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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Secret Garden Hummingbirds – Project Index


Amazon Books

Time to do a little organizing!

If you’re following the Secret Garden Hummingbirds project that will develop in 2014 here on Needle ‘n Thread, you might want to bookmark this page.

Secret Garden Embroidery Project

To keep the upcoming articles on this embroidery project worked (with permission) from Johanna Basford’s book, Secret Garden: an Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, I’m creating this index, where I’ll list all the articles relating to the project chronologically, as they develop on Needle ‘n Thread.

This way, you’ll be able to follow the project easily, and you’ll also know where to go to find past articles.

The Index will be permanently listed under the Tips & Techniques tab on the main menu across the top of Needle ‘n Thread, categorized under Hand Embroidery Lessons & Step-by-Step Projects (which is where you’ll find all similarly developed projects listed, if you want to browse).

Secret Garden Hummingbirds – Articles List


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(62) Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads up Mary. Page is book marked! Just keeping fingers crossed that you plan readily available materials for this project. My Husband has been wonderfully patient with all my projects. But I think its starting to get to the point that he is about to start saying something if I go out and buy something for this project. Thank heaven for Amazon Prime. I bought the book and had it arive when he was at work hehe. I know your projects are easly adaptable to what ever materials we have. But when you use gorgouse theads like the Appleton crewel wool ( Pomegranate Corners), Coton a broder 25 (Tambor & Hungarion project), and Au Ver a Soie Silks and Metal Threads(Tudor-style rose). The mojority feel they have to start pulling out the cc card and place a online order. Would be nice to have a project for the ones who cant do that, done with simple easy to obtain DMC floss.

  2. Aloha Mary,
    Always a learning experience to follow along with you.
    By the way, I loved the corner finish on the Tudor Rose. I thought was the perfect compliment to the picture.

  3. que bien Mary ,aunque por lejania no es accesible ,,materiales…me sevira cuando lleguen
    y esperare las sorpresas
    gracias Mary maestra

  4. Hi Mary,

    My copy of the book came in the mail today (Very Fast Work by Amazon, I must say!!)and I am rip-roaring ready to get started. I don’t see how you managed to decide which graphic to use, they are all so very interesting and beautiful. If I find the fibers you sometimes use are a bit too expensive for me, I just look at the color scheme and pick out my own color(s) from the DMC lineup and decide not to worry about it. If I were loaded though…I’d have ALL your projects and tools and books and… you get the drift! LOL

    Thanks for doing this project, I’m so excited!

  5. I don’t know what happened… I was reading your blog post and then a copy of the book and some coloured pencils jumped into my shopping cart!!! Can’t wait to follow this project you are doing, although I’ve just bought it for the colouring, too many stitching projects already on the go!

  6. I am excited with this new idea of embroidering a design from the book, The Secret Garden. Thank you so much for all the wonderful information, and some guidance along the way.

  7. Getting ready to go requires some sleuthing…what was the name of the linen and where? found in previous article Legacy Linen Alabaster Angel; out of stock at Hedgehog but available through Needle in a Haystack. Several boxes of DMC floss ready to go. I found the book at Hastings in Missoula, MT. So very glad of the linen prep tutorial in the tips and tricks section. thank you so much!

  8. Mary,

    I too have the Martha Stewart pens you spoke of a few days ago. I am disappointed to hear they are no longer available. Mine are still going but the day will come when they dry up.
    In addition to being an embroiderer I am a long time quilter. I am working on a quilt that I am embellishing with embroidery and need to transfer the design. While in my local quilt shop a couple of days ago I saw a new pen and decided to give it a try. It is the Frixion pen made by Pilot. It comes in a variety of colors. I purchased the 05 size. It works wonderfully, just as well as the Martha Stewart pens. It also has one advantage, the lines can be erased using the rubber tip at the end of the pen. The downside is that the lines also disappear with ironing. Therefore, once you transferred your design you would not want to iron your fabric until after the stitching was complete. At least it is another alternative to try.

    1. I’ve heard of trouble with the Frixion pens coming back in cold temps, so if you live in a cold climate, beware! One lady said she took a quilt to a quilt show, traveling in cold weather with the quilt in her trunk, and when they got to the show, she ended up having to do an ironing job before hanging it, because the lines had returned. I’ve also heard from some readers that the color didn’t come back but brownish lines did. I’ve not used them, because I’m not too fond of pens that leave a chemical residue. Just for your information…. Others swear by them, so I guess it depends!

  9. I so look forward to your “conversations” about the Secret Garden Project. It is almost like talking to a sewing buddy …maybe on the phone.
    Many times I hear my reasoning as in why and how a project may end up on “the shelf”. It’s like talking about the all inclusive “they” or “you.”


  10. So excited to see you turn my drawings into stitches Mary! What a wonderful project, amazing to see all the process that goes into it (I feel the drawing part may have been easier!) Can’t wait to see it all unfold! Johanna x

  11. I got tickled as I read your article about silk threads. I remember that when I first started doing crewel embroidery and cross stitch, I found myself looking at things and mentally translating the colors into thread colors. I think I scared myself! I still do that when I am getting ready to start a new project whether it is a stitching project or knitting/crochet project. Doesn’t scare me now…just the way I translate things.

  12. I have been following along with this project. I hope to start stitching soon. As I was looking at the pattern, I thought about the beetle wings that you had shown earlier. I am thinking ahead about adding some in the hummingbird wings.
    Do you have an opinion on this?

    Mary in Oregon

  13. Hi Mary, I have the coloring book now for the Secret Garden Project and have ordered my fabric. When you get into the stitching on the humming birds is there anyway you could try some rayon and metallic thread as you experiment? Would love to see how you would work with that.
    In Christ,
    Gail J.

  14. At first glance, the problem for me is the total flower color. The pistils seem heavy…intense..not flowery. Then when I saw the whole embroidery, I am not so sure that the flower color is wrong. Eager to know of others reaction.


  15. This piece is just so absolutely beautiful, I had to comment. Pure inspiration! Thank you.
    What size needle and how many thread(s) do you use for satin stitch? I wonder if a finer needle and one thread would help me to achieve greater acuity?

    1. Hi, Laura – the satin stitch always looks best when worked with one strand of whatever kind of thread you are using. For this, I’m using one strand of floss (out of the six), and a #10 crewel needle.

  16. Am so excited! Just finished tracing my design onto my fabric. (had to use a mechanical pencil, but hopefully will be able to cover up with thread or wash out lines when done.) I love the colors you picked Mary. Will probably do leaves and vines and then wait a bit to see other options that you do in the next project of this with metallic or silks in the flowers or hummingbirds. I may just combine different techniques from both project variations. Anyway… love it!
    In Christ,
    Gail J.

  17. HI Mary,
    loving your secret garden project and have just bought the book. My friend Rosemary and myself have studied and turned and studied and turned your pistil stitches every which way, but try as we might we can see nothing wrong at all. It all looks so beautiful and the hummingbirds will have strong competition with those flowers!! Thanks for sharing, your newsletter has become the highlight of my day
    all the best

  18. Well, I have finished the big vines at the bottom and had a wonderful time with the green shading. Aside from various pricked finger tips, I love this SAL! Thank you again Mary for such a wonderful project! And… I don’t have to print out the pattern directions, I can just pull them up on my ipad, Wow… love the technology and the saved costs on printer ink. LOL!

  19. Just framed up Secret Garden, & reread all the articles. My thought to pass along to you is lets not do the hummers exactly the same but slightly different,in nature the same bird refracts light differntly. Could it be pulled off in stitching? Hugs, Barb

  20. My vines are all done and the small leaves are too. However, may pull out a few small leaves and re-do them as I am new to fly stitching and the first ones didn’t look as good as my later ones. I colored the small leaves a little differently by adding a turquoise thread to one of the greens I am using. Will take a picture when I am happy with my tiny leaves.
    In Christ,
    Gail J.

  21. Good Morning

    I need to say thank you ever so much for all your postings on projects I don’t have much time to embroider but when I do I always use you site for tutorials and ideas. I can’t wait to read your letter in the mornings. Thank you once again Wenda South Africa

  22. I love the colors, but I would like to suggest to make the eye (black portion) about 1/3 to 1/2 the size it currently is. When looking at pictures of hummingbirds, the eye is so small looking. Just my two cents. Kathy

  23. Do you have alist of the DMC colours used or do I need to work through you step by steps to find them? I would like to collect all the thread before I start. Just received the book from my book store and am anxious to start this project. it is simply gorgeous. Thank you for sharing. Wendi

  24. Hello Mary,

    Will we not be working on the the secret garden hummingbirds for a while? Will you announce the dmc colors for the humming birds?

    Thank you.


    1. Hi, Sandra – I want to finish the first hummingbird completely before publishing a list of colors that I used. I’m not working on any stitching right now, I’m afraid – I have whooping cough and can’t quite handle the stitching and the coughing simultaneously. Once this eases up, I’ll be back at it.

  25. Hi Mary, I did not receive your newsletters for a while and wondered if this had something to do with the fact that I had a new computer – so I signed up again! I received your response to another reader and learned that you had whooping cough. I am so sorry and hope you will have a speedy recovery. Take care of yourself and get lots of rest. We miss you.
    I would like to think that I am not the only person who signed up for the newsletters again – but somehow I doubt it. I hope it does not cause problems.
    Wishing you the best
    Get well soon, Helen

    1. Hi, Helen! Thanks – I’m improving! 🙂 I’m glad you’re receiving the newsletter again. Sometimes, it can actually be a problem with email service providers blocking the letter. So I’m glad it’s sorted! ~Mary

  26. Hi Mary,

    How are you feeling today? I am sorry to bother you while your sick, but I heard threw the grapevine, there is a news letter on the whats going on with Secret Garden that is email to you. I would like to get on this list. Please! Get Well Soon!

    Thank you
    Sorry for rambling


    1. Hi, Sandra – the daily newsletter that comes out from Needle ‘n Thread is the only newsletter I send out right now. You can subscribe to it if you like – just enter your email address in the form in the top right column here on the website. Basically, it’s my daily blog post delivered to your inbox. The advantages: you can save the issues you want to save, it’s an easy format for printing, and you never miss anything posted on the site, but you can take or leave what interests or doesn’t interest you. I’ll update this article list for the hummingbirds today – I think it’s just missing one article since the last time I updated it. -MC

  27. i’m having a lovely time catching up with this project!

    just a note to say that the link for this post (Cotton Floche & More Thread & Design Musings) is pointing to the wrong post

  28. Question: I see feather threads – ends, maybe knots – in unworked feathers. Do you start by taking a few tiny stitches there to start and/or end by pulling thread thru and knotting or just pulling thread thru?

    Thank you for sharing your talent. I am learning more each post.


    1. Yes, those little knots are waste knots – they’re cut off. So I start on the top of the fabric with the waste knot, and take two or three tiny stitches to anchor the thread, and then cut the knot off. The little stitches are stitched over.

  29. how do I get permission to do the fox in brazilian embroidey for my own use,,not for selling,,,just for an embroidery project of my own?

    1. If you’re just embroidering it for your own personal use from the book you bought, you don’t need permission. I got permission as a courtesy because I knew I’d be blogging about it. But as long as you aren’t reproducing the design for others and are just using it from your copy of the book, you don’t really need permission.

  30. Ok I have another question benefits of linen over cotton and where would I find a thread count? Also do you need an additional fabric or batting? Ive only ever used coton so I need some advice =)

    1. Hi, Bobbie – If you use a good hand embroidery linen, you don’t need to put cotton behind it. The advantage of putting cotton behind other linen is just for linens that won’t support surface stitches because there’s too much space between the fabric threads. For example, if you use some of the cross stitch linens out there, the threads often have space between them, which makes them more difficult to work surface stitches on. No batting or anything for regular surface embroidery. In the index for this project, you can find all the articles about the project, and I also talk about the fabric and threads that I used on it. You can find the index here: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/2014/01/secret-garden-hummingbirds-project-index.html

  31. I have a burning question, how long does it take you to complete a normal project? I feel that I am a slug when it takes me months to finish a simple pillow case boarder. The humming bird project you are showing in this article would take me years, as a side bar, it is absolutely stunning.

    1. Hi, Norleen – oh, some projects take me a couple years (the hummingbird was a year and a half). It’s ok if a project takes time! If we turn embroidery into pressure work, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun!

  32. Mary…I finished! I stitched my “Secret Garden” project on and off for — well, it seemed like forever! I did frame it by sewing it into a small 16″ x 16″ wall quilt. Recently I posted photos of my finished piece on your “Secret Garden” flickr album plus on “Stitching Fingers.” This little quilt is right now on my living room wall! Thanks to you for all of the articles that you have listed here. They are jammed packed with your inspiration, ideas, reflections, and encouragement! And because of that…I finished!

  33. I have been embroidering since the early ’70’s and I think your blog is the most knowledgeable I have ever found. I cut my needlework teeth on the now “vintage” crewel kits by Elsa Williams. They not longer exist, nor do the woven collections of embroidery wool from England. I especially love the traditional English Jacobean patterns. I taught classes for several years in the ’80’s, and enjoyed designing and stitching several large commissioned pieces for clients.

    Thanks so much for your beautiful work and helpful tips. Keep the embroidering talents alive…..keep teaching them. We should not lose this beautiful style of handwork.

  34. I have been embroidering since the early ’70’s and I think your blog is the most knowledgeable I have ever found. I cut my needlework teeth on the now “vintage” crewel kits by Elsa Williams. They no longer exist, nor do the woven collections of embroidery wool from England. I especially love the traditional English Jacobean patterns. I taught classes for several years in the ’80’s, and enjoyed designing and stitching several large commissioned pieces for clients.

    Thanks so much for your beautiful work and helpful tips. Keep the embroidering talents alive…..keep teaching them. We should not lose this beautiful style of handwork.

  35. I’m so glad I hit upon your craft item of news about your type of needle work in your information I’ve just browsed through not once but 3 times today!!!!
    I am a 77 year old widow who has leant so many types ofneed3elwork since i was a child… first of all aged 3 , I learnt from my mother and my Gran!] to do tomboy stitch on a cotton reel with four nails in it , with oddments of wool [ leftover from Mum’s knitting jumpers for her family ] then , when THE LONG ” ROPE’ OF TOMBOY STITCH WAS LONG ENOUGH TO COIL IT UP TO MAKE IT INTO A MAT TO STAND A HOT TEAPOT ON, I THEN LEARNT HOW TOI USE A NEEDLE AND THREAD TO MAKE IT INTO MAT TO STAND A HOT TEAPOT UPON FOR MY NANNA TO USE!! As i became OLDER SAHE TAQUGHT MEW HOW TO KNIT , TO SEW BUTTONS ON, TO DO ” FANCY WORK” AS IT WAS THEN CALLED to draw a picture on white cloth then embroider over the lines I had drawn .By the time I was ten years old i COULD SEW ON MY MU’S OLD PEDAL sINGER SEWING MACHINE [ THEY WERE NOT ELECTRIC UNTIL MANY YEARS LATER.. WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER. also learnt TO DO BASIC KNITTING .. MAKING DOLLS’ CLOTHES AND TO EMBROIDER ON MY BLOUSES!

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