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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Joy 1 – Developing an Embroidery Design


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Embroidered monograms are an obsession of mine. I love monograms! I collect all kinds of monogram and letter sourcebooks, antique and new.

Combining my love of monograms with my never-quite-fulfilled dream of an entirely hand-made, embroidered Christmas (every gift, every decoration? it won’t happen!), I have fiddled around with many a Christmas design that features lettering of some sort, and especially monograms.

Today, I’m going to show you the first step in one such fiddling endeavor. My hope: that this inspires you to fiddle around with designs as well. At the end of this short series, I’ll give you the full embroidery design. Think of it as my Christmas present to you!

Developing an Embroidery Design: Joy

I bet you know where this is going, right? (Well, the title of today’s post gives it away!) Here’s the first letter. It’s not finished yet. As the whole design develops, you’ll see some changes along the way.

This is a slight alteration of one of my favorite old Sajou monogram alphabets, found in Sajou pamphlet #235. It’s a pretty alphabet and it allows the embroiderer all kinds of interpretations with stitches, so that it is accessible to beginner and advanced embroiderer alike. I like it’s combination of formal and flowing.

When drumming up ideas for embroidery designs, don’t hesitate to look to the past. There are plenty of old publications that are in the public domain that can help you develop something beautiful to embroider!

You can find the old Sajou pamphlets through rare books dealers, if you want hard copies. Sometimes, they show up on eBay and the like, too. I’m always scouring for them! But, fortunately, if you can’t lay your hands on hard copies, they’re also available quite widely online. The best online source? Patternmaker Charts – he’s got practically all the old Sajou, Alexandre, and many other wonderful old pamphlets available. The majority of them are cross stitch (some really gorgeous cross stitch monograms there!), but many are also for surface embroidery.

Tomorrow, we’ll build on this one and develop the design further! See you then!


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(12) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    Lovely letter so appropriate for the time of year Yes I agree Sajou alphabet letters are really beautiful. can’t wait to see it develop. Thanks for this article

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. What a lovely design Mary and easy to see how the free form work you have been teaching us earlier in the week could be used for some of the elements – though I am sure you have something even more wonderful in mind. 🙂

    Glad to know I am not the only one with an obsession for collecting old embroidery books and booklets, though in my case it is stitch dictionaries and motifs other than monograms as a rule. Maybe this opens an entirely new collecting and stitching endeavor for me.

  3. I’m looking forward to what you’ll be doing with these letters, Mary. I came upon an explanation as to why the letters “I” and “W” are missing from the charts. Is there any good tricks to think about when creating those letters (from “J” and “V”)?

  4. I just want to thank you for your blog. I am always inspired. Your generosity is truly appreciated. Happy holidays and have a wonderful new year!

  5. G’Day Mary,
    Every time I rediscover the Patternmaker Charts site I wonder why ever I’ve let it slip my mind. Thanks for the nudge.
    JOY to the stitching world at Christmas with this beautiful design coming up nicely.
    Thank you, cheers, Kath.

  6. Mary ,

    I look forward to watching your design develop.

    Thank you for the Pattern Maker Charts link, I spent a little too long their this morning.

    Have a wonderful Holiday,


  7. I just download 4 .pdf books from you. I can’t wait to get home and stitch! I am looking for some really cute monograms to add to some purses I plan on making for my new step-nieces for Christmas. Can you recommend a pattern book (or have one) that be appropriate? They are ages 4, 7, 10 and are very girly girl! One of them love Hello Kitty, Paisley patterns and the oldest not sure yet her fav! I appreciate your help.

    1. Hi, Donna! Thanks very much! Well, for monograms that are cute as opposed to fancy, there are a few options. Dover publishing has a book called “Modern Monograms” that has some of the more bubble-looking type letters in it. To get the exact letters you’d need, though, you’d probably have to alter some of the double monogram designs in there by tracing and re-combining letters. Another option is to find a cute font on your computer – or to google “cute fonts” or “cute curly fonts” and see if you can find a font you like. Then it would just be a matter of typing the letters on your computer, enlarging them to the size you need, and printing and tracing them. You could also take a look at Alicia Paulson’s Daisy Chain Sampler: http://posie-rosy-little-things.myshopify.com/products/daisychain-abcs-crewelwork-sampler-pattern – you could pick letters you want off that and modify them however you want. They’re definitely in the category of “cute”! Hope that helps a little bit! ~MC

  8. Muito obrigada, não poderia receber um presente de
    natal, mais lindo que esse.
    Um grande bjo, Que Deus sempre abencoe a sua vida.

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