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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A Little Project in the Works


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Yesterday, when all was calm and quiet in the studio, the blinds were drawn against the sun (because, yes, we’re up near 100 degrees here in Kansas! gaaaaaaah!), a book was playing in the background, and I had the place all to myself… I started a new and small embroidery project.

This is the type of project I really love, because it can be finished in a weekend.

And I don’t mean a weekend only devoted to stitching, either. It’s a project that you can start on one of those Friday evenings when the weekend has started, the weather is cold, the dark comes early, you don’t feel like going out, but you need something to do. Creative things fill that need well!

You start the project, you entrench yourself in it, you work most of the embroidery that evening. Saturday comes, you want to get back to it but you have all those typical Saturday chores, so you get them done and – voila! You’re back to your project. You finish the embroidery. And at some point on Sunday, you take an hour or so from your day and you finish the project into a beautiful little something.

It’s that kind of project. I love that kind of project.

I’m not going to show you the whole project just yet, but I promise that I will soon! For now, I just want to introduce you to it and chat a bit about “quick” slow stitching.

embroidery stitches and greenery

Embroidery projects that don’t require a Massive time commitment are a wonderful thing to have on hand. They give you something creative to do without putting any pressure on you.

They provide quick and satisfying results.

And they tend to take a bit of stress off the daily slog.

Even if you love challenging and time-committed embroidery, these small types of projects still have a place. They can give you a good break from the more intense needlework that you like to engage in. And small breaks in big projects help to rejuvenate interest and restore creative processes.

For the most part, small, quick embroidery projects aren’t generally complex. The stitches are usually simple, and there aren’t a lot of them to learn. Most will be at least a little familiar even to the newbie with little experience.

Small projects don’t usually involve a lot of equipment or materials. You can tackle them with just the basic tools on hand: a hoop, scissors, a needle.

And you won’t normally need a whole pile of thread colors by your side. Small projects usually only involve a handful of colors – definitely fewer than 10, and often a lot fewer still.

These are good embroidery projects to play with. I would say they’re the best kind of embroidery project for busy people who crave a creative outlet but who just can’t commit time, intensity, expense, and planning into something Big.

I will even stick my neck out and say that every stitcher needs small projects now and then.

embroidery stitches and greenery

This particular project that I’m working on involves a little bit of greenery touched by some small intermittent floral-ish elements.

The whole project fits in a 4″ hoop comfortably.

So far, I’ve used a whopping total of three stitches. I will probably add three more common stitches as I continue to develop the design.

Right now, I’m just test stitching. This involves a little bit of putting in and taking out. I’ll change my mind, undoubtedly, several times as I truck along.

This is the slow part of small projects, but it’s still very satisfying! Even if I have to pick out an element once or twice, doing so just intensifies that satisfaction when I finally get it right – when what I’m doing with my hands finally fits the picture in my head!

embroidery stitches and greenery

A little tip about stitching greenery on small projects: don’t get too worried over the precision or exactness of the stitches. If your stitches end up super structured and unvaryingly precise and mechanical, the whole effect can come across as stiff and a bit stilted. If your split stitch bends a bit off your path, if your stem stitch ends up with a little kink – those can all be good things when you’re working natural elements. They can help them look a little more natural and a little less stylized and rigid.

Well – I suppose I could just be making up an excuse for sloppy stitching (!!!).

But really, I find that the less rigid I am when working greenery and similar natural elements, the better I usually like the outcome.

So that’s my little project that materialized yesterday. I have a lot of these to stitch! And I’ll be showing them to you up close pretty soon!

Looking for Small Projects?

If you’re looking for small embroidery projects, there are several collections of small projects to choose from here on Needle ‘n Thread. With the holidays coming up, Twelve Trees for Christmas and Snowflakes: 12 Winter Projects are both great for quick, fun, and small projects.

If the holidays don’t entice, I’ve still got you covered! Check out Lavender Honey & Other Little Things, where you’ll find lots of small projects to stitch, and you’ll learn how to finish your embroidery into a variety of useful small accessories.

Leafy Tree Embroidery Kit


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