can’t approach a Little Thing the same way you approach a Big Thing. Threads and stitches, for example, must be chosen to work within smaller confines. Even the design must be approached from a different angle: how to get across the “vision” of what you’re making, without too much detail that could muddle the whole thing.

2. You have to be prepared to actually do the finishing, because you’ll arrive at the point of finishing pretty quickly. Finishing is one of those things that often gets put off, but when working on a Little Thing, it’s something you have to be determined to face.

3. And with that in mind, you have to consider your finishing approach. The trim that might work on a Big Thing, for example, could very well dwarf a Little Thing. The technique you use for mitering corners on a Big Thing might not translate so well on a 1.25″ Little Thing. These are things you have to think about ahead of time.

Lavender Honey: Hand Embroidered Little Thing

What about you? Do you ever stitch up Little Things? If so, what types of Little Things do you like to make? What do they finish into? Any tips to share on stitching and making Little Things? We’d love to hear them, if you do! Have your say below!

Lavender Honey & Other Little Things E-Book!

If you want to try your hand at making adorable little embroidery accessories featuring lavender and bees, sheep, a bunny, sunflowers, even a fantastic little hedgehog – with more than 20 projects available by mixing and matching patterns and finishing instructions – why not explore my e-book, Lavender Honey & Other Little Things?

For beginners and beyond, Lavender Honey is a delightful way to put your embroidery skills to work, creating Little Things that will make your stitching life delightful, and that are perfect for giving as gifts (even to non-stitching friends!) as well.

You’ll find Lavender Honey & Other Little Things available here!


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(75) Comments

  1. Where can I get a pattern for Lavender Honey?? 😉 So pretty 🙂

    When I do “little things” I tend to draw out my basic design, but not cut it out until after I’ve finished the embroidery. It’s been a while since I’ve done something small like that though 🙂

  2. Mary, I had to giggle because in my world it’s not just the little things that don’t get finished right away; it’s everything! My paintings aren’t signed or wired for hanging, my quilts aren’t bound, my knitting isn’t blocked, and my needlework lacks whatever “finishing” is required. Clearlyt I need to convince myself that finishing is a required part of any project. Maybe if I hang up a photo of this darling “Little Thing” it will be my inspiration . . . ???

  3. Little things are always fun! Your little Lavender Honey is super cute. I love small soft projects that can be finished without “extra” things. How? Make the initial piece of base cloth (like linen) twice the width and a little taller. Put right sides together, sew the center back seam (leaving a little space open in the middle for turning), sew the top and bottom seams, turn, hand stitch the center seam closed. If you want to hang it, use an awl to put a hole in the top, add a loop of cording, with the not placed on the inside. A dot of glue inside will help this not to pull out of the little hole. Then you are finished!

  4. So you could stitch up little brown scapulars?

    THAT would be awesome!
    On linen, with wool thread, backed with wool felt….
    Maybe a silk cord.

  5. Hi Mary,
    This little design is charming. Where can I find a pattern for it? Would be helpful for tips on finishing something this small. Little things make good take a long projects too!
    Mary Ann

  6. I design and make miniature artist teddy bears usually not more than 4″ tall. Most of my bears are dressed in hand embroidered clothing. Perspective is so important as the embroidery has to be scaled down and not look overpowering. I use a single strand of DMC thread with a very fine needle which works well but have to constantly remind myself to think small! Fine cotton lawn or very soft cotton fabric works well, all the clothing is stitched by hand using tiny stitches and it is important to press the dresses carefully so that pleats and gathers are flattened on dresses and do not overpower little bears.

  7. Dear Mary

    Beautiful, amazing, thanks for sharing this with us. What a good filler in time needlework project, whare did the pattern come from? is it available online? Thanks for sharing this with us so great.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  8. Mary,
    You are one of the most creative persons I have ever met. I’ve only met you through your web site but because of your creativity, I feel as if you are a friend I’ve known for a long time.

    I’m not sure this is related to stitchery, but for a time several years ago, I created mini-baskets made out of waxed linen. I made up my own patterns and made umpteen of them….each one a piece of eye-candy. The only real use for them would be to hold toothpicks on a tray of hors d’oeurves or a container to hold orts from my stitchery projects. But they remain a very attractive collection for me and represent a time when making them was sheer joy. Some are as tiny as 1/2″ tall and wide….others 2″.

    So keep making tiny treasures! They are sweet and truly unique!

  9. Small things are fun to do but if you want to use a hoop and your fabric is too small then enlarge your fabric. You do this by either stitching a piece of spare fabric round each side or using a larger piece of fabric, stitch your work piece onto the centre and cut the middle out. You only need tacking stitches (basting) and any old piece of material will do as it will be discarded afterwards.This way your work will be held in the hoop by the extra fabric.

    1. I am so happy to find this! I am planning to hand-initial a men’s handkerchief and was unsure about how to hoop the fabric, as the initials are in the corner…..

  10. How precious is that? I don’t do too many Little Things, but not for any particular reason. Now that I’ve read your post, I realize I have quite a few little kits that I could dig out and work up. Thanks for making me remember this.

    Oh, and the wool/silk combo is lovely!

    1. Dear Mary,
      Oh that scissors fob is so beautiful.
      I like to make little things as well. Most of the time I use them in “holy” cards to send to a friend or wed, etc. It is fun to make these quick little things. Thank you for sharing your beautiful idea with us.

  11. I do enjoy making little things. There’s a lot of satisfaction in completing a tin top, a sissor fob, ornament, bookmarks or tiny biscornu. I ‘m a bit daunted at adapting designs to this small format. I loved seeing how you used the wool and silk to make the beehive.

  12. Hi Mary, yes, I love making “little things”, but most of the time I make them using perforated paper (great for little tags for presents)and sometimes in perforated plastic (18 count). I shy from making them in cloth or canvas because, precisely, I don’t know how to finish them in a really neat way. Could you please, address this subject? are there books on that subject?
    I enjoy immensely your daily newsletter. Thank you very much for them. alicia

  13. Mary it sooo cute! Will you be sharing all the details, such as fabric, stitches, threads, etc.
    Did you make up the design?
    Yes, we need small things to do so we can see progress in a 1-2-3.

    Thanks for sharing,


  14. Mary,
    Where could I find the pattern for the bee and skep “little thing” in your blog today. My daughter collects bee “things” and this would make a perfect gift. I so enjoy your blog everyday, it has really made a difference in my stitching and how I look at others. Thanks for your inspiration.


  15. Hi Mary
    What a charming little project and I would luv to make a little something like that. What many people do not realise is that these “small” projects are aactually not that small and because they are a bit fiddly (spelling!) they do take perhaps more time than a bigger one but how cute when you find a lovely little pattern like that. Is it one you could share with us all? Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    1. I want to add to the clamor for directions – for a whole collection of little things.

      Is there already a book that I don’t know about? (I don’t really don’t know much about the world of embroidery yet.) A web site? I’m sure if I looked around I could find a little thing here and another little thing there. But a collection of little things, with directions for those of us who are still learning, would be a real treasure.

  16. So pretty, and dinky. Thank you for the tips, the finishing one explains why I’m so often dissatified with the results of my Small Things, I think I must use the wrong size edgings etc, and they always look bulky and boggeldy. Now I can figure how to fix ’em!

  17. I have a rather large box of little projects that need to be finished. I love doing them. Not so much finishing them. I guess for me, the joy is in the doing. My grandchildren will have to decide what to do with the box full of pretty things.

  18. Dear Mary,

    You’ve set off a chorus with this adorable Lavender Honey “small thing”, and I’m adding my voice to the second soprano section LOL I too have a sister who collects bee things as her son (my nephew) is a beekeeper and bee inspector among other things.

    Where can this pattern/design/instructions/kit be found/purchased?

    Ever so much, we appreciate your wonderful blog!

    Cathy in PA

  19. Dear Mary:

    I like to embroider projects that are not too much time consuming, because, personally, I don´t have much time… I love to embroidery cushions and little doilies… Also I love to embroider the inner side or outer side of boxes, when they hold intimate-special items, such as photos, relics, etc. Among other things and surprisingly, I love to embroider Holy Mass´altar clothes and or for religious purposes, which is my specialty. With love, Celestine.

  20. Dear Mary,

    It would be nice to know how did she do the edge of the lavander sachet. What stitch did she use on the edge? I can hardly see it! what a lovely work! These little details enhance sweet homes.

  21. Ohmigosh, I love that! It is so cute! I am totally into tiny and fine. I’m another one who hopes you share about more about your “not a helmet” and your hairy bees. 🙂

  22. I just knew that that “helmet” was a beehive! I love the design–so pretty. ^_^
    Last Christmas I designed fancy monograms and embroidered them on felt to make little (about 1.5″?) Christmas ornaments for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They were a big hit. 🙂 Since they were felt it was easy enough to work in hand, then I just trimmed close around the embroidery, backed it, stuffed it with a bit of padding and added a loop. Here’s a pic if anyone is interested. 🙂


  23. I love it! Small things are great fun to make. I like making tiny keepsake boxes– the stitchable area on the lid is 1.25″ square.

    Lavender Honey turned out beautifully. The wool and silk hive is lovely. It would make a wonderful sachet, too (for lavender!)

  24. Thank you for this posting. I adore small stitchery. Would you please show the set up framing and lighting, as you do with your “normal” sized works?

  25. I love this. I admire anyone who can produce something so perfect. I have friends who keep bees and would love to make something like that to send to them.
    Thank you.

  26. Hi, Everyone! Thanks so much for your enthusiastic response to Lavender Honey! It’s a fun little project!

    I’ll have it available on the website soon. I’m putting together a collection of Little Things, with complete patterns, instructions, and step-by-step photos, and plan to have them up by August 15. I always try to set a deadline to work against when putting stuff together; otherwise… well. You can guess what happens! I’ll show you other snippets, though, while plugging away on the collection.

    Thanks again!


    1. Leave it to you to have this project available to us in the near future. Did you expect such an enthusiastic response from something that is less than 2 inch square?

    2. Dear Mary

      Thanks so much for your reply you are so kind in putting together a collection of little things on your web page, you are so generous. I can’t wait for August 15th.

      Regards Anita Simmance

  27. Mary, I’ve been following your blog with great interest and this little project has me fascinated and inspired. I would like to see more of your little projects sometimes it’s hard to know what to do and I could do with some quick ideas. Kind Regards Mandy Currie.

  28. I LOVE smalls. I’m finishing one now, s lovely little journal designed by Catherin Jordan. If you don’t know her and her work go to http://www.catherinesdesigns.net and look around. You’ll love her stuff. I’ve made scissors fobs, needlecases, sewing pockets and a little box with a dragonfly on top. You’re right. The finishing or mounting is the tedious part. I usually do my own and sometimes finish the work of others, for pay, of course.

  29. I love the Lavender Honey “little thing” and I must admit I have not embroidered anything that small. I do make “little things” but they are little quilts (3 x 5 inches or 3 X 3). I have a couple of sachets (kinda of small) that I still haven’t finished the edges yet. Couldn’t find what I wanted to use so kind of got stuck.
    The joke in our quilting group is if I make something 24 X 24 it is really big for me.

  30. Dear Mary,
    Your Lavender Honey project is beautiful …. and so perfectly stitched and finished! I hope you will share it with us.

  31. I sense a scissor fob on its way to complement the Nesting Place. In the voice of Glenda, a scissor fob is here, a scissor fob is here, a scissor fob is here. Right???? By the way, I just finsihed a bee and honeycomb bread basket liner. If it’s possible, the bees were ripped more than they were stitched and they are not as small as these bees on your little thing. They were a real pain (I’d say other words, but it would not polite on your blog at all). I would make that lavendar little thing just to have a go at bees again. Have a good weekend!

  32. Little projects are a great way to try out new techniques before commiting to a large version and discovering it’s not your cup of tea.
    Litle projects are also a great way of using up leftovers from larger completed projects. The benefit of making up small pinkeeps, pincushions, biscornu, ornaments, gift tags etc, is that you have a ready supply oif gifts for those unexpected and unanticipated emergencies that can crop up…like forgetting someones birthday or gift swap.
    I just keep my smalls in a basket…they look great in my craft room till I need one for one of those overlooked or forgotten events.

  33. I work on Christmas ornaments throughout the year. I try to do one a month. There are so many little children in the family now that the adults just exchange hand-made ornaments & we find it to be an exciting adventure to do for each other. My EGA chapter also exchanges hand-made ornaments at Christmas. I find the finishing part less than fun but try to keep it simple. Your “fun stitches” work really well for closing many of these little treasures. I print out free patterns for them that are available on many stitching web sites during the year & keep an ‘on the run’ bag ready with materials to take with me at any time. They give me a breather from the large projects I always have going.

  34. This Little Thing is truly a Big Thing in the context of it being so lovely, and definitely something I’d like to try in the very near future. I need to do more Little Things – you’ve inspired and motivated me. Is there a pattern or a mini tutorial for making this? It’s just so lovely and charming. Thanks for sharing, and for the inspiration.

  35. Hi Mary,
    Please give the instructions on how to stitch the finished edge and cord for the Lavender Honey fob. It’s a finished edge I see frequently used, but I need some help doing it. I’ve seen the finish instructions some place, but can not find them now. (I filed them someplace, but can’t remember under what file…don’t you just hate that!)

    Thanks so much for your help!

  36. I do enjoy making little things. Partly because I have trouble carving out even an hour a day for my stitching and partly because I get very tired of working on the larger projects. I’m finally working on my final UFO that’s been stashed for years in the closet. Making a 2 inch box design for all 50 states sounded fun at first but then got tedious. Anyway. . . . I love stitching the small things to use as gifts (ornaments) or turn into gift cards. People seem to enjoy the personal touch and I don’t spend a year making the items.

  37. I have just finished making a brooch (I think it will be) in petit point.

    I don’t know how to finish it, tho. I was going to put some backing on, then a cardboard, then glue a pin.
    I don’t know about finishing choices. can someone make suggestions? It’s a small tree in autumn with leaves on the ground. It’s a big little thing–about 4 x 3 inches,
    I think. It will be for a coat pin.

  38. Mary, you did strike a deep chord with your fans with this post. I love crafting and embroidering or crocheting things because the bigger projects take up so much of time. I feel proud of myself to be able to manage a full time job, a husband, 4 yr old, home and inlaws while making time for my interests. Thanks for your leads.

  39. Mary:

    I have been facinated by Little Things! And would love to make one for my Bee group,12, in all. I either missed it or I cannot find anywhere on your site directions for making these. Help! As our December meeting is the first Tuesday in December, I need to get busy as your proverbial bee for torrow is the third Tuesday in October. I stay in awe of your work and thank you for all that you do and have available for us.


    1. Hi, Mary Lou – Thanks for your question! The printable instructions for Lavender Honey will be available on the website here, when I finish up all the instructions and samples. Keep an eye out for it! ~MC

  40. Hi, I would like to know if the honey lavender project was ever shown (July 2012). If so can anyone tell me where I can get it?

    1. Hi, Seraphima – no, it isn’t available yet. I’m hoping it will be on the website in the next month. I’ve had a few delays, but I’m working on the instructions now! -MC

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