Other Stitching Techniques


There are many, many styles or techniques for counted thread work and
embroidery.  Most are centuries old, and have been in and out of fashion more
than once.

Any additions to this list or to the descriptions are welcome.


From: Mary.Rita.Otto@att.com (Mary Rita Otto)...
   I've been researching the history of Blackwork.  Actually, it dates back to
   at least the 1300's.  It was mentioned in the Canterbury Tales, in a
   description of the Miller's wife's nightcap.  While the use of black wool
   (natural, rather than dyed) on white linen is one of the traditional forms,
   red on white was also extremely popular.  Catherine of Aragon was
   responsible for bringing the darker fashions of Spain to England, and with
   them came a fashion trend for blackwork in court clothing (as opposed to
   peasant clothing like the miller's wife was wearing in the 1300's).

   Only some blackwork is reversible.  Reversible work is confined primarily
   to border patterns.  The reversible patterns were worked in double running
   stitch, sometimes overcast to smooth the lines and hide the holes between
   the stitches.  Other embroidery in the classification of blackwork are
   repeating "diaper" patterns used as filling stitches, and outlined in
   chain, split or stem stitch.  These were worked on a plain ground fabric,
   not necessarily an even weave.  Interestingly, a technique was developed
   using starched cheesecloth over the plain fabric to regulate the stitch
   length, much like the modern use of waste canvas.

   ...It was brought to England by Catherine of Aragon, I believe, and came
   into popularity through the paintings of Hans Holbein (it is also called
   "Holbein" work) and because lace could not be imported from France because
   of the war.  The blackwork gives the look of lace to a garment's sleeves,
   collar, and other areas.

 Hardanger Embroidery

Hardanger is a Scandinavian counted thread technique, performed on a special
evenweave cloth called (logically) Hardanger.  Traditionally, it is done on
a 22 count cloth with a matching color cotton thread such as Perle.  Hardanger
embroidery bears a resemblance to Drawn Thread Work, but it emphasizes box
shapes rather than long rows of stitches.

  Shadow Embroidery

   ...This is both a very old form of embroidery and something that is just
   making a comeback.  It was popular in the last century and again in the
   1930s and is just beginning to make a dent in the heirloom sewing world...
   It is embroidery done on a semi-transparent fabric like organdy.  The idea
   is that you can see the threads on the back as a sort of colored pastel
   shadow.  On the front, all you can see is what looks like backstitches
   outlining the elements of the design -- usually leaves, flowers and big
   bows.  On the back the thread produces a herringbone pattern out of the
   crossing threads which almost, but not quite, fills in the elements being

   Modern shadow embroidery sometimes has surface embroidery on it as well in
   the form of french knots for flower centers and bouillon roses.

 Drawn Thread Work

   This is a technique which is enjoying a resurgence.  It involves the
   removal of some of the threads from a section of the fabric.  One of the
   more interesting techniques is to remove the horizontal threads and to work
   twisting patterns (called leno work) in the remaining vertical threads.
   This creates a lovely lacey effect.  Linda Driscoll is a leading designer
   of Drawn Thread samplers and provides excellent instruction in the
   techniques in her publications.

   Drawn Thread Work is traditionally worked in white on white (or ivory on
   ivory) and is sometimes called "White Work".  Such monotone samplers are
   often displayed by mounting them over a piece of colored linen to highlight
   the open work areas.  Interesting effects can be achieved using color with
   the technique, though.  Needleweaving (one of the techniques) can be used
   to create, for example, a row of Christmas trees in openwork.  Gold threads
   were used in some historic pieces worked in this technique.

  Pulled Thread Work

Pulled Thread is a very easy technique which creates complicated looking
patterns.  Probably the hardest thing for a cross stitcher to remember is to

   Pulled Thread is one of my favorite techniques.  It is, like it says, a
   technique where the embroidered thread is pulled tightly.  This distorts
   the threads of the fabric, creating holes between the stitches.  It makes a
   nice, light, lacey effect.  I find that a border of double backstitch,
   pulled, makes a lovely accent around a stitched piece.  It is simple to
   work.  For someone who would like to experiment with this simplest of
   pulled thread techniques, I recommend the pattern leaflet from Sal-Em for
   their table linens which shows the rose design.  This was my introduction
   into the technique.  The instructions were very clear, and the stitch is
   easy to do.  I was very pleased with the results of my first effort.
   (Hey, I went on to make 4 placemats and 4 napkins, so that says something!)

   Pulled Thread is, apparently, a Danish technique.  There are a lot of
   different patterns for pulled thread, either as a border or a filling
   stitch.  It tends to have a lighter effect than either hardanger or drawn
   thread, and does not require the cutting of the fabric threads.

  Assisi Work

   Assisi Work is a form of embroidery where the background is stitched around
   an unstitched silouette design, which is outlined in backstitch to further
   define it.  One particularly lovely form employ's subtle shading of the
   background threads -- to me, it looks like a sunrise backlighting the
   subject.  These designs can be particularly lovely.

 Counted Thread Work

   This is the descriptive category for stitches worked over a counted number
   of threads.  It includes traditional sampler making stitches such as
   long-armed cross-stitch, Italian cross-stitch, four sided stitch, Queen
   stitch, nun's stitch, herringbone, and "countless" ;^) others.
   Cross-stitch is only one of the many counted thread stitches.  Eileen
   Bennett of The Sampler House is a leading authority on this traditional
   sampler making stitches.

 Duplicate Stitch

Duplicate Stitch is a technique for embroidering on knitted objects so that
the resulting design appears to have been knitted in.  It is done as a
series of V's, to match the V's in a standard stockinette weave.  While
regular cross stitch patterns may be used, it is important to remember that
the resulting design will appear squashed.

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