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: Muting Vines with Brown


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Before moving onto the leaves on the Secret Garden embroidery project, I wanted to show you how I muted some of the vines on the project, by adding a little twiggy brown into the mix.

Secret Garden Embroidery - stems

Working with a brown thread and green thread in the needle, I stem stitched some of the fine, single-line vines and curls towards the middle of the project, just above the hummingbirds.

In the photo above, my embroidery frame is actually upside-down (so I can reach the top of the design better), so the area I’m working is just below the large leaves at the very top of the design, and above the hummingbirds.

Mixing a brown in with the green looks might look a bit odd.

Secret Garden Embroidery - stems

But the brown mutes the green – it settles it down. It adds a “twiggy” look to the vines.

If you decide to go with two colors in your needle (as opposed to two shades, as we did with the greens), don’t be too concerned about the twist always being perfect, so that the colors have equal exposure on the vine. Rather, let it work out however it works out. This will give a more “twiggy” look to the vine – it heathers the vine a bit.

Secret Garden Embroidery - stems

This is the brown I’m using for these little bits of vine. It’s DMC #869, and I’m combining it in the needle with 907 sometimes, and 906 other times – the two middle, brighter greens in the green shades.

Secret Garden Embroidery - stems

You certainly don’t have to combine the brown and green on any of the vines! You might not like the look.

In the photo above, you can how the brown-and-green vine looks when you step back a bit, in comparison to green vines. On the outside of the piece, I have some single lines of green vines (in the forefront of the photo above) and they’re quite bright and solid looking. The vine farther back, embroidered with a combination of brown and green, is much more subtle.

I’ll share a full shot of all the finished vine work as soon as I finish all the vine work. Every time I sit down to the piece, I notice another viney bit just waiting to be clothed, so I’m not quite finished with vines yet.

We’ll also look at little leaves soon. Shhhh – don’t tell anyone! – but I sneaked ahead and worked some leaves – and I find them really addicting and fun.

I’d love to tell you that I’m plowing ahead with more stitching on this today…but in fact, I’ll be spending the afternoon at the dentist.

Joy, bliss.

Enjoy your Monday!

If you’d like to follow along with the Secret Garden Hummingbirds project, which features a design from “Secret Garden: an Inky Treasure Hunt & Coloring Book” by Johanna Basford, you can find all the articles relating to this project arranged in chronological order in the Secret Garden Project Index. Among the articles, you’ll find plenty of tips and techniques that will help you with your own embroidery projects.


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(10) Comments

  1. Mrs. Corbet,
    I’m so glad you survived! lol! Great to have you back πŸ™‚
    I rather like the way the brown and green looks. It does settle it down a little.
    I hope that your dentist appointment goes well.

    Sarah πŸ˜€

  2. I like the subtleness that’s added to the vines with the brown. Makes it look a little more like vines you’d find in your garden.

    Looking forward to watching this project develop more.

  3. Dear Mary

    Yes I agree I like the muted look of the twiggy brown and green threads and this is a nice contrast to the bright green vines. I won’t tell anyone but I’m looking forward to seeing the embroidered leaves. I hope the afternoon with the dentist is not to taxing. Thanks for the update on the Secret Garden look forward to your progress.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  4. I think the brown mixed with the green is really lovely. Such a natural look. I’m very much enjoying seeing how you work this project.

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog and website, and I must say I am totally awed by the information and the sheer beauty of everything here. Your stitch tutorials are fabulous, and I love how you show us step by step (in them and in your blog posts) how to get excellent results.

    Thank you!

  5. Mary,
    I think these two colors give an artistic side to your project. Very nice. Thank you for keeping us informed, this also contributes to my learning.

  6. First, I know that I would not like to spend the afternoon at the dentist, so my thoughts and prayers are with you. Since you are reading this I presume that you are back home and not terribly uncomfortable.

    Next, I love the idea of adding the brown to some of the twig threads! I have about 12 inches of vines left, nearly all at the upper portions, so I will be trying your technique out today.

    Again, I must thank you for being such a generous teacher. I will be going through your tipx and tricks over the next few days as well as your beginner embroidery articles.

  7. My material arrived today! (Love Joady G of Hedgehogworks, she makes every shipment a personal gesture.)

    Now I have to play catch up with the pattern.
    I will admit that I am intimidated by the project and the material. The linen feels so heavenly that I don’t want to make a mess! It’s the Scots coming out in me. Anyone else feel a little nervous?

  8. What a great idea on the vines, the brown really does tone down the bright green. Good luck with the dental work, I’m going through quite a bit of that myself right now.

  9. Mary, Altho I am not doing this particular project I am following along as you always have tips and technics, and it just feels good to spend some time with other stitchers. πŸ™‚ I wish this had a forum to chat with some of the other gals I see here. I think that would be fun. πŸ™‚
    OK, to my question… I am working on a painting/stitchery piece I painted and have also been doing the 2 color thread thing to mute and blend colors. When you thread the two together do you twist them first and then thread? If so, how do you do it? I’ve tried and I can’t get it well twisted. So they end up just running side by side. Thanks for your help. πŸ™‚

    1. Hi, Carol – just thread the needle with the two strands together. They’re parallel and straight at first, but as you work the stem stitch, the threads will twist a little bit together. -MC

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