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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Finishing, Foibles, & the Proverbial Light


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What a weekend! You’d think that, with the whole isolation thing going on, it would be really easy to focus and achieve Great Things when it comes to needlework projects.

For me, I’m more like the dogs distracted by the squirrels in Up. “Squirrel!”

Or the goldfish swimming around the bowl with its every-three-second discovery: “Oh, look! A castle!”

It was so easy to completely forget what I was supposed to be doing and to be instantly distracted by something else.

This is not a good thing, as I’ve established a number of deadlines for myself.

But deadlines are never as attractive as The Next Thing. That Big Idea. The Experiment I Should Try Right Now. Those Videos I’ve Been Meaning to Watch. (Squirrel!) Those Hexies and That Audiobook. That Little Bin I Found to Organize those Things. What Bin? (Hey Look! A Castle!)

That’s how my weekend went. I was the Queen of Procrasti-distraction. Maybe it’s not the worst personality foible, but it doesn’t get one very far. I was a little dismayed that Monday came without much to show for the weekend.

But at least Monday came! And it’s a good day to begin again!

So let’s talk about a needlework finish that’s not finished.

Floral Heart embroidered sachet - finishing

I’ve been calling this project the Floral Heart, which developed alongside of the voided monograms that I’ve also been working on.

It’s a lavender sachet. Tucked inside the middle of it is a small, relatively flat, heart-shaped muslin casing filled with dried lavender.

This lavender insert caused me a little problem with finishing ideas, because I didn’t want the heart to be loose. I wanted to finish it over something that would keep the shape of the heart tight and crisp – I prefer embroidered shapes like this to keep their shape and their crispness and not to go all limp and lumpy.

But this makes for a very close, tight space to fit any filling (like the lavender-filled muslin) into. Still… it’s working ok, and for that, I’m happy!

Floral Heart embroidered sachet - finishing

Initially, I planned to finish the edge of the heart with some beads and knots, a lot like this white and blue needlebook here.

But the knot and bead finish wasn’t quite bold enough around the edge. It looked skimpy. I forgot to take a picture to show you.

So I picked the knots and the beads out and tried again, using a heavier thread and a larger bead, hoping that it would improve the look.

But it looked ratty. It lost the “clean edge.”

And again, I forgot to take a picture.

So I decided to skip the beads and knots and to make a homemade twist out of #8 perle cotton.

I started with a fine twist, using four strands folded in half.

But it was too skimpy. So I Picked it Out! Again!

And yes, I forgot to take a picture.

Next twist: five strands, folded in half. Nope. I didn’t even bother sewing any on at that point.

Then I twisted six strands folded in half together, for a twelve-strand twist, and it was just right.

I started sewing it on, and this is as far as I got.

I will finish it today, or die trying!

Floral Heart embroidered sachet - finishing

I still have to finish this model. The colors are quite bright, but you won’t see them all together like this, in this quantity.

Fortunately, I found in my ribbon drawer this length of gorgeous, coral-and-pink silk ribbon that shimmers one color or another, depending on the light. It works well with this piece, although in the photo, it might look a little garish. It’s a lovely piece of ribbon that makes me happy whenever I see it. I can’t wait to get this piece finished, too!

Floral Heart embroidered sachet - finishing

Is there such a thing as too much color? I don’t think so! I love heaping all these pieces together and reveling in the color!

Well, the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is shining quite brightly on these projects. I expect that they will be finished by the end of the day. Yay! I’ll share the finish down the road. And then I’ll be putting them together into a neat little package for you, in case you want to work them, too.

Another project on my desk right now is the final touches on the Leafy Tree project e-book. The stand-alone e-book for the Leafy Tree will be available this month, too – hopefully, shortly after Easter. If you’ve requested just the e-book, I haven’t forgotten you! I’m editing it so that it works without a kit.

There’s a good bit of stuff to keep me busy on this end of the computer screen – I hope you’re equally entertained, enjoying some creative pursuits, or at least getting in some good Rest and Relaxation!

Hang in there, my friends!


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(27) Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing all that Spring-y color and texture with us, Mary! It brightens up the day and I hope you are able to accomplish all they you aim to. It’s a sunny, blue-sky day here in VT, but not yet warm enough to plant or rake without disturbing the overwintering beneficial insects, so I’m working on more masks for the local hospitals. I’m lucky that I can look up from my sewing machine and see everything turning green outside – Spring is really here!

  2. It is frustrating to think up a finishing for anything really. Sometimes it works to step out of the usual mode into something different. For example, since I use textiles, including ribbons, in my little creations, sometimes a thing entirely different is needed to finish off the project; be it a bit of metal wire, or a twist of coated paper or a painted wood trim. Like-on-like doesn’t always work: for example if you see a beaded ring, with the ringband itself also made up of beads, sometimes the end-vision is lost. Maybe you could try a fluttery textile strip (gauze) or ribbon (chenille or velvet) it could give you the substantial edging you’re looking for. I love this heart sachet – it is elaborate in floss, yet has a sweet look about it!

  3. Mary,
    You have described me to a “T”. I have a ton of unfinished projects in various mediums and have completed none during these last three weeks of stay at home. Seeing what you do accomplish and finish, maybe there’s hope for me yet!
    Oops, gotta run, the Flower Beds need raking (Squirrel)!

  4. I love hearing about travails like this because of how often I go through them! Take it out and try again! 🙂

    I am working on a voided floral monogram prayer book cover and have been carefully looking at all of yours (and I have the floral monogram e-book) and keep seeing the little wrapped stitch that makes a good flower petal or little worm or sort of unrolled pill bug shape. What is the name of the stitch? I’m sure you have a tutorial for it, but I’m not sure what it’s called! Thanks for being such a great resource!

  5. I love this heart! The colors really speak to me. Do you have the color list (perhaps DMC) somewhere, or would you be willing to share it? Thanks for all of the inspiration and education you provide!

    1. Hi, Susan – I’ll be putting all that information together once I finish the models, and I’ll also have a thread pack available. So, more to come, soon! 🙂

  6. I for one don’t think there can be too much coral…seeing as it is my favorite color, closely rivaled by aqua/turquoise/teal. And the heart is just perfect! But then again my birthday is Valentine’s Day so I am partial to hearts! I look forward to the “neat little package”! I always enjoy seeing what you are stitching, even if I don’t have the time. Apparently I need to make some time! Thank you for all you do to help lighten our hearts.

  7. Hi Mary,
    This just cracked me up! “Procrasti-distraction” really sums it all up!

    Please tell us how to make a homemade twist…that doesn’t untwist!
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. You are not alone in your frustration/procrastination. I was home bound even before the coronavirus hit and thought I had a pretty good handle on keeping on task and worthily occupied. Not! I guess we all have to deal with the fallout of Covid-19 not matter who or where we are. Here’s to happy finishing. 🙂

  9. I think everybody is having trouble concentrating right now – I know I am. I’m rows away from the finish on a big lace shawl, and I haven’t picked it up since a few days after I started working from home. I’m going to try casting on for a simple cozy sweater and see if plain knitting is more attractive.

  10. Mary, I love these colorful items! Thanks for continuing to show us your glorious work. I am also having problems settling down to concentrate on any project. I have a long-overdue (6 years!) wedding quilt I should be working on, and a crazy quilt round robin block, and smaller projects of my own. But I’m just too anxious to settle down and work on anything in a determined manner. I started making masks on Saturday as I have 3 family members who are essential workers, but rather than making me feel like I’m contributing to the cause, they are just making me more anxious. I was told I shouldn’t crazy quilt them, but I did manage to make one for myself to wear to the grocery store that is made of CQ cheater cloth. So there!

  11. I am with you, there cannot be to much color. The bright colors of this project put a smile on my face. I love them. Since we are hunker down, we need a the smiles we can find.

    Thank you.

  12. Even in it’s unfinished state, your colorful heart has given me ideas on how to improve or gussy up my own finishing. And take heart — I only just today completed me second finish of this quarantine, and I’m not trying to write/publish/run a business every day!

  13. Oh…Mary…you made me laugh…really —> laugh out loud <— at the beginning of your post about the Squirrel and…giggle giggle…your term…"Procrasti-distraction" !!! Oh my…that is a fantastic term and it totally describes what happens to me!!!!! Often! But definitely this past weekend!

    Thank you for introducing me to a new "term". You are the best!

    Stitchingly yours, Bonnie

  14. My four year old is also very distractable. My parenting book tells me that actually she is “perceptive” and notices every last detail of every little thing – which is a great trait in an adult. I’ve got to say your embroidery, particularly something like this heart and the voided monogram, shows your dedication to every last detail.

  15. Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous!
    I’m mesmerised by the colours – you can count me in for when the package is available 🙂
    Thank you for a little brightness in these difficult times.

  16. Wow! I’d love to see more details about how a handmade twisted trim like that is actually sewn on to an edge. Are you just wrapping the stitches (done with a separate strand of the same perle cotton?) along the twist?

  17. When my spouse is trying to distract me he says: “Hey look, a kitty!”

    Works every time. Today, I’m finishing that darn Tookey Tookey Bird, whether it likes it or not. It’s one of those projects that has thwarted me at every turn. Sew, rip, stitch, rip, rip again, sew again. Enough already. I might show the Tookey Tookey to Here Kitty Kitty Kitty. Maybe I should stuff it with catnip?

  18. OMG! Fabulous idea! I have one one those bathroom doors that has a little hole you poke a wire/unbent paperclip through to unlock. I also have small visitors who are notorious for locking themselves inside and giggling as we try to convince them to open the door. When I lived in a beautiful 1900’s house I had skeleton keys for all of the door locks & would hang them with a ribbon from the old knobs. The weight kept them on the knob & they were lovely to look at. Unfortunately, the wire thingy that they sent with the modern knob I have now are super light & keep falling off. This necessitates a frantic search for a pink ribbon with the equivalent of an unbent paperclip attached to it and a 6 year old laughs hysterically from beyond the door… and an 8 year old bangs on the door and whines that they “HAVE TO GO!!!!”. This would make them much prettier & add enough weight to keep them stay on the door knob. They are also big & bright enough to not get lost if they do fall off! I just have to find a pattern that is narrow enough to not get caught in the door as it closes. Thank you!!!

  19. Thank you for sharing this lovely piece. I really like that twist edging. Do you have a tutorial for that?

  20. I love your embroidery! The colors and density are very fun. I will be picking up my needle and thread this afternoon.

  21. The heart sachet is stunning! I’m new to embroidery and it’s exciting to see how beautiful a piece can be with a variety of stitches and lots of color for pizzazz! Thank for such an informative newsletter too!

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