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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Embroidered Feathers on the Brain!


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You know what the funniest thing is about setting a concrete stitching commitment, with a daily stitching goal attached to it?

You find yourself thinking about the project Every Single Day. Pre-commitment – before I set in concrete my goal to embroider one feather a day on the Secret Garden Hummingbirds – days and days would go by without the project ever entering my brain.

Sure, occasionally, I’d glimpse it, perched on a stand, covered, waiting for attention. But just as quickly as I saw it, out it went again, replaced by some other pressing task.

But now, I have feathers on the brain. I can’t escape them!

On the bright side, it is paying off. In fact, I’ve even put another feather in the bank, so I’m four feathers ahead on my stitching goal.

Secret Garden Embroidery Project

Last time we looked at the embroidered hummingbirds, I had three long feathers stitched at the top of the wing. And now there are only three more long feathers left on that section. Those, I might have to chunk out all at once, as I’m eager to see the upper wing completely finished.

I still need to stitch in the shadows on the scallops on the upper portion of the wing, to give them a little more definition, but I can’t do that until those next three feathers are finished.

Here are both of the birds, flitting together:

Secret Garden Embroidery Project

You can click on the photos above for a much larger version, especially if you want to ferret out the flaws! There are plenty of ’em. I won’t point them out, because you might not see them, otherwise, and then my secret’s safe… Aren’t we always our own worst critic?

So that’s the Commitment Update for now. Next time you see this, the wing should be finished. And then, it’s just The Tail.

If you’ve made a stitching commitment recently, keep going! I’m cheering for you on this end!

If you’d like to see the progress on this piece from beginning to end, including information on pattern, materials, and techniques, you’ll find all the articles relating to it in the Secret Garden Hummingbirds Project Index.


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(21) Comments

  1. Goodness me, what a difference those shadows make on the feathers of the other bird. I’d never have thought of putting those in. Fantastic tip if I’m ever doing a similar project! Thank you.

  2. You may have said already, but I missed it… what will you do with your lovely hummingbirds when you’re done, Mary?

  3. Mary, this is just the most stunning piece. I’ve totally lost my computer at this point so I can only see it tiny.

  4. They are looking absolutely fantastic, Mary! I love the way you have shaded the darker feathers at the top, and moved to lighter shades in the lower feathers. This will be a real masterpiece. Onwards!

  5. Love the progress report — good work, Mary. Once the piece is finished and framed….. is there a give-away in the future?? Hint! Hint!
    hee hee hee

  6. I kept expecting you to point out that having feathers on the brain, technically, makes one “feather brained”, but since you didn’t, I won’t either! LOL!
    I love this project almost as much as the black work fish. There was a post on my Facebook feed yesterday regarding the artist whose book inspired it and I referred people to your site.

  7. Mary, each time that you show us the birds they are more beautiful! Rather than flaws your work has slight variations that add emphasis to each area by pointing out the uniqueness of each living item .

  8. Dear Mary

    Great work 4 feathers ahead you’ll soon be finished and I can’t wait to see it framed in all it’s glory. As Spring is upon us it’s such a lovely project to be embroidering at this time of year so full of colours which all blend in nicely. The shadows on the scallops certainly give definition. I can’t see any flaws. I hope you commitment continues for us to view the whole piece finished. Thanks for sharing with us your progress on the Secret Garden Hummingbirds lovely work.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  9. and the little bird on the right said “I am cold. I wish I had a nice warm blue coat like yours.” Three feathers to one that you will get it finished early! Looking great.

  10. It’s a funny thing about ‘flaws’ – they often depend on perspective. One person would look and say, “well, *I* would do that part this other way…” and completely miss the little bit that you didn’t like because that bit looks perfect to them. Unless my satin stitch is bumpy and loopy, I try to think of things as design directions, and not flaws.
    The birds are lovely. No wonder your niece is twitterpated. 🙂 Can’t wait to see the finish!

  11. Dear Mary, your challenge worked for me. I finished the flowers yesterday! I had flowers on my brain – flower-powered? I posted a photo on flicker. Now I am starting the birds!
    I have a question about the little the buds on the vine I traced in these from the original design. I wish I hadn’t! But I thought I would do them in French knots. But the Colorado has me stumped! I tried green but it makes the stem stitched vine look messy. Maybe the darker yellow? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    I love your birds and the colours you have used. I am following your colours and stitching guides. Jude

    1. Hi, Jude – Well, if I do them, I’m going to do them in one of the reds or the purples. You might try that…? I didn’t trace the dots on purpose because 1. I wasn’t sure I would do them; and 2. if I went with French knots, the larger circles would be too large. I think they’d look better in satin stitch, but satin stitching that many dots – and making them perfectly dot-like – is not high on my list of Favorite Things to Do right now.

  12. Mary…Are you kidding flaws….I wish I had flaws like you lol….your work is beyond beautiful I so love the vines and leaves I can only hope to one day have all the stitches in my brain and be able to put them on fabric…I watch your video’s every evening and and enjoy every day reading your e-mail…cant wait to see this project completed…God Bless..Trish

  13. Thanks Mary I like the idea of purple or red and satin stitch would be perfect but not right now. Maybe I’ll start on the birds and see how I go.

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