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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Two Hearts in Silk & Gold Embroidery – A Quick Teaching Project


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A couple weeks ago, my niece hit me up for some stitching help. She wanted to embroider something for a gift for a friend’s wedding.

I thought “monogram” or “wedding sampler.” She thought “symbol.”

I was pretty pleased with the outcome of this little project, especially since it was the first time Anna had ever tried long & short stitch, shading, and working with silk and gold threads.

Today, I thought I’d share the finished embroidery project and the details on how it was worked.

Two Hearts Embroidery Project in Silk and Gold

Squizzing about online, Anna found this symbol of two hearts intertwined and topped with a crown and cross. It’s a nice simple design, perfect for translating into embroidery.

We printed it and we set about adjusting it for her purposes. Since it was her first project like this, I suggested keeping it pretty simple and keeping it small.

So we drew the design out so that it filled about a 3″ square, making any adjustments necessary to get clean, even lines.

Next, we picked out fabric. There was a bit of hesitation between working the design on a silk satin or working it on a white linen ground.

Because Anna’s a bit of a newbie, I applied a little pressure in persuading her to use linen. It’s much easier to stitch on, and, if she ran into any problems, she could pick out stitches without risking much damage to the fabric.

For thread, she wanted to try silk, so I suggested stranded silk – specifically Au Ver a Soie’s Soie d’Alger.

Stranded silk like Soie d’Alger is an excellent silk thread, and it’s perfect to use if you’re a newcomer to silk. Up until this project, Anna was pretty familiar with DMC’s stranded cotton, but she had never used silk.

Stranded silk is a lot like regular cotton floss in its structure and in the way it’s used. One strand of Soie d’Alger is slightly thicker than one strand of DMC cotton. It’s a bit softer than cotton, it has a much nicer sheen, and it has a bit more “spread” to it.

So Anna picked out four shades of red and three shades of gold Soie d’Alger.

She wasn’t too confident with the tracing part, so I did it for her. You can end up with blurbles and blobbles in your lines if you go at the whole transfer thing with a hesitating hand, and I wanted her to start off on the right foot.

(Ok, ok, I’m sounding like the nice aunt here. In fact, I didn’t want her wasting my fabric!)

Two Hearts Embroidery Project in Silk and Gold

Once the design was on the fabric, we sketched in areas where shading and highlights would help give some dimension to the design, to keep it from looking totally flat.

Then, it was just a matter of showing her how to work the long & short stitch and setting her to it.

Beginners often think that long and short stitch is an advanced technique that should only be tackled after obtaining a certain level of skill. In fact, it’s a very, very forgiving stitch – it’s easy to work and it’s easy to easy to mask “mistakes” if your stitching goes awry.

With the long & short stitch finished, to outline the whole piece, we decided on gold check thread. It was fun showing her how to plunge the thread ends. It always cracks me up, to see the shocked look on people’s faces when plunging goldwork threads to the back of fabric. It can be such a brutal task!

She whipped the whole thing up in a matter of days, and then I showed her how to block and damp stretch it, and then how to frame it. (We used a ready-made frame from a craft store.)

And thus ended (successfully, I think) a quick lesson in embroiderythat led to pretty decent results overall. Well done, Anna!

Maybe I should hire you – you certainly finish things up faster than I do…

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(36) Comments

  1. I had to look back to see what a “plunging lasso” was. I have made something similar (without knowing it had a name) when I was too close to finishing with a color to end off and begin with a new length but finishing the design left too little floss to end off as usual. Love your tutorials!

    1. Thanks, Rebecca! Oh, a plunging lasso comes in so handy for that – it’s the best way, really, to successfully get a too-short-thread to the back. It works great for all kinds of threads.

    1. I can’t really afford a full time apprentice, but she has done some work for me now and then. She’s especially good at organizing and cleaning up things…like overhauling bookshelves and sorting threads and other “fun” jobs….

  2. My goodness! What an awesome job for so may “firsts”! It is a gorgeous gift and an impressive presentation. And of course, Anna is very blessed to have an expert teacher and mentor in her life, who is also very generous!

  3. Hi Mary,

    Tell Anna her stitchery came out wonderful! As a fellow beginner I am proud of her for attempting and creating such a beautiful piece. I am sure the new couple will cherish it forever.

  4. Dear Mary

    This is a lovely piece of embroidery considering it is her first L&S piece and she is new at needlework. A simple design but very effective in outlook obviously your niece Anna takes after you in her artistic skills. It’s beautiful and I’m sure she is proud of the outcome. I can’t believe it took such a short time of space to finish the project. Well done Anna I’m sure you are proud of her Mary and I’m sure the couple will love it. Thanks for sharing your niece’s project with us.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. what a lovely design Mary. it really is special for a wedding gift. Mind if I request a copy? I have gkids that will be getting married in the next few years and this symbol would be great to add to a very personal gift.

    1. Hi, Sharyn – I don’t actually have a copy of it. I know she found it by searching around online and then we made adjustments, but I didn’t keep it, since it wasn’t my drawing to begin with. You might just search images online to find something similar. I’m sure it’s out there!

  6. As someone who has completely given up on metal threads and goldwork, I am impressed that your niece did such good work HER FIRST TIME OUT THAT IS SO UNFAIR….I mean, goodness, it’s lovely!!

    It really is lovely, and no doubt the couple will appreciate the symbolism and the work your niece put into this piece.

    1. Just a note – I followed your link using Opera. Mary and Anna’s design appeared as the 13th image on the first page. Out of curiosity I also used Firefox – 14th entry. Pretty good!

      Helen Hicks

  7. I love this little project. I have yet to do anything using long and short stitch and she did such a beautiful job; it makes me think; I can do that. I’m currently taking a couture sewing class and making my first dress. That said,I won’t be doing an embroidery project until after August. I know how busy you are; I would love for you to make a kit out of this project with all the instructions and shading suggestions. I really love it and would like to make it for my daughter.
    Be well Mary,

  8. That’s her FIRST PIECE???? Give me a break! What a wonderful job. My first time stitching was when my mom purchased a dresser scarf with the little designs printed on it, including the little X’s. Years (too many) later, I moved on to tissue boxes with plastic canvas. Then it was a simple little cross stitch project on Aida cloth. OK, I moved on quite a lot since then, but oh my, what an amazing FIRST PIECE. Congratulations to your niece. Indeed, threads and stitching do run in the family.

    1. Hi, Pat! Just to clarify – this is her first embroidery with long and short stitch, silk, shading and gold thread. She’s done other embroidery – quite a bit of it, actually! Mixed stitches, counted work, and so forth… I’m glad you like it!

    2. Hi Mary — Thanks for the clarification. Still, a wonderful piece. I imagine the recipients will be very happy and treasure it always.

  9. This is so very impressive! And what a lovely and thoughtful gift for her friend’s wedding. I know from personal experience that the handmade gifts that I received at my wedding were the ones which I cherish the most today. I just know that this will be so appreciated for the love and skill that went into making it.

    Good work, Anna! And Aunt Mary, too!

  10. C’est magnifique, j’ai commencé un peu de passé empiétant, mais avec du coton, le rendu avec la soie est somptueux, cela me tente pour iun prochain ouvrage. Pour celles qui aiment le symbole, il sera facile à retrouver. Il s’agit de l’emblème de la Vendée (85) département français.

  11. We know the aunt is a dab hand at this stuff and now we know the niece is no slouch either. Brilliant work, I wouldn’t mind having it. Well done indeed, Anna.

  12. Hi Mary,
    Wonderful job, Anna! I’d like to ask what your opinion on “signing” a piece is. It looks as if Anna didn’t put anything on the piece to show that she was the artist. I know a lot of needlepointer and cross stitchers will put their initials on it.

    Carrie G

    1. Hi, Carrie! That’s a good question! Normally, I sign the back of the frame or work somehow. I’ve never really liked signing the front. But that’s just my approach. I think most stitchers do sign their work on the front.

  13. What a lovely piece! I have yet to try either long and short stitch shading or goldwork, so seeing such a wonderful result from a fellow beginner gives me hope 🙂

  14. The hearts are adorable and soppy. Perfect wedding present! I love the dark shading and the crown. The points on the hearts are especially sharp. I don’t know why, but I always mess those up.

    I’m curious as to what constitutes a beginner in embroidery. In knitting it’s a bit simpler. Have you done lace patterns? Bobbles? Cables? Amigurumi? I “invented” the stem stitch when I was trying to teach myself embroidery on paper towels with spools from my mom’s sewing machine. That was (counts on fingers) sixteen years ago, but I’ve never used more than DMC cotton floss and scraps. I’ve done a lot of different stitches (the cast-on will be the end of me) but never a large project. Am I a beginner? Intermediate? What kinds of stitchery say “I am an expert” to people? What kinds of stitch do people usually start with?

  15. Well done, Anna! Your first excursion into long and short stitch and silk shading is most definitely a success. Aunt Mary has taught you well. 🙂

  16. Hi Mary, great job by your niece. This reminds me of the Scottish Luckenbooth. Story was that Mary Queen of Scots gave a ring of this design to Lord Darnley, symbolising that, although she was the queen, their two hearts were equal under the crown. Probably a myth, but this design is still popular in Scotland, and now in your part of the world, as well.

  17. I really would like to try Gold work on a bookmark for my Priest, Mary could you please suggest something for a novice please?

  18. Hello,

    I found this and thought is beautiful, it’s a very special symbol for Christian people and I was wondering if you had the pattern that you could share it as I would love to do it.

    Thank you so much,


    1. Hi, Estefania – I don’t have a design for this but you can probably find something by googling “Vendee two-heart symbol” or something like that. It’s a symbol that was used by the people of the Vendee in France during the French Revolution.

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