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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25 Stitches & Stitch Combinations: A Goal


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Lately, I’ve been sharing some photos of various samples of floral monograms that I’ve been putting together. When I started on this particular monogram project (not to be confused with the more “traditional” monograms I’m also working on), I had a goal: to embroider the monograms with 20 – 25 types of stitches or stitch combinations.

Floral Monograms

Now, that may sound a bit weird, to shoot for a somewhat extensive number of stitches or stitch combinations in one alphabet. But it’s not, really. The alphabet gives coherence to a plan for stitch exploration, but the manner in which one goes about that exploration makes the outcome for each individual’s embroidered letters unique.

To explain: You have an alphabet – that is, a collection of 26 designs (A-Z). Following some basic principles of stitch placement, each letter (or design) can be worked in myriad ways, using any variety of possible stitch combinations out of the 25 or so stitches and combinations explored.

Since I’ve received a lot of questions about the stitches being used in the floral sneak peeks you’ve seen lately, I thought I’d talk a little more about the stitches and combinations in the photos.

Floral Monograms

All of these stitches in the photos I’ve already shown you (here, here, and here) have, in some way or another, shown up here on Needle ‘n Thread. They’re either in the embroidery stitch videos, or they are in the Stitch Fun series, or they’re at least mentioned in some random article.

Floral Monograms

So far, I’ve used the following stitches or stitch combinations:

Running stitch, straight stitch, chain stitch, twisted chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, stem stitch

Floral Monograms

backstitch, fly stitch, interlaced chain stitch, wheat stitch, feather stitch, French knots & colonial knots, scalloped buttonholed chain stitch

Floral Monograms

whipped backstitch, whipped chain stitch, oyster stitch, detached chain stitch

Floral Monograms

cretan stitch, zigzag chain stitch, Spanish knotted feather stitch

Floral Monograms

up and down buttonhole stitch, Hungarian braided chain stitch, and Pekinese stitch.

There are still a number of stitches and combination ideas that I haven’t incorporated yet, but plan to.

The thing is, the majority of these stitches are used in combination with other stitches, so they might be hard to recognize at first.

Take, for example, the last picture above. There are seven stitches visible in that space: detached chain (daisy stitch), feather stitch, fly stitch, French knots, straight stitch, wheat stitch, and backstitch. Can you pick them all out?

Floral Monograms and Embroidery Stitches

In the photo above, there are six stitches or combinations: twisted chain stitch, whipped chain stitch, French knots, interlaced chain stitch, backstitch, and running stitch.

So that’s what’s going on with these floral pictures I’m slowly leaking to you. As I go along, I’ll continue to show you little snippets and share with you some stitches and combinations that strike me as particularly fun.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Have your say below!

Stitch Sampler Alphabet is Available for You!

You can purchase the e-book for Stitch Sampler Alphabet here. The e-book supplies you with all the letter designs and step-by-step instructions for stitching the letters, and for all the stitches and combinations used in the letters.

You’ll find hundreds of photos to help you create your own magnificent stitch sampler letters – and you can mix and match the stitches and combinations for an endless variety!

Looking for inspiration & information on hand embroidery?

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(94) Comments

  1. You are blowing me away! I just found your blog/website yesterday while researching Cosmo floss. Your embroidery is incredible and so inspiring. I too learned embroidery at the age of 11, along with cross stitch and crochet. (Although I’m more of a quilter now.) These floral monograms are gorgeous and would be an awesome sampler for learning all these stitches. I’m guessing you have plans of some sort, a book perhaps? I’m really going to enjoy reading your articles and all the eye candy.

    1. Hi, Wanda – not sure yet exactly what format it will take, but … Something! Must finish all the samples first! Thanks a bunch for your comment! -MC

  2. Mary, Mary – you are so incredible!! I so enjoy your posts – Today is so inspiring – I need to move on to more interesting stitches. Thank you so very much for giving so very much!! I love the stitch fun.

  3. All I can say is that I sure hope you are going to publish them when you are finished with the alphabet! Absolutely beautiful..

  4. Mary, do you actually have time to do things like: eat, sleep, breathe, clean house, etc.? You simply amaze me with the amount of work you kick out. These monograms are delightful.

  5. Love the color combinations you have chosen. Wanda’s comment sums it up for most of us, we are blown away by your work. The time and effort you put into documenting your love of embroidery is inspiring to us.
    Thank you,

  6. I have long admired the evenness of your stitching, especially along curves. Are you able to “eyeball” where your needle goes next or do you measure? If you measure, what do you use? I mostly stick to counted techniques because the results of non-counted are so disappointing.

  7. Bonjour Mary, Beautiful,cool summer day here in Québec. I love what you do with stitches, a work of ART.
    I now own some of your booklets and love browsing through them and if you decide to make another one with mixed stitches, it will be mine for sure.
    Thank you Mary

  8. Fantastic. I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. It arrives every day at work, and I get a sneaky 10 minutes of inspiration and daydreaming. The only problem is it makes me want to go home and stitch instead of get on with my job! I love that you have such a command of the creative process and how you value perfection at all stages. I love that you tell us about the things that didn’t work as well as the things that did. The clarity of your pictures and sirections is superb. This is the most valuable learning resource for needlework on the web, in my opinion

  9. I’ve never been comfortable with stitch combinations and have always wanted to be able to know what/how/when to combine stitches. Love this series. Thank you!

  10. I see exactly where you’re going Mary and I want to go too. Sign me up — I want to stitch S M E!!!

  11. All I have to say is your Alphabet project is going to be Fun. The colors and stitch combinations are beautiful. . What threads are you using? I cannot wait until you publish this one. There is a Lot of learning here

  12. I would love to know the color numbers of the flosses you are using in the monogram-particularly the greens, pinks, and blues. I love the bright colors!

  13. Oh, these are just so gorgeous!! Please, please tell me that soon we’ll see more (or better yet, all!) and that maybe we’ll even have a class to make these? I’m so anxious to get back into embroidery, but just can’t figure how/where to start. If you’re holding my hand, so to speak, I know the re-entry plunge will be good!

  14. This floral alphabet is so incredibly beautiful. I do hope you will give us tutorials or put them all in a book. Those of us who have no creative abilities look to gifted people like you to help us learn how to make our world more beautiful. I look forward to seeing all that you create.

  15. Hi Mary,
    Is there a book coming soon on this topic? Please say Yes! Any of the designs you’ve shown so far would be a delight to stitch.
    Thank you for the best site on the web.
    Barbara T. in WI

    1. Hi, Barabar! I’ll keep you posted! It’ll either be an ebook or part of a class. I’m leaning towards ebook, since, when the monogram class comes together, there’s so much content already in other types of monogramming – the more traditional forms – it would just be too much information. But the first step is stitching samples. And that’s going to take a while. J is underway now, and M (the ones in between haven’t been done yet, either)…

  16. I love the color combinations you have in these pics Mary. Thanks for the pictures demo-ing the stiches, as I am always trying to stretch out and do more than my usual array of stitches.

  17. Dear Mary

    I really love the photos of the different stitches wow so many! and I really love the colour threads you have used for these combinations. I’m just about to embark on a project a combination of a monogram and a heart from your patterns so I shall use some of the examples above. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  18. I just wanted to say that your work is exquisite and I am so happy that I have found your website. I haven’t done any needlework and I am nearly 60 years old. I came to your website after stumbling on your You Tube channel and then finding examples on Pinterest. I am going to start learning to embroider. I bought a book yesterday and can’t wait to start learning. Thank you so much for the inspiration and the tutorials.

  19. Hi Mary
    The embroidery is just amazing and you make it sound so simple – what about an eBook on this one too – it would be a sell out!! I am also looking at it for my crazy patchwork as on your recommendation I did the Allie Aller Crafty course and it was sooooo good – thanks also for that. Do give us more stitch fun it is great. Have a good day.

  20. Will this ever be compiled into a pdf for downloading? Even if there is a charge I would still be interested. I need to have the instructions in front of me when I stitch.

  21. Oh my word, Mary, you are a shocking tease! Please drop all your other projects and get on with producing the instructions for us instead! Wonderful inspirational work as ever, thank you.

  22. And eye candy it is! I continue to be inspired and in awe of your embroidery prowess and pray that someday I can be as accomplished as you.
    I intend to purchase your “Little Things” book as soon as I recover from my latest purchase of the Needle Needs Compete Kit but I would soooo love to see you make a booklet of all the stitches and combinations you have pictured here and how they are applied. I’m sure others, as well as I, would buy it in a heartbeat. Fondly, Deonia in Florida

  23. I look forward to your newsletters every day. Your work is beautiful.

    Do you pre-treat colored linens the same way you do white linen (hot water alternating with cold water)?

  24. Hi Mary ~
    I hope you are or are considering doing this series into one of your PDF ebooks. I have put 2 of them on my itune bookstore, to have them with me on my ipad, every where I go. When I have a few minutes to spare – I pull them up to look through and get inspiration. I really like the newest for small projects. They will make up into great Christmas, hostess or just because you are my friend gifts. With that said – I would love this series in one of your books to be able to cary with me – with every thing in one perfect book form. The cost of your PDF ebooks are work every penny. Thank you !

  25. I have just spent an inordinate length of time trying to identify all those stitches, and to my credit (if I do say it myself), not to mention amazement, I managed all of them in the two stitches you challenged us with.

    What is visible in these photographs is gorgeous but you are becoming a terrible tease Mary.

  26. Thank you for all the information on the stitches they are amazing. You are very talented and I have learned so much from reading your blog.

  27. I can hardly wait for all your samplers to come out. The pictures that you have shown us are so beautiful. I am eager to see more. How soon do you anticipate this project to take? Joan

    1. Hi, Joan – well, first, all the samples have to be stitched. I’m on M. Next, all the step-by-step photos for the stitch combinations have to be done. Then, all the photos have to be edited and arranged and all the graphics (patterns and whatnot) have to be prepared, and finally, the compiling can begin. At this point, I can’t really give a solid date – definitely in the next month or so, though, if all goes well with my computer, and I don’t run into any major interruptions. – MC

  28. Mary, you are amazing! These monograms are just beautiful and I would love to give them a go. Such a lot of work for you to produce all the stitching photos and instructions, but there are loads of us out here that would love an e-booklet. Thank you for your inspiring blog – completely and utterly wonderful!

  29. Hi Mary- another short comment. The alphabet would be perfect for the little projects in your last ebook,especially the needle book
    From all our comments, looks like you may need to lean toward another ebook

  30. that is beautiful. I have a really weird question, what does the back look like? When I combine lots of colors and stitches the back of my work looks awful! Is this normal?

    1. Well, the threads do build up. The key to keeping the back at least somewhat under control is to try to work the more random stitches (like the speckled French knots) in some kind of order. But you can definitely expect some kind of build up, because… Well. It can’t be avoided! 🙂

  31. Mary this is so nice work and a mind sweeping one.pls let me kindly know what is the brand of thread used here.the color combinations are so pretty,dd you find it on your own.thx for making my day just looking at these new project.

  32. I would love to see an example with the stitches you have used labeled on a finished work.
    I love learning the stitches with your videos but I am still intimidated by the stacking and overlapping of them you do to make your work so beautiful.
    Thank you for all the hard work you do to share these techniques with us, your adoring fans. 🙂

  33. Truly amazing. I love your website and seeing the fantastic results you accomplish. Please keep them coming.

  34. The monograms are so beautiful, you have motivated me to begin an alphabet project. Your motifs and color choice are so lovely and delicate. I enjoy this blog.

  35. I’m sure you’ve already done this and I just missed it, but I was wondering if you had ever done a lesson-at-a-time with your stitches. Such as, an embroidery design using 1, 2 or 3 stitches only so someone who is new to embroidery can really learn those stitches and then move on to more stitches? If you have already done this please let me know how to find it or which of your books I can purchase.


  36. Please tell me that you will have this collection published in book form….with instructions for those of us new to this art form! You are an inspiration!!!!!

  37. Mary – You are so amazing. PLEASE give us access to your alphabet stitching soon – it is so beautiful.


  38. Absolutely beautiful! Your work and creativity is amazing and makes me want to learn more and more. Thank you for sharing such a talent.

  39. Hi Mary,
    I will definitely second all the comments so far- I love the colors and stitch combinations you are working. They definitely blow me away!! Just gorgeous, beautiful artwork. I’m an avid fan of your blog and thoroughly enjoy each and every word and photo. Please keep doing what you are doing!!
    Betsy in the sunny Seattle suburbs

  40. Mary – this is all so beautiful. Sure hope to see aomething published simple enough for me to follow.
    Can’t wait to see it in total. Thank you so very much for all that you give freely. Blessings to you!!

  41. Hi Mary,

    What lovely work! I have always been fascinated by monograms but I particularly love the whimsy of these. With, soon to be, three granddaughters, these would make delightful heirloom gifts.

    My question is: how do you determine which of the stitches are done in what sequence? Are you following a pattern? If not, do you have suggestions for those of us who might be interested in such a project?


  42. Beautiful, as usual! I am a little behind on your blog entries, but I had to look at these stitch creations. I always wonder how big the stitches actually are. The magnification is wonderful, but I have a hard time visualizing how they would fit on an actual project. Any ideas?

  43. I’ve been following your site for a few years but this project has really caught my eye. I’m trying to redesign what was originally an ornate cross-stich alphabet to work with surface embroidery and bead work. Admittedly I am having to go back through your stitching videos again but as that’s how I learned in the first place I’m not worried. Thank you for the new inspiration.

  44. Mary you do incredible work…..I cannot wait for an e-book or print book to come out on these beautiful monograms…..thank you.

  45. Will you be allowing us to print out the entire alphabet that you’ve created with the different stitches or are you putting them in a book? I think this would make a wonderful anniversary present. Please advise. Thanks

    1. Hi, Mary – they’ll all be available in an ebook. It will take a little while to get it together, but hopefully it’ll be ready within the next month! -MC

  46. Love, love, love this project. It will stretch me in areas that I’m dying to grow in. Your work is lovely, your pictures are heaven, your publishing skills are phenomenal, your organizational skills are off the chart. I am currently working on a Christmas gift for stepson and daughter-in-law, which includes all the names of their family, so this couldn’t come at a better time for me. My mind is about to explode with the possibilities you have given to one with so limited an imagination. Forgot to mention your wonderful charity in sharing so freely. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  47. OH Mary you make my heart sing with all of these! I would love to do these for my best friends. I so want to buy the patterns/instructions from you. They are the prettiest monograms ever! ♡♥♡♥♡♥♡

  48. I love your floral alphabet project. Do you have a price yet? Please put me on your list and contact me when its ready for sale. Thank you, Dorothy

  49. Hi Mary
    I love your work specially the samples of floral monograms (pictures above) that you have been sharing with us. I love those pictures. Is it possible to post the whole picture please? You only posted half the picture.


    1. Hi, Faz – thanks, I’m glad you like it! I’ll be posting more about them in the near future. They’re coming out in an e-book, with full instructions. -MC

  50. I would love to use this technique on a ring bearer pillow for my daughter’s wedding. Any idea when the ebook will be ready? Thanks. Laurie K

  51. Love this series! Cannot wait for the ebook to come out – this is definitely on my list of “gotta haves’!
    Thanks so much for all your inspiration!
    Barbara in TN

  52. Hello, i did a search for floral hand embroidery alphabets and happened on this post. I am bold over and I anxiously await the e-book. It is truly exquisite and I love it. Thank you for sharing your beautiful work. Any updates on date it will be available?

  53. This is a beautiful idea.I am making a quilt and some blocks are just embroidery,I want it just for her.These are brilliantly stitched together.Thank you for your talent and detail,when i get the first one done,I would like to send a pic for your opinion.

  54. OMG!!! These stitch combinations are just gorgeous! When can we expect to see the whole alphabet? I think the alphabet done as a single sampler will be just awesome!

    1. Hi, Beverly! The whole alphabet will be out in e-book form, with instructions for all the stitches and stitch combinations, letter patterns, layout guides for each letter, and materials lists (though substitutions, of course, can be made). I’m planning to have it out this spring! I’m shooting for a pre-Easter release, but in fact, it may be a week or so later. I’ve had a few setbacks and I’ve got to re-stitch a couple more letter examples. And then, of course, the tax man loometh, so that’s eating up a lot of time, too!

  55. I absolutely love it, great combinations, please, please, please like another lady mentioned even an e-book will be great. I am in for it, thank you kindly.

  56. The alphabet stitches are just gorgeous! I hope you’ll release them! I love the idea of using various stitches and combinations to make these beautiful pieces.

  57. I would like to know if you will have patterns for the embroidered letters. They are so beautiful and would love to stitch them.

    Thank you, Jan

    1. Hi, Jan! Thanks for asking! The e-book is coming out this Monday, April 27th, and will be announced here on Needle ‘n Thread! It features all the patterns for each letter, apt he stitch layout guides for each letter, materials used, and step-by step photo instructions for all the stitches. Look for it this coming Monday!

  58. I am amazed by the fluidity of how each section flows into the next. How do you plan out the different sections, and make the whole piece come together? Do you have a sampler that you use to give you ideas, does it just come from your head, or do you sketch them out beforehand?

  59. Love this site. Came across it one afternoon when I was ill in bed. It cheered me up instantly. I have done a little embroidery over the years, but mainly cross stitches. I have just bought a book that was suggested about all the different stitches and my New Years project will be a monogram for a new baby in the family, E for emma. Lovely site. Thanks you

  60. Hello Mary,
    Thank you for all your lovely posts. You’ve revived my love of embroidery (I’m 65)… I wanted to ask what fabric you’ve used for 25 stitches and from where I can source it. . It looks lovely.
    Thank you

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