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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Computer Life: The Floral Heart Project


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Wouldn’t it be great if Needle ‘n Thread were only about needle and thread? I imagine our days would be spent stitching away, creating beautiful things, experimenting, enjoying a bit of stitch fun here and there, finishing this project, starting that project – life wrapped up in Only Stitching.

It doesn’t really work that way. Even if you’re not into needlework as a business, it doesn’t work that way. You know how it is! We all have lives outside of stitching! And hopefully, they are lives that we love!

But for those of us who are pretty enthusiastic about needlework, needlework is always there. It’s our carrot. It’s The Thing that gets us through less pleasant bits because we have something creative to look forward to. It’s our relaxation, our entertainment, our creative outlet – it’s part of those aspects of life that contribute to our happiness.

Here in our little cozy studio in Kansas, there’s another aspect of Needle ‘n Thread that goes on every day. It’s what I call Computer Life, and if you’re in business these days, it’s unavoidable. Luckily, I don’t hate Computer Life. I like it! Maybe not as much as the stitching part of things, but still. I like it! Otherwise, whoa! “Work” really would be Work and it would be a Major Slog.

My Computer Life right now consists of this:

Floral Heart Computer Life

I’m working on the downloadable PDF for the Floral Heart project. This has been a loooooong time coming!

The embroidery project itself is not huge. But putting it together into a coherent set of illustrated instructions is another story.

I use InDesign for this type of publishing. It’s a fairly intuitive tool if you’re already familiar with Adobe products. While I don’t know the full power of InDesign, I know it enough to use it efficiently when creating simple publications. I like it. And I like the fact that it works seamlessly with Photoshop, which I’ve been using non-stop for about 25+ years.

Floral Heart Computer Life

The PDF for this project is detailed and extensive. The project includes stitching the front and back of the design, plus the finishing work. Stitching the front and back both involve a wide range of stitches and techniques, which means loads of illustrated and written instructions to cover all of them.

To unfold the stitching portion of the project (after the general introduction to it, with materials lists, patterns, and so forth), I arranged the PDF this way:

First, I started with an overview of the front of the heart, with an explanation of all the elements, how they were embroidered, and what colors were used.

Then I moved to the back of the heart and gave a similar overview, grouping sampler lines and bands the same or very similar bands, with an explanation of stitches and colors.

Floral Heart Computer Life

Then, there’s a section full of individual stitch and technique instructions for reference while working the different parts of the front and the back.

Although I’ve completed the layout on this section, I haven’t finished all the writing.

To streamline and make things efficient, I re-use some instructions among the various project PDFs that I’ve already produced. For example, if I’m using step-by-step photos to explain how to work a French knot, it really makes sense to grab that information from previous projects that include the same instructions.

But there are many new instructions in this project, so it takes a lot of time to get through this part.

Finally, the last instructional section focuses on finishing the heart into a hanging ornament or sachet. I’ve got the photos edited for this portion, but the layout and text are not completed yet.

And then finally-finally, the whole publication has to go through pretty rigorous editorial processes with me, Anna, and a few editing-oriented friends scrutinizing for clarity in explanations, typos, spelling errors, grammar errors, and general overall improvements.

So that’s what goes into little project publications like this one. I’m pretty sure it’s this way for all designers and instructors writing their own thorough, class-like instructions for more complex embroidery projects.

In my heart of hearts, I’m yearning to have this available for you by February 14th. At this point, I can’t promise. I have about 24-48 hours (starting today at 10:00 am) where any kind of work that requires clear vision will be on hold. My plan is to make a weekend of it at the computer, but we shall see!

It’s getting very, very close! And I’m excited, because I’ve been trying to get this finished for a looooong, long time! Yay!

Have a great week! I’ll be off the computer for a couple days, so I won’t see you here until Monday. We should be all the way back to working order on Monday, though.

Have a great week!


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(8) Comments

  1. This is so beautiful. I just want to clarify for myself if this will be a kit or PDF project and when you estimate it will be available. I am enjoying your site immensely. Thank you for it.

  2. Dear Mary,
    I am having a day in front of the screen as well. I’d much rather be stitching and be creative in a much more tactile way than generating digital diagrams. Having said that, it is nice to think, I am not in ‘this boat’ on my own. I will from now change my ‘screen days’ to ‘computer-life’ – it has a much happier ring to it.
    Thank you

  3. What a pretty design Mary! I do remember this one now and I look forward to the pattern release … but no pressure! 🙂

  4. Dear Mary

    I can’t wait to receive the e-book on your latest work ‘Key to my Heart’. I am never disappointed with your e-books they are always so full of easy to follow instructions and lovely photos and I like the fact that you can just go to any page from the table of contents great stuff. Thank you for sharing with us the good news of the coming Key to my Heart e-book look forward to having it.

    Regards Anita Simmance

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