Embroidery and More
Embroidery and More


Blackwork is a very simple but effective technique for creating monochrome designs. In the 15th and 16th centuries it was used extensively to decorate shifts and shirts, especially around the cuffs and collars/necklines. It is based on a double running stitches and can be done so that it can be viewed from either side of the fabric. Though commonly called blackwork, it can be worked in any colour thread, and is referred to by the colour of the thread. For example, if worked in red thread, rather than black, then it is called redwork.

This embroidery is on the cuffs and collar of a linen shirt. The shirt was based on a pattern from the Tudor Tailor. More details about the embroidery can be found in the document below 

Blackwork Shirt
Short description of producing blackwork cuffs and collars, written as an entry to an Arts & Sciences competition
Microsoft Word document [513.6 KB]

This was my first attempt at blackwork - cuffs and collar for a Tudor shirt!

For this one I used waste canvas, which is placed on top of the linen fabric and used to allow you to easily count threads when stitching the design. After the design has been stitched, the waste canvas can be removed by soaking it in water, then pulling the waste canvas threads out. The only problem is that it then leaves the stitching in the embroidery quite loose, so it doesn't look as good as it would if you stitched straight on to the fabric!

Here is a selection of other projects, which are either blackwork, or designs stitched in double running stitch. Some are designs taken from the New Carolingian Modelbook, some are from kits

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© Mary Frost