Pattern darning is a decorative embroidery technique that uses simple running stitches of different lengths to create a repeating pattern. It is known as Smoyg in Norway, the country of its origin.
It's an easy way to add some personal flair or pattern to your everyday life, without having to master complicated needlework techniques.
This article will take you through the pattern darning process step by step, with plenty of pictures along the way so even beginners can get started right away!
The project we are going to work on uses my free blackwork pattern for the central area. It is worth going to the above page first as I share my coloured arrow system for working the fill pattern reversibly there.
If you know in advance that you want to add the border, see below for the full pattern.
The free PDF chart for the complete design, with the border can be downloaded here.
Once you have had some practice in the simple design, you might like to check out my Japanese lady blackwork pattern as this technique is used in both her clothing and hair.
I worked the pattern darning in my sample with space-dyed thread. You may prefer to use 2 strands of embroidery floss.
On the left-hand side of the downloaded chart I have added arrows on some stitches. This shows the direction that you will stitch each row. I have also included them on the diagram on this page.
The stitch used for pattern darning is a basic running stitch. The chart shows how many fabric threads to work over if you are using 28 count evenweave. If you are using Aida, two fabric threads equals one block.
Start at point 1 on the chart and work down a vertical row, going over two fabric threads and under 4.
Starting at the bottom, work up the next row going over 6 threads and under 6.
Working from the top down, make your stitches over 10 threads and under 2.
Follow the instructions for row 2.
Repeat row 1.
The green stitches on the diagram represent partial stitches. Make these as long as required to reach the outer edge of the design.
This design uses one arrangement of stitches to produce a diamond pattern. There are many more pattern darning variations possible to give stripes, squares, wavy lines etc. Experiment and have fun!
For other basic embroidery stitches, check out the Stitch Index.