Many blackwork embroidery patterns can look the same on the back and front of the work. The double running stitch makes this possible. But some patterns need thinking through before you thread your needle.
It is a case of planning the route you will take on your outward journey. You need to leave gaps to fill in on the way back. The samples on this page will show you how this works.
My book, Blackwork for Beginners, includes many more diagrams, or "journey plans".
You don't HAVE to stitch blackwork embroidery patterns so they are reversible. (In fact, sometimes it isn't even possible!) If you are going to frame your work, then you might prefer to use back stitch instead. After all, no-one will see the wrong side once it's completed.
But, if you are like me, you may find that you will enjoy the challenge.
Reversible blackwork patterns need continuous lines. If there are separate crosses or boxes in the pattern, then it won't work. That doesn't mean it can't look neat, just that the pattern may differ on the back.
Now it's your turn to have a go, with the following patterns.
In the diagram, the blue stitches show the ones you are working in each step. The gray stitches are already in place when you come to work the next "row".
Use the same color thread throughout.
This blackwork embroidery pattern is ideal for small areas of a design. It gives an area of medium to dark density, and is easy to work, if a little time-consuming.
The pattern on the back is slightly different to that on the front.
As in the previous diagram, I coloured the stitches you will work in each step blue. We work this pattern in multiple rows or journeys. Each stitch goes over two evenweave fabric threads or one block of Aida.
To work more rows, start with row 1 again. If you leave the octagons empty, this blackwork embroidery pattern is reversible.
If you add crosses in the center of each octagon, it will look different on the back of your fabric.
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