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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Three Cheers for Color!


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To prepare a collection of hand embroidery projects around a theme, it takes a while to get all the samples stitched.

Lately, I’ve been sharing progress on the same basic embroidery design stitched a variety of ways, from these voided monograms with tons of color and filling all around them, to this whitework voided monogram on natural linen, and today, to a simple shape employing the same design with a little less fill.

Best of all, it’s in Spring Brights as far as color goes! And I say bring on the color – there’s nothing like a good dose of color to lift one’s spirits!

Colorful Hand Embroidery floral filling with floche

What I particularly enjoy about this design group is that you can achieve a wide variety of texture and interest across the design, using relatively simple and familiar stitches.

And you can combine colors in innumerable ways, in whatever direction your little heart takes you!

When I worked the voided monogram here, I had an extra layer of color, thanks to the overdyed floche from Colour Complements. The lime green especially brought an extra level of brightness to the piece. It’s a deliciously springy color!

By the time today’s piece was underway, I was out of lime green. So the plan was to stick with solid colors and mix them up all over the elements.

Colorful Hand Embroidery floral filling with floche

As you can see, this is not complex embroidery! It’s a combination of a small group of stitches that we’re probably all pretty familiar with: chain stitch, stem stitch, straight stitch, French knots, daisy stitch, fly stitch, bullions, buttonholes and various woven wheels. Each of those links will take you to a tutorial for the stitch, if you’re not familiar with it.

I’m rather fond of the woven wheels. They look like a cross section of a Gobstobber, don’t they? A Gobstopper, for those unfamiliar with it, is a small candy jawbreaker built in rings of bright color so that, as you suck on it, it changes flavor and color with each layer. The idea comes from Roald Dahl’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the book, the point of the candy was that children with very little pocket money could indulge in a candy that never got smaller and that changed in color and flavor. They’ve been around since I was a kid – and of course, we always eventually bit them to reveal the rings of color.

But I digress…

It’s funny what will inspire your embroidery when you’re playing with color, though, isn’t it?

Colorful Hand Embroidery floral filling with floche

With the models for the design group I’m putting together (it’ll be available here on Needle ‘n Thread a little later this spring), I wanted to demonstrate different degrees of filling around the design.

With the original voided monograms, I filled the background completely with stitches.

With the whitework monogram, the background around the design layout is somewhat filled, but not solidly filled.

You can see both the whitework monogram and the voided colored monogram in this article.

With this piece today, only the design elements that are transferred on the fabric are embroidered, with no extra filling around them, so that the design is more open and there’s a lot more white space.

Colorful Hand Embroidery floral filling with floche

Have a cheerful heart!

I’m going to finish this little piece into something different. I’m working out the finish process today, and hopefully, I’ll have a fully finished something-or-other to show you at some point next week!

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend – I hope you can spend a good portion of it peacefully bonding with your needle and thread!


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(24) Comments

  1. Morning Mary, Thank you for this article. It’s exactly the inspiration I needed for a piece destined for The Princess of the Pond and now I understand why I hadn’t started it yet. Had the line drawing for two years now, ready to find some ground fabric, hoop it up and start stitching.
    Happy stitching ~ Brenda

  2. Dahl and colour make a good mix, I think! Not sure which idea you’re saying came from Dahl, though. He certainly didn’t invent gobstoppers, but only the *everlasting* kind! The specific term is more common in British English than American. I couldn’t remember which word was used instead, but OED says ‘jawbreaker’ is the more usual US term.

  3. I am *really* looking forward to seeing what kind of chart/instructions you come up with for this and the voided colour monogram – they are gorgeous!

  4. This certainly is very happy and springy! I’ve never heard of Gobstoppers candies. I suspect being jawbreakers, Mom would not have allow them. Funny that we *were* allowed candy cigarettes though.

  5. Just beautiful Mary!! You were right to leave some white showing in between all the flowers: it gives a bit of balance and a place for the eye to rest between all the color. You do such beautiful work!!! Hugs, H

  6. Dear Mary

    The embroidered Heart is absolutely beautiful and I love the bright spring colours you have chosen and I really like the edged half daisy and other half stitches. I can’t wait for the e-book to come out and be able to purchase and look through and try the designs. Thank you for sharing with us the Heart embroidered project and for the links to the other voided monograms. look forward to the e-book.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  7. Mary ,I just have to tell you how much you’ve made my day with the view of that yellow and pink flower! It’s off topic ,but years ago when my daughter was around eighteen months old I had put her in a light yellow baby corduroy bib coverall with a pink long sleeved T-shirt. I loved the colors but my mother criticized the color combination.It broke my heart. She said you don’t put those colors together!I couldn’t believe it.When I saw your beautiful flower of pinks and yellow it made me so happy to see someone else loves that combination.Your perfect stitching only added to my joy. Thank You for sharing your beautiful handwork.

  8. Beautiful! I am wondering what the green vine stitch is? Is it a combo of two different stitches?


  9. Thank you for such an energetic start for the New Year. I am planning a wedding handkerchief and would like to know if the linen you plan to cut into smaller pieces would be appropriate for my project. Look forward to your response.

    Eleanor Gregory

    1. Hi, Eleanor – well, it’s a nice, smooth linen, but it is not really a handkerchief linen. With a wedding hankie, you’re going to want something white and very fine, I think. This has a bit of “roughness” to it, compared to some of the finer linens for that kind of embroidery. I’ll be writing a little more about linen shortly!

  10. Hi Mary
    In the bottom left of the photo Three Cheers for Color, there is a flower that looks like it is the daisy stitch but raised. Is there a “how to” on your site to show me how you did that?
    Thanks so much as always

  11. I love this little heart. I’ve gotten the pattern off of the Patreon page, but I’m having trouble figuring out how big it is supposed to be. I have printed it out exactly as is on the pattern & transferred it to my linen, but as I’m stitching it, the flower bits seem so close together that they are running into each other. Would you mind sharing your dimensions?

    Thanks, Lynne

  12. Hi Mary!
    I love these little flower “candies”!
    Do you a tutorial or stitching instructions for them?
    I would love to play with these small and instantaneous gratifying little gems!
    Thank you!
    Happy Stitching!

    1. Hi, Linda – This design is coming out as an ebook, with design and stitching instructions, this year. I’ve had a few delays. I wanted it out sooner, but life has gotten in the way. I’ll keep plugging away on it, and hopefully, it will be available in the not-too-distant future.

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