Blackwork Embroidery - lessons and designs

My love affair with blackwork embroidery began about 40 years ago, when I spotted a school friend creating a beautiful black and golden frog. I have loved it ever since and am so happy that I now have an opportunity to share this wonderful needlework technique with you.

Free blackwork lessons 
...to introduce you to this fascinating counted thread embroidery technique

Downloadable patterns 
...for every skill level, from beginners to advanced

Questions and answers 
...the interactive section will give you a chance to ask questions and communicate with other visitors. Join in and learn from others.

Ready to get started?

Learn how to do blackwork embroidery

Blackwork consists of outlines and "fill" or repeating diaper patterns. Traditionally it was worked in black silk on white linen, and was used to decorate clothing - in particular collars and cuffs. It earned the dubious title of "poor man's lace" as it cost less to embroider garments than to attach expensive handmade lace.

You no longer have to stick to black on white stitching. Modern designs incorporate colored threads or fabrics. You do need contrast between the two, however, to give the best effect. Why not try reversing things, and work with white thread on black fabric for a dramatic look?

Gold or metallic threads add a special touch to a design, as do beads.


Free course to get you started

These free blackwork patterns will teach you the basics and then you can move on to slightly more advanced techniques, such as shading.

I have listed the lessons in the same order as I teach my live classes. I would suggest you take them in turn, rather than jumping in at the deep end. Each lesson was created to be completed in a two hour class, but don't worry if it takes you longer to begin with.


  • Lesson 1 - Start with a simple flower and two fill patterns
  • Lesson 2 - Stitch a reversible motif for a coaster
  • Lesson 3 - Try pattern darning to create a border 
  • Lesson 4 - Create a bookmark with a celtic design
  • Lesson 5 - Learn how to add shading to your project


Patterns for you to Download and Stitch

Clicking on the images below will take you to my online store, where you can purchase and download the patterns direct to your computer. Instantly! 


For your Book Shelf

Ask a question about blackwork embroidery

If you are new to a type of needlework such as blackwork then you may have questions you want to ask. Take this opportunity to get the answers you need, or to help other visitors by answering their questions.

What Other Visitors Have Asked

Click below to see questions (and answers) from other visitors to this page...

Freestyle Blackwork Outlines 
How to do curved outlines, those that go diagonally over two or more squares. And how many squares should one go over per stitch, either running- or back …

Blackwork in color 
I've noticed that some of the magazines show blackwork in different colors. Is it ever OK to have a lighter floss and a darker fabric? I'm thinking of …

blackwork cuff on an italian renaissance gown 
I'm about to start a copy of a renaissance gown of Eleonora of toledo. I Found this very small painting in Berlin and at once decided to make this costume. …

chart interface with aida fabric 
As a beginner in Blackwork I am confused by the chart showing squares of 10 x 10 small squares within a 'frame' while the Aida fabric shows 14 x 14 small …

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