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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Revisiting Voided Monograms: Building with Color, Stitches, Texture, and More


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It’s been a long time since we’ve looked at the various voided monogram projects that I’ve indulged in here on Needle ‘n Thread!

The whole idea of “voided” embroidery is fun – it’s such a great way to explore colors and textures and stitches in free-style embroidery.

The idea behind voided embroidery is that the central focus – whether it’s a letter (as with monograms) or a silhouette shape of practically anything – is blank, devoid of any stitchery, while the background around the focal point is practically solidly encrusted with embroidery.

Revisiting Voided Embroidery

With voided embroidery like this, you can take all kinds of different approaches. You can jam-pack the background with color and stitches….

Revisiting Voided Embroidery

…or you can rely more on texture and contrast, on a less-encrusted field.

Whatever approach you take, the world is your proverbial oyster when it comes to the thread you use and the stitches you choose! And that makes these projects such a fun springboard for all kinds of learning, experimenting, or just pleasurable, casual stitching.

Some of the voided monogram projects I’ve worked have ended up as springboards for different projects altogether.

For example, the colorful S voided monogram above – which you can see finished in this article – led to Key to My Heart, a completely different project altogether, but one that incorporated many concepts from the voided S.

Revisiting Voided Embroidery

This voided monogram in white on natural linen was finished into a little needlebook as well.

You might recognize some techniques in that project, too, which served as a springboard for Cotton Quartet, a stitch-along that we worked through together here on Needle ‘n Thread in 2022.

We Build

The voided monograms are on my mind at the moment because, at long last, the designs, process, and stitch tips are going to be available very soon in a finished publication. I’ve been working on the publication for a while, and I finally have it almost ready to share with the world! And I’m excited about that!

Thinking about the monograms brought me to pondering how our needlework pursuits constantly build on what we’ve done before. Every style, form, procedure, method, material, everything we use, try, experiment with… it’s all a process of building on what we’ve done, tried, experimented with before.

Even if you’re brand new to embroidery, your learning builds on your previous learning of other things. When you dive into embroidery, you start with one stitch, and then everything builds on that. The next stitch you learn builds on what you learned the previous stitch. And it goes on and on.

People who are involved in creative processes build.

And that is a very good thing.


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