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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Ta Dum! An Embroidery Finish, with Close-Ups


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Finally and at long last… the Jacobean piece is finished.

Yay! Yesterday was a banner day, so I’m calling this embroidery project officially finished.

Now, that doesn’t mean I won’t make some changes. There are a few spots that I am mulling over, but I’m going to set the project aside – still on its frame – for a week or so. Then, when I look at it fresh in a little while, I’ll be able to make better decisions if I want to adjust anything.

Today, I’ll show you the finished design, close ups of the different sections, and share some random thoughts on the project as we examine it.

Jacobean design embroidered with silk

So there’s the finished sample, all stitched up.

Although I’ve already mentioned materials in earlier articles, I’ll recap: I used Au Ver a Soie silk threads – Soie d’Alger (a spun, stranded silk) and Soie Perlee (a twisted filament silk) – and Miyuki beads, both 15/0 round seed beads and 11/0 delicas. The ground fabric is linen.

The entire design, from farthest points north and south, is just barely 7.5″ high, and from east to west, just under 7″ wide.

I used Evertite stretcher bars, a Needlework System 4 table stand, my favorite Dovo scissors, a variety of needles (but mostly a #7 crewel and a #10 beading, both John James), my BlueMax table lamp for lighting, I sat on a Buoy by Steelcase with a gel seat cushion in it, and I listened to several books along the journey, including a good chunk of Kristen Lavrensdatter, a bit of Watership Down, and The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey.

The finished piece will most likely be framed, and I will either hang it in my studio or give it as a gift, the latter being the most likely. I don’t keep a whole lot of my own work (except smaller sample pieces I can use for demos).

I think that should pretty much cover all the curiosity questions! If not, there’s space in the comments below for whatever occurs to you!

Jacobean design embroidered with silk

This element – the central large leaf crossing the stem – is probably my favorite, because I love the colors on the shaded part (they remind me of the sea), and I like the texture and shading on the ribbed area above the shading.

That area – the sandy textured strip – is simply the same stitch you would use on a ribbed spider web, only it’s worked in a long line.

Jacobean design embroidered with silk

This bunch of leaves is a conglomeration of different stitching techniques. The heavier outline on the center leaf is a simple chain stitch with Soie Perlee, and then it’s whipped in both directions using one strand of Soie d’Alger in a lighter green.

On the “satin stitched” area on the tops of the side leaves, that’s actually a mix of both Soie Perlee and Soie d’Alger – and it’s not really satin stitch. The leaves are worked with a wheatear stitch down the middle in the Soie Perlee. I filled in between the arms of the wheatear with straight stitches in Soie d’Alger.

Jacobean design embroidered with silk

Oh, the troubled pomegranate element! This element gave me a wee bit of grief, but I like how it eventually turned out.

When I took these photos, I had not yet gone over the piece carefully, so some of the beads are a bit wonky. Once I damp stretch and block the whole piece before framing, I’ll go over the whole thing carefully and adjust any discombobulated beads.

Jacobean design embroidered with silk

These were the last elements I finished at the base of the design.

I’m still holding out on the leaf on the left. I may add something to that one.

Jacobean design embroidered with silk

Finger flowers!

More ribbed stitch on these floral elements, and a touch of satin stitch and bullion knots.

Jacobean design embroidered with silk

I’m rather fond of the swirl at the top of the design. I’m not sure why – is it the ribbed wheels that look like candy, dripping off the end? Maybe.

The stem here is the chain stitch in Soie Perlee again, whipped both ways with a strand of Soie d’Alger.

Jacobean design embroidered with silk

Aside from the main stem on the piece, it all started with this area, the main element at the top of the design. I was feeling my way through things somewhat tentatively at this point. I didn’t quite know where the design would take me, although I had some ideas of what I wanted to do with it.

Many of those ideas changed as I worked through the whole design.

It’s funny how this happens, because I might map out pretty clear ideas of what stitch to use here or there, or what color combinations, but then, while I’m actually stitching, I make abundant changes in the area I’m working on. Those changes necessarily affect anything I’ve mapped out previously.

Jacobean design embroidered with silk

To keep up with changes – and there are many of them! – I keep a couple print-outs of the design and a pen on my work table.

Every time I finish an element satisfactorily, I note on the design exactly what I did in that spot – what stitches, what colors and threads types, etc.

Sometimes, because there might be a lot going on in a particular design, I have to use more than one copy of the design to do this, because I end up with so many lines and arrows and notes and so forth all over the paper. But at least I have a pretty clear record, at the end, of what I actually did.

And most often, it is a far cry from what I initially thought I was going to do!

So that’s this project, for now. I consider it officially finished, though there could be one or two minor tweaks before I frame it.

I’ll make a project index for all the articles that cover the development of this embroidery project, and list the project index in Tips & Techniques in the main menu here on Needle ‘n Thread, under Hand Embroidery Lessons & Step-by-Step Projects.

The index will post as a regular article first, as soon as I have a chance to put it together for you.

Now What?

So, what’s going to happen with the project? Many of you have asked if it will be an e-book, a kit, etc.

It will most likely be a combination – an e-book and a kit in a limited run – depending on the supply chain. I’ll get back to you on that as soon as I know. I have to work up the instructions, though, and that will take a little time. I’m still trying to get together the voided monograms and the floral heart designs from earlier this year. That’s been a bear! Lots of stuff going on with that one.

In the studio, other projects are already underway, too. I have a beginner’s silk and goldwork piece that’s in the works – I’ll share some bits of that with you next week. I’m also working on an ecclesiastical embroidery project and preparing a small number of ecclesiastical projects for some folks who wanted a custom class. We’ll see how that pans out!

I’ve also got a bunch of other techy things I’m working on behind the scenes. I can’t wait to share the results of that… if I could only conquer the learning curve a little faster.

Finally, you’ll find ALL the ready-to-stitch towel sets now in stock in my shop. The newest restock is the Folky Flakes set, but they’re all there at this point, so if you’ve been waiting, you’ll find every design available!

Happy Independence Day weekend for those here in the US! And a jolly weekend to everyone all around!

See you Monday!


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(56) Comments

  1. Re: the leaf on the left that you think needs something. BEADS, BEADS, BEADS! You can never have too many. Very beautiful piece of needlework.

  2. This turned out just beautiful!
    I think it would be good to see your finished piece alongside your niece’s finished piece so we can see the differences in their entirety (along with your commentary – maybe hers too!).
    Thank you for sharing such a great project journey.

  3. Hullo, Mary! This is just so very lovely and inspiring. Congratulations on a beautiful finish. It is hard to budge me off my own designing, but this one just suits a coming project so well that I see a likely caving on the horizon! ALSO, my very favorite books of all time are the Kristen Lavransdatter series. It cheers my soul to know of someone else (presumably) enjoying them.
    Thanks again for this beautiful design and inspiration.

  4. As usual, it’s beautiful, Mary. I am still in love with this color scheme.

    And here’s one for the curiosity collection: I don’t remember seeing a final picture of Anna’s version. I’d love to see the “final” pictures of both side-by-side to compare the choices you each made in stitch and color … and beads. 🙂

  5. Morning Mary – Absolutely loved reading about this project from white on blue start to this glorious finish (loved seeing Anna’s piece too) and have learned many things about developing a project along the way that are not necessarily just stitching. Also appreciate your telling us about studio furnishings and tools, you know our curious minds so well. Even though it would be a one off, I think the white on blue was a great idea and is what first drew me in. I hope you’re able to find time enough to finish it.
    You are a great teacher for us all and we appreciate your willingness to share and educate with the opportunity to purchase kits and patterns to get us started.
    Happy stitching, stay well and safe – Brenda

  6. Mary – Bravo on an amazing accomplishment! This piece should be on the cover of Inspirations magazine. Your creativity inspires all of us to stitch every day. You are my mentor, you know!

  7. Mary, I can’t believe you are reading Kristin Lavransdatter! I have never encountered another soul who has read these books. Aren’t they fascinating?

    3 cheers to you for crossing the finish line on this project! It’s truly beautiful.

  8. Mary, I am just flabbergasted! I’ve always been fond of Jacobean and this piece just knocks my socks off! It’s truly beautiful! Thank you for sharing it with us, step by step.

    Marla Bonner, faithful fan.

  9. This is the most beautiful and exquisite piece of work I’ve seen on here, or anywhere for that matter. The work is perfect and colors lovely.

  10. It’s just gorgeous and I love it! I’d be very interested in a kit or e-book. Will you also post the colors of Soie d’Alger and Soie Perlee that you used? I am planning a silk project of my own and some of the blues look like they’d be perfect for what I want. I’d love to know the numbers for them.

  11. Hello Mary,
    The piece is beautiful. I will certainly purchase the kit and e-book – when you you have time to do it. I am so excited to hear about your other projects. Your emails inspire me when I embroider.
    Have a great 4th of July weekend Mary – I plan to read and embroider (with my little dog snuggled next to me) – that is a perfect weekend for me. We are closing our office early today – yipee!!!

  12. Hi Mary,

    Leave your Jacobean work alone, it’s just lovely! The colouring is super, and the stitching is second to none. In the current climate, it brought a genuine smile to my face.

    Best wishes, Jenny

  13. Mary — I have enjoyed the journey watching this piece, and your nieces’s come together. It has been inspiring to know the decisions, work, and rework that goes into designing a piece of needlework. I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to try my hand at such a gorgeous piece of art be it an e-book or kit. Would you ever consider selling your work? Maybe hold an auction of the pieces and give the proceeds to a charity? If so I will be an avid bidder….

    1. I was actually going to do that last year with a couple pieces – put them up for auction and donate the money to a couple local favorite charities (I prefer donating to local charity, because “big” charities often take such a huge cut, and the funds don’t filter down to those who need it most very quickly). I may do that in the future! Thanks for the nudge!

  14. Your piece is just lovely Mary!! And I’m so excited to hear about the possibility of the e-book and kit! Is there any way to get notified when it is available for purchase? I’m very interested to see the index of stitches when you post it as well, as some of them really interest me! What a beautiful, beautiful piece!

  15. I love your Jacobean piece. (In my mind I call it Catalina). I really am interested in purchasing an e-book, tutorial, etc. However you decide to offer it to your Followers.
    I am also interested in Ecclesiastical Embroidery. Thank for all you do for the wonderful world of Embroidery.

  16. Mary, this piece is flat-out STUNNING!! I so admire your tenacity and your willingness to take stitches out to try to improve your work. The recipient of this piece will be very lucky indeed! I still want to try my hand at embroidery, but that will have to wait. I took a little trip…literally…and broke my right thumb! It’s been awhile; I’m finally going to try to make a small quilted pillow. I wasn’t sure I could safely handle a rotary cutter. I better get busy, because it’s an American flag!

  17. Dear Mary,

    Beautiful work I can not wait for the e book. Since the Au Ver a Soie silk threads and Soie d’Alger threads are hard to find and are pricey, can you mention the substitute in the e book when you are ready to do it.

    Thank you very much for all you do for embroidery world.

    Happy and safe 4th of July Holiday to you.

    Best Regards,

  18. Mary, this is too beautiful! The first time I noticed the ribbed wheels they reminded me of candy.

    Love everything about this piece.


  19. It’s beautiful! I love the variety of stitches and how they all work so comfortably together. I don’t know how you could think of giving it away.

  20. It’s absolutely stunning! Thank you for sharing your work-in-progress and the completed design. The colors are exquisite, I love this piece.

  21. Mary it is absolutely gorgeous. One of the things I do is try products out and write reviews for Amazon and the past 6 months or so has been marvelous for a crafter/sewer. I have gotten so many different types of supplies for projects. Things I could never afford on my limited budget. One of the things I got was two different sets of three embroidery projects each. All in their own bag with needles, floss, stamped fabric, hoop. Over the past several decades most of the hand embroidery that I have done has been counted cross stitch, but as my eyes have gotten older it has gotten very hard to see the holes in the fabric, so I have switched over to the embroidery that I stated with many years ago as a pre-teen. I have found that the kits make for great practice pieces of the usual and ordinary embroidery stitches, such as the daisy, French knot, straight stitch, etc. I quickly got a bit tired of them and wanted to do more and so I did. I pulled some of my own abundant supplies of embroidery floss and tapping into the books and your site, finding new ways to finish a design in a prettier way, and a chance to practice stitches I haven’t used before. I saw a English daisy design in a magazine and used in once before, but since I didn’t like the way the lazy daisy flowers were turning out, I made it into an English daisy motif and it looks so much better. Years ago I would have stuck to what stitch I was told to do no matter what. However, your posts have helped me get passed that and to instead use the best and most suitable stitch as well as my own color selection. So much more fun!

  22. I like this project – gorgeous work as usual. I’m not sure if that leaf needs anything else. I guess it depends on if it’s in a supporting role, or if it’s supposed to compete with the other leaves near it.

  23. This is so inspiring! I especially love the delicate coral beading at the bottom and the trailing coral flowers at the top. The version with the bird is also interesting. I can envision a combination of the two that would take the best elements of each.

  24. I would love to see the finish work and framing prep steps, as a part of this series of posts, if possible.

  25. Dear Mary,
    Your piece is incredible. At first I wasn’t sure about the colours even though blues are my favourite, I tend to stick to more traditional colouring but it does look fantastic when finished. I will be looking forward to the pattern when you have it ready. It is certainly one I would love to embroider.
    I am just finishing off Susan Porter’s Modern Crawel, which I started in a class with her back in 2015. Then I want to start on another piece of Jacobean that I have designed. Well not actually designed but taken elements from a lot of different places as I cannot draw to save my life and rearranged them to suit my liking.
    My satin stitch and long and short shading stitch leave a lot to be desired, can you suggest other stitches that I can use in place of a lot of those please.
    Sorry I am a little late with this comment just catching up on a backlog of emails. Once again thank you for all the work you do for us.
    Cheers Judy
    South East Queensland

  26. J’adore cette couleur turqoise….Et la soie…J’ai hâte d’avoir le modèle ! Je crois que je me remettrai Ă  la broderie pour lui….
    FĂ©licitations pour ce beau ” Jacobean sea”

  27. I am loving your articles! I am looking for the index for this project and can’t find it. Can you point me towards it, or a tag or search term I could use?

  28. I so love everything that you share! The tips and techniques, your thought process in developing a design or your reasons for deviating from the original, pictures of the work in progress, and, of course, the finished project! This Jacobean flower is just stunning! The color pallette is rich, beautiful, and soothing. The stitches chosen and executed on the different elements deserve close observation. I look forward to the photos of your lovely works and the inspiration I gain from them. Thank you for your generosity in sharing with us.

  29. Mary, I understand your fascination with trains. I grew up in a town in the South that had 4-5 passenger trains pass through every day, and I could hear them from the house I grew up in. When I was about 10 I was allowed to go on the train, by myself, to visit my grandmother – under the watchful eye of the conductor, of course. And as as adult I traveled across British Columbia and Alberta by train. The Orient Express would be my most unbelievable wish come true!

  30. OMG!!!! Such a beautiful piece of art. I can’t wait till I am in a position where I can approach this project and do it justice.
    Thank you for read and the details.

  31. So … if I was looking for a resource that explains just what is it that makes a design Jacobean, what would you recommend?

    One thing that I really love about **projects** over “stitch bibles” (and lo, I have many of them!) is that seeing the stitch doing something … rather than just a line or square of Stitch X is that you see more of what it really looks like. Like that “spider wheel path” on the one leaf. Never in a million years would I have ever thought of doing that, but it looks so very *awesome!!*

    There’s a stitcher on Instagram that does similar things … using standard stitches in unconventional ways. Their work is aMAZing!

  32. Will you allow us to pre-purchase the Jacobean kit? I’ve loved this project since you first showed it…whether or not I can afford it remains to be seen, but I’d sure like the option. And maybe if we can pre-purchase it, it will give you a bit of advance notice as to how many to prepare?


    Barb Flavin

    1. Hi, Barb – Thanks for this question! I can’t pre-sell kits, I’m afraid, because the needlework supply line is not as certain as you’d think. If I pre-sell, it doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be able to order the supplies I need to make enough kits to fill the quota. So pre-selling doesn’t really fit with my business model. I only sell kits that are already prepared, so I know that I can ship them to the customer immediately. Otherwise, the customer ends up waiting for sometimes a very long time (I’ve heard horror stories of people waiting 6 months, a year, and even longer for kits and supply collections they’ve paid for on the pre-order model), because of supply issues. As much as I’d love to do it, there’s too much of a risk involved – not just financially, but I’d risk my reputation and people’s good humor. :-/

      I will announce ahead of time when this kit will be available, so that you know when it is going online in my shop. It won’t be too soon, because I’m working on some other project instructions at this time. I haven’t written the Jacobean Sea instruction book yet.

  33. This is the most perfect piece of artwork I have ever seen, nor would I change anything as it is YOUR individualism and insight to embroidery. Bravo!
    Thank you so much for sharing.
    Should you decide to kit or publish the pattern I would dearly love to be included.
    I know I saw this earlier (in my infancy!), but maybe with time my eyes have become more appreciative of such beauty. Plus let us not forget the time, thought, and angst which has gone into your endeavor.

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