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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Whitework Embroidery with a Touch of Blue


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A few weeks ago, we chatted about sometimes having to quit on an embroidery project – not quit-quit, but just quit temporarily. It’s the idea of stepping away, especially if you’re getting frustrated with a piece of stitching or finishing.

In my case, I was trying to rush some finish work and the results were less than satisfactory.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is never to rush finish work. Perhaps you’re damp stretching embroidery and preparing it for framing. Maybe you’re turning a piece of embroidery into something particular like household furnishings (a footstool or a decorative pillow). Or you’re taking on the challenge of turning some small embroidery into a needlework accessory, like a needlebook, scissor fob, or pin cushion. Perhaps it’s even more complicated than that – or perhaps it’s a very simple finish, like framing it in an embroidery hoop.

Whatever the case, don’t rush it. Set aside a good chunk of time, prepare plenty of space to work, and lay out all your finishing supplies. Then sit down and go about the finish work in a steady, patient, methodical way. You’ll get much more satisfactory results!

Voided Monogram in Whitework with Blue Trim

One of the first things I did upon returning home from my recent travels was revisit this voided monogram in whitework on natural linen.

With the project simmering in the back of my mind while I was away from it, a few ideas had dawned on me. One of them was the inclusion of color in the finishing process.

When visiting this linen shop in New York, I found myself drawn repeatedly to the natural-colored linens with blue and white stripes. In fact, most of the linen that I walked out of the store had blue in it.

I love blue! In a sense, blue dominates my world. I live in Kansas, after all. While we might not have the most striking physical features in our landscape, we do have incredibly immense views of glorious skies that dwarf the landscape. As we move through the seasons – and even as the single day slips by – blue in its every mood is the overwhelming color above our open plains on most days. And while some people can find the massive blue open vault of the heavens above somewhat disconcerting if they aren’t used to it, I love it!

Anyway, combining blue with the natural linen and whitework struck me as a good idea.

Voided Monogram in Whitework with Blue Trim

To pull off the combination, I decided to incorporate blue beads on the edge of the voided monogram and a blue ribbon as part of the finish work.

Will it surprise you to learn that this will be a needlebook? A needlebook makes a great platform for embellishment. There are few needlework accessories that are as useful as a needlebook – I figure you can never have too many of them.

Voided Monogram in Whitework with Blue Trim

I don’t normally use enormous beads – and these beads are Huge! I like working with 15/0 (pretty small) seed beads and occasionally with 11/0. These are 6/0. Their size makes them quite visible and also provides a pretty and easy finish for the edge.

Voided Monogram in Whitework with Blue Trim

I’m not quite finished with the construction of the needlebook, but it’s on my to-do list today, competing with taxes.

I wonder which one will win?

I’ll be sharing more of this soon!

Hope your week is off to a grand start!



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(12) Comments

  1. I really like that little bit of color the beads add. I also like how it finishes off the edges. I’ve been looking for something to finish a piece of hardanger I’ve been working on and think that would be a great way to finish it. Will you be including the directions on that technique (or send me to the instructions if you’ve already shared it)?

  2. Dear Mary

    Ah this is very pretty with the blue beads and ribbon. Blue isn’t my favourite colour but it looks really nice against the white thread and the natural coloured linen, I really like it. I bet you are glad that you made the decision to leave and sit on it for a while especially while you were travelling and shopped in the embroidery shops for various accessories. Thanks for sharing with us your progress on the S monogram needlework book, I can’t wait to see the finished project.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  3. I just love this, and I too love blue. I’ve been checking your blog for years now, and you have been so helpful to me in my efforts to improve my needle work adventures. Thank you so much. I look forward to every post.
    Suzie in Idaho

  4. Love this color combo! Are those Palestrina stitches in between? I agree that our environment impacts our color choices. I live in a mountainous area and green (trees) and purple ( distant mountains) is one of my favorite color combos to stitch in. Looking forward to seeing this finished.

  5. Ohh this is delightful Mary! I love the addition of the blue beads, it just lifts the overall finish into something rather special. And yes, although it can be frustrating to have to put a project on one side until you have sufficient time to get into the zone, it’s often the case that you have better ideas that make it worth marinating a while!

  6. I use 6/0 and 8/0 beads in knitting (8/0 on lace weight, 6/0 on fingering) and even used to them, I think 6/0 are huge! What a pretty finish, though.

  7. The white on natural was beautiful, and the touch of blue lifts it to ravishingly beautiful. Please, when you post your finish pics, include a good shot of the back of the book? From the bit peeking out from under the monogram I can see it’s lines worked in various stitches – a simple concept, but it looks beautiful too.

  8. Hi Mary, the blue does really set of the linen and white. What stitch have you used to edge the piece underneath?

  9. I hope you share the lovely edge finishing stitch between the beads. In fact, I would love to see several articles on how to finish edges on smalls!

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