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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Prepping for Kids’ Embroidery Classes


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It’s summer. And in summer, I like to host children’s embroidery classes. For those who don’t know, Needle ‘n Thread actually sprang from children’s summer embroidery classes that I taught way back in the summers leading up to 2006.

This past week, Needle ‘n Thread turned 13 years old. And even though there was a break due to lack of a teaching space, I’m happy to say that, as of last summer, I’m back to offering summer classes for local children and youth.

I think it’s important to teach children the needle arts, to show them that they can create beautiful things with their hands, and to give them the opportunity to learn a creative hobby. Even if they don’t stick with it “full time” in their early years, there’s a good chance that they will eventually come back to it.

I’ve been prepping the project samples for this year’s classes. We’re doing two projects. I showed you the first one (this sampler needlebook and a less complex variation thereof) already. The second one is another flour sack towel, because these give the kids a “picture” to embroider and a finished object to display.

But I’m not quite sold on this particular class sample below, and I’m thinking I need to make some adjustments. Take a look…

Sunflower & Toadstool: Embroidery Project

After last year’s Floral Corners projects, this year, I wanted to simplify the main project.

While the kids did ok with the Floral Corners, those who worked the full version didn’t go home with as much of the project completed as I would have liked.

(Subsequently, though, I heard that many of them completed their project, and several even worked the design repeatedly to give as gifts for Christmas. That was heartening!)

Still, this year, I wanted to simplify.

I pondered. No kind of inspiration struck.

I was feeling a bit pressured, so I just started doodling things I like. Sunflowers. Toadstools. Butterflies. And I stuck them together in a scene of sorts.

Sure, it’s not the height of art. But hey!

Sunflower & Toadstool: Embroidery Project

I carried over some design elements from last year’s Floral Corners – especially the flower petals worked in fishbone stitch.

That stitch went over really well with every level last year. The younger kids picked it up right away, and so did the older participants.

Fishbone stitch is wonderful for filling petal shapes, because it completely fills the shape, but it is a forgiving stitch made up of a sequence of straight stitches. It works better than satin stitch, which can easy go wrong and look bad. Fishbone stitch pretty much always looks decent!

Sunflower & Toadstool: Embroidery Project

But you know what?

I’m not sold on the mushroom.

I’m just not feeling it.

The underside of the cap will definitely get a different treatment – the lines there are too heavy. But what about the top of the cap? Does it work? Or no? Got any other ideas?

And that stem… it’s just wrong. It should be light. So that has to change.

If I were stitching it myself, independent of teaching it to kids, I’d fill the cap. The spots would be white and the rest of the cap would most likely be a pale brown or maybe – depending on my mood – red.

But do I venture into long and short stitch with the kids? Maybe a chunky long and short stitch? I’m not a fan of chunky long and short stitch, but I realize that there’s a time and place for everything in embroidery.

So I’ve formed a different plan in my head, but I also figured this is a great opportunity for the Collective Mind of Needle ‘n Thread to come up with some suggestions! Who knows? Maybe the mushroom isn’t as bad as I think it is. I’m sure many of you will have fantastic solutions that I would never think of. This is the wonder of having such a great online community to consult!

What are your thoughts? Any suggestions that you think would work better? How do you envision that toadstool? Got any fun fungi ideas for me?

I’m all ears, my friends! Feel free to join in the conversation below!

And in the meantime, I’m going to do some design tweaking on the rest of it… More to come down the road!


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(140) Comments

  1. How about more flowers? A frog? The scattered flowers at the bottom seem more out of place than the toadstool.
    I would ditch them first and then see if the toadstool looked better. They seem sort of light and delicate while the other three elements are heavier. Or maybe the toadstool really does need to be red! Maybe a simpler filling stitch would work for it also.
    Have fun with your children’s classes! It seems like such a sweet way to spend the summer!

  2. Mary, I’m wondering if you can direct me to resources for embroidering a landscape type picture, either surface or needlepainting. I’ve seen examples online on FB, but can’t get back to them. I know that there’s a course being offered at 2020 EAC Seminar and I hope to attend.

  3. I like the design but. I don’t like the color of the mushroom. Especially for kids I think it should be a brighter color. I like your mention of red. Leave the stitching as is and change color. Maybe just outline the stem too.

  4. I love the concept. Would like to do it myself. On the mushroom I think outline in pale brown for the stem and the cap red with white spots.

  5. The mushroom just doesn’t do it. Maybe replace it with a little mouse finding seeds in the grass among the flowers?

  6. What age kids are you teaching in this class? My granddaughter is coming for a week in August and I’m thinking about doing some stitching with her. She’s 11. Thanks!

  7. Try filling the underside of the mushroom with a dark tan. I’m not sure what stitch, but something textured like a chain stitch maybe? The mushroom right now stands out to me as the only (completed) element done in an outline style while the rest of it reads as colored-in, and I think that’s why I’m not feeling it.

  8. Good morning. Such a charming project, it looks like fun.

    The thing that first struck me about the mushroom was it’s monochrome brown color. It stands out as a bit too dark. I think this might be a good place for a variegated color of light-medium brown thread on the stem and cap.

    Rather than little flecks and spots over the cap, perhaps 2-3 rows of long & short stitch along the bottom of the front edge to give the button substance. Then flecks around the top of the cap.

    As you said, making the stitches for the gills thinner (and even adding just a few more lines) using this same color thread would look more balanced.

    1. Love your thoughts on the mushroom Nancy. When I look at a mushroom (from the grocery store, even a cremini) the stem is light. Maybe just using a single thread in the same color for the gills would help. The top I’d do just as you say but again in a shade lighter color. How about a buttonhole stitch frill around the stem where the cap was attached to the stem. Kind of like a buttonhole cup but not a complete circle.

  9. I agree with the post about the delicate flowers vs. More chunky toadstool. How about a Caterpillar to go with the butterfly?

  10. Hi Mary, I like the mushroom. Maybe you could use a light gray instead of the brown, or maybe 1 strand each of brown and light gray.

  11. Delightful! Love the fishbone choice and the sprinkle of flowers on the ground. What about just making the ‘shroom rather squatter and at less of an angle? If it was smaller overall, then a long and short or other filling stitch, whether thin or chunky might not be so daunting? One could always add a bit of height with a little ladybug on the side/top…
    Your end designs are always so lovely and the colors just right. Whatever you decide will no doubt charm your little needleworkers!

  12. I agree with you about the mushroom. It doesn’t fit. The scene is magical and bursting with beauty and colors. The mushroom is not pretty. I imagine you’re going to make the butterfly colorful. I think if you want to keep the mushroom you’re going to have to use colors and think of something peeking out like baby bunny ears. Something kids will love to do. Something magical.

  13. The summer before 6th grade, my family moved to Iran. It was also the summer I learned to embroider, and my first piece was a big butterfly drawn by a friend of my mother’s who taught me the stitches. I fell in love with the art that summer, and I am still in love. Thank you for working with children. It is so important!

  14. Hedgehog could be fun!
    What about dandelion seeds (fairies)
    Thistle could be interesting.
    Beehive and bees?
    A Caterpillar might do the trick.
    Even a tortoise

    Oh what fun…wish I could come!
    Jenny x

  15. I love all you do, Mary. The only suggestion offer on the mushroom is to make the stem shorter…
    Thank you for all you have taught and are teaching me about embroidery!!

  16. I love the frog idea. Possibly the edge of a pond instead of the scattered flowers. It’s the butterfly that looks out of place to me. I don’t think of them being close to mushrooms. A damsel fly might be better if you go with the frog. Not sure if you have those in the USA but they look like a mini dragonfly.

  17. It is Lovely ! When it’s finished you will know what it needs, it will just come to you. I’m inclined to agree with Deb that maybe some red on the mushroom top would be good.

  18. I would separate the mushroom from the flower and butterfly and make a separate design. The mushroom would then be taller and you could put a frog or snail under and near it with a smaller bug or wormlet on the cap. As for the flower and butterfly, they seem to be competing in terms of scale. I would put a second flower near the first instead of the mushroom since they grow in different lighted areas.

  19. I vote for a red mushroom. It might not be as ecologically accurate but for kids it would add color and a bit of oomph. I also wouldn’t heavily fill in the stem with red but just dot here and there and outline it in red. Then I would let them pick their colors for the butterfly. Actually I would let them pick any colors they want for any parts in their scene. It’s theirs and part of their pride in ownership and workmanship will come from displaying their vision in their colors. Maybe discuss the color wheel along the way and show them examples of what colors spark heat and which ones invoke ice. What a great camp! Oh to be a kid again!!!

  20. To combine the flower & blossom as a third image might work. It could be a similar composite flower blossom, half hidden by a butterfly on top of it. The butterfly would need to have its wings up. This could show your students how overlapping images lessens some stitching.
    The foreground could have several appliqué rocks that only get lines of blanket or buttonhole stitches holding them down. Again less stitches for more covered fabric. A session of machine zigzag stitching around various earth colored fabric scraps, cut in “rock-like” shapes would offer variety in the different students images.
    A few sprigs of stem stitch grass or growth sprouting up by some of the rock edges may add enough detail without taking the focus from the bloom and butterfly main features.

  21. Hi Mary,
    I really like the design overall. Perhaps a couple of mushroom buds at the base. It feels very separate from the other parts. The underside stands out as too dark for my eye.
    The kids will have such fun this summer!

  22. How do you advertise your classes for kids? I would love to do something like that in my neck of the woods.

  23. Hi! I love the design, but I think the problem with the mushroom is the two slightly larger ‘spots’ on the cap. If it was all little seed stitch I think it would be cuter, and easier to stitch. Seed stitch is often overlooked, IMHO, as a filling stitch, I think if often looks really great. I’m really hoping you’re going to make this design available for the rest of us!!

  24. The mushroom is ok but I would rather see you substitute an animal for the mushroom; a rabbit or squirrel perhaps. Maybe you could simplify the animals so a youngster could exicute them. Just a thought! An animal lover❤️

  25. I like the flowered down below. I wouldn’t want to tackle L&S with younger kids but 13 should do ok. For younger kids if you want the color in the cap but don’t want to complicate it with a fill stitch, you might consider the heat setting of crayon or inktense. Or a raw edge applique with a textured quilt cotton where your stem stitch or a chain stitch would cover the edge . Then embroider in top of that. Of course you might want to pre do that part for them.

  26. Mary,
    I dislike the name “long and short”. I always tried to do a row of long and then a row of short. Short is really the compensating stitch. This threw me off for years.
    Also, I like my mushrooms to be whimsical, add color.

  27. I was thinking that mushroom would look great next to a tree. You need larger images for kids to practice on but here mushroom might just be better to be smaller or out of picture.

  28. It’s a cute design. My suggestion for the mushroom stem.. shorter and thicker! And some mushrooms are different colors underneath. Yellows or even red!
    I love reading your posts you are so generous with your knowledge. Thank you

  29. The thing that bothers me about the mushroom is that it is so large against the sunflower. Each element is great, but they seem out of proportion when placed together.

  30. Lose the mushroom! Add in a little frog. Or even another flower. The brown colour isn’t even much fun!!

  31. I think dump the butterfly and mushroom for a hummingbird and daffodils. The petals are still a Fishbone option and stem stitch. Like the daisy too.

  32. Greetings! A few thoughts on mushrooms. I love to eat them! I have never appreciated them in works of art unless they are the subject of a scientific drawing. However, if you want to stick with your mushroom, how about flatten it out a bit and add a small creature on top of it enjoying the view. At present, upon asking a couple of kids, they said it looks “a little creepy.” They said it looks like a helmet with eyes. Eeek!

    1. Hi Mary,

      I love the mushroom, idea. I agree your thought about lightening the stem and with a previous comment about shortening the stem. I also agree that using a different colour would be more fun. I’ve seen red and yellow egg-shaped mushrooms with white flecks. Very fun since they were in moss and looked almost like Easter eggs.

  33. Being from the coast, any mushroom to me says “wet”. Would be perfect if paired with a fern or base of a tree. I concur with the others that an animal would be fun. The design is very “spring” so baby animal? Or perhaps a snail if your thought was to show how to use browns, grays, and greens? Regardless, wish I lived there and could take a class myself!!

  34. I don’t care for the mushroom, I like the idea of a frog or a little snail. Or maybe a couple more sunflowers instead of the mushroom.

  35. Mary, although I think the shroom is cute, where I live, you don’t get sunflowers and shrooms at the same time. Toadstools are a thing of early spring, and sunflowers and other meadow grasses = summer. Also, in my garden, when the sunflowers are out, so are bees and flurries of butterflies, crickets, snakes, mice, gophers, lady bugs, rabbits, and the dreaded flies and mosquitoes!

    The meadows I have seen in summer in the midwest are ablaze with Plains Coreopsis, Black Eyed Susan, Cosmos, and Coneflowers in addition to Sunflowers. Meadows always have an under story of flowers, in my garden they are Scarlet Pimpernel. (They come in both blue and peach). If your grass was taller, I’d put a set of rabbit or cat ears!

    There’s meadow mice, they could be nice 🙂 What I’m trying to say, is if you’re going for Kansas wild, go out and look at what’s there and chose something. If you’re going with Fairy Tale, put in the toadstool house, and a hint of fairy wing.

  36. I like the teaching sampler. I think, though, that the mushroom is a bit tall in relation to the flower. Might it be possible to use a small piece of red material, cut to shape, as an appliqué filling and then to top it with some small, white dots in satin stitch or French knots? Hope your classes go well…I’m sure they will. Best wishes, Anne

  37. Personally I love the mushroom as it. I’d add a wee baby mushroom to the left…smaller and lower. That should help add more interest to the little design and a bit more practice. BRAVO for your teaching the young folks!

  38. A lighter brown for the mushroom and a more flared cap to tie it in with the rest of the scene. The shape sort of makes it look closed off to its surroundings. Perhaps a more gold brown color.

  39. How about a bunny or a frog instead of the mushroom. I feel the mushroom isn’t right because it would only grow in a dark, damp place. The “happiness” of the rest of the design doesn’t mix with the mushroom in my mind.

  40. Love love LOVE the toadstool cap!! Change the ribs and stem to a cream colour if you must but leave the cap. And don’t use red on it. Red on a mushroom cap means amanita muscaria … deadly toxic.

    I love this little vignette. Lucky kids to have such a lovely project to work.

    Cheers — Phyllis

  41. Hi, Mary,

    I tend to agree that the mushroom is too heavy. What about a light brown or gray, or even greige. Maybe a pink for the undercap?

    I like the design and think it will appeal to kids. Lucky kids to be learning from you.

    Have a great summer.


  42. Good morning Mary ~ On the thought of teaching children to carry on Needle Art, I just returned from the Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery International Guild (BDEIG) Seminar ~ there was a 12 year old there with her Grandmother and she was doing great. We were all in AH of this young lady coming to Seminar.

    The mushroom looks like it was just put there to fill space – making a red one with white spots would make it belong. I like the comment above that suggested a frog, maybe a snail too. Can’t wait to see the finished piece and the butterfly.

  43. I don’t like that mushroom. I think it’s not a very contemporary motif, where kids are concerned. As has been previously suggested, I think an animal (bunny?) might work better. I like that you set up children’s classes. We won’t have new stitchers if we don’t teach them!

    The Sampler satellite of my local EGA chapter is doing a cross stitch/sampler class again this year. Attendees (no younger than 8) learn cross stitch on a Texas sampler design donated by a member. This is a one Saturday simple design. The EGA South Central Region (SCR) is subsidizing this class, which makes the kits free! If any other chapter is interested, check your region – most have an education budget.

  44. Good afternoon, Mary,

    Just a couple of thoughts re the so pretty towel corner…maybe the reason u r dissatisfied w the mushroom is the brown color; maybe a creamy touch or a faint pink. There r red headed mushrooms native to Germany which entertained my eyes when I saw them.

    Could the butterfly b just a bit large in relation to other objects and maybe b placed hovering closer to the flower?

    I am hoping to teach my niece to embroider. It will b difficult to do, bc she teaches elementary school and has a six yo daughter. As u know, time is a scarce commodity.

    Pat O’Connor
    Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.

  45. I love the Fishbone Stitch leaves on the sunflower and I can’t wait to see what stitches you use for the pretty butterfly! But I agree with you on the mushroom. I think the brown is too dull. It needs to be more whimsical. What about a toadstool, with the white stem and red cap with white polka dots (something like this, or a whimsical mushroom house like this)? You could teach Satin Stitch dots, or Stem Stitch circles!

    Or maybe you could replace the mushroom with another flower, like a full face daisy or tulip. Maybe a trio of Buttonhole Stitch stylized flowers? I think that would blend the flowers at the bottom together better too – if you have all flowers and one focus (the butterfly) it might be more visually balanced than having two focus elements (the butterfly and the mushroom). Good luck, can’t wait to see what design you settle on 🙂

  46. The thing that catches my eye about the mushroom is that it seems to be drawn from a different perspective than the flower.

    You can see the underneath of the mushroom, and see where the stem attaches, but the flower and its leaf are seen from the side, with nothing showing that looks like the underneath bit of the petals or the stem attaching to the bottom of the flower.

    I realize this is incomplete, but maybe shift them both to the same sort of perspective and see what you think. Either both from slightly underneath, a bug’s eye view, or with just a two dimensional Egyptian panel view. (It’s been a long time since I took any drawing/art classes so I’m not sure I’m saying this as clearly as I’d like.)

    Oh, also, I’m a huge fan of vivid colors. Maybe make the mushroom much brighter tones?

    As someone who’s only recently returned to stitching, I find I like having lots of little motifs to work on. Completing one really gives a nice sense of accomplishment.
    What about some little critters? or more butterflies? Bugs?

  47. I like the little mushroom, but I think I might take it one or two shades lighter as it seems heavy and drags the design down on that side just a bit. Adding a little frog or ladybug on top of it, as someone else suggested, would be fun, too, altho not really needed.

  48. I love your scene! If you really needed to change the mushroom, maybe the stem could be thicker and the same thickness all the way to the top, and white. The underside of the cap should remain brown, as most mushrooms are. The stitch you have used underneath mimics well the ‘gills’ that mushrooms have under the cap. Maybe thinner thread and more ‘gills’? Those suggestions aside, yours already looks wonderful. No real need to change anyting at all!

  49. Mary,

    Not sure about the mushroom, maybe if it wasn’t t brown . It’s too dark of a color for this pattern. If it was lighter I think I would like it better. Maybe some red.. I love the stitch on the leaves. Thanks for the inspiration.

  50. I like the mushroom, however I think you should stitch it in red with white spots! I’ve seen big red mushrooms with white spots in flower beds while on walks and they always make me think of Alice in Wonderland! And maybe even add a caterpillar…. 🙂

  51. Hi Mary, I like the idea of the toad stool being red with white dots and perhaps reorient the buttfly to be flying towards the flower or perched on the flower?

    I love the large flower and the stitch you picked for the petals. We’re very wet here in St Louis and I’ve seen very pretty tiny flowers in blues, pinks and yellows on the side of the freeways – I say flowers they are probably weeds – LOL – I like the smaller element s as it makes the scene have more depth. I’m not a designer but I like the concept

  52. Hello Mary,

    I’m sending you an e-mail. Am repeating I very much enjoy your columns and your writing.

  53. What about seed stitch for a filling around the blank white spots? I did seed stitch for filling in a ladybug (with satin stitched black spots) on a project once and it worked out very well.

  54. I think a red mushroom would be fun. Or a frog. I also agree with the other comment that I am not sure I like the little flowers at the bottom. They seem out of place or they need stems of their own somehow.

  55. I don’t see many wild mushrooms, but I think the stem should be fatter, lighter, and shorter. I love your news letter. I wish I could do something similar to encourage kids it try counted work.

  56. I kind of love the mushroom as it is. It is definitely what drew my eye. I really like the underside, but if you must change it- what about a very pale pink (not candy pink at all)? Or a very pale green.

  57. In reading over the comments, I love the idea of a bug under the mushroom. I see a snail or caterpiller lounging with over-sized sunglasses.

  58. I would keep the mushroom. It lends whimsical charm to the design.

    I would fill the stem with beige stem stitch, change the underside of the cap to a lighter brown and use fewer strands in my needle, and use Romanian couching on the cap, placing the couching stitches to correspond to the little seed stitches and spots, then touch up those regions with a contrasting color (I was thinking of brown on red, but white on red would work well too). Or (I don’t know, this is a bit tricky) I might do two-needle embroidery using the contrasting color to work the couching stitches. The mushroom could also be made a bit shorter.

    To tie the design together a little more — I think it is the smattering of flowers underneath that makes the mushroom seem out of place — I would add some more bits of green among the flowers, and maybe take a few flowers out. I also really like the frog idea. Would a golden ball hiding under the mushroom be too much?

    – C. L. Fingristion

  59. I’m jealous of the kids. I’m a senior who would love to take a class with you but, alas, I’m about 4,000 miles away to the west.

  60. What fun! But the mushroom looks out of place to me, since this look springy/summery and I equate mushrooms with autumn. Anyway, I think a little hedgehog would be cute and easy to do with lots of straight stitches for its quills. Might have to change the scale of the flower, at least maybe the leaf might have to be smaller. Am also wondering how they will do with the scallop edges of the butterfly wings, but then, I’m sure you’ll teach them how to manage that. Can’t wait to see how the kids do and hope you’ll be sharing their results again this year.

  61. I think that embroidering the under cap of the mushroom with 1 strand of darker thread, pretty close together, in long stitches, and in between, with also one strand of grey thread would really create the effect of a real mushroom. I know kids really enjoy hand sewing classes of all kinds.

  62. I forgot to say that you could change the color of the mushroom, there are beautiful orange/yellow ones that are exquisite to eat.I love mushrooms of all sorts

  63. I like the mushroom, maybe with red dots. I like it’s stem as the sunflower will be “full” too, gives balance to the scene. The flowers on the bottom looks out of place to me. Great project for the kids!

  64. Belated Happy Birthday to Needle’n Thread! You hit puberty now, as I see. 😉 Live it up, seek your own way, question your mom, but never forget that she loves you and will always be there for you. And not only her, we all do! :o)

    Mary, your little mushroom fellow is really cute, I love it. Only with all those bright and colourful things around, it looks a bit mousy. I would give it a red cap and a light brown stem (for me, it can stay lean as it is) – and perhaps, yes! a mouse (or another little critter) seeking shade under its umbrella. But the critter isn’t essential, come to think of it.

  65. I like the mushroom, but would change colors, maybe top in red with cream color under and the “stalk”?

  66. Mary I love everything that you do but I also love the fairy mushrooms which are flatter than the one you have drawn and are red with white spots. I can imagine little elves and fairies dancing around them.
    Unfortunately I can’t draw two sides the same to show you!!!!
    I would like to embroider this myself as my granddaughter would love it.

  67. Looks like a great project. Hope you sell it like last years floral corners. Loved that project and great for gifts. I am 75 and still learning to embroidery by hand.
    I know that what ever you do with the mushroom it will look great.

  68. Perhaps the mushroom looks out of place because it’s the lone shade-dweller in the collection? There are so many fascinating-looking fungi; maybe you could save the mushroom idea for a different design, like a group of mushrooms growing near young curled fern fronds and some forest violets, with some moss, something like that?
    For the current design, what about a chipmunk instead of the mushroom? Chipmunks love sunflower seeds and they have that nice, distinct side stripe that would be fun to stitch.

  69. I don’t especially care for the mushroom either. I think it is too tall and the cap isn’t the right dimensions either. I would make the cap larger, stem shorter and I would move the pretty butterfly to the left a little more.

  70. I looked at the comments then looked at the project again. I think it looks whimsical, happy and should be fun to embroider.

  71. Hi Mary
    How wonderful to provide this opportunity to children. It’s a great looking combination of shapes but the mushroom is obviously causing concern.
    To be bold enough to make some observations when I am no expert, I think the mushroom is too big and the colour too harsh.
    Having a shorter stem and flatter, perhaps more curvy top instead of the dome, stitched in softer colours may work better. Then there would be a contrast between the shape of the mushroom and the dome of the sunflower, with the mushroom sitting underneath the flower rather than standing next to it. Which is what happens in nature.
    As for colour – lots of mushrooms are traditionally stitched red (and white) but then there are many shades to choose from. So if you decide on red maybe a red shade to tone in with some of the flowers and the butterfly may provide some linkage between the different pieces. Greys and even creams would be good for the stem. Cream could be added to the top of the sunflower and to the butterfly.
    No shortage of colours for the butterfly looking at the shades of the flowers already stitched.
    As for critters… frog or a snail – something small just peeping through the flowers.
    Hope the children are all delighted.
    Thanks for reading.

  72. I, too, think the mushroom just doesn’t work in the fun for kids category. I think a small house, even if it’s a simple outline that they could customize with different stitches would be super. It’s very gender neutral and could go in any direction, turning into a castle or a cupcake with color choices and shapes. Just a thought:)

  73. It’s the composition mainly that bothers me. And yes, the mushroom doesn’t seem to “fit” with a flower. I’m thinking “cluster” – maybe another smaller flower, and a small rock or large pebble to cluster the flowers and grasses around? I love the ideas folks gave of adding a caterpillar, that would tie in the butterfly, and in the main, who doesn’t love, love butterflies? Kids could go wild with their colors on that and have a great time! I look forward to seeing what you come up with. You always seem to pull it together no matter what!

  74. My thoughts on the mushroom, pale pink underneath stitched in long and shorter length variation button hole , single strand to give soft effect. Love the rest. French knot centre for sunflower in dark brown. Love the idea of bringing the next generation into the world of stitching.our embroidery group have a Junior group meeting in the school holidays. Proving a small but popular group.

  75. Hi Mary,
    Before I read all of your ideas for the mushroom, I immediately thought some sort of rose or salmon-to-cream or yellow gradation in long/short stitch might be nice for the under part of the mushroom to give it more color. If there wasn’t a butterfly hovering immediately overhead, I’d suggest a little butterfly in side-view perched on the mushroom. I added a simplified “Small Blue” (cupido minimus) to a project once and used a black bead for the head, which gave it life!
    I look forward to hearing all about your summer school classes!

  76. I love the flower and the butterfly; the mushroom leaves me cold. Making small changes doesn’t appeal either.
    How about a small insect or animal? Bunny, squirrel, caterpillar; these are things all kids like.

  77. I agree that the mushroom seems wrong. I like the suggestions of a small animal, bunny, frog, butterfly, dragonfly, small bird, mouse. So many possibilities. Looking forward to seeing the final outcome.

  78. Regarding the mushroom – I suggest shortening the stem and changing the color. Basic brown really doesn’t blend with the other colors. Try adding some color – maybe a golden brown or a reddish brown. Hope this helps. Maryann

  79. Hi Mary. Did a very similar thing and made a cushion. Did it in a burgundy red. Mushroom was outlined in stem stitch with just a few little stem stitches in the stalk .The spots filled in with stem stitch. Shall send a photo to NeedlenThread site for you to see. It is a monochrome woodland scene using 17 different surface stitches. All easy!! nothing too onerous Hope you like it!!
    Cheers from cold Western Australia

  80. Ah the mushroom – I wonder if you would be happier with a lighter mushroom brown (think brownish cream but brown enough to show against your background fabric) for the cap outline and speckles on the cap then using a bright red for the dots? The speckles could be the bright red too but that might be too much.

  81. Mary my suggestion for the mushroom would be a shorter stem??
    Don’t be so critical though, love your work.
    Sandy NSW Australia

  82. I think the stem of the mushroom could be the main problem: I’ve seen some gorgeous ones where it’s a fatter creamy white with a little “frill” halfway up. It would be perfect for long and short stitch. Then the gills need to be solid light n dark mushroom colour would be good in satin stitch (that way you have a contrast between top and gills to give more 3D effect) I like the stitches you’ve used on the top and you could always swap colours according to your whim . I think the main problem is getting contrast and 3D solidity on the stem and gills and wouldn’t take much to make it cute. (Maybe save frogs etc for another alternative design)

  83. Hi, Mary, I think it is just the colour of the stalk and the underside of the toadstool that is putting you off. You only need to tweak it a bit. The kids will love it.

  84. I have to agree with you, I’m just not feeling the mushroom. The first thing I saw,in my minds eye is your design minus the mushroom and the sun flower a little more centered. Maybe replace the mushroom with a smaller flower done in a different stitch.

  85. Hi Mary.
    I think instead of the mushroom a little hedgehog would be cute, especially the little guy you have in one of your project books. I embroidered a pair of them on a hand towel. It was the first time I attempted short and long stitch and it turned out really well. I think kids could easily do it.

  86. Overall, it’s a nice little scene. I suggest small changes; shorter mushroom, taller flower, and tip the butterfly toward the right a little instead of left. It appears to be leaving the scene instead of entering it. I’m always amazed at the work you produce.

  87. I think the little flowers at the bottom of the piece don’t balance with the ‘heavier’ toadstool and sunflower. I think I’d go with still have flowers but more grass. The toadstool maybe a bit less domed, or a shorted stalk and I agree the stem needs to be paler or a different greyer sort of brown.

  88. Dear Mary

    This is a great idea to teach children embroidery at a relatively early age, I’m sure they will love it. I agree with other suggestions made by readers to make the mushroom smaller and add a group of them so that the mushroom doesn’t look odd on it’s own and maybe a use a lighter colour. But what ever you do I’m sure it will be lovely. Thanks for sharing with us your dilemma on the preparation for children projects and for the photos.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  89. Hi Mary, to my mind the issue is that the mushroom leans the wrong way and the stem is just a little too long for the proportions of the other elements. You could try it leaning to the left rather than right. I do like the idea that a little creature could be sheltering under it – Snail? Ant? Spider? Keep up the great work of introducing new young embroiderers to the pleasure of creating through stitch. Regards, Sally.

  90. Yes, I think the mushroom needs a different approach. Perhaps a shorter version with a filled in red cap and white spots.

  91. What seems off about the mushroom to me is the stem is too thin and straight, it’s all one color of brown, and the cap needs oomph (more seed stitches especially toward the bottom?).

    I say don’t underestimate your students – go ahead and do the chunky long & short stitch. Maybe give an option for other stitches if anyone gets truly frustrated with it.

  92. I think the cap is perfect for children. I agree with redoing the underside stitches being too thick. Also agree with lightning the color on the stem, but honestly it’s the height of the mushroom (I think) is too tall. Most mushrooms of that type have shorter stems. And maybe have it not coming from the middle of the grass patch just slightly to the right with more grass on the left of the stem then the right. If you’re worried about having too much space between the mushroom and butterfly, just toss one of those lazy daisy flowers somewhere in that area or just a leaf or two.

  93. Shorten the mushroom stem – i think the mushroom should be closer to the ground, especially in relation to the flower.

  94. I like Deb’s comment of adding a frog. I agree about the flowers at the bottom. Too delicate for the other features. Maybe you could add a rock or a feeling of water with the frog at the bottom. I like the mushroom and thought maybe add a second row of embroidery around the top to define it more and blend better with the stem, which I like the way it is. I like the underneath of the mushroom cap as it definitely gives the feel of the ribs that are really there.
    Having work with children on all kinds of things, I think the simpler mushroom gives the children a little relief from the more filled in parts.
    Finally how about a shorter flower , not too big, to the left of the yellow flower. Maybe a bud.
    I think it is great you offer classes to children. My preK and after school students are always fascinated with embroidery when I show mine. I did work one on one with some of my 4 yr olds this year with simple straight stitch on a burlap type fabric.
    Good luck with whatever you choose.

  95. While it might make the stitching a bit harder for beginners, I suggest putting a slight curve into the stem of the mushroom.

  96. Hi Mary,
    I love your design for the kids. It must be so much ffun to teach them!
    I think it would be nice to mix two more smaller mushrooms in the mix and fun to add more colors to them. That would enlarge the scene too. I’ve never picked them myself but have no idea about the stems. I’ve seen pictures where they have a thinner stem and look like they are blowing in the wind. Love the butterfly and it will be fun to watch you develope it.
    Have a great day. Valerie

  97. I love the design as is! Since you asked for ideas on the mushroom, maybe shortening the stem and flaring the cap a bit…Hope your summer classes are a success!

  98. I like your initial drawing of the toadstool and the flower. I don’t know what age group these lessons are for but, it seems the butterfly may be too complicated to follow the lines precisely. How about adding a wee mouse under the toadstool? It need not be a complicated mouse, perhaps just an outline stitch mouse with either a seed stitch eye or a French knot eye. Just a thought. Have fun with your classes and keep up the good work. Sue

  99. This may be off the wall but what about a little birdie pulling at a worn under the toadstool or just standing on the ground near the toadstool? Other than that perhaps the toadstool should be in red and a light brown on the stools stem.
    What ever you decide it will be lovely!

  100. Hi Mary.
    With reference to your toadstool, maybe make it simpler. Maybe don’t show the inside of the toadstool at all, but just the outer shape done in red with white spots. Not original I know, but familiar. Maybe make a shape in felt for them to stitch on and then decorate with ‘spots’.

    I’m sure you’ll find the answer.

  101. I have been drawn to all things fungi lately, so I would definitely keep the ‘shroom. I am still in the learning stage of embroidery and would be no help in that regard, but I love your work and I am sure whatever you decide will be lovely.

  102. I teach a cross stitch class open to 1st through 12 grade. I see the kids really respond to more current subjects- like emojis, unicorns and llamas. They get excited to finish the project and eagerly show it to their friends. That is the best motivator.

  103. As a beginner, I thoroughly enjoyed all three versions of Floral
    Corners. Please do not make this years’ project too easy.



  104. Well, (being a very deep subject) I agree that the mushroom is off somehow. perhaps flattening out the top might help. If it was me I would remove it and put in a couple of smaller flowers. I like things in threes though. Best to you for your summer classes, they seem like such a wonderful idea! Here’s to the future of Embroidery at its finest.

  105. I don’t think your mushroom has a thick enough stem. Most of the ones I see have a much wider stem. I really like the idea of the fishbone stitch for the flower. I am getting ready to do a sunflower for a granddaughter and that seems like the perfect way to go.

  106. Morning Mary
    What a sweet little picture for the kids to work on this summer. And now to the mushroom, I believe it’s competing with the sunflower for attention so I’d have one or the other but not both. If going with the mushroom, a few of them would be nice. Two on one side, one on the other. I think that the adult mindset we have about mushrooms and their color is getting in the way. I’d lighten the colors used drastically, using a darker buff or medium to light grey for the cap and stem with ‘dirty’ pink, yellow or lavender for the gills, plus make the stem skinny with a frill on it. More like an ink-cap toadstool than a mushroom. Love the understory of flowers below and know it will look better when the greens are stitched in. Maybe make some of the French knots green or yellow too or more grass for these flowers to peek through.
    Just my opinion though and greatly influenced by an adult mind. Sometimes it’s hard for the fantasy of a child’s thoughts to make themselves heard and it takes me hours of doodling to get there. Whatever you end up with, I’m sure will be interesting and something we’ll all of us want to stitch too.
    Best wishes and happy creating ~ Brenda

  107. Hi! First of all, I really enjoy your blog. I like to do fairly large landscape pieces or asian type motifs. If I were doing the toadstool I would flatten it out using a long/short stitch and spot the cap with beads. The size of the cap should not be to difficult to do. I like the stem and grasses around it. I might also put a little snail or bug on the cap. sincerely, Mary and the cat that’s grabbing my arm.

  108. I think the mushroom is super cute. Have you thought of giving the mushroom a baby sitting underneath and to the slight left? Throw in a wee lady bug too. Children like little sweet things in nature.

  109. I think a short mushroom under or at the height of the grasses might work. I do not think of mushrooms a tall and lanky more short and stout. If you want a tall feature at that spot with the same height maybe a flower. You asked.

  110. Mary,
    How about a Fairytale toadstool? They are real and very colorful. I agree with you that the mushroom you have is too heavy, the color does not go with the bright sunflower. If you google fairy mushroom with spots, good images come up. Here is the link I found,

    I love your site and using it to teach my 10-year-old granddaughter the art of embroidery.
    Thank you for all you do…

  111. My vote is to embrace the mushroom – add one or two smaller ones that aren’t open yet, or a big one that has opened all the way. The design has room for more than one mushroom. Mushrooms are fascinating!

  112. So beautiful! The kids are going to love it!
    I actually really liked the mushroom; I thought it was so cute. Perhaps the stem is tad bit long? Maybe two stumpy and chunkier stemmed mushrooms would work better, with a slight difference in height? So many possibilities! And of course, also taking into account the time for the kids to finish it..

    Like others have said, maybe adding another color would be a nice touch but then it’s an extra thread to add to the kit and there are only so many you can put together before the cost becomes too much for a class really.. So that’s also another consideration.

    Personally, I think just the one brown color works for this though. And it shows how to achieve a bit of perspective too with angles, so that’s really neat.

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