Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (52) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Reader’s Embroidery: Sajou Initials for the Whole Family


Amazon Books

Over the next several weeks, off and on, I’ll be featuring embroidery projects from fellow stitchers in the Needle ‘n Thread community.

I like to share what other people have been doing with their own needle and thread, and that’s why I started, many years ago (way back in 2007!), this ongoing series highlighting your embroidery projects. When we see a wider range of stitching from folks all over the world, it enriches our own needlework experiences – it helps inspire us, it gives us new ideas and a broader outlook.

If you want to participate in the series, it’s really easy! Just drop me a line at mary(at)needlenthread(dot)com, attach your photos, and tell me a bit about the project.

Today, I want to share with you a beautiful piece by Laura Bray, a reader from North Wales. It involves some gorgeous decorative initials – and here’s the story behind it.

Embroidered decorative initials - Sajou 621

Remember, you can click on the photo above to view the piece larger!

Laura decided to teach herself to embroider about six years ago. Since she particularly likes decorative initials, this article from 2011 caught her eye. The article focuses on an online source for Sajou album number 612, featuring a gorgeous alphabet for hand embroidery.

Laura took the plunge and spent her stitching time last autumn and winter working up four initials, to frame together. Each initial is for each member of her family – herself, her husband, and her two children. Each chose the colors they wanted for their own letters.

The vines and flowers on all the letters are worked in stem stitch, satin stitch, and French knots, with occasional bullion knots thrown in for practice. The body of each letter is worked in different stitches. On one, she used long & short stitch for filling, on another, the reverse chain stitch. Two are stitched with stem stitch filling.

I think the letters are lovely! And although Laura mentioned that most of the needlework she does has a practical purpose (it’s unusual for her to stitch something to frame), I think this is a brilliant way to create a special family piece. Thanks for the inspiration, Laura!

If you want to explore the designs for these letters, you’ll find Sajou 612 here, on Antique Pattern Library. If you like this alphabet and would like to see another example of it, stitched, hop over to this article, where you’ll see an album cover that sports the same design.


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(18) Comments

  1. Oh, I just love this! So beautiful, meaningful, and decorative. I love the framing. Good job, Laura! Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

  2. How beautiful these are. The different colourways entirely change the nature of each letter in unexpected ways. It’s a set, but each is very individual.

  3. This is beautiful and a wonderful family treasure! I wonder if she would share how she achieved this detailed pattern transfer on the dark fabric.

  4. Dear Mary

    This piece of embroidered family monograms is beautiful and a lovely way to create a family treasure. The colours are lovely and really blend in well and the stitching is stunning. I would love to know how she managed to transfer on the dark background fabric and what fabric was used. Well done Laura a truly beautiful piece of embroidery and a lovely family heirloom. Thanks Mary for sharing this piece of stunning embroidery with us, I look forward to other readers pieces.

    Regards Anita Simmance

    1. Hi

      The fabric is ordinary black cotton and the threads are cotton floss – DMC etc.

      To get the image on the cotton I downloaded the initial from the website, and then traced it using dressmakers carbon in white. I then went over the tracing with a white ink pen – the sort you use for writing on coloured paper. Although this was “permanent” it did wear off a bit as I worked and I put the whole thing in the washing machine when I finished to get rid of any that was left. I hope this is helpful.

  5. Mary–Thanks for posting Laura’s work! Sajou alphabets are such an amazing resource & it’s great to see her interpretation. What a great idea to have family members choose their favorite colors. Did Laura happen to mention what types of threads & ground fabric she used? Cotton, silk, crewel wool?

  6. Thank you for sharing these, Mary! Laura, if you are reading this (and I hope you are!) these are stupendous! Well done! I’d imagine they give you and your family a little thrill every time you walk by them.

  7. Wonderful work. Thank you for sharing, it has motivated me to move forward on some stitching that I need to start and finish.

  8. Dear Mary-
    Thanks for all you share. It seems that clicking on the photo just brings up a smae size image. Not sure if that’s what you meant to do?

    Best- C

    1. Hi, Cynthia – The image that comes up is 600×600 pix, so it isn’t huge, but it’s 50% larger than the one in the post. If it’s not coming up that size on your computer, it could have something to do with your browser settings. It won’t fill the screen on a large computer, but it’s significantly larger than the one in the article. Hope that helps! -MC

  9. I love the linked book but did you notice there is no “I” nor “W”? There goes that Christmas idea.

    While I don’t make a lot of time for embroidery it was my first fibery love. I especially enjoy how you concentrate on history, my second in my list of passions. Thank you for your dedication to your blog and your readers.

    1. Hi, Colleen – this is typical of the older alphabet embroidery designs. You can usually substitute the J for an I and you can either turn the M upside down or combine two V’s for the W. Hope that helps!

  10. Laura, these are simply lovely. The personalized colors are such a nice idea. Very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

More Comments