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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Have You Seen These Miniature Needlepainting Kits Yet?


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Have you seen Trish Burr’s miniature needlepainting kits yet? Inspired by Victorian vignettes, they’re called Vintage Miniatures, the newest addition to her collection of beautiful needlepainting kits. There are two Vintage Miniatures in the collection so far, but I suspect (and hope!) the collection will expand!

The Vintage Miniatures are a combination of Too Cute for Words and Really Pretty.

(Too Cute for Really Pretty Words? Hmmmm….)

I thought I’d review one “out of the envelope” so that you can see what they’re all about. I’ll show you what’s included, chat a bit about some finishing ideas, and then discuss how to get the kits, and maybe how to save a little money doing so.

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

Let’s take a look at the Attic Pansies up close! Trish’s packaging is darling, by the way – vintage feeling and appealing, without being shabby-vintage.

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

This is what you first remove from the cellophane envelope. The instruction booklet and the “cover” of the kit are one and the same. It’s a small booklet, befitting the miniature nature of the thing.

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

Tucked into the instructional booklet, you’ll find the ground fabric (200 threads-per-inch cotton) pre-printed with the design, a piece of backing fabric, and a couple needles.

Note that there are no threads involved here. It is much more cost-effective for folks to pick up the required colors of DMC in their own countries, than for Trish to import the colors, cut them and package them, and ship them. This makes sense to me, and I’m glad she went this way with the kits. It gives the stitcher a little more freedom when it comes to threads.

I can’t help thinking I’d like to color match the DMC with some silks and make some substitutions – but then I’d have to change the ground to a fine linen or something, I suppose.

Ut oh. I feel something brewing…

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

You can see here the design printed on the fabric, lined up next to a ruler. It’s about 3″ wide.

In the needlework world, “miniature” conjures up certain thoughts. When I first hear the term “miniature” in association with needlework, I tend to think in terms of doll house type embroidery, such as miniature rugs, miniature samplers (like this one), miniature tapestries (like this one), miniature footstool covers, firescreens, and the like.

This is not how “miniature” is being used with these kits. Here, “miniature” simply means what it means – a smaller size than normal.

These are much smaller than Trish’s normal designs. But they aren’t tiny embroidery. They’re like a little smidgeon of embroidery – a taste, but not a whole meal. Because they are smaller, they can be worked up a little faster than a major project can be, and their finishing possibilities are also a little different (more on that below).

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

Back to the instructional book. When you open it from the front, you’ll find some tips about the project you’re fixin’ to start, along with the color chart for the threads needed. For the Attic Pansies, 20 colors of DMC are required. In addition to the DMC colors, Trish provides suitable Anchor substitutes, in case Anchor threads are more easily available for you.

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

Working through the instruction booklet, you’ll find some tips on working small needlepainting projects like this – a few things you have to take into consideration when working small, in order to achieve a beautiful shaded result – and a schematic for the stitches, colors, and stitch direction in the design.

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

The rest of the booklet is dedicated to progress pictures and instructions at each stage of the progress. Keep in mind, these are not really step-by-step stitching instructions, as much as they are a guideline to show you what each stage of the project should look like.

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

There are hints and tips provided along the way, as well as close up inset photos, clarifying specific points of instruction.

This instructional guide through the project is well done, and is perfect for someone who is already somewhat familiar with needlepainting or long and short stitch shading. I’d say that an absolutely beginner in needlepainting would not start here, though. An absolute beginner would benefit from more instruction, unless super motivated and able to go solo in troubleshooting. The photos are very good and very clear – it’s easy to see what you should be doing on the fabric to achieve the right results – but Trish specifies that these kits are more suitable for stitchers who have had some experience in thread painting techniques.

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

At the very end of the instructional booklet, you’ll find a page of stitch diagrams and a clear photo of the entire finished design, along with information on cleaning and preparing for finishing.

Miniature Needlepainting Kits Trish Burr

And this…. this is the other available Vintage Miniature. And I love it! They’re such tiny, puffy fluff-ball little birds! So sweet!

Finishing Little Embroidery Designs

When it comes to finishing these designs, because they are small, they have a certain advantage over full-size embroidery projects. They can easily be accommodated in small decorative box lids (like the Sudberry House boxes). They can also form the cover of a needle book or something similar – which few full-size projects can do. They can grow into a collection of vintage framed pieces, perfect for showing off on a desktop, shelf, or table (or wall). I think there are definitely more finishing possibilities with these, than with larger needlepainted items.

Ordering Trish Burr’s Kits

Trish now carries all her buyable items (including these kits, many other kits, downloadable patterns, fabric, and the like) in her Etsy store. While she has several projects available as digital downloads, these vintage miniatures are not available digitally – they come in kits only. Because they’re shipped from South Africa, shipping is somewhat prohibitive if you are ordering only one kit. My suggestion? Pool your resources with your stitching buddies – order several kits at once and split the shipping! One kit costs $11.50 to ship, but shipped with other items, it’s $1.50. If you order 10 kits, you’re looking at $25 in shipping, or $2.50 per kit, which is much easier to handle if the cost is shared.

Of course, if you don’t have any stitching buddies (if you live out in the middle of the cornfields of Kansas like I do, for example) then I realize that doesn’t help much! But it’s something, if you can swing it.

Update, December 1, 2012: Yesterday, Trish sold out of all these kits! Since she won’t have time before Christmas to restock, she has made them available for digital download, and you can find them right here in her Etsy shop.

(And Shhhhhhhhh!I haven’t told anyone this yet, but I’m going to give you an opportunity to win some of Trish’s kits in a give-away in a week or so – just in time to slip one into your Christmas stocking! So look for that a little way down the road, ok?)


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(25) Comments

    1. We can start a stitch along to do Mary’s long and short stitch shading project. We can learn together. I hope to do that next year, well it might take longer than a year to do…..

  1. Ohh–the little birds are so cute. Would love to try my hand at them! I live in NE KS and very few stitchers around me. Local Needle work shop is Topeka. Looking forward to entering the giveaway. Thank YOU!

    1. Hi, Dede – So do I! (live in Northeast Kansas, that is…) The shop in Topeka must be the Sunflower Seed off Huntoon at Gage? It’s a nice little shop with a lot of variety for counted cross stitch stuff, and I’m glad to see that they’ve expanded some of their threads, too. I buy tools there and DMC thread, if I’m looking for something specific that I know they carry. They don’t have much else for surface embroidery, though. Still, I like visiting there when I’m in Topeka. (I go to Manhattan more often than Topeka. Would love to see a needlework shop there!)

      If you ever go to Kansas City, you might check out Two the Point, which is down in Olathe, just north of I-435, at Roe. It’s primarily a needlepoint shop, but they have a very good selection of threads, tools, Evertite frames, needlework floor stands, lighting, and the like. It’s always a treat to stop in there!


  2. Been reading your blog for quite a while….so informative and fun. I looked at Trish Burr’s ETSY site, and one can buy the PDF of many designs, so there is no shipping charge. The link to the instruction book goes right to your e-mail. Of course, no fabric or needles, but one can buy those locally, along with the threads.

    1. Wendy TC, Thank you for the tip. It’s marvelous to know about the PDF availability. The close-up clarity of the embroideries on her ETSY site is amazing.

    2. Hi, Jane – Since yesterday, Trish has made the miniatures available in her Etsy shop, too, as digital downloads. She sold out of the kits, and won’t be able to restock before Christmas, so for those who want the designs before then, she’s got the miniatures available for download now! ~MC

  3. Dear “Mary in the Cornfields”,

    I’d like to think we are all long-distance stitching buddies….

    “Jane Among the Snowdrifts and Winding Mountain Roads”

  4. ADORABLE!! This is a giveaway I WILL enter because they are so tiny, who would notice my lair had gotten just a tiny bit more populated?

  5. I was happily drooling over the lovely wee pansies and THEN I saw the birdies – I think I’m in love!! I haven’t done any thread painting (at least not for many many moons) and I expect I would make a botch of them for a first project, but oh how I covet!!

  6. I love these! I am going to have to check into her site and see about ordering some of these. I love them. Never thought of it as painting with thread. =)

  7. G’day Mary,
    ‘Shhhhhhhhh’, a sure-fire way to spread the news! A secret is something you tell one person at a time. ‘Pssst, don’t tell anyone but that stitchin’ woman on the net’… indistinct, urgent whispering, the sound of running feet, ‘Hey, wait up, guess what I just heard’… indistinct, urgent whispering…
    Yes, I adore Trish’s minitures.
    Cheers Mary, Kath

  8. Dear Mary, I just love these designs and hope to try one day (soon). Just noticed that on the Etsy site, these miniatures are available for download, so may have been updated before your post?


  9. Hello Mary,
    I discovered your website on Pinterest today and have been marveling at all of the great information available. I checked out a few of your How To videos and they are excellent! I hope to learn a lot from you.
    Have a great day,

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