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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Embroidered Leaves: Adjustments & Troubleshooting


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I’m still stitching this tree.

I recklessly assumed that I would have the thing finished about a week ago. Let’s just call it optimism, shall we?

In any case, last time we looked at it, there were a couple leaves bugging me, and I changed those a little bit. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s getting closer to finished!

This week, maybe? But I won’t make any promises!

Here’s progress thus far, along with a few explanations of things.

Embroidered Tree with Large Leaves- Troubleshooting

First of all, a huge thanks for all the input on the last article about this embroidery project! I think most of us had the same problem with the two leaves in question.

Many suggested doing away with all the lattice leaves – that they are too far removed from realistic looking. I understand that, and I can see why they might be a little jarring, especially if you’re expecting a realistic looking tree.

Perhaps once the whole tree is revealed, it will become clearer that it’s really just a stylized, rather modern interpretation of a tree. There’s nothing very “real” about it, aside from the fact that there’s some semblance of a trunk and branches with a very round representation of a leafy top.

My initial purpose when conceiving the project was to play, on two different levels, with the design: 1. To play with various ways to stitch leaves (I fell a little short on this one, because #2 quickly took over and became the focus…) and 2. To play with gradually changing colors or shades, moving through a series of disconnected design elements (in this case, the leaves).

Color began to mesmerize me with this project. Instead of concocting a vast number of ways to fill the leaves, I found myself sticking to a few favorites that allowed me to manipulate the colors the way I wanted to.

The lattice couching plays into the whole approach. Lattice stitches are very linear, grid-like stitches. They’re not often put to work as a shading tool in embroidery. But that doesn’t mean they can’t fit into a gradually shaded exercise. I like the variety they add, and I like the fact that there’s a certain amount of “pattern” with them.

Embroidered Tree with Large Leaves- Troubleshooting

You can see the two leaves that gave me trouble here. I’ve adjusted them. I removed the coral outline, which was too stark, and replaced it with a yellow outline using one strand of thread.

I completely restitched the leaf to the lower right, and I’m not exactly sure if I’m going to leave it as is, or if I’ll be sketching in some other colors using straight stitches to break up the fishbone stitch.

There are a couple other leaves here and there I’m still stewing over. For example, I’m thinking about slating the largest brownish striped leaf on the upper left for the chopping block. That was an exercise with a variegated thread – but it needs a little more consistency to it, I think.

I’ll plug keep plugging away on the tree this week. Who knows? I might surprise myself by actually finishing it! I am eager to see the whole shape embroidered, so that I can examine the way the all the elements and colors blend (or not).

Enjoy your Monday!


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(17) Comments

  1. Now that there are a couple more lattice fill leaves, the other 2 fit in much better. The variegated leaf you are pondering – what catches my eye as is the bits of grayish brown toward the bottom. It seems the wrong brown for the other leaves, but the right brown to tie in with the trunk and branches. I’ll be watching to see what you decide and why.

  2. Dear Mary

    I was busy last week so I wasn’t able to comment on your blogs. The tree is beautifully stitches and all those vibrant colours are wonderful and cheers you up when you look at it especially at this time of year when everything is so dull. I think the change to outlining the yellow from the original coral is a better idea although I thought the coral was fine. I really like all the interchangeable colours you have used on this project and how different it looks from your original stitched tree. I look forward to seeing a completed picture. Thanks for sharing with us the different stitched trees and for the photos it is lovely. I hope you have a peaceful week.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  3. You didn’t ask for comments, Mary, but I’d like to say that I think the stripes variegated leaf is just fine in my view.

  4. Dear Mary,
    I am so glad you are keeping the lattice leaves (sounds jarring when said aloud!). You said earlier that this was a stylised tree – which it is. There aren’t many trees with such a wide variety of leaves.

    The lattice leaves add welcome texture and contrast.

    I love this design and your work. This tree with its light design has some of the playfulness of heavier Jacobean work.

    Warm regards,

  5. Let me start with a gold star for the colors chosen and the transitions from one to another. Just wonderfully and wonderfully balanced. But I have to add that I’m hoping that the lovely leaf you are thinking about sending to the chopping block gets a stay of execution. The colors are a beautiful transition from the oranges to the reddish browns and are a wonderful lead in to the smaller leaves above it. Looking forward to the final showing!

  6. I love the design. I love the different stitches – like a sampler but very interesting and I love how you are changing the color. I think it is interesting to see the color palette in different stitches. I saw one of the leaves as a problem but not the other but now that you have changed them I can see the differences nd it is better. Nice work.

  7. It looks amazing – the colours, colour grading and the stitches. The lattice stitches may be a little unusual but they add lovely texture and an interesting way to combine the colours. Can’t wait to see it finished.

  8. I don’t see my first comment, so I’ll try again. I love uthe design and the color transitions. Will this pattern be for sale?

    1. Hi, Lou – Yes, I plan to make this available on the website, either as a project e-book or something similar. Hopefully, soon…but I have another e-book I’m working on right now that I have to finish first. Thanks for asking!

  9. Re: the brownish striped on you’re considering restitching, try finishing some other leaves around it first. Maybe the reason it bothers is because it’s all by itself. In a group, it might work well.

  10. Did you create the template for the tree? Or can you direct me to where to find it? I really love it! Both the colors as well as the variety of stitches including the lattice!

  11. Mary, for some time I have tried to find the perfect colors to use for a tree trunk. You have done it perfectly in the above photos. Would you share the colors you used? I appreciate you and all your work so much. Thanks for helping me. Sandy

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