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 (64) 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)

Forget the Adult Coloring Books – This is Much More Fun!


Amazon Books

Adult coloring books are all the rage, and while they’re a heap of fun in a lot of ways, I think I’ve found an even better outlet for needle and thread lovers!

Careful, though – it might become addictive!

This weekend, I finished the kaleidoscope design I’ve been playing with.

When I put the last stitch in, I was almost sorry to see the end of the project. I say almost, because my brain was churning with ideas for the next one!

Kaleidoscope Embroidery Design Sample

This embroidered kaleidoscope was So Much Fun to stitch!

It has all the right ingredients for a relaxing and satisfying embroidery project: The design is fun. The thread palette is colorful. The stitches are easy. The materials list is short. The whole project is small enough to see fast progress. And, at the end, the finish is pleasing.

Kaleidoscope Embroidery Design Sample

For this initial kaleidoscope, I wanted to keep everything simple and let the stitches and the colors do all the work.

Still, it’s definitely the type of design that tempts you to embellish and elaborate with beads, buttons, sequins, metallic threads – whatever tickles your fancy!

Kaleidoscope Embroidery Design Sample

And there it is!

This was one of those little projects I just couldn’t put down. Like a good book, it kept calling me back so I could see what developed next.

I’ll be sharing this design with you soon, along with all the particulars in case you want to work it yourself. Keep an eye out for it!

And now, I’m off to set up the next one!

(I know. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it…)


Leave a Reply to Denise Bowen Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.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


(42) Comments

  1. Hi, Mary. I have been reading your blog for some time and admiring your beautiful work, but I’ve never tried surface embroidery myself. This kaleidoscope just may be the design to get me started. Thank you for all you do.

  2. Nice job!

    I wonder if you do this unplanned–just stitching the next section as it comes or if you do any planning. Either way, very nice!

  3. It’s a gem! I had my doubts when I saw the first photos, Mary – didn’t feel the colours were working together, didn’t feel the shapes were inspiring… But now, shazzam! It’s got bags of that elusive quality: oomph. It should convince a few folk that embroidery is far more fun than colouring books.

  4. Mary,
    I’m so glad you worked through your “Stitcher’s Block”. I agree, the Button Hole need to go. The finished piece is wonderful, this is going to make a great Birthday pr sent for one (or more) of my sisters!

  5. That is intriguing! I, too, can’t wait for details. It looks complicated with all of the over/under layering. Maybe you have a couple of needles going at once? I don’t know, LOL. I’ve sewn for half a century, but my goal was always to make my stitches as invisible as possible, until I discovered the exciting world of hand embroidery!

  6. Oh Mary!

    I love it! It’s lovely! And looks like so much fun to stitch! I can’t wait to see the next one. I got into the adult coloring books when you introduced us to the Secret Garden project. And I have often thought of transferring pictures to fabric for embroidery projects. For some reason I’m more adept at the needle than the crayon.

    Thank you for your time and attention with your site.

    Melissa Bird

  7. Hermoso!! Como todo lo que haces !!
    Gracias Mary por compartir tanto!!
    Esperamos pronto nos des el diseño e instructivo
    Saludos desde México!!

  8. Hey, Mary! This design came out much nicer than I thought it would. Hmm, that doesn’t sound quite right but I think you know what I mean! Anyway, I think the design around the edge is what really makes it something special. When you look at the entire piece (the last picture) it is really lovely! Good job!

  9. Mary,
    You do such beautiful work. It’s such an inspiration! I would love to work this, but I am faced with a frequent quandry that I have-what to do with it when it’s finished. I’ve been to too many thrift stores where a beautiful piece of handwork is framed and for sale for $1! We’ve also been recently helping parents downsize and it is so sad when no one wants their beautiful treasures. Please give us some suggestions for how to make such a beautiful piece into something that is practical and usable. I just love your website and look forward to each post! Blessings, Carrie

  10. I just love this Kaleidoscope. It looks like something that would not be boring to stitch. Different stitches and colors–what a great idea. I can’t wait for the pattern.

    1. Yes, that’s it!!! I read thru all the comments, I’m agreeing, I’m agreeing, but still, just not really “it”. Hmmm… what is it exactly that I am liking now about this piece that I wasn’t seeing before? Ah HA!!! It’s a happy piece. Exactly. Until I saw it in it’s finished stage, I also was not so intrigued. But now, yes, happy. That just says it all…

  11. This is SO pretty! I can’t wait for the pattern. Thank you for sharing it. You do such beautiful work.

  12. Hi Mary. Your design is beautiful and the colors just pop out. It looks like it will be a lot of fun to stitch. Thank you so much for your website and instruction. I’m learning so much. I used to be put out by the stem stitch. But I watched your video and now it’s my favorite stitch! Thanks again!

  13. It is gorgeous, but I cannot give up my adult coloring books for anything. All the time I keep thinking “I want to do this in Thread.” I can’t choose between coloring and embroidery. It’s all up to my hands will let me do.

  14. I agree coloring books are fun, particularly if you photocopy them,then embroider the design- kind of cheating but you can get some cute patterns-I love your kaleidoscope. Thanks for the inspiration.

  15. Mary, I love it!!!! Wow! I can’t wait to see the instructions. I’ve got the perfect spot for it. I have a wall plaque of a sculptural golden sun. The center of which is a mirror which I unfortunately cracked. I wanted to fill it with something I might stitch up. I was thinking of a sun face but I think this design might be even better done up in the right color palette, and ohh the embellishments! Sweet.

  16. Hi Mary
    That really looks spectacular. Please let us know how you went about designing this and working it. You make it sound spontaneous but you must have drawn the design out, did you do it bit by bit or all at once?

    Thanks for sharing
    cheers Judy
    S E Queensland

    1. Hi Mary,

      I am with Judy. How did you go about deciding on this design and colors etc.? What was the creative process you used. Also how did you go about picking the stitches for this piece? I have been wanting to create some fun easy pieces for summer to stitch. However I get stuck on finding a design, picking colors and then the best stitches for the project at hand.

      Barbara in Texas

  17. This is lovely! I wasn’t that excited by your first few photos, but that outer ring with its little pink trees balances the design and finishes it perfectly.

  18. Dear Mary

    Was out celebrating my brother-in-law’s 80 Birthday on Saturday so missed your post and yesterday’s post came later so I missed it again. Anyway I think your Kaleidoscope is beautiful, I love the colours and the design and as you say you can add to it with beads, buttons, etc. I can’t wait for the pattern and the instructions on stitches. I agree that it is much better then adult colouring books. Thanks for sharing the completed kaleidoscope embroidery with us and for the coming pattern.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  19. WOW! Mary, once again I am blown away by your genius. Truly, you are probably the most generous, kind and brave person [on so many levels] that I am aware of, in this world. Once again, inspiration and motivation flows from your needle like rain in a parched dessert. I, too live in a small village in rural England, far away from the well known needlework stars and centres and I rely on the WWW to keep in touch and motivated. Thank you for everything that you provide.

  20. Errata: Just noticed my Spelling Error/Freudian Slip? I guess that a dessert can be as deprived of nourishment as a desert? Well, a laugh a day is a good thing. Have a beautiful day.

  21. I love this! A perfect project when you’re itching to stitch but just not ready to tackle a major project. Please please make your patterns available as soon as possible.

  22. Hi, Mary! This is my first comment, although I’ve been popping in and out of your blog for a few months now ever since finding your articles on Pinterest. As someone who’s just starting to get into hand embroidery, I have to thank you so much for your informative and inspiring work! I’ve already been using many of your articles and videos to get started on a few of my own hand embroidery pieces. Please keep the gorgeous beauties like these coming!

  23. I am new to embroidery and want to run before I can walk! This looks like a lovely way to practice stitching yet complete a exciting looking piece – a finished product at the end.
    Really love your website – it is teaching me all the stitches – such a wonderful resource. Thank you so much.

More Comments