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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Remember that Embroidered Kaleidoscope?


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A few weeks ago, I shared with you some progress on the embroidered kaleidoscope design I was working on, and we discussed the big job naming embroidery projects.

You came up with some great ideas for a name for this one! Thank you! I’ve settled on a name – it wasn’t directly mentioned by anyone, but there were some related suggestions.

Today, we’ll take a look at the finished kaleidoscope (yippee!) and chat about it a bit. I’ll answer some questions that have come up about the project, too.

Embroidered Kaleidoscope - Finished

There it is! Finished!

The embroidery is 7.5″ in diameter. (You can click on the photo for a larger version.)

Now, one of the really fun things I’m finding about these kaleidoscope designs is that they are super-duper versatile. They can constrict themselves into a very small embroidery project, or they can expand themselves into a larger one.

Let me show you what I mean!

Embroidered Kaleidoscope - Finished

With this particular design, you might decide you want to stop right there, with the green scallops and leaves.

And there’s no reason why you can’t! In fact, maybe you just want to stop at the green scallops – or maybe at the red scallops? Or the blue layers?

Embroidered Kaleidoscope - Finished

Maybe you like the tulips and you don’t want to go any farther?

Embroidered Kaleidoscope - Finished

Or maybe you just want to give the tulips a little edge and then call it quits?

(Please pardon these two photos – that’s called Cell Phone Photography in Really Poor Light!)

I think you get the idea! With the designs built layer on layer, you can always plan to stitch as little or as much of it as you want to.

Finishing Ideas

Many folks have written to ask how a piece like this could be finished and displayed or used.

I’m sure many of you have some amazing ideas, and I’d love to hear them! You’re welcome to share ideas in the comments below!

In the meantime, these are some ideas I’ve had for this design and similar designs I’m working with now:

1. Throw pillows. These designs would make great accent pillows to add a splash of color and interest to a sitting room or a bedroom.

2. Journal covers. This particular design might be a bit large for a journal cover (unless you have a really big journal!), but a portion of it would work. Smaller designs, or slices of designs, would work great, too.

3. Framed. They’d be a great way to brighten up a wall!

4. Quilt squares. They’d make a gorgeous edition to any kind of quilt that sports embroidery.

5. Footstool covers. Enlarged, worked perhaps in wool on linen twill – they’d make vibrant, fun footstool covers!

6. Box lids. Whether mounted in a pre-made wooden box lid, or made into a fabric box lid for a fabric box, they’re perfect designs for lids.

7. Tray inserts. Sudberry House makes a darling square tray to mount needlework in. A round, bright kaleidoscope would look amazing in one of their square trays. Their trays and boxes are often available at local needlework shops, but you can also find them online if you don’t have a shop close by.

Embroidered Kaleidoscope - Finished


You can find the pattern for Tulip Festival, the embroidered kaleidoscope featured here, in my pattern e-book, Favorite Kaleidoscopes.

Favorite Kaleidoscopes: Embroidery Pattern E-Book

Favorite Kaleidoscopes features over 30 kaleidoscope embroidery designs, ranging from small to large, from simple to complex. They’re a lot of fun to stitch, and a great way to create unique embroidered art using your favorite fabric, threads, and colors!

If you’d like to follow along with the stitching of Tulip Festival, you’ll find the first article in the series of step-by-step development for this project here.

More to Come

I really enjoy working with these types of designs! Doodling them up is great fun, and then bringing them to colorful life with needle and thread is exciting! I like watching them develop, layer by layer.

Come to think of it, if I told you how many of these things I’ve doodled into existence over the past few months, you might think I’m a bit off my rocker.

They won’t all go the way of embroidery. I just pick out one now and then that looks like it would interpret well with thread, and then I play around with it a bit. It’s slow going – but slow is good!

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to leave them below!


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(71) Comments

  1. I love it! So colorful and beautiful! To my mind, these kaleidoscopes make a perfect beginner project — a sort of “non-traditional sampler.” Thanks for sharing this “Tip-toe thru the Tulips” kaleidoscope. (Please forgive me for naming it!)

  2. Hi Mary,

    This is a great project and beautifully done! But I’m curious, what is the design process? Everything is spaced so evenly around the circle. Do you use some kind of software to help in the final design? And if so, what? Or do you just do the math?

    Thanks-hope you’re feeling better!


  3. Mary, your kaleidoscope is a true beauty and certainly reflects your skill and artistic talent. Thank you for consistently brightening the world with your needlework and sharing what can be possible.
    A fan. California Sue

  4. The kaleidoscope designs are beautiful! I love the free style embroidery, and the stunning colours. Having visited many other websites in the world, this is still the best and my top favourite.

  5. Dear Mary

    This is beautiful and colourful, I love it I’m so glad it will be available soon you never know I might just take it up. Off to Ravello South Italy tomorrow staying at my sisters tonight, for my twin Niece’s wedding you know the one I made a fabric journal for, can’t wait but will miss you. I hope you are well.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  6. Oh Mary! I have fallen in love with this design and can’t wait for it to be available. I think it would be awesome framed! I think I would have to hurt someone that dared to put their head (pillow) or feet (foot stool) on something that have such delicate stitching. LOL! I could really see this in a quilted wall hanging.

    I have referred to your tutorials many times over the last several months and they are a great help. I am definitely in need of a lot more practice!

  7. Hi Mary,

    It’s spectacular! Beautiful! It would brighten a whole room! Thank you for sharing this project. Seeing the different levels of the project helped me see the elements of the design more clearly and spurred my thinking about using creating some design levels in some quilts I am making for granddaughters. Thank you!

  8. Thanks so much for the kaleidoscope and explanation! It occurred to me that it would make a wonderful cover (when protected) for a photo or memory album, as well. I’m really looking forward to trying a kaleidoscope–they do look eminently workable to me. Thanks & blessings! Peggy

  9. Thank you for discussing how needlework can be finished, displayed, and used. That is one of my constant stumbling blocks. I don’t really want more throw pillows and wall art. Having more ideas for using embroidery is so helpful, since I don’t want to invest lots of time for no purpose.
    Thanks, Mary.

  10. I had thought to use a quarter slice of this for a journal cover corner. Now just which corner…or corners or……

  11. I think it would be interesting to have an extended partial design that would work on clothing. Essentially, a larger “wheel” but using only a slice of it. Like do the design on the back yoke of a denim or linen “jean jacket”. or on a patch pocket, or

    I have a very small home, so don’t have much wall space, or a lot of use for throw pillows. But I do like wearing my art.

  12. WOW! I had my doubts when you first showed this project, but it turned out beautifully great. Wonderful stitching and finishing.

  13. I so enjoy you site, I love how you enjoy your work. I use to be so involved in embroidery, but now I sew, quilt. My eyes aren’t what they use to be. But I do enjoy and so want to pick up the needle every time I see your finished work. Thanks for the enjoyment.

  14. I love your kaleidoscopes and am eagerly waiting for them to appear in your shop. Thank you for the inspiration you give to your readers every day.

  15. Mary,
    Did I miss the blog on a dragon pattern? I was looking forward to it as I have a friend who is dragon fanatic.
    Please advise. Your kaleidoscope is out of this world!

  16. How did you transfer the design to the fabric? I may have missed it if you explained earlier. Washable marker? I am a bit afraid to use them, preferring to baste, but it would be impossible to do that on this project.

  17. Love it, love it, love it!! I am so anxious for you to share the pattern. I stitch for the mental and emotional settling and the pure enjoyment of creating something beautiful. This is right up my “gotta do” alley!

  18. WOW, Mary!

    Y’know, the red and white Hungarian tablerunner has always been my favorite of your projects, but this one may have just knocked it off the podium. Well done (as always)!

    I’m seeing this particular piece as a box lid. Maybe I’ll do just that with it when the pattern becomes available!

  19. Hi Mary,

    That is wonderful, thanks for sharing and I look forward to buying the pattern when it is ready.
    Cheers Judy
    S E Queensland

  20. Hi Mary, Your Kaleidoscope is fabulous and I would love to do it. Just a small problem for me is that I also want to do everything else you share with us… Hope you are well Mary, take care x

  21. Gorgeous! I’m being crass, but I bought some white cotton tablecloths that are crying out for embroidery and I envisage a row of kaleidoscopes down the centre. Nothing dainty or elegant about my plans for your beautiful design!

  22. These designs are beautiful, however I am not a
    candidate for these.
    I love love love embroidery. I dislike repetition.
    Anyone else have this problem?

  23. WOW Mary, your finished kaleidoscope is beautiful and it really LOOKS like it was fun to do – playing with stitches, threads and colours.

  24. I’ve been anxiously waiting to see the finish of this since you posted your first picture of it: it is dazzling!! Now to wait for the pattern and the name! 🙂 I hope you’ll put the colors down that you used: they are so beautiful in this! You’ve started me on a new obsession with embroidery, since I first saw your Hummingbirds piece about a month ago: I’m working on 3 pieces already! Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

    1. Hi, Linda! No, you didn’t miss it – I haven’t mentioned it yet. I have to work out several names for the future kaleidoscopes and I want to make sure I get them all just right.

  25. Very gorgeous and Looks like fun. I’m still hooked up in my heat over the white table runner done up in red. A thing of beauty. Kathy

  26. Hi Mary

    Warm greetings from Cape Town!

    I’d still like to know how you celebrated WORLD EMBROIDERY DAY!!??

    I trust you are feeling well. I am very sorry to know you’ve had such a hard time health-wise lately. Delighted that you’re back stitching as much as you are and I love the kaleidoscopes. Pray, please tell – how do you get the design onto the fabric???

  27. I can’t wait to get my hands on this pattern. It looks like a lot of fun. Please post this pattern asap because I can’t wait to start. I just finished a very challenging pet portrait of a friend’s cat which exhausted me mentally. This is the perfect combo of “brainless ” and beautiful !

  28. I really like this design and can see how versatile it would be in both scope and coloration. Looking forward to the chart.

  29. Hi, I just love getting your emails. My question is where is the best place to buy material and what type to embroidery on? I’m just starting on want to buy the best.
    Thank you for your help and sharing your knowledge.

    Ida Norred

  30. will this Kaleidoscope be available as a PDF to download or perhaps in a future Kaleidoscope e-book?
    I am really happy you are doing better. You had such a bad 2016, yet you kept us inspired. I hope we kept you inspired as well.
    May our 2017 be the best, healthy and prosperous.

    Sharon Shetley

  31. I love working the Kaleidoscope design. Still finishing the first one, would so appreciate more. Better yet, a tutorial on how to design one.

    Happy 2017 to you.

  32. Love this pattern. Is it available to those of us who wish to attempt the challenge? i would love to give a completed project as a gift to a special person.

  33. I really love this Kaleidoscope!! I can hardly wait until you have it available. What fun it will be to embroider. Hurry!! Can’t wait!!!!!

  34. The Kaleidoscope that you post on August 18/2016 Please telle me that pattern coming very soon and if you gone a let us know when it coming available to buy, it is so Gorgeous, a piece of art !!!

    Thank you
    Diane Blouin

  35. Can’t stand the wait…lol
    I’m itching to try my hand at this and I think a mandala would be perfect to try! Hope you can publish them soon.

  36. Mary, when do you think these patterns will be available? This is just so ME and I cannot wait to work with them.

  37. Mary,
    I always hope/wish for help with which stitches. I’d like to know which thread colors too, but for your kaleidoscope designs which stitches one might use where would get me furthest fastest.

    Thank you for all the knowledge you share. I visit your site on a nearly daily basis and point many stitching acquaintances your direction for definitive and clear answers


  38. Mary:
    I have not subscribed to your ebook but fully intend to! My question is what are you using for fabric?
    I really is beautiful work.
    Thank you for your informative articles I have gained so more info from them.
    Keep up the great stitching!

  39. This is definitely one of my favorite designs I’ve seen of yours. Love how the colors pop. It’s beautiful. Lately if I’m not sewing I’m on here reading. So grateful for this place to come to! Since I’m fairly a newbie! Your work is beautiful!

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