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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Christmas in July? You Can Start Stitching Now!


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Christmas in July.

It’s just a bit overdone, isn’t it?

I know it’s a marketing ploy. And it bugs me in a number of ways, on a number of levels. I like my seasons – and the holidays that go with them – just as they are. I like them to show up when they’re supposed to. And I’m not too keen on the marketing trends that play havoc with them.

The only instance that “Christmas in July” makes any sense to me is when it comes to embroidery and other forms of arts and crafts that require time to develop.

Embroidery, after all, is a slow craft. You can’t just snap your fingers, press a button, and voilá! A hand embroidered gift pops out, ready to deliver.

So, while I tend to be a bit of a cynic who looks askance at “Christmas in July” as just another marketing gimmick, I have to admit that, when it comes to embroidery, thinking ahead to Christmas-in-December while sweating away in July does make sense.

And to that end, for those who want to get ahead on Christmas needlework, here are two ways you can do that…

Christmas in July for Hand Embroidery

First, there’s a limited quantity of Holly & Evergreen flour sack towel sets in stock in my shop.

These are three-towel sets. Each towel has one of three (small, medium, and large) holly & evergreen embroidery patterns pre-transferred in the corner of the towel, so that it’s ready to stitch.

Holly & Evergreen three-towel sets ready to stitch

You can find information on how I stitched my holly & evergreen towels here. I’ve shared colors and stitches with you, so that you can recreate your own holly & evergreen towels for this coming Christmas!

Twelve Trees for Christmas on Sale

Another fun, Christmassy project (or twelve) can be found in my project & instructional e-book, Twelve Trees for Christmas.

Twelve Trees for Christmas available on Needle 'n Thread

There are many ways you can use these little trees – as ornaments, on household linens (think: one tree on each of twelve cloth napkins for your Christmas table), for Christmas cards, tree skirts, table runners … so many possibilities!

Each tree is worked with simple stitches, using DMC floss. I take you step by step through stitching the tree and through all the stitches used on all the trees. They’re suitable for beginners and beyond, and they’re a great way to learn how to use different embroidery stitches for various types of design elements.

For those who are keen to try stitch the Twelve Trees for Christmas this year, in plenty of time for the holidays, you’ll find it on sale at 15% off right now. Take advantage of it now, as this discount won’t happen again this year!

Seasonal Stitcher?

Lately, I’ve tried to start stitching ahead of the coming season. I’ve always been a seasonal stitcher. If it’s a winter thing, I like to stitch it in the winter or late autumn. An autumn something? You’ll normally find me stitching it at the very end of summer, when I’m yearning for cool, crisp days.

But I’ve started working on some winter embroidery projects as we speak, to try to get ahead of the seasons this year.

What about you? Are you a seasonal stitcher, or do you like to stitch ahead for the upcoming seasons? Do you do anything in particular to put yourself in the mood for stitching winter things in summer, or visa-versa? Even if the seasons are the opposite where you live, do you find it difficult to stitch something for summer in winter or for winter in summer? I’d love to hear your input on the subject! Feel free to join the conversation below!


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(38) Comments

  1. Christmas in July in Australia is in winter. We have ‘Christmas in July’ gatherings where we can enjoy the winter Christmas traditions such as log fires, roast dinners and mulled wine. Christmas in December is summer – BBQs, seafood feasts and beach parties. Stitching happens all year!

    1. Yes, that’s what it was like when I lived in Florida (whether-wise!) – still “summer” at Christmas, and not unusual for a cook out or a trip to the beach on Christmas Eve!

  2. I’ve always been a seasonal stitcher too, but in the last few years Christmas seems to sneak up on me faster and faster! I’d like to be able to stitch ahead of the seasons but I find it really hard to get the right motivation. I did stitch a Christmas ornament for a contest in May this year, and I sung carols in my head while I was working on it and thought of memories from holidays past – it really seemed to help!

  3. I have not been a successful seasonal stitcher. The closer it gets to a holiday the more ideas I find, but no time to complete them. Although this year I am almost ready to start an ornament for my granddaughter! I have completed many of the made-from-stash Christmas Ornament to give as gifts. It is a fun project.
    I completed The Twelve Trees of Christmas on a linen table runner that I picked up in Target a couple of years ago from the $3 bin. It is hemmed and has a tiny inside border of pulled thread. I still need to back it to hide the stitches. The trees were so fun to stitch! Take advantage of the sale! Thanks, Mary for the fun and beautiful designs.

  4. Unless it’s something very small, like an ornament kit, I’m not a seasonal stitcher. I’m super slow at needlework, so the knowledge that a holiday or season theme project started shortly before won’t be done in time sort of kills the ambition for me. I tend to be an off season stitcher, as I have a chance the project will be done for the holiday. Or I block out that any holiday or season is involved – when it gets finished, it gets finished. That may change with upcoming retirement though. I may even get the hand-quilting on the quilt done in my lifetime 🙂

    Thanks for the note about using regular inexpensive muslin as backing fabric in place of batiste – it’s on my shopping list.

  5. I’m often doing “off-season” crafts as I make many of my holiday gifts and decorations. At the moment I’m working on shawls for my sister and sister-in-law; a small lapghan for my mother and a couple of stuffed critters for my grandchildren. I also plan to begin the “Twelve Trees of Christmas” sometime before Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping my plans don’t get interrupted by life events.

  6. I don’t think in terms of seasons when I stitch. Never occurred to me. My projects are chosen because I like the subject or the process. My next embroidery will be a Mandela in shades of blue. Currently completing a rainbow 3×6 cross stitch with the word Love in black. I don’t chose Halloween patterns or Christmas patterns, I do like winter, moose, trees, nature and words and quotes. Being retired I do choose to begin my day at the sewing table creating with thread and fabric. Lucky me. ❤️ P.S: I learn a lot from your posts.

  7. I have the habit of stitching year round for Christmas. Each year family and friends receive a hand made ornament with their Christmas card. I try to keep the number under 40, but each I think of someone else who is so special. That said I will work on anything small or light(weight) in summer when the temperature in South Carolina is in the 90’s with humidity as high as it can get and not be raining. Then went things start to cool down time for bigger projects.

  8. I completely agree with the need to work on hand sewing projects in the summer! Like you, I enjoy the seasonal stitching, but if I want to enjoy it or gift it to another I need to work ahead of time. Hence, some projects aren’t completely ready in time, but that’s okay. The receiver won’t know the difference. Also I am very happy to be a Patreon member.

  9. I am always working to catch up because I’m doing to many projects at the same time. At the present I’m piecing a new quilt, doing a fairly large counted cross stitch and small counted cross stitch note cards, embroidering some of the projects I bought from Needlenthread, rather practicing the stitches, hemming a skirt I made and a pair of pants for my husband. Then there’s the dog, the ducks, the chickens and the six rabbits not to mention the small vegetable garden. The stitching is contingent on my RA in my hands. Some days I can not stitch or sew or do much at all, but the good Lord gives me good days after the bad and I am grateful.

  10. Dear Mary

    I’m not a seasonal stitcher at the moment I’m making or cutting and sewing a quiet book for another Great Nephew my goodness the family is growing so I’m in the process of making felt farm with felt animals and felt garden it takes up a lot of time but get the old artistic brain of mine going I’m normally worn out by the end of the evening but filled with satisfaction and new ideas great stuff. Thanks for sharing with us your sale on the twelve days of Christmas and for the towel sets.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  11. I’ve got to do some Christmas in July so I can get everything finished by Christmas! Not just the stitching but also the finishing since several are destined for the tree

  12. In the early 80’s I was a craft shop manager. If you think it is annoying to think of Christmas in July, how about Christmas in February! February is when all the salesmen come with the predicted popular items and new crafts to carry. They need to book advance orders so the manufacturers make enough merchandise to sell. I was stunned the first year that all these salespersons started calling for appointments!

  13. I am so over Christmas in July! Time passes so quickly – I’d rather concentrate on tomatoes and melons in July. I never get all the crafting I want to do done but I’m thinking this year I’ll let myself start a little earlier (I’ve usually waited until after Thanksgiving) and continue to work in January and February while I’m still in the mood (and it’s under 90 degrees)

  14. It is currently hot here in the south of New Jersey. We are near to many shore areas on the east coast. I just started a pillow cover with colorful leaves. I feel cooler already.

  15. So far, I’ve completed 4 ornaments. I’m working on a Thanksgiving theme. In the nick of time, I finished a Father’s Day Apron for my spouse. I sewed one of those Japanese aprons, which he likes because he hates ties. He manages to get them caught on the BBQ all the time. I embroidered 3 different pockets on it, in 3 different styles. Which has made me re-think the whole ornament thing. My new plan is to stitch ornaments as if they will be pockets and make seasonal aprons or shopping bags.

    Last year I did stitched holiday cards. Ixnay on that! The repetition was creatively killing! My husband was so funny, he says there’s room for more pockets on his apron. In other words, he loves the embroidery.

    Waiting for the linen to arrive to start the bags. I’m going to put your trees on them, shisa tree and kaleidoscopes! Back to my turkey, have a fun week.

  16. Actually, I can stitch whatever the pattern any time of the year. For me its a simple matter of interest. If I like a certain design, then off I go to happyland with needle and thread!

  17. I for one hate stitching Christmas in the middle of summer & the same
    holds true for all the other holidays. Consequently I start Halloween in maybe September so I own a great many UFO’s.
    Maybe one day I’ll catch up to myself.

  18. I too get tired of stores and things jumping the seasons as they do, such as Halloween candy out before Labor day. Like how many of those bags will make it until Halloween?

    Years ago as a not well-to-do DIL where the family I married into gave everyone a Christmas present as well as the ones I needed for my side of the family, I was stitching like crazy all year trying to make special individualized gifts. The ex, of course, wouldn’t use a crowbar to take any money out of his wallet to help with gifts. It all fell on me. Finally, even his family realized that trying to drum up 30+ presents yearly was a bit much and I had finally gotten a job that paid more so that year I bought gifts. My ex MIL in as snarky a way as possible, told me, “well I see you are finally spending some money on Christmas presents!” Urge to kill. One of the years I had made rag dolls for 3-4 of the girls complete with an outfit and hand-embroidered face, attached yarn hair. Funny thing, several years later my SIL reminded me that I hadn’t made a doll for one of her girls born after that Christmas – Say what? When did I sign up to make the same presents for life?

    I am at the point now where I no longer make gifts for people unless I really want to and have the energy for it as I am in poor health. I would rather make things for my home. I remember after all those Christmases of giving away every crafty thing I made, I looked around and could barely tell that a crafter lived there.

    My sad tale of woe, only to echo that if you have a lot of gifts or just a couple special ones that you want to make, you need to start on them way ahead of time so they aren’t pressuring you at the last minute.

  19. I like to stitch just ahead of the next season.
    However, Christmas stitching is more fun
    and relaxing throughout the year. This way
    you don’t put yourself through the unpleasantness of having to meet a deadline.

  20. I love to stitch with the calendar, and so o work on a project that reflects the season (or holiday season) as the year progresses. I also use the MN State Fair, with its needlework recognition and display, as a “new year’s” starting point for selecting the larger projects I plan to complete in the next 12 months. There are many seasons–holiday, natural, and local. It’s one of the joys of stitching that I can select and create needlework that’s specific to a time while also creating timeless artifacts.

  21. Here in the UK we have had some very humid weather – I cannot sew when it is hot, my hands become sticky and I find my stitches are not at all neat. I like the darker days with a good light Spring and Autumn – yes I get into the groove, also gardening is nearly finished – the weeding part – so my hands start to recover. I find if my nails and hands are nice so is my stitching!!!!

  22. Hi Mary,
    Many, many thanks for your thoughtful posts. I started on Christmas embroidery July 4th! Yup, so far two tea towels and currently working on a redwork Santa project. I really like the idea of the 12-Trees on napkins – what a great gift idea, and I could give 4-6 per gift and it would still be generous! (I already own 12-Trees so will miss out on the sale).

  23. My younger sister loves Christmas and yes you gave me the idea of what should I gift her on Christmas. Thank you

  24. I cross stitch all of my Christmas Cards. Last year I started out in October, thinking, no problem. Yeah right! I was still stitching on Christmas Eve and not everyone got a stitched card. This year, I started in February! Like you, I like Christmas hubbub to start AFTER Thanksgiving. But, also like you, I have so many projects going on that I have to work on holiday things all year.

  25. Christmas in July has been a thing here in Australia for years – people who are ‘dreaming of a white christmas’ go for a drive or short holiday to somewhere where they can have a log fire and have a winter ‘Christmas’ dinner. The shops have only got into it more recently.

  26. Hi Mary.

    How are you? The heat wave in my part of the world broke last night, thankfully. I do enjoy living in a place with 4 seasons to celebrate, and the weather extremes are a bear. I am wondering if you could share with me where to buy good quality flour sack towels. What do you recommend? I’ve missed these towels every time! I’m coming to terms with transferring them myself! I’d rather buy them, but I have to get going on this!!

    I sure hope you have a blessed day.



    1. Hi, Kathy – if you drop me a line, I can put you on the advanced notice list. I’m working on another round right now and hope to have them available by this coming weekend or early next week. I’ve got classes going right now, so it’s a matter of transferring between one set of classes, packaging between another….

    2. Hi Mary. Thanks for getting back to me. I’d love to be on the advanced notice list. Would you please add me to it?

      I will look for the notification.



    3. Hi, Kathy – can you please drop me an email? The advanced notice list is an email list made up of saved email requests, and I can’t send an email from you to me. 🙂 Thanks.

  27. Buenos días desde México.
    En realidad mas es una pregunta que un comentario. Estoy interesado en hacer impresiones en tela usando esgrafiara e imprimir mis propios diseños. Pero tengo una duda, ¿que clase de tinta se usa para imprimir los diseños que se borran cuando la tela se lava? He investigado un poco sobre eso, pero no encuentro respuesta, tal vez me pueda ayudar. Me atreví a preguntar porque veo que sta vendiendo kits impresos y supongo que la tinta de los diseños se borrara cuando se lave la tela ya bordada. Muchas gracias!!

    1. With the pre-printed towel designs, the ink does not usually come out with the first washing. It fades significantly, and eventually it comes out enough that it isn’t noticeable. But the lines – which are very fine – are covered with embroidery, anyway. I don’t know where to find the kind of ink you are looking for. There are embroidery transfer pens that wash out with water. That might work for you.

  28. Hola, cómo puedo aprender a bordar lo que usted hace, está hermoso, felicidades….

    Dónde puedo descargar los patrones de los bordados?

    Da clases?

    Un fuerte abrazo,saludos….

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