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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Stitching Progress & Some Embroidery Tips


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Welcome to Wednesday! It’s a slushy, snowy morning in Kansas, and promises to be a pretty glum and rainy day – perfect for staying in and stitching cheery things. (I’m not complaining!)

What a week it’s been so far! I’ll tell you more about that below. But in the meantime, here’s a bit of stitching progress and some tips along the way, for the floral floche piece I showed you last week.

Floral embroidery with cotton floche embroidery thread

Now, the funny thing about this piece, which you can’t necessarily gather from the photos, is that it is only 3.5″ square. It’s not a large piece of embroidery.

But it is densely embroidered, so it takes some time. Fortunately, there’s nothing boring about it! There’s a vibrant choice of color and a wide choice of stitches. In fact, when it comes to stitches, you’re only as limited as you want to be.

This is admittedly not a fast project for me. I’ve not had a ton of stitching time, and when I sit down to stitch on it lately, I’m quickly distracted by other things I need to get done, that I forgot about until I sat down to stitch. So I’ve only been going in hour-long bursts here and there on this one. And I didn’t manage to put one stitch in over the weekend!

Floral embroidery with cotton floche embroidery thread

One practice that speeds up stitching on a piece like this, though, is parking the different colors of embroidery threads as you use them.

Parking threads is simply bringing the thread to the front of the fabric somewhere out of your stitching area and keeping them aside, but still ready to stitch with until you need the color again. This saves a lot (a lot!) of starting and ending new threads.

As long as the next stitches you take with a parked thread are not too far away from your last stitches with that color – and as long as the thread on the back of the fabric doesn’t pass over the voided area in the middle of the fabric – you’re good to go! You just keep stitching with the same thread whenever you need it.

There are times when my parked threads become super-numerous, though. When it reaches the point where they are driving me a little crazy, I might go ahead and end them, just to clear things up and start again with a clean slate. But usually, I’ll have anywhere from 5 – 10 threads parked around on the outskirts of the work, ready to go.

You can read more about parking your embroidery threads here. It really is a handy practice!

Floral embroidery with cotton floche embroidery thread

Here’s the back of the round S voided monogram, as it’s being damp stretched and blocked.

You can read about damp stretching and blocking here – it’s a vital step on this type of embroidery – and you can read about the cork boards I use for damp stretching small pieces here. I love ’em! Makes it so easy to pin the piece!

You can see in the photo above the back of the work. Please don’t be alarmed. The back of this type of embroidery that’s filled with all kinds of color and all kinds of stitches could not really look much different.

That’s the nature of this type of embroidery. The back would never look like the front, and while you don’t want your back to be bulky and lumpy, it will fill up with all kinds of criss-crossed threads. That’s just what happens when you embroider! Don’t sweat the back!

Floral embroidery with cotton floche embroidery thread

This is Anna’s S. Anna, for those who don’t know, is my niece, and she is will be occasionally stitching things for me when I need multiple samples or variations of the same thing. She’s a gem!

We both have a different style of stitching, a different approach to stitching, and a different understanding of stitching, so it gives me a much wider perspective on how things work (and don’t work). She’s also left-handed, so she provides good insight when I’m figuring out things for left-handed stitchers.

She also apparently stitches a lot faster than I do (!!!!).


Hey, embroidery isn’t a race! It’s ok to take things slowly. There’s much pleasure in a slow journey, after all!

(That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking with it.)

Floral embroidery with cotton floche embroidery thread

This is the whole 3.5″ square. There are a few things that I’ve adjusted in the design since starting to stitch it – I’ll be adding a few elements, eliminating others.

But the nice thing about this type of design is that there’s so much scope for playing! And playing with your embroidery is a great way to learn new skills, to keep your needlework fresh and exciting, and to challenge yourself. There’s never a dull moment when you play with your needlework!

In Other News

My external hard drives gave up the ghost yesterday. They died the death. Both of them (mirrored drives). This will put a little crimp in my writing and communication for just a wee bit, while that’s sorted.

Thank goodness for cloud storage back-up (I use Backblaze – not an affiliate, just a Very Happy Customer). They have saved my skin twice now, in major computer-crash situations. If you use your computer for something more than just fun, then you should be backing up your data. You just never know, and it’s worth the peace of mind. What could have been a serious disaster for me is just a matter of a slight inconvenience for about a week, thanks to my back-up system.

On another note, yesterday, I ordered a Whole Bunch of Thread for an exciting release in March. Can’t wait to share that with you! But first, I must process all that thread and package it… and finish a lot of samples between now and then!

Friday, I’m going to show you something historically yummy. See you then!


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(25) Comments

  1. Beautiful work as always, and I LOVE the little snail on the square piece. Plus, as a left-handed stitcher, I’m delighted by Anna’s contribution to your labor of love. We’ve had a series of gray snowy days here in Colorado, so your bright colors and spring motifs are a welcome sight for me also!

  2. Oh, the bugs! They make me so happy. The snail is beautiful and the ladybugs are making me want to start a project right this second. The flowers are wonderful too. Bright, beautiful, and positively cheery. Thank you!

    1. I used to like ladybugs and actually made projects using them. Then somewhere along the way, there was a HUGE release of ladybugs to help farmers in our area help control other bugs as a form of destroying pests at the local farms in an ecological manner. I doubt if it worked as they all seemed to end up at our house – in the house proper. My husband was using the shop vac to suck them up by the hundreds if not thousands. It was awfully. The bad infestations lasted all summer long for about 3 years. We still are finding them in the house but not nearly as bad. I will never using them as decoration again. Nothing like living in the country for collecting pests in the house!

  3. Beautiful work on the S.

    About your computer problem – Are the external drives your only drives?

    I first learned to program mainframe computers back in 1970 and have worked with computers since. Husband (also an old time main frame computer programmer) and I use computers that he built for us. They have at least one internal hard drive that is used for programs and whatever has to go on a hard drive due to size. We keep our regular data on stick flash drives so that they can be moved from computer to computer easily.

    I back up my data flash drives (one for general data and a separate one for each accounting client so I can take the data easily with me to work) every session I use it. I back up to two other stick drives alternating between A & B. I also run a weekly backup of all drives used during the week to another stick drive – this holds 4-6 weeks of backups for each of regular data stick drives. Around the 15th of each month I back up my computer s (main section and virtual XP drive of desktop and also back up my laptops) to an external hard drive, making a new backup each quarter. Around the 15th of the month in the months after the quarters of the year (such as January for 4th Q year before) I also back up the computer etc the same way as the monthly backups. This way at any time I have my data, two backups from the most recent sessions, a backup from the end of the prior week, and the monthly and quarterly backups. I also make a stick drive back up of data once a month that I take to our bank vault as offsite backup – I used to send same to work with my husband before he quit his job and then switched to our bank vault. I use two flash drives for this – bring one, take the other home for the next month.

    I have 3 laptops – the most recent a Win 10, the other two are Win XP and still work fine, if slow – mostly I bought the Win 10 as the batteries no longer ran more than an hour in the old ones, a problem at clients. They have basically the same software on them although not all of the lesser software as my desktop so in an emergency I can use a laptop. They also get, well now, my Win 10 gets, monthly and quarterly backups.

    The one thing that I do not use is “the Cloud” aka someone else’s hard drive. The hard drives of the storage companies are a much more attractive location to hack than my hard drive as all they would get – if anything is my data instead of the data of those using the cloud storage. When our computers are not being used they are shut off and unplugged so any hit on our computers would be through our protective software while we are using them. Biggest chance of something being hacked is our laptops while using wifi at a campground on a trip and they hold nothing of value to anyone other than our email sign ins – and we do nothing financial online.

  4. Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar (yellow and green) on Anna’s “S”? Speaking as an EBS and monarch rearer, I APPROVE. 🙂

  5. lets face it. lefties live in a right handed world. they have to use their right hands for so many things, as uncomfortable as it may be. however, doing so, most lefties are able to stitch two handed and able to stitch quicker. righties have a harder time. lefties rock!

  6. That’s a happy exuberant “S”, I love it! And Anna giving you insight into “how lefties work” is great. I’m only partially left handed, but enough to know it’s not always the easiest to use instructions or tools for right hand people.

    Looking at the photo of the back – will you go back and somehow pull those threads that have decided to stick out around the stitching back under so they don’t show through the fabric? If so, how will you do that – teeny tiny crochet hook? thread loop and needle? easy-thread needle? Or is the fabric hefty enough that won’t be an issue?

    1. It still needs trimming. If there’s any overhang that would be obvious in finishing, then I’d tuck it under with a crochet hook or stitch it over. But I think trimming up will put everything right.

  7. This is STUNNING!!!!! I absolutely love this little beauty.. the colors and textures are a feast for the eyes.. I would love to do something like this…

  8. I do product reviews for Amazon and one of the latest was a set of three designs with preprinted fabric, floss, hoops, one for each so that they can be used for framing, as well as needled. They aren’t too complicated and I am making great progress. I found though by the time I had done two colors, I knew I needed to do something a bit more and remembered the vine with the greens in your project a week or two ago. I found some of my DMC color variations and instead of stitching with the three strands it called for, I added in one strand of the variation. It doesn’t shout at you that colors have blended but it gives a very subtle effect. I doubt that the threads that came with the project are DMC. but the green from the kit goes perfectly with the DMC 4070. I can hardly wait to do the rest of the colors. Thanks for all the teaching you do. Yours S is looking great! Stay warm!

  9. I always enjoy your information so much! It brightens my day!
    I just wish I could make the embroidery I do look even close to your gorgeous samples!
    I do mainly hand quilting — and hand appliqué — but very often use some hand embroidery in my quilts!! I also do some small applique pieces.
    Thank you !


  10. I LOVE ❤️ your embroidery! It’s so bright and cheerful, and the design is great. It speaks to my heart, and, in this world today, my heart needed a little speech.
    Thank you for sharing and keep stitching!

  11. Is the pattern for this project available for sale? It’s perfect as a gift for my daughter, daughters-in-law and granddaughters.

  12. DMC cotton is my go to as I have not had much experience with other types of thread. I hope to try other varieties of thread soon!

  13. I know this is an old post, but I just found your wonderful site….
    Where can I find the pattern for the void monogram and/or the heart?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi, Debra – Thanks for asking! Those are being released this year! (2022) Not exactly sure when, but I’m shooting for a February release. Keep on eye on the blog for more information!

  14. You provided really useful tips for embroidery projects like parking threads to avoid constantly cutting and rethreading. Both the stitching progress shared and additional historical content discussed make this an informative and enjoyable read for anyone interested in learning hand embroidery skills and techniques.

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