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 Embroidery – Almost There & Lighting Differences


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Good morning! Just so you know, there’s a little news at the end of today’s article.

In the meantime, though – a project update and a chat about lighting differences when taking photos of embroidery.

Have you ever photographed your own stitching projects and wondered what’s the best lighting to use? Well, I have, too. And I can’t give you a definitive answer on that!

I do know that a “daylight” light gives me truer color when I take photos. And the higher the lumens, the better, with my lamp. But when it comes to the camera, I can’t really tell you “use this setting for this kind of light” and so forth. I’m just not that technically inclined when it comes to cameras.

I often go outside to take pictures of my embroidery, because I like to see the difference between the embroidery photographed in natural sunlight compared to embroidery photographed in indoor studio light. There’s a huge difference between taking photos of embroidery in direct sunlight and taking photos of embroidery in artificial light. And when you’re taking photos outside, there’s a huge difference between pictures taken on an overcast day, pictures taken in direct sun on a clear day, and pictures taken in the shade on a sunny day.

All of this is probably obvious, especially if you’ve been wielding a camera for any period of time.

At my last stopping point with my Jacobean styled embroidery project, I took photos in different circumstances. I’ll tell you what circumstances as I show you my progress on the project so far.

Jacobean Embroidery Project in silk threads with different lighting

It seems like forever since my last update on this project!

This is the main swashy leafy that crosses the front of the design. I took this photo on a sunny day in the shade. There was even more of a blue tint to it, so I had to color correct it in post production to get it to show more accurately the colors on the piece. The sun managed to bring out a bit of sparkle in the silk, but not too much, since I was predominantly in the shade.

The techniques on this element are fairly straightforward: long & short stitch on the main filled area; ribbed stitch in the sandy colors; some beads; and stem stitch for outlines.

So far, this is my favorite element on this design!

Jacobean Embroidery Project in silk threads with different lighting

This is an outdoor photo, in shade, on an overcast day. It’s very blue in overall tint, and there was not much I could do with color correction without the thread colors looking somewhat garish. There’s no sparkle picked up by the silk threads, either.

This little pomegranate bit gave me a headache! I had to re-work the leaves a few times to find a combination that I like. There’s not a lot of contrast in the larger leaves, though. I like them ok, but I don’t love them just yet. I have to keep thinking about them. The color choice here could have been different, I suppose, but I really needed to bring in these darker blue-greens to balance with the other side of the design.

How do you like the stem on the pomegranate? I’m inordinately fond of that. I didn’t think it would work out, and then I realized I wish I had used the stitch everywhere. I’ll give you three guesses what stitch it is.

Jacobean Embroidery Project in silk threads with different lighting

This is indoors, under my stitching lamp, which is supposed to be giving off “daylight” color and brightness equivalent to the noonday sun – around 6,000K if turned all the way up, but I rarely keep it that high. There’s also an overhead light on in the room, giving off a warmer glow. This is pretty much how I see the embroidery and colors while I’m working. I think it’s a decent representation – at least on my monitor.

On the top side of the right leaf, I built up some padding and worked a kind of satin stitch, in a sense. I wanted to mix some colors of blues / green – blues in that area, rather than using one flat color.

So after I worked the padding for what I thought was just going to be plain old satin stitch, I ended up working a wheatear stitch down the middle vein of the leaf, using Soie Perlee (which is like a fine buttonhole silk). I took the arms of the wheatear over the padding on the top half of the leaf. Between the arms of the wheatear, I worked in satin stitches using Soie d’Alger (a decidedly different thread), but they all ended up kind of blending and melding together. I don’t know if you can distinguish the two types of threads or not.

Down the middle of the wheatear chain, I added some beads. Then I outlined the lower part of the leaf in stem using Soie Perlee and added in some highlights on the top part of the leaf in coral, by just splitting the satin stitches, and on the lower half of the leaf, I added some coral straight stitches, too.

I wanted to keep the leaves from being too heavy by including unfilled areas, too.

The center leaf is simple lattice in the middle, two layers, each layer couched with a different color. The inside area is outlined in stem; the outside of the leaf is outlined in a chain with a series of whipped stitches around it to make a nice, rounded, raised edge.

Jacobean Embroidery Project in silk threads with different lighting

This is an outside photo again – morning shade with the sun just coming up. The color is a bit too blue, but not too bad.

Did you notice anything different about this, from previous versions I’ve shown you?

I got rid of the overstitching on the stem, which was done in a lighter sand color using Soie Perlee – you can see it in this article.

I found the overstitching to be far too busy. It added interest enough, before everything else was embroidered. But once I got in most of the elements, it just didn’t work. It was too much. So I picked it out, and I touched up the center of the stem so that the darker blue up the center was more evident. I like it better.

Jacobean Embroidery Project in silk threads with different lighting

Sunshine! This photo was taken in direct sunlight. You can tell by the harshness of the shadows. But the colors are much truer, even though there’s some definite highlighting from the reflection on the silk.

I just have a few more leaves to do and this piece is finished. Besides the thread removal on the stem, I made a few other very slight changes in the design. I brought some coral highlight into the top of the swash above the main element. I added some darker edges of coral on the small shaded coral swash on the right side of the main element, and I touched up a few other little bits, too.

When I planned today’s article, the title included the word “Finished.” Ha ha ha. So much for that deadline! Next week? That’s the new plan!

Questions, comments, suggestions? Feel free to join in the conversation below!

Needle ‘n Thread News

I’ve been restocking my ready-to-stitch flour sack towel sets and you can find several of the designs available right now. If you’re wanting to get ahead on autumn stitching or Christmas stitching, you’ll find Festive Fall and Holly & Evergreen both in stock right now, as well as a few of the other designs.

Floral Corners & Folky Flakes are not stocked at the moment, but I plan to have some of both of those available by the end of the day Saturday. Also, Tulips & Tweets is running low, but I’ll try to top those up, too, by the end of the day Saturday. Once I’m out of these, there will be a small pause before I can get going on them again, just so you know!

Any purchases made today before 1:30 pm Central will ship today, so you’ll have them early next week, if nothing goes awry with the Post Office!


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(40) Comments

  1. I always look forward to your updates. Your Jacobean project is so beautiful in design and color. I hope you’ll consider offering this lovely design as a kit. You are truly a talented designer!!

  2. Mary, I am just loving your Jacobean embroidery. Love the fancy stitching and all the added extras, even just added threads, not necessarily the beads. Really, really beautiful. Wish I had learnt more of this kind of embroidery when I lived in UK.

    1. You can learn this kind of embroidery anywhere, Anne. It is not regionally specific to the UK, and if you’re in the US, there are many places, many workshops, etc.

  3. I have enjoyed watching this embroidery develop, perhaps because I also have a stash of silk threads in these colourways. Will the pattern be available to download please Mary?

  4. Hi Mary,

    I have fallen in love with this Jacobean project. How/when/etc. can I get my hands on this beautiful, very beautiful project.??? I love everything about it the design itself, the colours you have used… I don’t very often get really excited about a new needlework… but this has me buzzing. Please make this available to your loyal admirers soon. I will be first in the queue. thanks Mary,
    Val (Scotland UK)

  5. So what did you use for the stem of the pomegranate? I don’t have 3 ideas to guess.
    Love your posts and website. You have taught me so much!!!

  6. It is beyond beautiful! I JUST WANT TO STITCH IT!!!!
    Just waiting for complete pattern and instructions, please…..

  7. Is that one stem called like Hungarian chain stitch? I use it with lots and lots of strands to do nice chunky, strong lines…

  8. I see your dilemma with the pomegranate leaves. They seem a tad too dark/heavy and almost overpower the pomegranate, though the beads are a nice touch.

    Your colors and thread and stitch choices on the piece as a whole are just gorgeous, however! It’s been great fun following along on your progress.

  9. I am very inspired by this, Mary. I was given a wooden “casket” with a glass topped cover once and have been wanting to replace the picture inside. I have been planning to do a Jacobean design for it, and keep an online file of things that appeal. I was thinking I would use them as launching points for my own design when it comes up in queue, but if you publish this one, I am certain I would learn a great deal working through it, and it is just about the size I need. Either way, inspiring and lovely! Thanks!

  10. This piece is so beautiful! Wish I could stitch with such finesse. And, okay, what is the stitch on the pomegranate stem? I’m guessing Portuguese Border stitch. (LOL, like I would know…)

  11. Hello, I just want to say, your sense of colour, design and balance is amazing. I love the piece you are working on currently.
    I am so glad I found you on the wonderful internet, and Youtube.

  12. This is beautiful and the stitching is amazing! And I’m dying to know what stitch (or combination of stitches) you used for the stem of the pomegranate – I just can’t guess! It’s so nice, it looks almost like a braid sewn onto the fabric.

  13. Thank you for the note of changes and the so far finished project. I also wanted to say that the article with the embroidery that the ladies did for you on the wall hanging was a delight. I can only imagine the thrill that you got upon receiving the gift. I got chills just reading how much the ladies cared for you to create such a wonderful gift. Stay well and keep sending me encouragement to keep up my work and enjoy every minutes, even when I take out because of error or do not like.

  14. Are you going to tell us what stitch you used for the stem of the pomegranate? It is gorgeous. I must use that.
    I, also, would like to stitch this piece. Please be sure to offer a stamped fabric or a hot-iron transfer pattern. I can no longer do transfers. Perhaps as an option. A full kit would be most appreciated.
    Thanks for all your work that you share with us. I look forward to your blogs.

  15. I wanted to thank you Mary for the wonderful videos. I am taking an online embroidery class from someone and her pictures, directions and video were strange to me for the turkey work stitch. I literally was pulling my hair out and stitching too, about 15 times!!! But after I watched your video I had it done in no time. So much easier!!!!

  16. Hi Mary
    You mentioned a lot of blue in your shots. Can you hang up a white sheer curtain or the like against where the light is coming from as well as encircle the whole area the same. This should cut out some of the blue in the shots. Depends on the time of day will give you different lumens from the sun. Hope this helps

  17. Mary, this is a really striking piece with a dynamic color palette. As for my three guesses on the pomegranate stem, I’ll just take one: The shape of that line of stitching looks for all the world to me like a double-laced backstitch. If that isn’t it, I have no idea, but I can see why you wish you’d used that stitch everywhere. It provides wonderful texture that echos the lines of beading, and plays well with the ribbed spider web and whipped stitches. I’ve learned so much from this piece. Can’t wait to see how you finish it up, and here’s hoping you’ll be offering the pattern.

  18. I am very grateful for all the effort you put into your photos, Mary, it makes such a difference to be able to see things up close in good light. It also means we can marvel at the quality of your stitching – it’s absolutely beautiful!
    I think you made the right decision to remove the overstitching. Although it looked lovely on the first part of the stem, it interfered with the sweep of the lines as the branches formed, creating a kind of friction. It looks much more elegant with a touch of deep blue. Sometimes less is more.
    I don’t know what the stitch on the pomegranate stem is. I was wondering if it might be some variation of Palestrina stitch, however, after reading the comments, I think Hattie may be on to something when she suggests Hungarian chain stitch (I looked up your video tutorial on it). I look forward to the close up when you tell us!

  19. I have been following it. But not sure if you hv given the pattern pdf earlier articles. Just hoping if you will give us the pattern pdf.

  20. Oh Mary! I just love the colors you chose for this piece and the experience of your needled hand show in the exquisite stitching on this piece. When I look at it, I hope that you would offer it as a kit, but then I realize that this piece looks so stunning not only because of the colors and the design itself, but because of the perfect stitching. You are an inspiration to the rest of us stitchers!

  21. I wanted to thank you for making the flour sack towels available. I know stocking the shop is a lot of work.

    I got my stitching mojo back with Tulips & Tweets. It’s a small thing but it means a lot to me.

  22. I spend most of my editing time fiddling about with the white balance as well. It’s like a Holy Grail in my mind to make all my photos match and I’ve still not worked out how to make it consistent.

    I love the textures that you’ve built up with this design, and it’s interesting following your decision making process. I can see why you removed the over stitching when you did. I’ve only had a small amount of experience working out my own design, but that deciding when to keep adding, when to stop or when to remove elements takes such a lot of thought (for me anyway!) sometimes I need to step back and live with something for a bit and then I can ‘see’ better. I really appreciate you showing how you arrive at the solution with your embroideries. 🙂

  23. I love your Jacobean project. The design is beautiful! Are you planning to make up kits? I wouldn’t know how to begin a project like this without guidance.
    Thank you for sharing your talent with us!

  24. I’m not usually drawn to Jacobean designs, but I love everything about this, especially the pomegranate! Those colours – the turquoises and peaches – are so fresh and lovely 🙂

  25. ok…what is the stitch on the stem of the pomegranate? It appears to be two different colors of thread so could it be two stem stitches married together? ‘fess up………enjoyed the article about the northern NJ embroidery capital of the world.

  26. Thank you so much for sharing all of your beautiful work and therefore, encouraging others to get back to or try some new stitches. I enjoy every article.

  27. I’ve just found myself exploring the world of Jacobean embroidery design today and I’m totally in love and blown away by this design piece! I look forward to seeing the final piece (and will now search around in case you’ve already posted it!)

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