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 can now share this wonderful needlework technique with you.
Ready to get started?
Blackwork comprises outlines and "fill" or repeating diaper patterns. Traditionally you would work it in black silk on white linen 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 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.
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 start with lesson one, rather than jumping in at the deep end. Put aside around two hours for each lesson, but don't worry if you take longer to begin with.
Clicking on the images below will take you to the relevant sections in my online store, where you can purchase and download patterns direct to your computer. Instantly!
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.
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 …