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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Weekend Stitching: Project Preparation, Color Selection, & Beads


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A few months back, earlier this year, I started embroidering this Jacobean whitework project on blue linen.

There were a several reasons I decided to re-start the project, not the least of which was the fact that the blue linen I was using is no longer available.

This past weekend, I put my mind to the new version once again, and I got some preliminaries out of the way by narrowing down supplies and setting up the frame. Now I can start stitching on it! Yay!

Jacobean embroidery in blue and white

It’s no longer solely a whitework embroidery project, by the way. I’ve decided to go with blue and white on this one, on a natural linen ground fabric.

I’m no longer going to call the project “Jacobean whitework,” because it’s no longer whitework. I’ll probably come up with some kind of name for it, but since I’m awful at naming embroidery projects, I’ll let it stew for a while and see what emerges. Any ideas?

Jacobean embroidery in blue and white

I had some difficulty making up my mind about the blues.

I’m using cotton floche as one of the main fibers, but floche comes in a rather limited range of colors. It’s not like choosing from DMC’s line of regular floss, where you can select from a wide range of types of blues, and find a good range of shades within each type.

If you’re not familiar with cotton floche, you’ll find this article and this article helpful in explaining a little bit about the thread.

Jacobean embroidery in blue and white

I plan to use regular floss, too, but the blues still need to coordinate. It took me forever, digging out blues and working with them under daylight bulbs and then in straight sunlight to make up my mind on blues.

And you know, I may still change my mind! One never knows…

Whites, by the way, are much easier to select, if you plan on going with straight white. There are variations in whites, though. In DMC, for example, there’s blanc, which is white. But, among other whites, there’s also B5200, which is bright white. If you decide to use both in the same project, you will quickly notice that blanc almost looks yellowed next to B5200.

I’ve decided to go with bright white.

But that might change, too!

I’m never 100% certain, when I start a project, on my color choices. I select what I think I’ll use, but I make adjustments as I go. I might end up dropping some of the blues; I might end up opting for shades of white.

Jacobean embroidery in blue and white

I plan to use beads on this project, too.

And while my selection of white seed beads is fairly flush, my selection of blue seed beads is deplorably lacking.

So that’s the beginning of this Jacobean project, re-imagined.

I’ll be working on this project little by little. I’m not in a huge hurry on it, so it’s just going to be a now-and-then project. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

I hope your weekend was fantastic, and that you were able to get in some quality time with your needle and thread!

If you have any questions, comments, name ideas, or what-have-you, feel free to join in the conversation below.


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(59) Comments

  1. Dear Mary

    I like the blue and white thread colour as they blend really well. I like working with Floche thread as its a smooth and easy thread to use. I like the design on this project and look forward to the progress on it. It’s nice to be able to take your time on a project when there is no hurry you can make decisions and change the outlook of the design. I just finished another felt bird the parrot from the book that you recommended Embroidered felt birds I’m enjoying making these felt birds as I have not tried projects like these before. Thanks for sharing with us the project above and for explaining your changes to it.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  2. Mary, I so enjoy your page as you sound so very natural and down to earth.
    It is so nice to hear your inner thoughts as you do sound just like some of us stitchers.
    I find blues hard to eyeball and am looking forward to this one when finish. Cheers.

  3. Well, whatever you name it, it sounds a lovely thing. As we are planning a cross country move, I recently did a farewell tour of the Deerfield blue and white–and other period–embroideries (I live just a few miles from them). This sounds like such a fresh and inspiring project with the tone-on-tone and bead plans. Eager to follow along!
    Joy in the stitching,

  4. When finished, will you be making the pattern and thread and bead options available for the rest of us? Looks like it will be a beautiful project! Thank you.

  5. Dear Mary,
    I am elderly & handicapped & I cannot tell you how much joy your site brings me. All this knowledge coming directly to my home is such a blessing.
    Knowing how busy you are I’m embarrassed to ask a question…
    I started embroidering as a toddler. My Mother loved to embroider & I have early memories of her working on table-clothes, blouses-you name it. Today I do more counted cross stitch then embroidery but have been inspired by your writings to try different fibers & metallics in the large, complex pieces that bring me joy. i thread my own things often ignoring most of the chart. Well, I tried some Sullivans floss & was shocked & very disappointed: there were slubs & thins in many of the skeins & I felt that the product was markedly inferior to any other floss I’ve used. I think I subsequently read an article comparing different brands of floss & cannot find it. Does this ring a bell with you? I doubt it was in any magazine I receive…
    Thank you so much for all the joy you spread.
    Warm regards,
    P.S. And I’m loving the scissors I won in a Christmas giveaway a few years ago!

    1. Hi, Francine – I don’t know of an article on Sullivan’s, or comparing the floss with others, but I think at some point the topic came up in the comments section here on Needle ‘n Thread…. it sounds familiar! I tried Sullivan’s once, because I had never seen it before and suddenly it was popping up in some fabric stores. Like you, I was disappointed. I found it “dry,” inconsistent in size, and it pilled and tended to knot. While this can happen occasionally with any cotton floss, I noticed this to be the case with all the Sullivan’s that I tried. I just don’t like the stuff! Glad you’re still enjoying the scissors – and I’m so happy that Needle ‘n Thread continues to bring you joy!

  6. G’day Mary, I like what you’ve sorted so far with this project.
    May I suggest, just for fun, ‘Whitework’s got the Blues’, ‘Whitework plays the Blues’!
    Cheers, Kath

  7. I will diffenately be stitching this project because it has two of my favorite things, Jacobean stitches in blue and white. My Mother who recently passed away handed down to me her love of blue and white items such as plates and antique flow blue items. I will be following your progress an excited to see the completed project. You have a fan it me.

  8. Hi, Mary,
    the name I would give this new adventure of yours would be A Modern Adventure Into Deerfield Embroidery. If you check out the varieties of crewel embroidery from early America ie the Colonies you will find some history of blue and white crewel from the area around Deerfield Connecticut. It was resurrected in the 19th century and is one of my favorite styles of crewel.

  9. I would like to try my hand at Jacobean Embroidery and love your project. Is this going to be available for sale as a kit? Thanks, Your fan,


    1. Hi, Nancy – I’m sure I will put it together in some way to make it available. I just need to work through the project first to see how it works out!

  10. Hello, I love the choices you’ve made. I was was instantly reminded of Delft China so perhaps that’s a good inspiration for your project name❤️

  11. The colours remind me of willow pattern, although I guess the pattern is not very ‘willow pattern’, but that’s my best offering for a title. It has potential to be very beautiful, and I’m looking forward to following your progress. But maybe I’m just in an uninspired mood. I just started setting up my very first foray into gold and silk work, and while bending my magnifying/light combo on it’s rather stiff bendy neck, managed to snap the plastic holder. I’m now left with a useless dangling magnifier, and trying not to swear!!

  12. I’m really looking forward to watching you stitch on this one Mary – I love the combination of blue and white (what I’m stitching right now even uses it). It reminds me of beautiful blue and white vintage china/porcelain. I’m not great at names either, but since it’s floral, how about Blue Belle, a play on bluebell?

  13. I would call this a Jacobean Variation. Or Variation on a Jacobean theme. Sort of like they do in music. Anyway, it’s going to be lovely, I’m sure. I do love the blues and the combination with the linen.

  14. I love jacobean. Blue & white are nice crisp colors together. The floche I have are in a different color range so I might do these instead. This is going to be a fun project, I see a variety of stitches on a great pattern.

  15. Blue and white always looks so refreshing and crisp. Now I’m just wondering what those pretty golden oval orbs are in the photo. They look so glowing. Wish I had beads that looked like that. Now burst my golden bubble and tell me they’re something practical. LOL

  16. Re:beads

    From the Fire Mountain website:

    Delica silver lined blue DBS-0047
    Miyuki opaque cobalt RR414

    Either one would be a great dark blue complement to your beads.These are both size 15.

    Best Wishes,

  17. Whatever you stitch will be beautiful, but colours are funny. When you first proposed your white-on-blue I wasn’t sure how that would work. I was much more comfortable with the idea of the strong white on that lovely oatmeal. Now you are adding in strong blues and again I’m unsure. I do love combinations of blue and brown when they are used together in stitching, but blue on brown is not the same. So I am looking forward to being surprised and delighted by a colour scheme I would probably not have thought of trying.

  18. Hi Mary, can’t wait to see your blue and white Jacobean masterpiece! I think it reminds me of Delft blue pottery but the Delft and Jacobean periods are off by about 40 years so maybe Delft the best adjective. Looking forward to watching your work in any event!

  19. Hello Mary,

    I love the colors you chose, I can not wait to see the finished project.

    Best regards,

  20. I don’t use blues in my work but you have
    inspired me. It looks so handsome with
    that piece of linen.

  21. You could rename your Jacobean white work piece Jacobean Wedgewood after the English Blue and white pottery

  22. Can’t wait to see how this will look – hopefully you’ll share as you go along. I love blue & white together! Your work always inspires me to do more..

  23. Mary, A question for you: I know you are a big fan of floche. I’ve heard it’s being discontinued. What do you know about this? What would you recommend instead of floche. Sigh — just when I come across a really nice thread, it goes away.

    1. It’s not being discontinued, Joanne. That rumor went around a while, but it’s still being made for the US distributor, so you can still get it!

  24. I am just settling down to reading more of the gazillion lessons you have here for us, and am anticipating seeing the lovely blues settling onto the linen. It makes me think of Picasso saying that he used blue
    when he had no red. Is the beginning of an new era, a blue period? I can’t wait. I am very fond of blue and white China. So now, I will have Claudine Longet’s voice echoing in head,”bleu, l’amour est bleu.” The L’amour est bleu embroidery. C’est tres doux, vrai?

  25. Mary these colors and pattern look lovely. Question for you, what are the little yellow ovals along the edge of the fabric? Also, do you ever do stitch-alongs or have projects like this that you publish for others to do together? It would be fun to have a baseline project with recommended stitches but then have everyone add their own touches and see the variety we come up with. Have a wonderful day, Linda

    1. Mary, sorry I see reading the rest of the comments that my questions are answered already (well, except if you ever do stitch-alongs). Sorry for not reading more first.

    2. Hi, Linda – You can find a whole slew of stitch-along type projects here on Needle ‘n Thread. I blogged about them as I worked them, covering all the materials, stitches, and tips along the way. You’ll find them on the website, under the main menu “Tips & Techniques.” The first section is devoted to hand embroidery lessons and step-by-step projects. Here’s a direct link: https://needlenthread.wpengine.com/tips-techniques

      I’ll be unfolding this project bit by bit, sharing some of the work along the way. I’m not sure yet how I’ll make it available.

  26. The blues and white color combo really makes me think of Russian porcelain. They are some truly lovely shades.

  27. Dear Mary

    I’ve just encountered the same problem with a piece of blackwork. The pattern is quite tight and no matter what weight thread I used, it just didn’t work for me. Decision was made. Undo it and use the Aida for a different pattern. Now I’m okay with this decision. The other pattern was ‘a good idea at the time’. Now I can move on.

  28. I have just recently discovered needlework. It’s very relaxing & I am learning beyond regular embroidery & I find it all very fascinating.
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience & knowledge.

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