|Blackwork or Redwork Made in Blue and Brown Stitches|
Redwork and blackwork embroidery are a form of cross stitch using evenweave or Aida cloth with embroidery thread. If you’re a counted-thread cross-stitcher, you’ll pick this up quickly and probably enjoy trying thread colors other than black or red.
You can make your own pattern using a scroll saw pattern book, a child’s coloring book or a picture you like. It’s best to keep it simple to start because the embroidery is fancy, and you only need the outline. Here’s how to make the butterfly design. You’ll need to make some decisions along the way -- fabric type, thread colors and stitches to use.
|Graph Paper Design of Half Butterfly for Blackwork Embroidery|
Make a pattern on grid paper that is one-half of the butterfly design and fold it to trace the opposite side by holding it up to a window. Use tracing paper to transfer the completed outline of the design to 11-count evenweave fabric or a fabric of your choice.
Eleven-count evenweave has eleven blocks or stitches to an inch. Fourteen-count works just as well because the size of your drawing determines the size of the design, unlike counted cross-stitch where the design size is smaller with 14-count fabric. You can also use 22-count and work over two squares to get the same result with a finer fabric.
Choose your color or colors. You’ll notice the example here is in blue and brown, and there are blues and browns in the outline. Decide how thick you want the stitching. Embroidery floss comes in six strands, and you can separate the threads in one, two or three strands. Fine work uses only one strand of thread, but you may want the outline stitching to be heavier, using two or three strands in the needle. You may also choose to outline with a sharp-pointed needle instead of a tapestry needle. You'll need a dull point needle for the fill stitches.
|Completed Design Shows Different Stitches for Blackwork Embroidery|
Outline the design in a backstitch or double running stitch. Double running stitch requires two passes through the outline path. Backstitch only requires one pass through the outline, but each stitch is forward and back. You may decide not to outline an area you don’t want defined. Notice we didn’t outline where the wings attach to the thorax of the butterfly in the example. We also completed the antennae at this time, since we were backstitching with the dark brown thread.
Select stitches you’d like to try. These embroidery stitches are repeating designs, but you can design your own or use pictures for ideas. Notice we didn't fill in all of the light blue design at the bottom of the wings.
|Close-up Shows Stitches Used on this Design|
Fill in the backstitched areas so that each side is the same or at least similar. If you choose a subject from nature (like the butterfly), it doesn’t have to be exactly the same on each side, but needs to be similar.
|Outline Colors Correspond to Stitching Colors in this Butterfly|
Create your own style. Notice that the lower wing design in the example isn’t complete to show shading in the bottom inner lobes. The inner wings are designs like scales on a fish, while the exterior wings are “x” patterns. The top wings are both blue and brown, while the second set of wings is brown and the bottom wings are shades of blue. The thorax or body of the butterfly is knobby and uses all the shades of brown. You'll miss some of the style with creating your design in all red or black, but the overall impact of a solid color is what gives redwork and blackwork its name.
Enjoy needlework crafts while the weather keeps you inside. See ya soon!