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 Embroidery: Upside-Down Halfway Point


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The Secret Garden Hummingbirds – my current follow-along embroidery project on Needle ‘n Thread – reached a milestone the other day. A halfway point of sorts!

I love Halfway Points of Sorts. Though not officially The Halfway Point (as there are no embroidered birds in the picture yet), half the flowers are finished.

It’s always nice to step through a mini goal and start moving towards the next one, isn’t it?

Secret Garden Embroidery Project: Flowers

You can click on that photo above, for a slightly larger version.

So, there’s the fourth flower, finished.

If you’re familiar with the design, which can be found in Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt & Coloring Book by Johanna Basford, this particular purple flower in the foreground is the smallest flower at the very top of the design.

Secret Garden Embroidery: Flowers

Here’s almost a full upside-down view at this point.

When working at the top of the design, I turn the work upside down in the frame, so that the area I’m working on is closer to me and I don’t have to reach over the rest of the work.

Not only is it more comfortable this way, but it also helps save the surface of the work – I’m not resting my hands on it or rubbing against it in any way.

When I do work, I have a piece of tissue paper over the areas where I might rest my hands. This also helps keep the surface of the work clean.

Secret Garden Embroidery: Flowers

One thing I really love about reaching this Halfway Point of Sorts is the way the finished parts of the embroidery form the setting for the hummingbird. The bird is carved out there in the voided space, just waiting to become the star of the show.

And no, I still haven’t fixed the yellow pistol stitch area on the larger coral & red flower we chatted about earlier. Just in case you were wondering…

So, that’s this week’s progress report on the Secret Garden Hummingbirds! My next mini goal: two flowers on the other half. The next? The last two flowers… and then, onto the birds!

Sharing Photos of the Secret Garden Embroidery Project

This weekend, I’ll be setting up a photo area where we can all share photos of progress on this project.

I’ll be using my Needle ‘n Thread account on Flickr, since I’m already over there. I’ll set up a specific group just for this project, and once it’s there and ready to accept members, I’ll let you know.

If you’re stitching along with the project and you aren’t using Flickr but you’d like to share photos, you might set up a Flickr account. It’s free, and it’s easy to use.

If you’d like to follow along with the Secret Garden Hummingbirds project, you can find all the articles relating to this project arranged in chronological order in the Secret Garden Project Index.


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(17) Comments

  1. Oh Mary! I love when you share pictures of this project. It’s so happy that you’re instantly in a great mood when viewing it. My fingers are itching to get a copy of that book, so I think I’ll have to take a trip to the book store to get my filthy paws on it. Keep up the wonderful work! You’re inspiring us!

  2. I’m really enjoying the book so far! I did the gazebo from one of the pages, but I changed the flowers/background to ones from another book and some of my own ideas. Last weekend I started another page, one of the flower circle/wreaths (it’s the one that is also on the first page surrounding the title of the book).

    Thank you for the inspiration to buy this book. Your influence has gone far, I know of about 8 other ladies that have now ordered the book because I showed them mine. 🙂

  3. Hi Mary,
    It looks so cheerful – I love it. I’m mot doing it myself as I have another project I am trying to get done.
    I reached the halfway point on mine on Monday night. I felt elated. It was 2 in the morning but somehow the juices were flowing and my hands were flying.
    I don’t normally sew that late but I was wide awake and the halfway point was beckoning me.
    Went to bed very happy.
    Can’t wait to see the next stage.

  4. Beautiful stitching and the colours are a joy to see. I follow your posts regular I may not always comment as much as I should, but I enjoy reading everyone.

  5. You do such beautiful work! You make my finger itch to get started on an embroidery project! But which one? You have so many options!! Thanks for keeping embroidery vibrant!!

  6. Oh Mrs. Corbet this is the BEST part of today. It’s so stunningly gorgeous! I am just in AWE (so is my mom) Every time you post an update I become more determined to improve in my stitches and one day create something just as beautiful. THANK YOU for the huge smile on my face.

  7. Oh, Mary!
    Your work is gorgeous! Everything you do is lovely, and makes me want to try my hand at embroidery again. (My first attempts weren’t too spectacular…at all. lol)
    I love seeing your work, thank you for sharing.

  8. It’s stunning! And thanks so much for the link to your Flickr page – such a glorious portfolio.

  9. I love it when you post pictures of this project! It simply makes me happy…the colours are so uplifting and it makes me think of spring and all the glorious new growth.

  10. Dear Mary

    It’s very satisfying to be at the halfway point in a project. The photos above showing your progress are lovely, full of lush green leaves and colourful flowers beautiful. I will follow your tip on using tissue paper over the area of work to protect the surface good idea. Thanks for the update and I am looking forward to more progress on the project. Thanks for the photos.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  11. Can you feel it Mary, I can it’s there,
    A kiss on my cheek, a breath in my hair,
    As I sit at my frame my head bent down
    With green in my needle, and a touch of brown.

    They are flexing their wings, rehearsing their song.
    Be still I whisper it won’t be too long
    Your bower isn’t ready, the flowers must bloom
    I know you are there, I have left you some

    We can’t wait they tell me, we want to be seen
    Hurry and finish with all this green.
    The one on the left says ‘will we be be blue?’
    And one on the right wants her favourite hue.
    I don’t know, don’t nag, I have to wait too
    Cos I have no idea how to work you,
    I am waiting for Mary to give me a clue!!

    1. 🙂 Brilliant, Lizzie! The birds will be here before we know it… I’m leaning towards a multi-colored approach on those. It’s easier to find the palette I want in silks and then translate them into cotton. But somehow, the cotton looks all too flat, compared to the silk. So it’s been somewhat tricky, picking out the colors for the birds. I have many photos of hummingbirds and exotic birds that are helping me along the way…

  12. Thanks for the response Mary.

    Just spent some more time on the leaves, I have turned some of the flowers into leaves – the large single shapes hanging down at the top of the design- thought they could go either way and I needed some colour!

    Looking forward to seeing how everyone else is doing – I am working on a piece of white floral printed cotton which has given me some problems but if it was easy it wouldn’t be fun!

    We don’t get hummingbirds here in Manchester (where the bank holiday weekend has turned wet and chilly) so I have been looking at pictures but as its not a botanical study we have a free reign – I am thinking of doing them in silk to give some shine but I don’t have quite as many colours as you (green is there again but this time the green eyed monster of jelousy!!)

    Hope I can do them justice 🙂


  13. These pictures take my breath away. The accuracy of your stitches is phenomenal! Thank you for sharing!

  14. Very, very lovely. Accidentally found your work when looking at images of the Sec.Gar. coloring book. I’m seriously wondering how you started – is there an embroidery kit? Did you transfer the design from the book? If so, how? Thank you.

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