Beginner Blackwork class

Beginner blackwork class started with a piece of graph paper

First blackwork embroidery

At Avacal’s September Crown, one of the classes I took was a beginner blackwork class with my Barony’s former Baroness (who also does super-beautiful embroidery!). I haven’t done blackwork before, partially because it looks so complicated, but also because I’ve always thought it was a bit later than any of my main costuming personas.

Our instructor definitely helped clear up that first thought though!

She started us out working with graph paper. She picked one design from a series of options she had on her phone, and then we used the graph paper to figure out the design and the repeat… after drawing it over and over and over, it was definitely easier to figure out how to translate that onto fabric.

Next…. that fabric! We were given aida cloth (like for cross-stitch) and that fairly nice large grid… suddenly became a tiny little grid instead!

In the photo above you can see that I made a mistake on the bottom flower – but this was pretty easy to remove and fix.

At first we focused just on getting the design down – not paying attention to what the back of the cloth looked like. She let us know that this is a perfectly acceptable method for garments and items that won’t be seen from the back side – like enclosed cuffs, collars, and lined items.

Next she showed us the “Holbein” stitch which is totally reversible. It’s a lot more tricky, but on the last few elements of my design I gave it a try and it was a go! (As seen in the video below!)

The Holbein stitch is also known as the double running stitch, line stitch, Spanish stitch, Chiara stitch and two-sided line stitch. It’s named for the 16th Century painter who painted portraits depicting people wearing garments decorated with this stitch.

Next of course… I’ll need to figure out what I want to DO with this little sampler – if anything at all. What do you think I should make with it? Let me know in the comments below.

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