pattern darning
embroidery sample: pattern darning

About Pattern darning
The darning stitch is used in an embroidery technique called ‘Pattern darning’. Using rows of straight running stitches of long and short length, patterns are created. This embroidery type is one of the oldest and has been found to be used across cultures from Egypt, Iceland, Japan, India, and the mediterranean regions. It is a very easy technique to follow, especially if done over an even weave cloth.

The visual effect of pattern darning is that of satin stitch, but it differs in its stitch technique. While satin stitch concentrates on each motif or pattern at a time, pattern darning involves carrying the thread for the entire width or length of the design at a time. The lessons will make this point clear.

In Egypt, some 12th century textile examples prove the use of such embroidery. The Mamluk period (1250-1517) shows the extensive use of pattern darning over clothing of various sorts. Silk was a more popularly used thread than cotton or linen.

In Iceland, pattern darning is known as ‘skakkaglit’. It was used to work on many church embroideries and have been used during the early 14th century. Textiles from 15th century to the 17th depict the use of this embroidery style as well. Wool was the prefered thread over linen.

In Japan, this embrodiery style is known as ‘Kogin’. It was found to be done with white cotton thread over indigo hemp or linen fabric. Kogin originated during the feudal period of 16th to 19th century. Kogin is used even today for embroidering quilts.

Interstingly, a 15th century towel from Germany depicts the use of pattern darning as an effort to imitate the popular Italian Perugian towels where the patterns were woven into the towel. The pattern on the german towel were similar to the egyptian pattern darning patterns.

Patterns used
The patterns used are geometrical patterns. Yet, there have been examples where stylised and geometrically inclined figures of birds, animals and humans have been used.

Stitch used
Darning stitch

Pattern darning : non reversible 
Pattern darning: reversible
Pattern darning: reference

Carol Hanson, 
Filum Aureum, Newsletter of the Needleworkers Guild