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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Jacobean Bird: Embroidery Finish!


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Today, just a quick update to show you a finish – specifically, the bird variation of my Jacobean-inspired design explorations.

The non-bird version is still floating in limbo. I’m suffering the Starts and Stops on one area, but I hope to address it this weekend.

In the meantime, we can celebrate The Bird!

Jacobean bird embroidery design

There she is, in all her glory!

One thing I’ve noticed about the bird version is that it seems to be more “alive” than the non-bird version. When pondering why this might be, a few considerations come to mind:

1. The bird version has a recognizable living thing in it. The bird may be stylized, but we can recognize it as a living creature.

2. Associated with the fact that it’s the image of a living creature, it has an eye. If that eye (a little bead) weren’t there, the liveliness would probably be drained immediately from the piece.

3. The main feature of the bird design – the bird – is presented in the warmer corals, rather than the cooler greens & blues of the central element in the non-bird design. This gives it more life, definitely.

Jacobean bird embroidery design

Just to give you an idea of the size of these embroidery projects, here’s a photo with my hand in it.

This version of the design is exactly 6″ tall, which is a good size for this type of hand embroidery project worked with regular cotton or silk threads.

If it were much larger – say, the size of a traditional crewel (with wool) embroidery design – and we were using cotton floss or regular silks, it would take much, much longer to stitch it, and a heap more thread!

Jacobean bird embroidery design

The stitches that make up Gertrude (the bird) include stem stitch, chain stitch, fishbone stitch, battlement couching, and buttonhole. Additionally, there are some bead lines marking out the wings, some bead accents up the comb on her head, and beads at the tips of each feather.

Nothing too complicated!

Congrats to Anna on a fabulous and quick finish. I’m slogging along behind her, but hope to show you a finish on the other version next week!

Looking for More?

You can find the whole development of these Jacobean-inspired embroidery projects through the following articles, which are arranged chronologically:

Jacobean Whitework on Blue

Trying Different Threads and Fabric

Small Progress.

The Trunk Again

Changing the color palette, ground fabric, and threads

Troubleshooting the Stem

Progress: Stem Complete & Battlement Couching

Introducing Anna’s Version, with cotton threads on natural linen

Jacobean Progress: Embroidery, Beads, and Mistakes

Rippit, Rippit – a Weekend of Stitching Progress

Gertrude is Back, Better than Ever!


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(20) Comments

  1. 4. The wings and feathers are spread giving the impression of movement and flight.

    Love your design and stitching.

  2. I love everything about this beautiful bird!! But I don’t embroider. Any plans to make a cross stitch pattern for it?

    1. Hi, Nancy – I haven’t converted any of my hand embroidery projects into cross stitch patterns up to this point, but…? I might try – maybe? I will most likely release this as an embroidery design and stitch guide in downloadable format. Thanks for asking!

  3. I love it: the design, colors and the beads !!!
    Would make a great winter project. Would you consider selling the design and instructions as an e-book in your store?
    Enjoy reading your newsletters when I take a coffee break in the morning.
    Have a great rest of the week Mary!

  4. So nicely done! Love the colors, touches of beads, and the sweet expression on her face. Really, nicely done.
    Suzie in Idaho

  5. Hello Mary,

    I just love the embroidery piece – the design, colors and the beads (I love that idea with the beads – adds oomph)!!
    Hope you will consider selling the design and directions as an e-book.
    Have a great weekend!

  6. I understand that Jacobean designs are never meant to be realistic. Yet there is a section of the bird that bothers me. The problem is the rather heavy coral outline that separates the back of the bird from its tail. As a result, the bird appears to struggle to fly. There is a curled, teal embellishment to the right of the bird’s head, and that line seems to run through the body of the bird in the coral line to the other side. There where it emerges again in turquoise. Viewed from a distance, the line disconnects the bird from its tail. In hindsight, I think I would use continuous or similar stitches down the bird’s back from the neck all the way through the tail feathers, beginning on the upper left section. Otherwise, the development is lovely. I have enjoyed seeing the progress and the comparison between the choices of the stitchers.

  7. Mary,
    I love the look of this bird. The colouring make her look like a phoenix. Do you think the embroidery looks more ‘alive’ because there is movement in the bird where the wings show she is almost flying off the branch.

  8. I love Anna’s Jacobean Getrude, she turned out beautifully! The colours are so playful and Summery, and the effect is very cheerful. I love all the sparkle, especially the beads on the tips of Getrude’s feathers 🙂

  9. Oh what a lively & lovely work! I really found it beautiful! Anna is also very gifted, and she has an excellent teacher! This type of work, its “sweetness” reminds me if the beautiful tree you had created last year. It is just really lovely. Gertrude really reminds me of a Phoenix too, as someone else mentioned. Good job Anna!

  10. Absolutely gorgeous! And you gave me much to think about in your analysis of why the artistry feels more alive.

  11. Absolutely delightful in every way. I wouldn’t change a thing and it is beautifully stitched. Congratulations Anna.

  12. OMG this is beautiful, you do such great work. It looks like every stitch is just perfect.
    And I love your choice of colors.

  13. You showing your hand in the picture to show the size reminds me of a photo I saw today of a woman embroidering. I swear the needle she was using was 4″ long and for no reason either! It looked like she was trying to stitch with a spear!

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