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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Protect Your Magnifier – and Everything Else!


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Today, a tip for those who use magnifiers (or might use one some day!) for embroidery and other needlework.

I don’t always use a magnifier, but I have a couple stand magnifier and light combo units that I really like – this one that I reviewed here is working out to be my favorite, because of the strength and clarity of the lens and the easy rotation and placement of the lens.

Now, I’ve always had the idea that every useful thing in my work space would also be beautiful, either embellished in some way with embroidery or beautiful in some other regard – like beautifully made wooden tools or beautifully wrought scissors or what-have-you. In reality, I have to admit, I have many purely functional things that can’t really slide into the Decorative or Beautiful categories. I mean, a screwdriver? A table clamp? A roller for packaging tape? An external hard drive? You get the idea.

Once upon a time, I had the idea I’d hand-make and embroider the thing I’m going to show you today. And some day, I might. Instead, I recently took a purely functional piece of packaging and recycled it for this use. It works well!

Using a Sheet Sack as a Magnifier Cover
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Three Favorite Filling Stitches & When to Use Them


Lately, I’ve been having a discussion with some beginning embroiderers about filling stitches that work well on surface embroidery projects, especially where you’re filling small elements here and there in a standard stylized or realistic design.

I thought I would share the results of that discussion here, in a distilled version, in case you struggle with how to fill different elements in your hand embroidery projects and where to use what filling technique.

So, now that the three day weekend is over, let’s get back to some basic embroidery tips by looking at my three favorite standard filling techniques and where and when to use them.

Three Favorite Filling Stitches & When to Use Them
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Some Embroidery & a Hodgepodge


I love the word hodgepodge.

Today’s a little hodgepodge of stuff embroidery related. I’m going to show you some small progress on my needlepointed flower and explain why the progress is so small and a dilemma I’m facing with it.

And, because it’s Memorial Day weekend, I’m going to share with you some information about Memorial Day sales that have to do with needlework.

And I’m also going to plug the fact that my Floral Corner flour sack towels with the pre-printed designs are back in (limited) stock. Oh, and all my e-books are on sale briefly this weekend, too! You can check all that out in my shop. Yay! Set yourself up for some summer embroidery projects!

And I’m going to share a fabric find with you.

Ok, back to the needlepainted flower…

Needlepointed Flower from the side
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Some Good Needlework Tips on Video


Today, I’m going to send you down a sewing rabbit hole!

If you haven’t discovered the goldmine that YouTube is when it comes to looking for how-to information – not just for embroidery, but for just about anything – you might be missing the boat!

With today’s smart TVs, smart phones, smart tablets, wifi connections and everything else, it’s easier than ever to watch how-to videos easily, while you’re actually trying to do whatever they’re trying to show you.

My own YouTube video channel is here. The easiest way to always find the channel is to subscribe to it (it’s free – “subscribe” in this case just means “follow”) while you’re logged in to YouTube. That way, you can come back to it quickly by going to your own subscription list.

If you have a smart TV, you can pull my channel up by accessing it through the YouTube app using your own subscription list or by searching “Mary Corbet” on the app, and you can watch my embroidery stitch videos from the comfort of your stitching chair.

I subscribe to several YouTube channels (or “YouTubers”), covering different topics from needlework to travel to calligraphy to IT to my own family’s channels and more!

Today, I’m going to share with you two YouTubers that I think are handy for needleworkers. They don’t focus specifically on embroidery, but they supply good information that can pertain to embroidery. They are both professional tailors who hand finish the bespoke clothing they make.

Rory Duffy bespoke tailor video
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Tool Talk: Thimbles – Types & Usage


We’ve talked about thimbles somewhat frequently here on Needle ‘n Thread. I think they’re an interesting subject among embroiderers because generally, the topic can be divided into two camps: stitchers who use them and stitchers who don’t.

The majority of those who use thimbles learned to stitch using them and they use them habitually all the time. To stitch without them would seem awkward to the regular thimble-user.

Those who don’t use thimbles when they stitch find thimbles generally awkward and difficult to get used to.

I fall in the latter camp, when it comes to using thimbles with embroidery. I rarely use them, except in emergencies. To use a “real” metal thimble when I embroider slows me down and, in fact, makes every movement bumbly and awkward.

But, weirdly enough, I fall into the former camp when using (certain types of) thimbles for hand sewing. I always use one. I’ll explain the difference in usage of the terms embroidery and hand sewing below – and the difference in thimble usage – for me, anyway!

Let’s talk a little bit about thimbles, types, and usage. I’ll show you what I use when I need thimbles in an emergency when embroidering, I’ll talk about what works for me (and doesn’t work for me) when hand sewing, and we’ll chat about the difference between embroidery and hand sewing. I’ll share some resources with you, and open the topic up for your comments and recommendations.

Leather thimble used for hand sewing
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Small Progress: Padding Needlepainting


I’ve enjoyed a couple short stitching sessions this week, working on the small flower design I introduced you to on Monday.

This isn’t exactly a “side project” – I’m working on it with a purpose, as it belongs to a collection of other small floral elements I’ve been putting together. But I’ve been treating it like a side project, by picking it up only when I have a little bit of spare time here or there. It’s turning into Thinking Project, one of those projects I pick up when I am between other tasks, but I need a moment or two to think!

I find this kind of needlepainting, or long and short stitch shading, very (very) relaxing. Almost too relaxing. Sometimes, it’s not until after I finish a section that I realize I should have done something differently. Had I been a little more alert and a little less relaxed, maybe I would have thought about it before the section was finished!

In any case, here’s my minuscule progress, and a couple tips for you.

Needlepainting embroidery - long and short stitch flower
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Embroidered Boxes: Techniques & Projects – Book Review


Over the last several years, my fascination with what the French call “cartonnage” has steadily grown.

What apparently began as a technique for creating funerary masks in Ancient Egypt has developed today into the craft of box-making, using different weights of card and board (like book-binding board or mat board) covered with fabric or paper to create beautiful receptacles, organizers, trays, etuis, and the like.

Today, I want to show you a book that will help you do all of the above. I have a pretty thorough collection of books dedicated to making fabric (or paper) covered boxes, and when this one came out, I knew I had to add it to my shelf! I’m glad I did, because I found within its pages many tidbits that have made me much more confident about undertaking my next box construction project.

If you have an obsession with creating embroidered, fabric, or paper-covered boxes, Embroidered Boxes: Techniques and Projects by Emma Broughton is well worth adding to your own library!

Embroidered Boxes: Techniques and Projects
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