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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A Finish – Embroidered Table Runner for Fall


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Before I launch any kind of embroidery design with a stitch guide, I like to test it in several situations.

Besides working my Festive Fall embroidery design (you know, the one with the pumpkin, leaves, and wheat that’s been sneaking onto Needle ‘n Thread lately?) on cotton towels, I decided to stitch it on a linen table runner.

I learned several things in the process.

Overall, I like the results! Here are some photos right after it was finished – nothing “staged” to show it off all that well, but it gives you an idea of how the design worked on this small natural colored linen table runner.

Festive Fall - pumpkin, leaves, wheat autumn embroidery on linen table runner

Golly, it’s hard to frame one long table runner for a photograph!

The linen from which this particular runner is made is quite lightweight. It’s got a nice hand – very smooth – and it’s drapey. It’s not a medium- or heavy-weight, rustic linen. It’s actually quite fine and light.

The weave is a bit more open than I personally like when embroidering on linen, but it worked out well.

The color? It’s what I’d call a kind of “stone” natural. It has that grey-ish tone to the natural, rather than a brownish tone. It’s a nice color, but normally, I lean more towards the brownish naturals that are a bit warmer in tone.

Festive Fall - pumpkin, leaves, wheat autumn embroidery on linen table runner

I like the way all the colors work on the ground fabric. Even though I originally chose these colors while working on white, they turn out looking good on the darker linen, too.

In fact, most of the colors really stand out in almost a glow. I think it works. Do you?

Festive Fall - pumpkin, leaves, wheat autumn embroidery on linen table runner

I transferred two versions of the design on the runner, to give each end a little different finish.

On one end (the right side of the photo) is the simplest of the pumpkin designs – with just a few leaves and swirls and shards of wheat. This side stitched up in no time flat. You can easily stitch the simpler design in one evening bout of stitching. If you don’t do longer single bouts (three or four hours) at a time, it can certainly be done in a couple sessions on a weekend.

The other end (the left side of the photo) has the more elaborate version of the design, with a few more leaves and lot more wheat. Thanks to this quick method of embroidering the wheat that I showed you the other day, while this version of the design is a little more time intensive, it’s still manageable.

The main thing I discovered while stitching the runner is that greater care must be taken with this type of embroidery on this type of linen, to ensure that stitch tension is decent but not extreme. It would be very easy to turn this into a puckered mess – or into a piece with large open holes around all the embroidery stitches. It’s a “go gently” type project, much more so than (for example) when embroidering on cotton towels.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience and I like the outcome.

I’ve stitched six samples of this design so far, and I’m presently working on the last one. I love it, because there’s enough variety in the design and all the elements are small enough that I never have a chance to get bored. But I have a few other projects beckoning me with urgency, and I can’t ignore the call much longer!

Keep an eye out for Festive Fall some time in September.

In the meantime, in the background, I’m still getting the kits together for The Leafy Tree. If you’re on the advanced notice list for that project, you’ll be getting an email about availability in the next couple weeks! Yay! If you want to be on the list, just drop me a line here.

Hope your week’s going along at a jolly clip and that you’ve had some quality time to bond with your needle and thread!


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(30) Comments

  1. I like this color linen as a background. It shows the pattern very nicely. I too tend to gravitate towards warmer, browner tones, but this combination really works.

  2. Hi Mary, I love your fall runner. Both with the wheat & without. Your work is so creative and beautiful.

  3. As usual, Mary, your designs don’t disappoint. I love all the parts. I am slowly working on The Leafy Tree kit and love it too. I highly recommend it. I am working it slowly because I want to enjoy and relish the work, and I have another project that I started before receiving the kit to finish up. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and love of embroidery with us.

  4. I love the entire table runner. I too love the warmer brown earthy tones but this is lovely. Pumpkins and maple leaves are my favorite motifs at this time of year. I want orange to orange red pumpkins like yours, I’ve been seeing too many peach color ones and don’t care for the washed out look. Same with maple leaves and now I’ve added wheat to the list because I can’t wait to try some wheat. I may have to just try some quilting cotton to practice and see how I like making them. I would love this on a splotchy hand dyed fabric that looks like a forest floor but it may take away from the design itself but I love mottled fabrics. I agree the threads glow, looks like a shiny silk. Enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend.

  5. Mary you are an Artist! To be able to turn and ordinary pumpkin and a handful of wheat sheaves into a painting that just glows is amazing. Oh! to have a 1/4 of your knowledge and ability – and then to share it with as as you do. You are a treasure.
    Thank you

  6. This is so attractive on this stone grey linen background that I nearly want to stop all that I’m doing and start stitching a table runner too. You have me almost convinced with the open outline quality of stitching that I could get it done this year. I’m sure that I have all the supplies as these are the colors I love best (and I just finished a project from class taken 9 years ago, resumed this month and converting what would have been a complicated sewing case into a decoration for my front door).

  7. The runner turned out beautifully! I really love the look of linen. I have been collecting small pieces of linen with the idea of making a linen quilt. Of course it will have a fair amount of hand embroidery on it!
    The linen you chose for this runner really compliments the overall fall look and feel of your design. The overall look of the runner is very warm. I am looking forward to when you have the pattern available so I can start stitching one for my fall table 🙂

  8. Do you have a kit available for their runner? I would love to purchase. It is simple yet beautiful. Thanks you.

    1. No, I don’t have a kit for the runner. But I’ll be putting out a stitch guide with patterns, colors, stitches and instructions, and I’ll also have some ready-to-stitch towel sets available. The threads are DMC, so it would be less expensive and quicker for most people to pick up their own selection of threads locally or to work from their stash.

  9. How truly lovely! What a very pleasing and beautiful color combination. I don’t know if it is the linen color, but all of the items have a shine with a vibrant golden color. It is really, really gorgeous. This is another winner!

  10. Dear Mary

    I really like your Autumn runner and the lovely Autumn colours of gold, browns, yellow and oranges which stand out on the darker linen you have used and looks beautiful. It looks an easy design to follow and stitch and would make lovely gifts. Thank you for sharing with us your Festive Fall runner it’s beautiful and for the photos on the different designs they are both lovely. I hope you have a great weekend.

    Regards Anita Simmance

    1. Dear Mary

      Thnak you for taking the time to reply to my response and I’m really glad to hear it was fun to stitch it looks it as it is a lovely piece of embroidery and on the right colour linen which helps the colours stand out.

      Regards Anita Simmance

  11. Mary, it definitely works. I love it…..and will be looking for the transfer/or kit coming out in September. Truly beautiful!

  12. I love table runners, and your Festive Fall table runner is AMAZING! I know you said you are going to make the pattern available – but when? . I’d like to start prepping now – what kind of fabric and how much yardage? Do you have a link for buying the fabric? I’ve got lots to do to have this done for Thanksgiving!

  13. I have never seen embroidery that can compare with your work it is gorgeous. I so admire your artistic talent and you eye for color and detail.

  14. I am looking for very fine linen to make some very fine pulled work would be very grateful for some recommendations


    1. Hi, Olwen – You might check with the folks at Needle in a Haystack (www.needlestack.com) – they have a whole variety of excellent linen for all kinds of embroidery techniques, and they would definitely be able to point you in the right direction!

  15. Hello. this design is beautiful. I do not know how to embroider, and was wondering if you sell this particular runner already done? Please let me know

  16. Lovely pattern! For a hand-embroidered table runner like this, how would you finish the back? Would you sew on a backing material after?

    1. No, normally on household linens, there’s no lining behind the embroidery. You just have to make sure that you keep the back as neat as possible.

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