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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Ready to Stitch Some Strawberries? Introduction


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Last month, we explored together a collection of tutorials on how to embroidery wheat five different ways.

This month, we’re going to embark on another little stitching expedition together, focusing on how to stitch strawberries. And yes, five ways! For some reason, five was the Magic Number. (I think the next collection will feature six ways to embroider a Certain Something…)

The purpose of these little vignettes are two-fold: to help generate ideas for your own stitching, and to give you confidence in making choices when you stitch. Sometimes, it’s useful to see that things can be embroidered in more than one way.

At the same time, they provide nice little embroidery projects that are kinda pretty (ok, I might be biased) and that are relatively quick.

Before we launch into the strawberries formally next week, I want to cover some background information and some queries that came up during the wheat adventure.

How to Embroider Strawberries - Introduction

What to Know

The strawberry series will entail embroidering five strawberries in a stylized approach. That is, they don’t necessarily look real. They are certainly recognizable as strawberries, but we aren’t embroidering a photographic re-creation of an image of strawberries.

With the wheat tutorial, I got some persistent feedback from a stitcher or two that the wheat “doesn’t look realistic.”

Embroidery is not photography. While there are certain styles of embroidery that are meant to produce exact depictions, most decorative embroidery is stylized to a degree. Was the wheat recognizable as wheat? I think so.

So, just to make you aware ahead of time in case it bothers you, the strawberries are very stylized.

That’s just the way I wiggle when it comes to embroidery designs and interpretations!

How to Embroider Strawberries - Introduction

How Do These Tutorial Series Work?

Starting next week, and about once a week after that until the project is finished, I’ll post an article here on Needle ‘n Thread that takes you step-by-step through how to stitch the design.

I’ll include the free pattern, a materials list, links to stitch tutorials, and tips for stitching each part of the design, with photos along the way.

We’ll discuss difficulties and snags encountered along the journey and how they were overcome. Now and then, I might offer ideas on how to do things differently.

Through the project, we’ll be sampling a variety of techniques, from simple to more complex, for stitching stylized strawberries. All the techniques are accessible to beginners.

You can take or leave whatever you want, of course! Along the way, you might pick up tips for your own projects, whether you’re working the strawberries or not.

Over on my Patreon page, which is a members platform for Needle ‘n Thread, I’ll also be posting a downloadable PDF of each lesson as we work through the project. I like to post little extras over there when I can!

How to Embroider Strawberries - Introduction

Where Do I Get Supplies?

Oh, supplies!! You don’t have to use the same supplies I use.

For fabric, you can embroider on anything! (That said, I’m using the same linen I used on A Sea to Stitch, which is part of the natural linen fabric packs I’m putting together right now.)

I chose a natural-colored linen for this one, because I love the reds, greens, and whites on the natural linen.

When it comes to threads, if you don’t want to buy new threads and you have a stash of threads, dig through it and find similar colors. For the most part, I am using ubiquitous DMC cotton floss.

How to Embroider Strawberries - Introduction


Except I pulled some House of Embroidery cotton perle, too. You can substitute, and we’ll discuss that in the appropriate lessons.

What Should I Do with It?

Some folks who stitched along with the wheat tutorials, at the end, asked me what to do with it.

You don’t always have to do something with embroidery, especially projects like this, which are meant to be learning projects.

But if it comes out great and you love it, then you’ll probably want to do something with it! Maybe you could frame it and hang it as an accent piece in your home? Maybe you could mount it on the cover of a notebook? Maybe you could make it into a little pocket and sew it onto a tote? Perhaps you could make some kind of small bag or case out of it, to put something in?

I will probably finish all of these projects – which are going to be approximately the same size – into small “tiles” (mounted on stiff board) that I will then either hang or just use as demos for classes or other tutorials or what-have-you.

I know that many people used the wheat on towels – either using linen or cotton pre-finished blanks, or making their own hand towels. One member over on Patreon embroidered the wheat on the corners of cloth napkins and she plans to make a matching tea cloth.

You can do the same with the strawberries, too, if you want. Just make sure if you’re planning to create household items that need laundering, that you first test any threads you use for colorfastness!

The strawberries would make lovely accents on table linens for spring and summer.

Stitching Along?

Is this a stitch along? Well… yes and no. You can stitch along. Or you can save the project and stitch it later. The articles will still be here on Needle ‘n Thread.

Eventually, I will index the projects under Tips and Techniques in the main menu of the website, under Hand Embroidery Lessons & Step-by-Step Projects. (There are a lot of projects there. Did you know about them?)

Or you can always bookmark the articles on the website, or if you subscribe to the newsletter, you can save each email that focuses on the project and come back to it later.

The project is suitable for beginners and beyond. But you don’t have to stitch right along with the articles – you can take your own time, or you can come back to them later. And you might not even stitch the strawberries at all – you might just pick up tips for your own projects. Whatever you want to do is Just Fine.

Look for the strawberries next week! I can’t wait share them with you!


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(18) Comments

  1. I collect vintage fabric, and quite a few have strawberries as part of the design. As a beginning embroider, I am looking forward to this series. I also will gladly join your patron group. I have learned a lot from you in the past months. Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Sandy! I’m glad you’re enjoying your venture into needlework. I have to admit, I looooove vintage fabric! I have to be very careful NOT to collect it! LOL!

  2. Dear Mary

    This looks like such an exciting project all those lovely strawberries I’m sure will look good enough to eat. I’ve just finished my Deer family felt animals for my nephew and I am looking for something to embroider, I might join you in this but, it’s what to do with it once it’s finished. The mounted tiles sounds like a good idea. I agree with embroidery it doesn’t have to be realistic, that’s the joy of needlework. Thank you for sharing with us the next collection of tutorials on strawberries, I look forward to seeing the tutorials and learning from them.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  3. I am so excited about this upcoming series. I’m a beginner who LOVES strawberry motifs but am a little unsure of which stitches to use. I can’t wait!

  4. I am looking forward to this project. I am a newbie. I have done some candlewick in the early 80’s, and I did one project from your alphabet series. I get intimidated from not thinking I am doing it right.

    1. Just launch in! It doesn’t matter if you’re “not doing it right” because: 1. There’s no such thing as embroidery police; 2. there’s no “only one right way” to embroider; and 3. you’ll never figure out how to do it to your own satisfaction if you don’t at least start. You have to start out if you want to arrive, right? So just jump on in with both feet!

    2. *Mary* may be able to embroider with both feet, but don’t worry if you can only manage one foot at a time. I’m still stuck using my hands ….

  5. Morning Mary – And the fun begins yet again! Learned some things with the wheat and fully expect to learn some new stuff with this. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your skills in such a fun way.
    Happy stitching – Brenda

  6. Excellent timing, Mary! I’m about to start stitching on Nicola Jarvis’s Strawberry Thief design and I’m struggling to know what to do with the strawberry. I’ll look forward to seeing your ideas.

  7. I like strawberries though the one I stitched turned out to be difficult in the end. (I think it looked all right, but the stitching was tough. I think I borrowed ideas from several places, especially here, but I had trouble getting through layers of stitching at the end.)

    I got as far as printing the wheat ;). Maybe I’ll do better with the strawberries?

  8. This just proves I’m not the only one who’s a sucker strawberries! Maybe it started with my Strawberry Shortcake doll when I was a kiddo? Anyway, thanks so much for all of your lovely tutorials Mary!

  9. I’ve been wanting to do embroidery for quite a while. This project is perfect – just in time to welcome spring. Thank you!

  10. I LOVE strawberries! I find them to be a recurring motif in my work. They’re amazingly versatile for designing with. My other favorites are daisies and hazel. 🙂

    -C. L. Fingristion

  11. Stylised strawberries are good for me! I want embroidery to be fun, not photographic. I am really looking forward to this (again!), and I love the creativity you are sharing with us on these projects, Mary.
    Let’s go for strawberries!

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