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: Last Stitches, Finished!


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Yesterday, I showed you the finished second hummingbird on the Secret Garden Hummingbirds embroidery project.

I eked out the final stitches yesterday, so today, I’ll show you those and share a final parting shot of the complete project. It’ll be a while before it’s framed, so for now, we can say bye-bye to the birdies!

Secret Garden Hummingbirds embroidery project - final stitches

The final stitches on the project were the dark brown lines down the centers of the larger leaves. The leaves on the lower half of the design were already finished, but those on the upper half didn’t have veins.

The center lines are worked with one strand of floss, in stem stitch.

In retrospect, I should have used a lighter brown for leaf centers, but since the lower half was already finished, and since I had already used the dark brown on the lower half, I didn’t want to start changing things and picking out stitches – not this close to the end.

And here is the finished piece, straight on:

Secret Garden Hummingbirds embroidery project - final stitches

You can click on that photo for a much larger version.

The End.

So, what’s next?

I’ve got a couple smaller projects going on right now, but I haven’t settled on the next extended follow-along project for here on Needle ‘n Thread. I’m juggling around a few ideas, but if you have any preferences, hopes, dreams, suggestions, feel free to chime in with your ideas!

In the meantime, if you’re working on your own Secret Garden embroidery project, from Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden coloring book (or the Enchanted Forest and similar coloring books) and you’d like to know how more about the techniques used on the hummingbirds, visit the Secret Garden Project Index. All the articles relating to this project are listed there, and in the articles, you’ll find all the materials, stitches, and techniques used on the project fully explained.



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(82) Comments

  1. Beautiful!! But I’m wondering about that unstitched line in the first photo. Was that intentional? In the enlargement of the whole thing, the corresponding line on the other side of the leaf cluster is also unstitched, so it looks deliberate. Any particular reason why you decided to skip those two? I’m just curious; it certainly doesn’t detract from the GORGEOUS finished piece. I’ve loved following your progress on this project, and know I will love the next big project, whatever that may be! Thank you so much for sharing your talent and gift of teaching with us!

    1. Hi, Joyce – it just seemed too cluttered to me right there, so I left those lines unstitched. The stem stitch lines are two and three threads, so they would look pretty heavy in there. They’ll wash out, I think. If they don’t, I might go ahead and stitch over them.

  2. It is exquisite and, just as importantly, it is done! It truly is gorgeous and I like the dark brown – it keeps the leaves from getting lost in the vibrancy of the hummingbirds.

  3. a) some execution of embroidery pardon deconstruction – I just love it!
    b) Tambour – how to turn and make curves – just anything ๐Ÿ™‚
    c) I love goldwork and beads and surface embroidery … some strange thing attachment spangles, sequins (3D not in line of course). In pinterest recently I’ve been amazed by some sculptures of butterflies, beetles fishes and so – with different strange materials. Just dreams of 3D works ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. You have done some mighty fantastic pieces but I think this is your best.

    On to the next project? Need ideas? How about Appenzell, a monogram piece (yes I know that the tea towel has been done, but I didn’t know you back then), proper trailing technique.

  5. Have been doing some reading lately on Shwalm whitework, but the process seems a bit daunting. I would love to follow you working on a small Shwalm piece.

  6. You did a wonderful job Mary. I found several drawings that I would love to embroider from the book, however, I will not destroy it by cutting it up. Would not think of purchasing another one for that purpose.

    1. Hi,

      You don’t need to cut the book up – you could trace directly from the page, or photograph the design you want to do and print that out to work from.

  7. Hi Mary,
    The hummingbird embroidery is fabulous! Right now I’m enchanted by Stumpwork, so since you asked for suggestions, how about a Stumpwork project for your next sew-along tutorial? Best regards!

  8. Wow! I like the dark brown veins. I think it brings everything in balance and it looks jaw-droppingly beautiful. I am so impressed with your work. Think I’ll just stare at it for a while. I do hope you show us how it ends up getting framed, whenever. Thank you for sharing all of this with us.

  9. Dear Mary

    The beautiful Hummingbird is finally completed and looks amazing I really like the veins which are lovely I can’t wait to see it framed. I hope you show us how to use the half cones you showed the other day I would love a tutorial on the foxgloves using the half cones that would be great or any stumpwork as I would like to try the technique or needlelace technique. Thanks for showing us the completed Hummingbird and for our preferences.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  10. Secret Gardens Hummingbirds: ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. Mary, this is stunning. Makes me wish I had a good left handed embroidery teacher here in KC. Oh well, back to my needlepoint!

  11. It’s BEAUTIFUL!!! You’re so talented! Thank you for sharing your skills, trials, thoughts, frustrations, and successes with us!

  12. Mary, would you consider doing a stumpwork piece? Maybe you would be able to use the half cone stick somewhere in the piece. You choose beautiful projects to work on and would love to see what you would pick out for stumpwork.

    Lynn S.

  13. Congrats on the finished project. It is so beautiful. For your next follow along how about a Trish Burr inspired embroidery project? I personally would love to learn more shading and blending techniques and who better to learn it from than you Mary. You are so talented!

  14. This beautiful Mary. I’m a canvas person but this
    makes me want to try surface embroidery. I
    have a Trish Burr kit for needle painting which I have tried before so I’m going to give hers a try also her white work is tempting. But your work is stunning Mary Great Job.

  15. Even with the darker brown stems, this piece is GORGEOUS! Can’t wait to see how it looks completed finished. My mind has drawn a blank but I love the period pieces in crewelwork…can’t think of the name of the most common ones. Now watch as soon as I close this out, it will pop into my mind!

    1. Hi Shirla. Do you mean “Jacobean” crewel work? I love that. Just looking at it makes my fingers itch to pick up a needle.

  16. Hi Mary,

    I would love to see you work Hazel’s beautiful crewel kit you showcased recently. The hummingbirds are turned out so lovely! Thank you for all you do.


  17. It’s just wonderful! I love all the colours and flowing shapes. Whatever you choose to do with it in the end, I hope you hang or display it somewhere where light can shine on it so those beautiful blues and greens can glow they way they are right now. You must feel amazingly satisfied to bring the project to conclusion.

    I know that I always find the final push a real effort. If I have put a lot of time and work into a project, especially if I have been really focused on it, I’m what I might almost call “tired” or “bored” with it. I’m working on a piece of the Bayeux Tapestry right now, and it’s stitched exclusively with the “Bayeux Stitch” and using only 6 colours of wool so there’s really not a lot of variation. It’s also really large. I’m now just over half done and some days it’s a real push just to put in just a few stitches.

  18. If the birdies are this stunning in a photo, I can’t even imagine how beautiful they must be in person–or in thread, as it were…

    I hope you feel a swell of pride every time you look at this piece. It is truly a masterpiece!

  19. Mary, this is such a beautiful piece!! It is fun to see it competed! I have really enjoyed following your progress as this piece evolved. Thank you for doing this piece and providing us with the opportunity to look on & learn.

    As for a new project, I would love to see something that includes drawn-thread embroidery.

  20. I’ve very new to this type of crewel. How do you figure out your colors?? I am amazed at the number of coloring books that are available so I definitely see where the design ideas come from.

  21. WOW, i bet you are so relieved this is done! It is beautiful and I think the veins are just right. Now, the next project. What about Late Harvest? I am doing it for a couple of reasons: it’s beautiful and I thought it was going to be a stitchalong. I’ve decided, though, that the stranded cotton is not my favorite fiber for a complex, multi-layered crewel project; just not strong enough and tends to wear too much. It’s not an easy piece and your input would be helpful. Thanks, Mary

  22. Please, please some drawn thread work showing us how they do it in Italy and the other countries in Europe.
    We never see you doing any drawn thread work.

  23. You really spiced it up Mary! Reminds me of Oiseaux de Buffon–colorful & exotic. Hummingbirds Paprikash perhaps?? Thanks for blazing ahead. As to framing, unusual frame shapes, including round, can sometimes be found at an antique shop. Also, consider a custom frame made to order by a local woodworker. While not inexpensive, at least you can choose the wood & profile while supporting a local artisan. Last but not least, try a square frame with a round matt & mount the piece “on point”. Good luck with your framing challenge!

  24. What a “big” project! All Done! Congratulations, Mary! It has been fun “doing it” with you!! Well, watching YOU do all the work! haha

  25. I am going to miss this project so bad it kills me! As for a wish on something new… I’m really obsessed with east Asian Embroidery right now. Korean, Japanese, etc… I love the bright bold colors and the unabashed celebration of the sensual in nature. That’s not to say European no longer holds it’s charms for me it does! I’m also completely besotted by Heraldry and embroidered badges on clothing, uniforms, and pretty much anything you can think of is absorbing a lot of time in my research. Anything from the Renaissance period (particularly) in France would be GREAT! Ug. I should shut up now. Congratulations on this AMAZINGLY SPLENDID achievement!

  26. Neglected to mention another finishing option, depending on size: mounted in a glass topped tea tray. It would be charming with all white tea cups & pot. Think botanical gardens-type glass house & palms. Of course then you would be compelled to stitch a coordinating tea cozy!

  27. Congratulations, Mrs. Corbet! The finished project is magnificent! Wonderful in all its colourful glory! Thanks so much for taking us along on this journey – I’ve learned so much. And I hope the framing process goes well.

    For a next project…. could I suggest whitework or beadwork? Those are two techniques I Love and simply MUST learn – someday ๐Ÿ˜‰


  28. How about something in Gold like that Lamb that you were working on awhile ago.
    How did that go any way?

  29. Mary, I agree with those asking for some stumpwork to follow please, or maybe some hardanger with a modern twist? But enjoy a rest first!

  30. Mary, it is just beautiful! You constantly amaze me. Be sure to show us the framed masterpiece.

  31. Mary, this is absolutely gorgeous. As hummingbirds are my very favorite, I can hardly wait to see it framed and proudly displayed. Congrats on a wonderful finish. Don’t leave them in a drawer too long though. LOL.

  32. Thank you, Mary for all the posts and photos for this hummingbird project. It has been fun to follow. Is there a link where others working this project post their completed project? I cherish your expertise and talents!

  33. I really enjoyed following along on the Secret Garden. I’m still working on mine. I’m thinking I may sew it into a circle pillow. Anyway I would like to suggest a landscape of some kind for your next project. I’ve wanted to do one for sometime. Thanks Rhonda

  34. What a beautiful FINISHED project. Congratulations to you. I am impressed, especially as I find it very difficult to finish things. Trying hard though, you are inspirational. Thank you for sharing. ttfn

  35. Oh Mary this is lovely! I have so enjoyed following along with this project and seeing the decision making process. I love the colours you settled on for the second humming bird, and I actually quite like the definition of the brown stitching on the leaves. A worthy finale to a beautiful project! ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for possible future follow along projects … I do seem to recall you thought you might consider a whitework or goldwork version of some elements of this design. If you’re not completely finished with the hummingbird design, I would be fascinated to see what you come up with, if you do decide to go with that idea.

  36. Love the hummingbirds, looks great. My version is about half done, but its a nice design. I would like to see an interesting take on the traditional baby or wedding sampler. I have to make a wedding one and I don’t do any counted thread work. All white??? Just and idea.

  37. Magnificent nd on the strength of it I have purchased 4 JB books, 2x secret gdn and 2 enchanted forest so I can chop the spine off one and work on the double pages.

    Are you still doing 3 of these…you first said that you were doing on in silk and I cant remember what the other one was?

    so enjoying your blog

    1. Hi, Colleen! The scope of the project was much greater than I realized when I first conceived the idea of doing the same design, three ways. I’ll pursue that notion with a Much Smaller Design, eventually!

  38. G’day there Mary,
    Earlier in the week I sat back to back with an elderly German man in a waiting room for two hours. He chatted freely with the person next to him and while his accent and subjects of conversation were a welcome distraction for a time, his constant use of the the word ‘amazing’, and the way he pronounced it, became a bit of a trial. Everything from someone’s shoes and the kid next door to his wife’s auntie’s grandma’s 4th cousin were ‘ahmaaayziing’!
    Enter Mary’s finished Hummingbirds…truly Mary, using the word in it’s highest regard, you and this embroidery are AMAZING! Heartiest congratulations.
    I don’t mind the darker leaf veins. They bring the leaves forward making a nice overhanging area.
    What about something a bit mono-tone after all the wonderful colour? Some others suggested Schwalm or similar and I was thinking along the same lines. Or…how ’bout a companion piece to that amazing! blackwork fish? I know, I know, we’ve been there done that. I did especially enjoy it though.
    Cheers, Kath.

  39. Mary how about letting the author of the book see what you have achieved with her lovely designs. I am sure she would so chuffed?

    1. Hi Elizabeth. I totally agree! I’m sure the author would be thrilled. How could she not be?!

  40. Congratulations! So beautiful – beautifuller, beautifullest – I can’t think of any more superlatives. Your next project? How about a nice pot of tea and a few deep breaths to recover? Your next stitch-along project? Anything that takes your fancy! I’ve learnt a lot while I’ve following this even though I haven’t been stitching along, and I know you would teach me a lot in the course of your next project, whatever that might be.

  41. Woo hoo!! It is just magnificent, Mary! Congratulations. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Now, weren’t there going to be a couple of other variations on the same project? lol.

    Maybe a few smaller projects are in order, before you start another long term one. I see a couple of others have suggested both a Trish Burr project and something Schwalm, and I am in favour of both of those too!

    1. Hi, Monica – yes, well…that was before I realized how involved the design actually is, once you get stitching on it! :-/ Yes, a few smaller projects are definitely on the menu!

  42. Truly lovely, vibrant, cheerful. They seem almost to be ready to fly away. How do you feel about your color choices? I think it looks terrific. I think I voted yes on the red, and I’m happy with it.

  43. The hummingbird project is simply beautiful!
    It has been a pleasure watching you progress with the project. I can’t wait to see it framed.

  44. Mary, the finished piece is absolutely spectacular. I am so glad I bought the book when you first brought it to our attention. I am curious, would do anything different ( Colors, or chosen stitches ) on the project if you could turn back the clock?
    You talked about framing it a domed piece of glass, would that distort the viewing of the stitching?

    1. Hi, Sue – well, that’s a good question. In retrospect, there are definitely a few things I’d do differently. For one thing, the colors on the flowers. I’d go for a different color palette with the reds – probably a little more towards pink. I’d probably shade them, rather than the combo satin stitch / seed stitch, though that might make the whole thing look a little heavier. I’m pleased with the shading on the birds, but if I were doing it again, I might try a different color palette on them, too. As for the bubble glass, it doesn’t create a severe distortion, but it would enhance the roundness of the design. It’s not like a magnifier or heavy convex paperweight. I have a piece of bubble glass already (on an antique oval frame), and just testing the theory, it looks nice under the bubble glass. So I might do that, but I haven’t made a definite decision yet.

  45. The workmanship is amazing, even though the piece is colorful beyond imagination!
    For your next project could you work on convent darning – the type noted in the old books?
    As an alternative, I’d love to see a medley of stitches done in India style shisha using found objects along with broken bits of mirror! Thanks.

  46. You’ve finished and I have finally begun! I am working on an embroidered version of one of the pictures in Enchanted Forest – a charming, whimsical castle in a garden, set on top of a toadstool! It’s much smaller than your hummingbirds, with lots of detail and not so much repetition. So far I have stitched the stream with two little goldfish in it.

  47. This is absolutely stunning Mary!! I know you’re proud of it, and rightly so. Are you able to show what you did to the author of the book? I would love to know what she would think of it!!

  48. Congratulaions! It is beautiful. I like the dark brown veins. I think they make a nice contrast with the soft gold outline a give the leaves definition.

  49. Mary it is absolutely stunning!!! Can’t wait to see it fully framed, please don’t forget to sohw us.
    Can you still get convex glass??
    Well done
    Cheers Judy

  50. The Secret Garden Hummingbirds is exquisite and stunning. Your artwork is fabulous Mary. One lovely piece like that in my home would be a gem. Thank you so much for all the work that goes into sharing a project like this with us. It is a refreshing joy to stop in on Needle and thread with a cup of coffee or tea to learn and dream with you. I am grateful to you for a place to rest and receive inspiration. Thank you!

  51. Wow I think your embroidery is really wonderful. Iโ€™m glad you didnโ€™t change the dark centre veins on the leaves they are just perfect.
    I donโ€™t usually send comments to such things but it is just so perfect I couldnโ€™t not.
    I shall look at the the books you posted and may have a go myself although itโ€™s years now since I was embroidering.
    I wish you lots more success

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