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: Name those Stitches!


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No, I didn’t finish the little line sampler I showed you on Friday.

I came close – about 1/2″ more to embroider – but the weekend was busy with graduation and family and the like. I just couldn’t eek out that last 1/2-inch bit, which meant I couldn’t finish the project into a made thing, either.


I’m not all that disappointed that I didn’t finish, because it gives me something to look forward to today. It’s a good incentive to get Needful Things finished so I can concentrate on the Fun Stuff. Sometimes, embroidery makes the best carrot!

Lots of emails this weekend, asking if I could name the stitches in my sampler so far, for folks who want to stitch something similar.

Line Sampler of Embroidery Stitches

Here’s part of one email that sums up the majority of requests:

Mary, I love your sampler you showed today. I want to do one like it or stitch-along with you but what stitches should I use? I have the worst time deciding on stitches and I don’t know which ones by looking at them. I can’t pull stitches out of my head either, because I don’t know very many but I would like to learn more and do a sampler like this. Also to show my daughter how to stitch. Help!…

You know, I’m really happy to help with requests like this!

When I conceived the idea (not that a sampler of stitches is original – I mean the idea to do this), I figured it would be the type of project where you could wing it with any stitches you wanted. But I realized after hearing from many of you that deciding on stitches is sometimes a real road block.

And you know what? It can be a road block for me, too! As I was stitching some of the later rows of this particular sampler, the stitch ideas weren’t popping into my head that fast – I was having a hard time coming up with “what next.”

The Stitch Line-Up

So, for those who want to follow along, here are the stitches I used so far, working from the dark pink line at the top to the bottom of the photo above. I’ve linked to tutorials here on Needle ‘n Thread.

I’ve used three strands of floss for all the stitches, except where noted.

1. (Dark Pink): Chain Stitch (This is the border, which I stitched first, all around the rectangle, which is 6″ x 4″)

2. (Dark Blue): Back Stitch

3. (Light Yellow): Stem Stitch

4: (Bright Green): Vertical Fly Stitch

5. (Dark Yellow & Dark Pink): Chain Stitch, with one side whipped.

6. (White): Running Stitch

7. (Light Blue): Palestrina Stitch

8. (Light Pink): Herringbone Stitch

9. (Orange): Back Stitch

10. (Red & Light Yellow): Straight vertical stitches in red (2 strands), with light yellow (6 strands) laced through. Alternately, this could be couched, but it was faster and easier to work the vertical stitches and then just run the 6-strand piece underneath them.

11. (Light Green, Dark Green, Light Purple, Dark Purple): Guilloche Stitch – a combination stitch. I substituted back stitch lines on the outside (worked with two strands of floss) for the stem stitch lines in the regular instructions for Guilloche Stitch.

12. (Red, Dark Yellow, Bright Blue): Interlaced Chain Stitch Band.

13. (White & Light Pink): Two running stitch rows, offset, then laced with light pink.

14. (Dark Blue & Light Blue): Buttonhole Stitch worked in two directions, and off-set so that the stitches fit inside each other. The first row (dark blue) is worked with the twisted edge on the top and the “teeth” of the stitch pointing downwards. The second row is worked with the twisted edge on the bottom and the teeth pointing upwards, fitting between the first row of stitches.

15. (Bright Green): Feather Stitch.

16. (Dark Pink): Tent Stitch or Half Cross Stitch – just a slanted straight stitch, slanting from lower left to upper right.

17. (Light Yellow & Dark Yellow): Chevron Stitch – one row worked on top of another, creating two layers, and interlocking the top layer with the bottom layer by passing every other diagonal stitch underneath the stitches on the first (bottom) layer.

18. (Dark Purple): Tent Stitch or Half Cross Stitch, slanting from top left to lower right.

More to Come!

So if you want to take up a little stitch sampler, that list will get you started! I only have about 1/2″ more to fill on my sampler, and then I’ll share the finish with you.

I’ve got a few other fun things coming up. Wednesday, we’ll be looking at some drop-dead gorgeous embroidery. You know, the kind of embroidery that makes you sigh…

Happy Monday all around!



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(12) Comments

  1. I want to tell you that your blog is one of my favorites! While needlepoint is my passion, I find so much inspiration here – thank you! I love embroidery too and it’s how my love of needlework began, in my younger days! You do beautiful work and I thoroughly enjoy reading all of your posts! Have a great week Mary!

  2. Oh yes! So glad you have stitching block too. It is the most awful thing to be faced with a wonderful piece of silk and have a complete blank. I get stuck at the pattern transferring stage…and once I’m stuck, I push it aside and feel guilty. I pick it up again, determined to make progress only to get discouraged and defeated and disheartened. And so it goes.

    I do my absolute best when I buy a kit with the pattern on the fabric and the silks all packed up nicely with the stitches all laid out. Then I’m off, stitching away with great enthusiasm.

  3. Dear Mary

    What a lovely sampler full of colourful stitches and so beautiful applied. It’s useful to embroider a sampler to help the stitcher learn various stitches and placement which can be difficult especially on the more complicated stitches. I should really try a sampler, it looks so interesting and would help me learn stitch placement etc. Thanks for sharing with us your delightful sampler and for the list of of the thread colours and links to how-to-videos with the various stitches.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  4. I absolutely LOVE that readers idea of a ‘stitch-a-long’!! Is that something you would have time to do? May one new stitch per week or every other week? It would be so fun and would allow us to learn while doing – which in my case is how I learn best.

  5. It would’ve been such a fun idea to have people guess the stitches and the person, or people, who got them all right would get a prize. Something sampler-related. Maybe one of the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches books, or a coupon to buy awesome thread or fabric from a great online store. I was all ready, checking out the stitches and naming them and then you went and did it yourself. Which was helpful, actually, because some of the lighter colors are hard to see and I didn’t notice those lines. Also, I would have assumed that you would have used a different stitch for each line, therefore I would be lost trying to think of stitches that look like backstitch, but aren’t. And if it’s tent stitch going one way, but called something else if you go another way.
    A bit of unsolicited advice for your classes: make sure to teach them knots (French knots, bullion knots, etc.) because those were the hardest to get right on my own, even with video instruction and pictures and books. (One thing that I absolutely hate about the A-Z books it that they don’t show stab-stitching, which is what I primarily use. It’s typically a sewing method that I then have to try and translate to stab-stitching. It doesn’t always work out.)

  6. Mary, when you get done with this project, I wish you would do one that shows how to use these stitches.

    I know that’s what our own creativity is for. However, I have used Palestrina stitch except to join two pieces of linen (oops, dress too short!). I’ve only used Chevron to hem. I can’t think of any instance when I’ve used these stitches for anything else.

    Maybe you could make a new “Lattice Jumble” to go with this sampler. Except it wouldn’t be lattice, it would be more like, “Hey you learned all these stitches in this sampler, now let’s put them to use.”

    Can’t wait to see what you do with this. I’m so glad it won’t be wadded up in the bottom of a basket. I made my last stitch sampler on a knit t-shirt. I call it my walking stitch dictionary. Have a great week.

  7. I love how colorful this is!! I would try stitching along, except that I already have a huge sewing project in progress — one that I need to finish. Maybe later… now that I finished my last concert and recital, maybe I’ll have more time to stitch.

    It’s so pretty! This is the kind of cheerful embroidery I love!

  8. Mary, thank you so much for your newsletters and tutorials. Your tutorials are so clear and easy to follow, they are a pleasure to follow. I have been doing handwork since I was a young girl. Once again I am enjoying every stitch that I am learning to further develop my skills an creativity.

    Happy stitching!

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