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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Fabric Sticks for Embroidery Kits … & Other News


Amazon Books

I was going to title today’s blog post (which is actually yesterday’s blog post, but I had a publishing hold-up yesterday morning) “I’ll Give You Three Guesses.”

But then I started looking at the things, and I figured many of you would guess right away, anyway.

One of my biggest behind-the-scenes projects during June has been preparing embroidery kits and instructions for The Leafy Tree, a project I finished a while ago and for which I received many, many requests for a kit.

And so I’m putting together a kit.

This is one of the features of the kit, and although it’s time-consuming, I think it’s worth it:

Fabric Sticks for Embroidery Kits

I call them “fabric sticks.”

They’re the fabric for the kit, prepared the way I prepare my fabric for any embroidery project – that is, it’s cut on the grain, it’s pre-washed to remove sizing and any shrink, and then it’s ironed smooth and the pattern is transferred onto it – and then it’s sandwiched in tissue paper and rolled onto a tube.

The reason for rolling is so that, when the kit is received, the recipient doesn’t have to do anything to prepare the fabric for embroidery. You unroll it, and there’s your ironed fabric, ready to go!

Fabric Sticks for Embroidery Kits

To keep things thematically together in the kit, of course each fabric stick had to be closed with a different leaf sticker!

Fabric Sticks for Embroidery Kits

I had the tubes custom made. They’re coated white, they’re very strong so they can’t get crushed, the fabric fits them perfectly, and they fit perfectly within the kit box.

I figure folks can re-use them to roll finished small embroidery pieces on, or to wind thread on, or what-have-you.

Fabric Sticks for Embroidery Kits

Preparing the fabric sticks is really kind of fun. In fact, for me, once all the elements are prepared and gathered, I like the embroidery kit assembly process! As long as I’m not madly pushing a deadline, I find it relaxing.

I suppose it’s the steady nature of the work and knowing exactly what step needs to happen next.

While the tubes might seem to be an unnecessary expense, I’m convinced they’re a good way to go when it comes to packaging fabric for kits.

And while I’m not into spending money on custom boxes for my kits (I can’t quite cotton to the idea of spending $5 or more on a custom box that will end up on a shelf or in the trash), I do think that the tubes are a good investment. Even with that extra touch, I’m able to keep the main packaging costs of my kits very low and yet still produce a decent looking kit.

Leafy Tree Embroidery

Why Not Pre-Orders?

Many folks have asked why I don’t take pre-orders when I sell embroidery kits.

The main reason that I don’t take pre-orders is the tenuous nature of the embroidery supply chain.

I have watched (and listened) from the sidelines for many years, while pre-orders were taken for major kits or special projects around the globe, and I have seen hiccups in the supply line after the pre-orders were taken.

These hiccups often cause the customer extra-long wait times after their money has already been taken. Somehow, I end up being the shoulder that people cry on when they experience unpleasant things in the needlework world, and I’ve heard many a complaint from other people’s customers who have had to wait extended periods of time after paying for a kit or supplies.

I don’t want to put my customers through that, and I don’t want to put myself through that kind of stress. So I only sell tangible things when they are in front of me and ready to go.

Limited Numbers

This policy, of course, limits the amount of kits I can produce at one time. Sure, if people were paying ahead of time for a kit, I could take orders for an extended period of time, giving everyone the opportunity to get their order in.

Then, I could count up the orders and, using the money I collected, order supplies without any real investment on my part. After all, you have already paid for the supplies! It’s a win-win situation, right? I have money for a much larger number of kits, and you have the “guarantee” of having placed your order.

It sounds like a great idea. But then…the fabric is woven in France. The threads are made in Germany. The needles are made in England.

Oh, the supplier doesn’t have that quantity of fabric in stock, after all – it has to be ordered. Oh, the mill won’t be doing a run of that linen until next September, six months away.

Oh, some of the thread colors aren’t available in that quantity. The company has to do a dye run. It’ll be four months.

And then I have to email everyone and say it will be 6+ months before you get that kit you just paid me for.

I don’t like doing business that way. And so I do limited runs in quantities I can afford to produce.

Coming Soon!

The kits for The Leafy Tree – replete with full skeins of 22 colors of Madeira cotton floss, superb quality linen with the design pre-transferred, and needles – will be available in the first half of July.

The Leafy Tree Embroidery

If you’re keen to stitch this project, please keep an eye out! I’ll announce the kit launch date and time here on the website once I have all the components assembled and ready to go!

Oh, and once I’ve finished writing the instructional book…

There is that.

Guess how I’m spending my weekend?

I hope yours is a terrific one, with plenty of time to bond with your needle and thread!


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(22) Comments

  1. That looks like it’s going to be one beautifully presented kit – and as you say they are always a joy to open.
    Your reasoning about pre-orders is very lucid and valid; there are so many things that can go wrong, some that you’d never considered! (I found out a manufacturer had discontinued a particular thread colour just as I’d decided to include it in a kit….)
    This way people know that if they order a kit, it’s there.

  2. I have loved the tree since you began sharing. And your kits are just awesome. I now how’ve to figure a way for my phone to ping me as soon as your email drops in my box. I want to be first in line.

    Think the cardboard tube is a great idea. There used to be a pattern for a Quilted Block keeper that incorporated a postal mailing tube at one end and then a quilted area laid flat to the left of the fabric enclosed tube. You laid your block down. Then rolled the tube end over the block and tied it shut. Kept your blocks nicely. Maybe your tube could be similarly used. Must find what I did with that pattern.

  3. Oh, I love a well assembled kit. The ribbons that hold things together, the paper that is pretty and crisp and the perfect fabric and threads. All that along with a nice set of instructions … that really gets the stitching mo-jo going.

    I’m not a surface stitcher … holes are my world πŸ™‚ but I might just see about stitching this pretty little tree.

  4. OH Mary! Such a lot of work! I totally can’t wait and will closely watch for your message that they’re ready. And by the way – what a great idea for getting fabric ready ahead of time – that in itself is educational. Love ya

  5. >>Somehow, I end up being the shoulder that people cry on

    That’s cuz you’re such a comfy shoulder, Mary!

  6. Hello Mary,

    I just love the idea of a kit for this project. I will keep an eye out for sure, I really would like to make this beautiful embroidery. It’s really special and it would be amazing in a frame. Since I am not in any hurry, I will be waiting for your news on this.

    Have a great day and thank you for making projects like this for us.

  7. Mary – my stitching has been confined to cross stitch and back stitch for many years…more like decades! Even when I was doing embroidery I didn’t know/ work with many different stitches. Is this tree suitable for someone who is essentially a beginner? In spite of not doing any embroidery currently, I so enjoy your posts!

    1. Hi, Nancy – If you’re used to working with needle and thread, then yes, I think a “beginner” at surface embroidery can handle this design. If you’re an absolute newbie to stitching, I don’t think I would start with this – although you could certainly take the pattern and the threads and use different stitches and a different approach to stitching the whole thing. It doesn’t have to be done the way I did it! There’s lots of room for interpretation in this design!

  8. Oh Mary, I’m so excited about this. I’ve been looking for a project that will push me to learn more stitches and produced a wonderful piece when I’m done. Thanks so much for all you do!

  9. I really enjoyed this post and learned some really useful info regarding kits. I messaged Gay Ann Rogers recently about a couple of her designs and she said much the same. She also noted that if she sold pattern only then people often had trouble getting some of the supplies and then messaged her hunting this or that thread so she found it better to do kits rather than having to try to help people find supplies or alternative threads. I think it helps your copyright too, if you do a kit. Bothy threads only do kits now because of the battle with copyright infringement. The fabric sticks look great!

  10. Really impressed with the care and thought you’ve put into this kit. And love the tree. Will look forward to the time it’s ready.

  11. So excited for this kit! I will be waiting for the announcement. After your explanation, I certainly understand the decision not to do preorders – wow! Things you don’t understand unless you live it!

  12. I have been following you make this tree for what seems the past 3 years. I am so glad you are coming out with a kit. Now I can work on my own tree! Thank you Mary for your constant inspiration and mentoring

  13. I have wanted to do this tree forever…or perhaps only for the last 3 years, and I’d love one of these kits, but in the past you haven’t shipped internationally. Is that going to be the case for this kit? I only live in Italy, it’s not that far away….

    1. Hi, Mary! I do actually ship kits internationally. I just don’t ship the flour sack towels internationally, because the cost of shipping far outweighs the cost and value of the towels. But kits, yes. They will ship internationally. πŸ™‚

  14. I love how much preparation you put into these kits! I’m not much of an embroiderer but you’ve got me tempted to order one of these. I’ve done embroidery as a young girl and enjoyed crewel, too.
    I’ll be watching in July for availability of these luscious kits. πŸ™‚

  15. Hello Mary! I love receiving your e-mails. I have embroidered (some) in the past and your e-mails encourage me to try it again. I am an elementary school art teacher. I teacher grades 3-8, one time a week. I am considering having them do a simple embroidery project and before I reinvent the wheel, I was wondering if you have any advice? The 3rd graders are 8 yrs old and the eighth graders are 14 yrs old.

    Thanks, in advance, for responding.

    Donna Bridy (donnabridy@aol.com)

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