Backside of the Hoop with Mary Corbet


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Mary Corbet on Backside of the HoopI’m excited for each month’s Backside of the Hoop post, but, I have to admit, I’m feeling a little fangirl with this month’s! This month I bring you Mary Corbet of Needle ‘n Thread!! Mary is such a wonderful resource for needleworkers of all kinds. Whenever I want to learn a new embroidery stitch, I go to Mary’s YouTube channel first. I subscribe to her Needle ‘N Thread blog posts via email AND in my Feedly feed so that I’m certain I won’t miss anything. I have wanted to interview Mary for Backside for quite some time, but hadn’t worked up the courage to ask her. But then one day I thought to myself, “Why not just ask? The worse she could do is ignore my request or decline it. OR, she could say yes, but I’ll never know unless I ask.” So I did, and here you are…

needle n thread logo

Mary Corbet of Needle n Thread

Tell us about yourself

Needle ’n Thread began more or less by accident in 2006, when my brother suggested I write a blog about embroidery. I was teaching embroidery to children in my community during the summers, and he encouraged me to extend the classroom through blogging. Blogging in a structured, systematic way was just starting to explode back then, and I didn’t really know anything about it. But it sounded fun, so I figured why not? It struck me as a good way to spread the love of surface embroidery!

On Needle ’n Thread, I share tips, techniques and tutorials for hand embroidery, along with videos, lots of free patterns, information on resources, book reviews, thread talk, and more!

If you love surface embroidery, too, why not connect with me online? You can find me in the following spots:

When did you start doing embroidery?

I started stitching when I was about 10. I’m self-taught. When I began to get serious about embroidery after high school and through college, there wasn’t much information on surface embroidery available here in the States, and the internet had not come into its own yet. So I bought a lot of old, used, forgotten books at used book stores, for a dime here and a quarter there, and that’s where I started really exploring the art of embroidery.

I don’t have the first piece I embroidered as a kid. I can’t even remember what it was! Probably a Disney character or a Christmas ornament in cross stitch…

Where is your favorite place to embroider?

In my dreams, some day I will have the ideal studio / workroom for embroidery, and I’m sure it will be my favorite place to stitch. It will be light and airy, filled with natural light, and organized from the ceiling to the floor. It’ll include plenty of work space, clear table space, and even some comfy chairs for casual stitching. Yep! I can dream!

But in reality, right now, I do all my embroidery at a table in the middle of my garage, which was remodeled for household storage and provides a bit of a workspace. On a good day, it looks pretty much like this:

Mary Corbet of Needle 'n Thread workplace

When I’m really stuck into a project, though, my work surface looks like this:

Needle 'n Thread work top

Show us your backside…of you hoop!

The backside of my embroidery? Well, if you insist!

Here’s the back of a piece of my embroidery while it’s still in the hoop:

Backside of Mary Corbet's Hoop

Most of my embroidery gets finished in a frame, unless it’s on some sort of usable item, like a tablecloth, or a monogrammed hankie or something like that. My framed work is always covered with museum quality glass, to ensure that the threads and fabric are minimally affected by the environment. This helps the piece withstand the test of time. Since I work with a lot of real gold threads and silk, protecting the embroidery is important to me.

What is your favorite part of the embroidery process? Your least favorite part?

My favorite part of the embroidery process would be the embroidery. My least favorite part of any enjoyable project is coming to the end of the project. It’s like coming to the end of a really good book!

What are your top three favorite stitches?

Oh golly. I don’t know if I can narrow down just three favorite stitches. That’s a hard question! I love embroidery stitches in general. There are well over 400 documented embroidery stitches, and while I don’t use them all (by a long shot), I do love variety in stitching – which is why I love surface embroidery! You can never get bored with it!

But, if I had to narrow down three stitches that I love, based on their finished looks, I suppose I would say stem stitch (it’s versatile – it can be a line stitch, a filling, it can be shaded), satin stitch (when it’s done right, it’s so beautiful!) and long and short stitch (which is the perfect filling stitch for shaded, realistic embroidery).

Here’s a recent project that employs all three of them:

Needle N Thread embroidery

What is your favorite brand of floss? How do you organize your floss?

I admit unabashedly that I’m a thread junkie. My favorite threads? Au Ver a Soie silks, hands down. But I save those for special projects. For everyday stitching, tutorials, demos, and more casual projects, I like DMC coton a broder, floche, and regular floss.

My threads are organized in different ways, depending on the type of thread. My silk threads are organized by type and by number, in drawers in Bisley collector cabinets (which are terrific for archival storage, and which protect the threads from dust and light). Cotton threads are sorted by color families. And then I have special drawers for other threads, too, like wool, gold, and synthetics.

embroidery floss storage

Do you create your own patterns, or purchase patterns from other artists? If you purchase patterns, what are your favorite places to get them?

Sometimes, I create my own patterns. Sometimes, I stitch purchased patterns or kits. And sometimes, I like to embroider old designs from books that are now in the public domain. It just depends on which bug strikes hardest.

When I purchase patterns or kits, I like to buy them directly from the designer. Doing so helps support the designer. Also, commercial “industry” kits (like those found in Big Box stores) tend to lack the higher quality materials and instructions that can be found in embroidery kits assembled by individual designers.

What’s up next for you?

I’m really looking forward to 2016! I’ve got a new website design for Needle ’n Thread coming out that will improve functionality and organization, along with some exciting new features that will unfold as the year progresses. I’m working on a couple new instructional e-books, and I’m actively seeking a solution for offering classes locally, which I hope will come to fruition before the summer. I plan to get back to teaching kids during the summer, but I don’t have a space for it just yet. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I have a feeling 2016 is going to be a busy year!

Thank you so much, Mary! It’s fascinating to read about your embroidery story and process, and to see the backside of your hoop :) You are an inspiration to many, and I am thankful for what you do, and how open you are to sharing your knowledge.

Next month I interview Kayla Dickens of Knotty Dickens, and that interview will be published on Friday, December 18, 2015.

If you’d like to read more Backside of the Hoop interviews, you can find there here.


Would you or someone you know like to be interviewed for Backside of the Hoop? Just fill out the contact form below, and you could be selected for Backside of the Hoop!

Sneak Peek: Backside of the Hoop



backside of the hoop

Have you ever seen an image and thought, “I’m in love!”? No – just me? Well, I initially felt that way when I first saw my Random Acts of Amy logo, and now I feel that way about my brand new and beautiful Backside of the Hoop logo!!

As with my Random Acts of Amy logo, Etsy, website, and Facebook headers, the remarkably creative Lauren Davis of Lauren Davis Creative created this wonderful logo. I gave Lauren a general idea for what I wanted: the same branding of my Random Acts of Amy logo, but different, and in a square embroidery hoop. I think she outdid herself in this creation!

Backside of the Hoop logo with Random Acts of Amy

Make sure head back here tomorrow to read my newest Backside of the Hoop interview with Mary Corbet of Needle ‘n Thread!

11 Ways to Display Embroidery Hoops


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11 Ways to Display Embroidered Hoops

One question I often get asked is, “Now what do I do with this hoop?” A lot of people think the embroidery hoop is simply a tool artists use when they create needlework art, but it’s a great way to display finished pieces. I find that I’m able to stretch the fabric nice and taut, which displays the hand embroidery I’ve created beautifully. There are a number of ways to display these finished hoops, in fact, I came up with 11 ways to display finished embroidered hoops!


embroidery hoop gallery wall

Create a gallery wall out of your embroidery hoops. I have done this in our living room, and it is so lovely to look at. Another benefit, for me, is that I can see how my skills have improved over time.


prop your hoop on a shelf

Prop your hoop up on a shelf (or your Great Grandma Rosie’s 100+ year old secretary, like I did) with other treasured keepsakes.

THREE: PROP YOUR HOOP ON A SHELF BY ITSELFprop your hoop on a shelf by itself

Or, you can prop the hoop up on a shelf all by itself!

FOUR: USE AN EASELput your embroidered hoop on an easel

Display your hoop on an easel. Easels come in all kinds of sizes, like this one, which is holding a 4″ hoop. (The picture is my parents on their wedding day back in July 1967.)

FIVE: HANG HOOP ORNAMENTS ON YOUR CHRISTMAS TREEmerry & bright embroidery hoop ornament

embroidery hoop ornaments

merry christmas embroidery hoop

Use ornament holders, twine, string, or the like to hang embroidery hoop ornaments on your Christmas tree. Outside of the holiday season you could even use these types of hooks/holders to hang any type of hoop from trees and plants inside your house. I use 3″ and 4″ hoops to create hoops to hang on our Christmas tree.


Or, you could use a nice ornament holder to display a single hoop. Create a sweet vignette to set a scene. Again, the hoop you hang doesn’t only have to be a holiday hoop, it could be any kind of hoop in any size (as long as it fits the holder), at any time of the year! Spray paint the ornament holder to fit in with your regular decor.

SEVEN: PROP IT IN A TEA CUPembroidery hoop in a tea cup

Prop your hoop up in a tea cup! I didn’t use anything to keep this 4″ hoop propped up inside this vintage tea cup from my Grandma Bricker. I gently set it in, and it stayed.


Or, prop your hoop in a pretty glass, like this beautiful and fancy glass my Grandma collected during the Great Depression. Like with the tea cup, I gently placed this 4″ hoop inside the stemware, and it stayed upright on its own.


Taylor Swift fearless embroidered hoop

Hang your hoop off of a knob on a drawer. There are a few things to keep in mind when propping a hoop from a knob: 1) Make certain it’s not a knob that you’ll use too often, otherwise you could damage the fabric by stretching or ripping it, 2) The knob should be small enough that it will not press up against the fabric from the backside and distort it, and 3) The knob will need to be smooth so that it will not damage the the fabric.

TEN: DISPLAY A SINGLE HOOP ON A WALLsingle hoop on a wall

Don’t have a large wall to create a gallery of embroidery hoops? Display a single hoop on a wall!

ELEVEN: PROP IT AT YOUR COMPUTERembroidery hoop propped at a computer

Prop an embroidery hoop with a message against your computer, like I did. This, “dream big” hoop is a constant reminder to do just that – dream big.

display of many embroidery hoops

There are so many ways you can display your finished hoops, from the traditional on a wall, to the creative in a tea cup. I would love it if you shared your ways for displaying your finished hoops in the comments.

Candles for Kaylee



Candles for Kaylee

I’m so sorry to have to tell you that the cutie in the picture above, 6 year old Kaylee, passed away suddenly and tragically early last week. Kaylee is the daughter of one of my stitchy friends, Kristen, who you know as @kaymaboutique on Instagram. As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult time for Kristen and her family. A group of us stitchy girls thought maybe an auction on Instagram would be a good idea to help raise money for Kristen’s family, and Kayla, who you know as @knottydickens cleared it with Kristen and ran with the idea.

All I can say is, boy is our Maker Community a great one!! As of right now when I write this post, when you go to the official @candlesforkaylee Instagram page, you’ll see there are over 150 posts. That means that there are over 150 items that makers from around the world have donated to be auctioned off. I don’t know about you, but it makes my heart swell. And mad props to Kayla for keeping everything organized and put together!

The auction officially starts this Sunday, November 1st at 7:30 pm EST. I hope that you will take a look, open your heart, and open your wallet to help out Kristen and her family in their time of need. I have donated two items to the auction. You can click on their pictures below to be taken directly to them in the auction.

Image by @randomactsofamy for @candlesforkaylee Click HERE to go to this post in the auction.

Image by @randomactsofamy for @candlesforkaylee Click HERE to go to this post in the auction.

Backside of the Hoop with Claudia Jäggi


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weissfeder long

October’s Backside of the Hoop interview features Claudia Jäggi of Weissfeder! Claudia and I met through Instagram, and I greatly admire her work. She has such a unique style, and her landscape pieces are absolutely brilliant! Read on to learn about her embroidery story and process.



Tell Us About Yourself

After years of trying out, completing and discarding art projects in various fields, I am finally stuck with the art of embroidery. Transforming traditional techniques into fiber art and adding further media, I came to the conclusion that my work could mayhap be titled “mixed media embroidery art”. As a teacher, wife, and happy mother of two, stitching is my favorite way of relaxation.

Want to meet me on social media? Here is where:

Where you can buy my art online:

As the founder of the Swiss Hand Embroiderers’ GuildI also curate the Swiss Hand Embroidery Gallery on Facebook. I intend to bring hand embroidery (back) into the spotlight here in Switzerland.

When Did You Start Doing Embroidery?

I am mainly self-taught but have a family background in textiles (my maternal grandmother was a textile arts teacher, and my paternal grandmother was a couture dressmaker). I like participating in online courses here and there to broaden my knowledge.

My very first embroidered picture was an embroidered sketch of a kitten in a boot for my mom’s birthday. I believe I was 9 years old.

Where Is Your Favorite Place to Embroider?

I love taking my embroidery to the woods and stitch outside! And I also happen to stitch in front of the TV. 😉

Show Us Your Backside…of Your Hoop!

As to the backsides of my hoops (I do many different formats, but also like to use hoops as frames a lot!): I tried different styles. Two years ago I used to cut felt circles and glue them over the backside, with my logo ironed on.


But the circles always turned out a bit wobbly and I didn’t like that variation.

Next I glued the felt circle on the backside within the hoop and simply cut the left over fabric between the two hoop rings away, fixing the remaining fabric millimeters with more glue.


I did like that more, but always found it a shame that my backside stitches could not be seen (as I think they have their own beauty) !

So I finally found my third and favorite style : I glue the left over fabric on the inner hoop ring and sew a small fabric label with my logo on the backside. What’s more: on that label, there is also room for a title, a date and further info about the art piece!


What Is Your Favorite Part of the Embroidery Process? Your Least Favorite?

I love each and every part of the embroidery process! From forming a vague idea in my mind to finally hanging up the piece.

What Are Your Three Favorite Stitches?

Can’t say… love all stitches and use them as needed for the design.

Image by Claudia Jäggi

Image by Claudia Jäggi aka weissfeder

How Do You Store Your Floss? What’s Your Favorite Brand?

I don’t have a favorite floss brand, but I really love the hand dyed silk thread by Anne Lange of the Atelier Lange Nadel.

Do You Create Your Own Patterns? Or Purchase from Other Artists?

All my designs are my own.

What’s Up Next for You?


Up next is an online auction by the founding members of our Swiss Hand Embroiderer’s Guild in late October. Head on over to our gallery page, give us a thumbs up, and you will get the notice! 😉

Thank you so much, Claudia, for sharing your embroidery story and process! Next month on Backside of the Hoop I’ll feature Mary Corbet of Needle ‘N Thread. Her interview will publish on Friday, November 20, 2015.

Do you want to be featured on Backside of the Hoop? Or do you know someone who you think would be perfect? Either drop me an email at randomactsofamy {at} gmail {dot} com, or fill out the form for your opportunity!