Posts Tagged 'amish embroidery'

chicken scratch lesson2

Posted by on 23 Mar 2011 | Category:

This lesson will illustrate how to do, probably, the most common pattern in chicken scratch : the heart.

It is advised to go through the thread-fabric-and-stitch section of the chicken scratch page before beginning this lesson. It will help you to understand the logic and techniques used in this embroidery.

The stitches used are mentioned with each illustration. To go to the instruction page of each stitch, you just need to click over them.

chicken_scratch_2 chicken_scratch_2_key
This is the heart shape I intend to stitch. The key will help me to decode the symbols on the graph and use the stitches on the gingham cloth. Each cell on the graph represents each cell on the cloth. 
Unlike, in lesson 1, I try to get a bit experimental with the shades of threads I will be using here.
chicken_scratch_7 Double cross stitch:
I begin the pattern, the traditional way, that is,  by doing the outline first.
This helps me in demarking the pattern and containing all the stitches inside this parameter.
I plan to do the heart in a dark shade, and so, the outline will be done in white over the dark cells.
chicken_scratch_8 Running stitch:
Next, I plan to do the woven circle for the filling. So, I prepare by doing running stitch horizontally, in the light colored cells.
Then, I do the running stitch vertically over the rest of the tinted or light colored cells. Note that, traditionally, light colored cells are used only for straight stitches to anchor woven circles or woven ovals.
chicken_scratch_9 Woven circle:
Between these straight stitches, I weave circles in the same dark shade of blue. This encircling of the dark cells will make it stand out giving it a lacy effect.
chicken_scratch_10 Double cross stitch:
Though, ideally, I am supposed to finish the double cross stitches before the woven circles, I chose to use them for filling in the end. This gave me a chance to experiment using a different shade of blue as shown.
This is a sample of how different effects can be created by using chicken scratch embroidery. chicken_scratch_11

chicken scratch lesson1

Posted by on 23 Mar 2011 | Category:

This lesson will demonstrate how to do the embroidery using the different stitches over a border design.

It is advised to go through the thread-fabric-and-stitch section of the chicken scratch page before beginning this lesson. It will help you to understand the logic and techniques used in this embroidery.

The stitches used are mentioned with each illustration. Clicking over them will take you to the instruction page of that stitch.

chicken_scratch_1 chicken_scratch_1_key
This is a broder design.  I want it to have a very lacy effect, and so, will use  two strands of thinner perle cotton thread. The key will help me to decode the stitches onthe graph and use them on the gingham cloth. Each cell in the graph is like each cell on the cloth.
chicken_scratch_3 Cross stitch:
It is always better to begin any design with the outer stitches or outlines. So, I begin the border design by doing the cross stitch. I will be doing the cross stitch over the darkest cell.
chicken_scratch_4 Double cross stitch:
I begin filling up the inner part of the border with the double cross stitch. The filling is done only over the darkest cell.
chicken_scratch_5 Woven circle:
The legs of the cross stitch provides good anchors to make a woven circle.
I make two rounds of circle, each time. This gives a bolder, more embossed look.
chicken_scratch_6 Woven oval:
I weave ovals with the diagonal stitches of the double cross stitch as the anchors I make the ovals only in the white cells.
The finished border looks like this. It gives a very lacy and rich effect when viewed from afar. 🙂
Note how all the tinted cells are left alone. Working the cross and double cross stitches over the darkest cells nullifies the color in the design part of the fabric. Woven ovals and woven circles over the white cells, amplifies the ‘whiteness’ and gives it a more raised, lacey look. The tinted cells will throw out a background effect.

chicken scratch

Posted by on 23 Mar 2011 | Category:


Also known as: chicken scratch embroidery, depression lace, snowflaking, amish embroidery,  gingham lace, tic tac toe embroidery, hoover lace

embroidery sample: chicken scratch

About chicken scratch
Chicken scratch embroidery is a very simple form of embroidery done, traditionally, over gingham fabric. Gingham fabric is a checkered fabric, making the counting of stitch easy. This infusion of a few stitches over such a fabric gives a very sophisticated look. At the first go, it seems like a lot of time and energy was spent in bringing about such an ‘appliqued lace’ effect.

This form of embroidery is used to decorate different household items like, pillows, cushions, aprons, jar lids, table cloths and mats, and even bookmarks. The cloth with smaller checks (8 squares per inch) are used for smaller projects like book marks and pin cushions. The bigger squares (4 squares to an inch) is used for bigger projects like  table cloths.

This embroidery is believed to have originated in America during the early years when the new settlers came in. This information, however, remains unclear. It is said that as the settlers moved to newer places, the embrodiery also got newer names. An interesting fact is that during the Depression, ladies made gowns from gingham fabric and declared their stitchery as hoover lace.

With so many names that this embroidery is known with, it is also mistaken with  Teneriffe Lace, which is a bit more complicated form of embroidery.

Chicken scratch today
These days, chicken scratch is taken up with new interest amongst the needle enthusiasts. A lot of experimenting with the color of threads used, the fabric, and even the stitches is happening, probably giving way to a new kind of chicken scratch embroidery altogether, than the traditional one.

Gingham fabric is replaced with aida, or even weave fabric. The color of thread is not chosen to give only a lacy effect, but a different one. Even the stitches used have expanded.

Stitches used
Traditionally the following stitches are used on gingham fabric. But, these days, it is not confined to these alone.

1. Running stitch
2. Cross stitch
3. Double cross stitch
4. Woven oval
5. Woven circle

Transfering designs
The designs are first marked on a graph sheet. Usually each design would have its own key, decoding the type of stitch to be used. The design can then be directly stitched on to the gingham fabric, taking each square in the graph sheet as each square on the fabric.

Thread, fabric and stitch tips
A variety of looks can be created using a couple of stitches. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before beginning the lessons:

1. You can use a single color of thread or many.
2. It is common to use light colored thread over darker fabric and vice versa.
3. When two colors of threads is used, one is usually white and the other is the darker than the darkest cell in the fabric.
4. Generally, six strands of cotton floss or perle cotton #5 is used.
5. Be sure to follow the same sequence while doing double cross stitch.
6. It is advised to stitch the outline of the motif patterns first, before filling the inside.
7. The general sequence of stitch to be followed is – cross stitch and double cross stitch, running stitch, woven circle and woven ovals. This, however, remains a matter of convenience.
8. All stitches are either done over the white cell or the darkest cell. The tinted cell (i.e. lightly colored cell) is usually left alone, except for straight stitches to support woven circles or woven ovals.

The lessons will give you an overview of how to do chicken scratch using the traditional gingham fabric and the above mentioned stitches. When chance permits, I will demonstrate a few ‘new’ stitches over aida fabric too.

Lesson 1: border design using white thread over gingham fabric
Lesson 2: heart motif using different colored threads over gingham fabric