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

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All New Studio: A Photo Tour!


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Before we start today with a tour, I have a quick announcement! For those waiting, I do have a limited number of Christmas Tree Ornament kits ready to go right now! I wish we could have gotten more together, but we’ve done our best, and I hope you are able to get one if you’ve been waiting. I’ve also restocked Christmas Flowers and Snowy Cabin, two 4″ kits that sold out quickly.

On to today’s topic!

I sorely wanted to use video to walk you through my new studio space where all things Needle ‘n Thread now happen. Alas, video wasn’t in the stars.

Instead, I’m going to take you on a little photo tour, where we can walk through the space together and I can tell you about it.

Be not alarmed! We didn’t clean up before this! We’ve been working hard and we have stuff out. Shock, horror! It’s inevitable. We’re a workshop more than anything else, and some days, we just don’t have a chance to do a thorough put-away at the end of the day. So things might look somewhat cluttered here and there.

Enough excuses, right? Let’s go for a stroll.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

If you came in the front door of the studio and looked left towards the main work area, this is what you’d see.

The front third of the space is devoted to our regular work area, where we stitch, put kits together, design, drink tea or cocoa when needs must, and generally do what we do.

It is also the space that we will use when we finally get back to hosting local classes.

We haven’t finished hanging a gallery wall – but we started to. Remember when we talked about framing last summer? We were able to put a few pieces up from that adventure. We still have other pieces to frame, so that wall should fill up nicely.

Fortunately, we have this one west wall that the sun doesn’t touch, so we figured it would be a perfect place to hang finished needlework pieces.

I still need to figure out something for electrical cord control…

And yes, just behind the table area, you can see my desk, which is the messiest spot at the moment. I swear, it was neat yesterday morning!

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

If you turn your head a little to the right as you come in the door, you’re faced with the Cubbies of Cubbies. This was a good idea! We have some good storage and organizational space here, for current work and for items that we reach for often.

We still haven’t finished organizing the tool and equipment drawers. We have a labeling solution for those that’s going to work out great, and I can’t wait to get them labeled!

You can see the trestle frame that holds the goldwork project we’re working on.

And there’s another work table up here, presently loaded with floche. We’re processing a bunch of floche right now. We’ve created some new color packs, so that’s one thing we’re working on.

On top of the cubbies, I was (finally) able to hang this pennant banner, a gift from the Valley Quail EGA chapter. I’m so excited to have a display spot for it!

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

In front of the cubbies, against the wall, we’ve conceived a new arrangement for my Bisley thread cabinets, which I wrote about here.

We had to do a little rigging to hold them up in a stacked configuration like this, but it was worth it! They take up a lot less space along the wall, and they are much easier to access, since the majority of the drawers don’t require squatting to read the labels.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

The funny thing is, we never see the space from the front door, as if we walked in through the door.

This is the view we normally see, looking towards the front door from the edge of my desk area.

We have a little kitchen cart up near the door, against the wall. On it, we have the requisite items for making a cup of tea (or cocoa), and we also store drinking water there. Now, about that cart. It was definitely a small tuition payment to the School of Life. Worst furniture purchase ever. But it was within the budget, so I reckon it will have to last until… well, until it doesn’t. We’ll see!

The screen / room divider blocks off the front door. On the other side of it, there’s a little table adorned with a Christmas tree for display, so that it doesn’t look too unwelcoming! In fact, there’s even a small welcome mat.

We have a lock problem with the door, so we find it better to keep it locked at all times and just use the back door. Also, the big glass doors bring the full force of the sun straight in. So the screen cuts down on that. It also keeps me from feeling like I’m in a fishbowl when I’m working in here in the early mornings and evenings, when it’s dark out. In the spring, the door will be part of the front remodel of the building.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

Behind the cubbies, we get into the real manual labor of some things!

We have the sewing machine set up here. This is also the space we will use when we start preparing ready-to-stitch, pre-printed dry goods again. There’s a lot more room here than it seems in the photo, and it will be well-used.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

Just beyond that area, we have The Shelves. These are rolling 24″ deep shelves on which we organize inventory and anything that we sell or that we use to make the things that we sell. Books, kits, supplies are all organized on these shelves.

I chose rolling shelves for this area, so that we can easily arrange them if we need to. We have them spaced apart, so that we can access them from all sides. it’s a very nice situation for organizing our goods – so much better than what we were limited to in the residential space that we were in previously.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

And as you walk past The Shelves, the space opens up again. Here, you can see the Back Door – where every single leaf in northeast Kansas likes to congregate. For some reason, the sidewalk right in front of that door is well over ankle deep in leaves every morning. I don’t know where they come from (well, trees, obviously) and I don’t know why they gather right there and only right there, but they do! The door is flush with the wall of the building, so it’s not as if the wind eddies there. It’s very odd.

In any case, this area is our shipping area…

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

…and this is our shipping table, where we package up parcels. It’s surrounded by the supplies we use to ship parcels.

It doesn’t look like much, but this is a great space! Before, we had a tiny desk in a bedroom. With this shelf space and worktable space, we’re able to access supplies so much more easily, and we’re able to package much more efficiently.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

If you turn around to your left after facing the shipping table, you’ll see this small wall, which is the back wall of the newly installed bathroom in the back of the building. That’s our tech-and-tool cabinet.

It’s amazing how much tech-and-tool stuff is necessary in this operation! We store extra lights, cords, photo equipment, tools, and the like in there.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

And back in the small nook behind the bathroom, we have the equivalent of the catch-all. It looks unorganized. It’s not, really. This is where we have our embroidery stands, our extra tables, extra chairs, extra containers for organizing and kitting and the like, and we also have a mop sink and a switch room back there.

We keep furnishings that we don’t use regularly here, where they are out of site but easily accessible.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

If I turn around and look to the front of the building, this is what it looks like.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

One of the best parts of the shelves being separate from each other is that we can use the ends of the shelves to accommodate supplies and sellable goods.

For example, with hooks and dowels, we’re able to hang tissue paper on a shelf end, for packaging.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

We have this temporary tiny “peg board” that came with our latest shipment of Tulip needles hanging on one shelf, and it has inspired us to rig a real hanging peg board on the shelf end so that we can hang all the needles we have in stock, as well as other small items.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

We also have a hook and dowel system that we hang all our hoop stock on. We have a new shipment on the way, so it will be fun to see these fill up again.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

The wiring shelving units are so roomy! We’re able to store all the books we carry nice and flat on the shelves (which are lined), and we have a label for each book. If we need to shift things, the labels are removable.

And we store kits in small labeled tubs on the shelves, too.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

Now, this space is a bit odd. Here, the floor used to slant as part of a passage between the building we are in and the building west of us. At one point in the history of these buildings, the wall between the two buildings was partially removed, so that the buildings could work as one building. But the floor of one was higher than the other, so a sloping floor was put in.

When the wall was closed up again, there was still a sloping floor, which struck me as wasted space. We had a platform built on the floor against the new wall, so that we could secure a couple industrial shelves against that wall, where we store all the “working” supplies that we use in the studio – from fabric pieces to beads to extra linen, hoops, frames, office supplies, batting, rolls of fabric, some threads that don’t have cabinet space yet, and so forth.

I know it looks like a mess, but it’s actually pretty organized and very accessible. It’s so nice to easily see what what’s what and to be able to retrieve the things we need easily!

Though, granted… industrial shelves are never pretty, are they? Now what I’d call “functional beauty” – but they are beautifully functional, and that’s what matters right now.

New Needle 'n Thread Studio space, 2022

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the new space – and also, in fact, my least favorite! – is the front window area. I love being able to decorate the windows for Christmas! And I love seeing the Christmas tree lot across the way, especially in the evenings when the lights come on. And I love occasionally seeing the (albeit small) world go by. It’s fun!

The windows, though, have a flip side. They are single pane, old windows. They let in a lot of the southern sun, which can warm the place up rapidly. We have solar shades to help, but come summer, they won’t do the trick. So in the spring, with the clean up on the front of the building, I think new windows will have to be part of the plan.

Another negative aspect of the windows is this: while I love seeing the world go by, that world sure does make a lot of noise! Wow. I had no idea that traffic in our little town (along the highway 24 corridor in northeast Kansas) is practically nonstop all day long. And traffic makes a lot of noise. So that’s something to get used to.

Still, I wouldn’t trade it!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour! If I can get a video together at some point – maybe when we do Something Notable – I’ll definitely share it with you! It would be much more effective!


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(61) Comments

  1. What an amazing space. Maybe industrial shelving isn’t the best look, but it is very practical and can be moved around and adapted to whatever you need.

  2. Love your new digs. A place for everything and everything in its place! When/if you replace the front windows, consider Low-E windows. The insulation factor is amazing, though they can be more expensive than regular double pane windows.


  3. Wow!!
    It’s a beautiful space you’ve created. I wish someday I could see this directly. But that’s wishful thinking …. All three way from India… Lots and lots of wishes and looking forward to that video tour thru this awesome work space/ studio


  4. Better windows will also help with the traffic noise – I have double-paned windows in my apartment and when something loud is going on outside, I can barely hear it.

  5. What a grand workspace! And you have thought of how to efficiently use every bit of space! Although the shelving may be not be “beautiful” the items on the shelves and the end product from those items are beautiful! Congratulations on your new space! Enjoy!

  6. Thank you for the tour. I prefer still pictures over a video myself. It’s easier to get a good look at details and check back to your comments on why to do such and such a certain way.
    I can’t begin to tell you all the things I’ve learned from you.❤️

  7. Mary-
    Congratulations on your wonderful new studio! Very apparent that there was considerable time spent figuring out options for best function, storage systems and use of your space. I’m sure there will be many happy (and productive) hours spent there. WooHoo — you did it!!!

  8. Oh My, Beautifully Organized…. My first thought was, will you be able to hang the “Flags”that “Quail Valley” gifted you. And YES, there they were hanging in the perfect place. Loved seeing them. Great how the “Bisley” cabinets worked against the wall. No worries on the shelving, looks great and they work! There are windows that one can see out, but other side can’t see in… check them out. Hopefully they are not out of price range. Thanks for showing.

  9. Don’t apologize about the mess! This is a working space. Of course there will be times when it gets messy. Just don’t let it get dirty. I think you are really going to love it all.

  10. What a welcoming and spacious shop! Your organization is marvelous. Once your space portal opens, I will be able to visit. Beam me up! Seriously, what a wonderful place to take a class.

  11. I bet double-paned windows will make a huge difference both to the heat in the summer as well as the traffic noise. I’m glad you have your new space mostly set up!

  12. This is so fun. Thank you for sharing. And don’t apologize for not tidying up before the tour. Life happens and sometimes at the end of the day we are too tired to think about anything but dinner and bed.

  13. It’s a lovely functional space Mary. I enjoyed seeing a real working space. The Pinterest spaces are lovely and inspiring but not always functional.

  14. I think The Shelves is a great name for a band!

    Can’t you imagine Mary’s future PR?

    “Coming Soon!
    The latest release from The Shelves!
    It’s a kit you’ve got to have…all the cool kids will!”

    Okaaaay, maybe I’ve worked too hard putting together my new work table today? I’m sending myself to the showers.

  15. I love your new space. So organized, so bright and airy. I invite you to come redo my small bedroom cum sewing/craft room for me – anytime, we’ll have a sleepover for Kansas people only (you and me). I was born in Winfield, KS – I bet it is smaller than your town. Enjoy your new digs.

  16. Oh, this was soooo much fun to see. I love this type of thing where you get to “see” where your online “friends” live, work, etc. There’s a reason artists give you tours of their studios- I think everyone loves to see the “human” side of the “smoothly running machine”. :D. It actually makes it more real. Hard to put into words what I mean (I’m old and those words sometimes escape me for awhile!). But I think you know what I’m trying to say. Thanks Mary, it was a fun tour.

  17. How fun! Thank you for an enjoyable tour of your new studio! It looks as though it will work well for you. Maybe one day, perhaps when you start holding classes again, I can make the trip to visit.

  18. I loved this tour! I receive your blog posts via email but had to visit your site to comment because it was so thorough, well documented, and well described! I love looking at room configurations, home plans, etc. and figuring everything out. You did such a great job explaining everything’s location that i didn’t have to do any figuring in your tour. Fun, fun!

  19. G’day there Mary,
    I really enjoyed looking through your new studio.
    You deserve everything extra special and so happy you have this.
    Kath x

  20. Such a nice fresh space. I’m sure you will get used to the traffic noise eventually. Plus, if you replace those windows with double pane, the traffic noise might be reduced. Congrats on getting everything all set up.

  21. Congratulations on your new space! Your setup is wonderful.

    When you get new windows, if you get the right kind, that’ll cut down the street noise.

  22. You have a great work space! When you get new windows for the front, consider triple panes which will block a lot of the noise.

  23. Your workshop looks wonderful! I admire all the planning and organizing that has gone into it. Congratulations and I hope you will be very happy in the new space!

  24. Congratulations, Mary! Having set up a small business myself I know how much effort it takes to get to the point you have. You should feel a great sense of accomplishment and I am sure you are very excited to have brought your vision to reality! I wish you nothing but success and happiness in the days and years ahead!

  25. Thanks for the tour! And just to let you know, when you put in new double pane windows, the noise will go down quite a bit: at least it did when we put new windows in our house. Hope it works the same for you!!

  26. Hmmmm, I left a comment yesterday, but it doesn’t seem to be here. I just wanted to say how fun it was to see your new space and get a feel for where you are each day, working away to enthrall us with your fun and wisdom. Artists often do studio tours, so I know I’m not the only one that enjoys seeing these spaces. It makes you more “real”, and I think brings us all together a bit closer to see the reality. So much fun, I love the personal touches like this. It’s friendlier than just all “business”. :D. Merry Christmas!

  27. I think my favorite thing is the wire racks on wheels. They’ll be easy to move when you decide a different arrangement would work better, or even for cleaning under them.
    And the added storage using the ends is very cool. My 2nd favorite is the cubby wall. Or is it (still) the Bisley drawers?

    I’m so glad you’ve got a nice big bright space, and a landlord that is willing to work with you on building improvements. Maybe those leaves are dropping hints to be inspiration for a kit for next fall?

  28. Wow! You’ve made so much progress! The area looks great!
    Two thoughts, 1) maybe have a leaf blower you can use to blow the leaves away before you enter or exit the building? I don’t know the logistics of where you would keep it to prevent the problem but hopefully they won’t be around when the snow falls, but leaves under snow are slippery (you could use the blower for easy light snow removal too)
    2) an idea for your windows if they aren’t replaced before the real heat starts to beat in, install yourself or have Heat control window film installed. I have it on windows in the front of my home where the summer sun is unbearable and it helps quite a bit.
    Hope this helps!

  29. Thank you for the tour and congratulations on your shop, it looks lovely!
    I’m probably alone it this, but I actually like the look of industrial shelves 🙂

  30. I love seeing your new space and “hearing” the excitement in your words! What a great move for you and Needle-n-Thread! 🙂

  31. Thank you for the tour! It was so much fun getting to see your new space. It feels like we had a special opportunity to visit you! I really love how you organised everything – looks like you are going to be very comfortable and happy there.

    Congratulations and Merry Christmas!

  32. Hi Mary,
    Thank you so much for a tour of your new studio! I think it’s fabulous. I feel like we’re a part of your growth. Im so happy for you that you are able to expand. I for one value all of your expertise that you so willingly share with us.
    Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

  33. Regarding the back door and its leaf piles…have you tried leaving bread and milk out for the brownies? That seems perhaps a little Faerie-touched to me… 🙂

  34. Wow, I finally took the time to enjoy your studio tour – what a wonderful place! You’ve done a terrific job! Congratulations!

  35. Ahh Mary, there’s nothing I love more (apart from embroidery) than an organisation-cum-walkaround-tour of a new workspace! 🙂 It really does look a functional and pleasant place to work. I can imagine how much more productive you can be with such a lovely space. And if you do replace the windows next year, you might find that improves the noise levels as well. Wishing you a fabulous time in there! 🙂

  36. Well. I don’t know why you think that industrial shelving isn’t beautiful! To me, an organized space where things are functional has its own kind of beauty. Knowing where everything is and having space for it is the best feeling! So I think your entire new space is gorgeous! You’ve done a stellar job! I know you’ll be happy in that space for years to come.

  37. Thanks for the tour, Mary!! I hope to someday have a similar space for my calligraphy/bookbinding business. Right now everything is crammed into my one-bedroom condo, except some packing materials and tents for events, which have spilled into a storage unit. Congratulations on your well-earned, beautiful space!

  38. I personally don’t care that your space looks like someone is actually working there. It doesn’t look disorganized to me. It looks like real life.

    And the bins in the back on the industrial shelves look like someone uses them, A LOT. I shop sometimes at J R Harris, a fabric warehouse in Minnesota (look them up) and their space looks a lot more untidy than yours.

    You don’t need to apologize.

  39. I really enjoyed your tour of your new facility. Congratulations, you really deserve it!!! Such a comprehensive and thorough analysis of the space, furniture, and function (I really want one of the Bisley thread storeage). I am always eager to hear about others work space, organization, and tools used. Thank you so much for your blog and for your sharing. In the very best spirit of Christmas, I wish you a fine respite and joyful peace. Priscilla

    1. How I wish I could pay you to, too! Not quite ready for more employees yet, though – but maybe some day. I guess most people wouldn’t relocate to Kansas, come to think of it. LOL!

  40. I know this post was a while ago but I am just getting ready to move into a little tiny studio room in my house. I was wondering where you got your desks? I need a desk that moves up and down so it can have dual purposes. The last Ikea table top I got seemed to nick really easily and I wasn’t sure if you had Ikea desks.
    Thank you for your time. I love reading your posts.
    I hope all is well.

  41. I really enjoyed the conducted tour of your studio – I can now visualise you at work! It must be very satisfying to have it all so beautifully organised.
    Yesterday, I finished my cushion cover: it was originally a wallhanging kit from Cowslip Workshop, Launceston, Cornwall. However, I converted it to the cushion cover. It won’t attach a photo on this form so will try to send it separately.
    Best wishes and enjoy your studio.
    Best wishes
    Andy Lloyd Williams,
    Bathampton, Bath UK

    1. Thanks Andy! If you’d like to send a photo, you can send it via email (this comment should arrive in your email, and you can reply directly to that). Thanks again!

  42. Thank you for this little tour! I find it quite inspiring and motivating – shouting out to me like “ heck with the laundry calling out to you, go organize your craft room! It will be so much more fun and fulfilling.”

  43. Wow, I missed this post in the pre-holiday insanity. I’m impressed with your space! It looks wonderfully functional. I know you aren’t “open to the public”, but I’d love to come and take a class from you some day. Any chance of a beginning goldwork one at some point?

    I think your mix of industrial shelving and white in the ‘public'(ish) areas looks fine – it’s a workshop and that’s what it looks like. And it works for you and your staff, which is the whole point.

    1. Hi, Karla – Well… if we ever get to the point that I can host small classes for beyond-local folks to participate in, I definitely will announce it on the website! We are working slowly towards that goal!

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