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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A Friday Finish – or Two! Embroidered Floral Corners


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Sometimes, I have a tendency to go overboard when planning out embroidery projects for other people.

To keep myself in check when planning kids’ classes for this summer, I’ve got my niece working with me, too.

Anna’s 24, and she has embroidered since she was a wee thing. When she was ten, she took my summer classes. Over the years, she kept stitching, occasionally teaching other kids along the way, and dabbling with needle and thread when time allowed.

The fact that she now works with kindergarten children helps keep me in check, too. Sometimes, when you’re out of the “kid game” for a while, you forget what different developmental levels are (or are not likely to be) capable of.

For example, Anna raised her eyebrows at my idea of perfectly executed fishbone stitch for our youngest class groups this summer.

What a killjoy!

Hand Embroidery Floral Corner on Flour Sack Towel

Now that we have our summer classes for children and youth situated, we have to stitch up samples.

For the class projects, we want them to be easily transportable so the kids can tote them about and work on them between classes.

We want them to end in something finished and usable or displayable right away.

And, of course, we want them to incorporate the stitches they’ll be learning in the class, so that they can learn the mechanics of the stitches and the application of the stitches onto a project.

Hand Embroidery Floral Corner on Flour Sack Towel

We’re splitting the classes into levels A, B and C, based on age groupings. The younger children (the A groups) will need a little more direction, a little more one-on-one help, and projects that are not as challenging as groups B and C.

The middle groups B will most likely be a little more capable of self-direction and will be up to a little more of a challenge.

And groups C – teenagers – will be more advanced. We’ll be teaching them the basics, but leading them quickly in the direction of making their own choices on stitches and colors, as well as giving them resources for learning outside the scope of the class. One goal for all levels, but especially this level, is to enable them to make their own decisions on stitches with confidence, overcoming the “fear” of trying or experimentation.

Each level is doing two finished projects: a decorative flour sack towel and a little piece of finished hoop art.

The images above represent the C group flour sack towel. With the class based on instruction followed by application, they’ll learn a few stitches and then be able to apply those stitches on their floral corner towel using the threads provided. The sample is merely a suggestion for stitch type and placement.

At first, they’ll follow the sample pretty closely, but as they become more comfortable with the whole notion of stitching and they learn more stitches, I suspect they’ll start making choices on what they want to stitch, where.

Hand Embroidery Floral Corner on Flour Sack Towel

The middle level B groups are stitching the same towel, but it’s not their first project in the class.

The stitches for their sample have been simplified a bit. Anna also stuck with three strands of floss for her sample, and, although she used French knots, she didn’t use them as abundantly as I did in the C group sample – which is probably a good thing.

I went a bit overboard on the French knots.

Hand Embroidery Floral Corner on Flour Sack Towel

When working out this design, I wanted something that would produce splashy color, that was exuberant, but not too symmetrical, and that would allow the application of all the basic stitches that the kids would learn.

For the A groups classes, the youngest children, the project has been pared down even further. The design is weeded out a bit so it’s not as busy and not quite as big. Some of the stitches may be further simplified.

We still need to stitch that sample – it’s on my list for today!

For groups A and B, the towel is their second project. They’ll begin with a much simpler little project that we will finish over the first two classes. Because we’re a little constrained, time-wise, the towel is something they can work on beyond the class. They’ll have all the stitch instructions and all the materials, plus about four more weeks of summer vacation.

For the C groups, the towel is their first project. I’m hoping (fingers crossed) they will be enthusiastic enough outside class time that the thing will be finished over the first three class sessions.

If I’m being too optimistic on the time frame, I figure it’s better to plan too much than too little, and we’ll certainly make adjustments as necessary along the way.

Keep your eye out! Several of you have asked for a design and stitch guide for this project, and I’ll be putting that together for you soon.

This weekend, I’ll be stitching on a few samples, concentrating on some goldwork, organizing a couple bookshelves, and avoiding the 100+ degree heat as much as possible…! Oh, Kansas!

I hope you have a marvelous weekend, with plenty of time to devote to your needle and thread!

Looking for a Summer Embroidery Project?

If you’re looking for something fun to stitch right now, why not take a look at a my e-books available on Needle ‘n Thread?

Maybe you want to stitch something quick up for Dad for Father’s Day? My Favorite Monograms collection has some good choices that would look great on a hankie!

Stitch Sampler Alphabet is a fun collection of projects for folks just getting into embroidery, especially if you want to learn a lot of stitches!

If you’re looking for small projects with finishing instructions, you might enjoy Lavender Honey & Other Little Things.

And you know what? It’s never too early to start stitching for Christmas! Twelve Trees for Christmas is a fun collection of little trees that can work up into ornaments, quilt squares, decorations for table linens, and more!


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(29) Comments

  1. Wish this had been available when I was a child. Wonderful energetic designs. My twin nephews are 4 and desperate to start embroidery with “that pokey thing”. I’d be interested to hear how it goes with the younger group. I think 4 might still be too young to start without frustration.

    1. Four is a little young, if you’re thinking of regular embroidery, but not too young for plastic canvas, yarn, plastic needles. By the time they’re seven, they can wield a regular needle with regular thread on fabric pretty well, and I have actually let four and five year olds take a few simple straight stitches on things I’m working on, but they are a bit awkward with a regular needle. It’s those fine motor skills! They’re just kicking in!

  2. Hi Mary,
    The design on the towel above, will the line drawing for it be available to download?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi, Jean – Eventually. I mentioned that at the end of the article. I’ll be putting together the design and stitch guide, etc. After stitching the sample, I’ve found a few areas that need adjusting, so I’ll play with it a little more before making it available.

  3. Carolyn Foley has taught many classes to kids and teens and I believe she reads your blog, I’m sure she’d be happy to offer advice and suggestions if you wanted them.

  4. The design is lovely and I look forward to buying it when it is available, but please also introduce the students to a little counted work. Just so they know it’s there and can enjoy the different experience.

  5. I really love your classroom projects! How I wish I could take the class with my granddaughter. I expect the children will love the bright colors. A suggestion popped into my head as I looked at your B group (pre-teens) towel. The adorable little bees from your Will Ewe Bee Mine monograms are easy and just so darned cute… one or two little bees among those flowers might be perfect and catch their imaginations.

  6. Hey Mary! My computer was down yesterday so I didn’t get to wish you a very happy anniversary. Twelve years and going strong. Thanks for all the hard work and inspiration.

  7. When my oldest grandson was around three-four years old, he would sit and “embroider” with me, using plastic darning needles, yarn, and punch cards to stitch his designs in the most garish colors you can imagine.

    Now that he’s eight, he’s learning surface embroidery, using a larger embroidery needle, and is enjoying it. He’s mastered back stitch and stem stitch, and is now working on chain stitches. He’s helping me with Larissa Holland’s Twelve Days of Christmas felt ornaments, which will be his Christmas gift for his mom this year.

    Side note: The other day, when I reminded him that he wanted to try knitting, he matter-of-factly said, “Look, Gigi, I can learn one thing at a time. Right now it’s this.”


  8. Doh . . . of course you do, Mary! You can disregard my comment/question just posted a few minutes ago. Joey

    1. Hi, Lea-Rae – It’s not available just yet. It will be available here on the website a little later in July, once the classes I’m using it for are underway. Thanks for asking! 🙂

  9. Hi
    I am wondering how I can purchase the pattern for the embroidered floral corner. I have been looking all over the website but can’t find out where to get it.

    1. Hi, Anne – Thanks for your note! Both versions will be available a little later in July, once the classes are underway! Thanks for asking!

  10. could I please have a copy of the Lite Version embroidered corner pattern. I need to learn all the extra stitches.

  11. I have not found any stitch patterns for this lovely Embroidery you have created. I know you said you were working on it and so it would be available. I would be happy to pay for this!
    Much thanks,
    A big fan of your awesome Embroidery work and teaching
    Gracie Hill

  12. Your work and your dedication to that work are truly inspiring. These little “corners” can be used so many ways. Thanks for sharing.

  13. My internet connection is not only slow when it is working, it also is down much of the time. I certainly appreciate having a chance to read your articles when I can.

  14. Thank you so much for this fine blog. I only subscribed a couple of months ago. Already I have learned so much. Looking forward every week to find you in my e mail. Thanks again.

  15. So sorry to hear about your Mom! She and your family will be in my prayers. Take the time you need. Family comes first. We will look forward to your post when things calm down. J

  16. Mary, I cannot find the flour sack material in your Amazon shop. Where do I find it? Will you stock it again? I hope you are well.

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