Mary Corbet

writer and founder


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

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (73) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

The Other Jacobean Embroidery Project – There are Two!


Amazon Books

Personally, I don’t enjoy stitching two similar embroidery projects simultaneously. Sometimes I do this, so that I can troubleshoot or so I can try different materials with the same design.

There are, in fact, two versions of my current Jacobean piece underway.

On the very delightful-for-me side, I’m not embroidering the second one. Anna (my niece) is.

I suspect Anna will show me up. She has a doggéd determination to work through problems and to get things “just right,” and I’ve admittedly lost that kind of obsessive tenacity for meticulous detail with my embroidery over the years.

Part of it has to do with the fact that she’s a newbie and she hasn’t developed the confidence that normally goes with years of experience in any kind of craft.

This is her first embroidery project of this type. She’s done a lot of what I’d call “casual” embroidery. Flour sack towels. Some of my snowflake Christmas ornaments. She’s also done a bit of cross stitch and she sews clothes and such. So she’s familiar with a needle, but she’s never done a more complex surface embroidery piece for display, from start to finish, making her own decisions as she goes along.

Jacobean embroidery on natural linen

I’m happy to say she’s enjoying the adventure so far. And she’s pretty darned good at figuring things out. Stitch choices, color placement – that’s all up to her.

It’s a good experiment for both of us, because I get to see quite clearly how effectively the design can be interpreted by others who tackle it. And she gets to enjoy what I call the “puzzle pleasure” of figuring things out, making her own choices, and getting that little thrill when seeing that it worked.

Anna’s project is slightly different from mine. The design is a variation. The materials are different.

She’s working on a 30 count natural colored linen (called “Sunflower Seed”), using cotton embroidery threads.

Jacobean embroidery on natural linen

Mostly, she’s working with two strands of DMC cotton, although the couched lattice work here is one strand.

The stitches she’s used so far: chain stitch on the stem, stem stitch filling, padded satin with lattice worked on top of it, and beaded chain stitch.

The color scheme is the same, more or less. After pulling all the silks for the original Jacobean design, we pulled matching cottons. We also pulled a few variegated cottons – I think there are some House of Embroidery perle cottons in the group, too.

We’re sharing the beads.

It will be interesting to see how different the two designs look, with the different ground fabric and the different thread types, even though the colors are more or less the same.

When I pull threads and other supplies for a project, I go into Overkill Mode on the color and thread types, so that I have a lot to choose from. This doesn’t mean I’ll use them all.

As I stitch, I make note of the ones that I do use. Then, at the end of the project, I weed out the colors, thread types, beads, and so forth that I didn’t use, and I come up with a final list of supplies for the project. This is why I don’t publish here on the blog the colors that I’ve pulled just yet. I’m not exactly sure what’s going to make the cut!

Jacobean embroidery on natural linen

I’ve discovered that Anna especially likes adding beads. Deep down, there’s a crow in there! She likes sparklies probably more than I do.

Anna: “I think I’m going to work this whole thing in beads.”

(Ok. Well. There is a little direction going on.)

Me: “Use the beads as accents to the embroidery. It’s an embroidery project, not a bead project. Besides, imagine that design in solid bead embroidery. It might be a bit overmuch, don’t you think?”

Anna: “Ok.”

… (Silent stitching)

… (More silent stitching)

Anna: “I think I’ll go ahead and work all the bead accents first.”

Me: “That’s a little problematic. How do you know what they’re accenting?”

Anna: “Well, I’ll just make the beads the focus and work the embroidery around the beads.”

Me: “I see. How about instead, you make the beads the accents, and you embroider first and add beads later?”

Anna: “I really like adding the beads.”

Me: “Good. You’ll have something to look forward to!”

… (Silent stitching)

… (More silent stitching)

Anna: “Will it make that much of a difference if I do all the beads first?”

Me: “Just wait until your embroidery threads catch on every bead you’ve sewn to the surface of that thing.”

Anna: “I never thought of that.”

Me: “Well. Now you have. Do what you want.”

… (Silent stitching)

… (More silent stitching)

Anna: “I think I’ll do the embroidery first.”

Me: “Hey! What a great idea!”

That’s how our conversations go.

More or less, she does what she wants. I actually don’t care what approach she takes, because she will figure it all out on her own, and it’ll only take this one project to give her the confidence to do anything she wants with needle and thread.

So that’s what’s up in my studio, during stitching sessions. It’s fun to have both projects going, and to have someone to discuss the ins and outs of what works and what doesn’t and why.

I’ll keep you updated on our progress! We really only have stitching sessions a couple times a week right now, and I’m looking forward to seeing what develops in the next one!

Hope your week is off to a great start!


Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


(16) Comments

  1. Morning Mary – and Anna
    What a wonderful way to start the week for us. It really felt like I was a fly on the wall observing you two stitching together in the peaceful execution of your embroidered pieces. The same and yet so different. Anna’s desire to add the bling ‘right now’ and Mary’s with her experience doing her best to bite her tongue. When my girls were young, unless they were in danger, I always let them learn by their mistakes and we sometimes had some wonderful mistakes (burnt cookies cause the top wasn’t brown enough yet, too much bleach to whiten the keds) to clean up. I’m looking forward to future posts of your stitching sessions.
    Best regards ~ Brenda

  2. What a lovely conversation 🙂 what stitch did you use with the beads. It looks like it is around the beads
    Thank you

  3. Kodos to Anna. So far I really like what she is doing. Surface stitching on 30ct linen is not easy. I like her addition of beads. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to seeing the progression and comparison of the 2 interpretations.

  4. LOVE your report on the conversation between you two! SO hard to not tell them how to do the entire project when you know what will happen if they plunge ahead willy-nilly. Thanks for the smile today!

  5. How pretty Anna’s stitchery is! How old is your niece? You must be very content to have such company while you stitch! Anna is clearly following in your guideful footsteps Mary!

    1. She’s 25! I probably should have indicated that, because I think when people hear “niece,” they tend to think young child. She’s a full-grown one! LOL!

  6. Beautiful work, Anna! You have the best teacher in the world, and your stitching gives you both great credit. I look forward very much to seeing your progress.

  7. Anna’s work looks beautiful.

    I love the fact that you two get to work together and you share so much with us.

    Always loved your site but as my health ebbs and flows and with the Shelter in Place your site is extra special to me – a breath of fresh air and beauty, a calm place within the storm. Thank you.

  8. Go Anna! So proud of you. Your work is beautiful! Can’t wait to see how it all comes out.

  9. I’m quite looking forward to your publication of the design only – I live in the UK (Scotland) and the e-patterns are how I enjoy your amazing designs. One of the reasons I’m especially anticipating the publication of this particular design is…I want to work a small portion of it completely in beads for a handbag. That might be a way for your niece to satisfy her need for beads (a need I sooooo share!).

  10. Dear Mary

    The project your Anna your niece is tackling is lovely and it’s great that she enjoys embroidery and you made me laugh with the conversation between you both, It reminds me of me I’m quite stubborn in wanting my own way. Anyway her embroidery is lovely and I like the colour threads she has chosen for her project. I like beads as well so I can relate to Anna wanting to get on and use them. Well done Anna look forward to your progress on the project.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  11. Your conversation brought back such wonderful memories. I learned by snagging beads and trial and error, even when kits were in play because I never could figure out why the directions did things in such a weird order. How wonderful to have you as a guide, but good for her to take chances and learn to march to her own drum. It wasn’t until I started reading your blog how to make flowers look like they grow from the stem out instead of from the point of the leaf in. After all these years, we all are still merely students of our craft learning from each other.

More Comments