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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Summer Production in the Studio


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There are certain times of the year at Needle ‘n Thread when we tend to take a breather – a couple days around Thanksgiving, a few days around Christmas, a few days around Easter. The rest of the year, we pretty much work in a frenzy, except for summer. In the summer, we usually go into a calmer, looser mode of work, where we get in more time with planned stitching on upcoming projects and the like.

When you’re stitching, everything slows down. Everything becomes more relaxed. It’s quieter. Calmer. Perfect for summer.

So in the summer, we’ve always been a bit looser with the work schedule. We stitch a lot, yes. We do some production, yes. But it’s pretty looser and more flexible than the rest of the year. The kids pop in. We do impromptu activities with family. Things like that.

This is the time of year when I can usually take a scheduled vacation for a week while Anna covers for me. And visa-versa. (Technically, we can do that any time of the year, but summer always seems to be when it actually happens. The other times of the year are just too crowded.)

But this year has been different. It started off in a royal mess, with my house problem right as we were just settling into the new studio for work. And it never really improved – we’ve been chasing the proverbial tail all year long.

Although summer has finally come, there is definitely something different about it this year. Now, we are in full production mode on every single front. With an extra part-time set of hands, we’ve been working full days and then some, with little variation except for personal appointments and the Life Things that still pop up.

I’ll show you some of the things we’re working on so you can get a taste of Studio Life!

Kit Production

Every single table, countertop, desktop, and shelf top in the studio is occupied right now with some project in production. We even have a few temporary tables set up. It’s a jolly… mess! But it’s an organized mess. We know what’s what, anyway!

First, there’s kit production going on. Massive swathes of linen were cut down into neat 9″ squares last week, and now, with threads & tools sorted, there’s the assembly line process of creating small kits for the next Stitch Snippet.

This takes up one table, and it’s one of the tables I wrote about here. The fact is, you can’t stand all day and kit, but you can’t sit all day and kit, either. So with our fancy-schmancy Uplift tables, we get a good balance of standing, half-standing, and sitting throughout the day, as needed – and very easily with the push of a button. These tables have saved our backs! Cutting fabric, kitting, designing, assembling other things – we use them All The Time, and they go up and down and up and down throughout the day. Best Investment Ever.

Kit Production

Then there’s towel production – the ready-to-stitch towel sets will all be in stock again soon! It’s been a while, so we’re getting a good smattering of them in now, and then we’ll continue to build inventory on those, especially with a couple new sets coming out a little later this summer.

Kit Production

The funny thing about preparing the ready-to-stitch towels and packaging them is that they are such space hogs!

The towels are not small – approximately 27″ square. We have to lay them out flat on two different surfaces, first to check each towel before we transfer the design onto it, and then to check each towel after we do the transfer, before the they’re folded for packaging. And the folded towels take up their own table, too!

Then, in between times, the towels are hung over the backs of chairs in large stacks.

Kit Production

We’re processing about 1,800 towels this way.

If you walked in on us, you’d think we were some sort of very niche laundry service.

Kit Production

I have my own little table of production in the front of the studio, too (near the tea cart – it’s the ideal spot).

For quite a while, I’ve been working on our own line of fine bisque needle minders. Anna has now sidled in on the fun, too. We’ve tested and re-tested the needle minders, here in the studio and among family and friends. We are now ready to make them a part of our regular inventory. (Yay!)

Hence, I have a table devoted just to the mess of paintbrushes and bottles and palettes and water and glues and glaze and magnets and potential packaging.

I can’t even bring myself to show you the table, it’s such a mess.

The funny thing about this particular production line is the whole magnet issue. Magnets are so finicky. Their unhealthy attraction for each other can be devastating if your little bisque beauties haven’t cured completely. The mini disasters, the frantic grabs, the resounding snaps that make me jump out of my seat as two magnets accidentally find each other – they’ve all contributed to a rather lively project.

Kit Production

And of course, there’s a stitching corner or two or three on a couple small tables!

Kit Production

And then there’s this.

Remember this goldwork altar cover, recently finished? Well, I have a stack of five unfinished altar covers that need my attention. They will all eventually have a small central embroidery embellishment on them – nothing too elaborate – but first, they need to be sewn up and delivered for use until we can finish the embroidery appliqués.

I would almost forget about those, except that I know they are needed sooner rather than later, and I have this massive roll of fabric staring at me every time I sit down at my computer to work.

We’re in a lull between thread production, or I’d show you thread production, too. That will happen in a couple weeks again. We’ll be restocking the floche color packs that have already sold out, as quickly as we can.

Busy, but…

So, yep! We’re having a great time in the studio!

And we’re really busy!

Which is why I have today mostly off! I’ve had plans for today for a long, long time, and I’m going to go happily fulfill them. I will not be around on Friday, so I’ll see you Monday, at which time, we’ll look at some embroidery close up.

Have a wonderful weekend!

(And Happy Flag Day!)


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(7) Comments

  1. Just an idea here, I would love to see some towels with Celtic Knotwork on them. Just an idea as I am a lover of Knotwork. I hope all is going better with the house. Take care. Tina

    1. Thanks, Tina! That’s a great idea. I have a few knotwork designs that I’ve sketched up, that I’ve never done anything with – so maybe that would be a good starting point!

  2. Loved this tour of production at your studio. Makes us realize a lot of work goes into merchandising. I love embroidery and consider myself an advanced beginner. I have been looking at your kits and and am waiting for your restocking to finish and then I am going to purchase a kit! You can tell your love of needlework shines through in your blog posts. I so enjoy reading them!

  3. Wow, Mary, I don’t know how you keep all of it straight! And still manage to create things of such beauty.
    I’m very interested in purchasing some of your needle minders when you have them ready. From the photo, they look to be amazingly cute and I can’t wait.
    Will you let us know when we can buy them?
    Thank you for all that you do to keep our creativity flowing !

  4. Are any of the tea towel or flour sack towel designs going to be available in a pattern-only option for embroidering on other mediums?

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