Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Schwalm Embroidery: A Reader’s Masterpiece & Some Resources


Amazon Books

When Jana sent photos of her beautiful Schwalm table runner that she just completed, I knew I had to share them with you! Jana’s masterpiece took her five months to complete – and did she ever complete it. From the intricate Schwalm fillings to the exquisite edging, it’s a gorgeous piece of work. Take a look…

Schwalm Embroidery Table Runner

Jana ordered Luzine Happel’s book, Basic Principles of Schwalm Whitework (that’s a link to my review), and a pre-stamped linen from Luzine. Luzine’s book covers all aspects of Schwalm embroidery, and she also offers an excellent book on edges for Schwalm work, called Fancy Hems. If you’re at all interested in Schwalm, these are two books you’ll definitely want in your library.

Schwalm Embroidery Table Runner

Schwalm whitework is characterized by rather bold “folky” designs (tulips, hearts, etc.) that are outlined in chain stitch, coral stitch, and buttonhole scallops, and then filled with a myriad of filling techniques that involve drawing out threads or pulling threads to give an open, lacy effect. The fillings on Jana’s table runner are varied and exquisite. You can’t help “roaming” the piece to examine each filled motif. Just beautiful stuff!

Schwalm Embroidery Table Runner

Pretty, pretty, pretty!!!

Schwalm Embroidery Table Runner

It’s a fairly large cloth – and only in five months! All those stitches! All those coral knots! That edging! I’m in awe.

Schwalm Embroidery Table Runner

Speaking of the edging – up close, you get more of a sense of its intricacy. Nice, isn’t it?

Schwalm Embroidery Table Runner

You also see lots of little accent swirls on Schwalm whitework, and circles and scallops made from buttonhole wheels.

Schwalm Embroidery Table Runner

I love all the fillings here, but the tulip on the top right of the photo is my favorite! Isn’t it gorgeous?

Schwalm whitework is worked on white linen of an even weave (or almost-even weave), with a fairly high thread count (around 50 threads per inch), though beginners often start on a lower thread count (about 36 threads per inch). The linen should be a fabric suitable for whitework – that is, it should have plump threads that fill the fabric up, and the threads should be more or less uniform in size. Common counted cross stitch fabrics don’t usually suffice in this regard.

The thread used for Schwalm is coton a broder in various sizes (depending on the part of the motif being worked and the thread count of the linen). Coton a broder is a non-divisible thread, not to be confused with regular stranded embroidery floss. It’s somewhat difficult to find in the US, but Lacis does carry a good range of these whitework threads.

If you’re interested in Luzine Happel’s Schwalm books, the best way to acquire them is to drop her an e-mail. To my knowledge, she doesn’t have a website, but she does take orders via e-mail. You can contact her at leuchtbergverlag (at) aol (dot) com.

Thanks, Jana, for sharing your Schwalm table runner! It’s stunning and inspiring. Nothing like a little burst of beauty and inspiration to start the day!


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(28) Comments

  1. I am absolutely in awe at this work. It is so fine, I can only imagine the hundreds of hours that went into creating this piece. I don’t believe I will ever have the patience for it, but I have great respect for those who do.

  2. What exquisite work! I am so in awe of it and would love to do some of it. I then think to my self, what then? Will I store it with all of my other pieces I’ve finished that don’t have any real use in today’s world? I love trying and completing multitudes of needlework, but then what to do with it? I guess there is always the church bazaar for fund raising. Maybe some of your other readers have ideas. A home can only use so much …….

  3. This is so spectacular…I am a beginner & I should be so lucky to be able to do complex work like this. Thanks for sharing as I alway learn something new everyday from your newsletter.

  4. Masterpiece isn’t a good enough word to describe this!! Unfortunately my command of the English language can’t come up with one any better. Absolutely incredible work!

  5. Wow! That is amazing. Thank you for sharing.

    I can’t begin to imagine how many hours a day Jana spent on this. A truely spectacular piece of work.

  6. Beautiful work! Recently, I’ve started to admire whitework. I see very good examples of machine and hand embroidery at Zara Home. I realised that I could do some by myself, like little tablecloth with embroidered stitch flowers and drawn thread border (in Poland called mereżka).

  7. Oh, wow. Wow.
    … yeah, I’m speechless. *doffs pointy hat at Jana*
    Thank you so much for sharing this stunning work.

  8. What an incredibly beautiful piece of needlework. The birds are so wonderful and that edging just takes my breath away! Thank you for so many photos. Wish only that I could see in person.

  9. Gday Mary,
    The mind schwalms. Boggles even! I’ve admired Schwalm work for…well, quite a while. I love the sweet motifs, the orderly design layouts and the lacy effects of drawn/pulled thread work and the button hole stitch scallops. I really, really, really, really (family saying!) love those scallops.
    I’m not an orderly woman generally (son took a photo of workroom to see if any improvement or….?? when comes again. His sense of humour is as weird as mine!!) but I do have a hankering after it, and I do have a few romantic bones in my body along with a love of white/white, cream/white, cream/cream, white/cream and ice/cream!
    So…I think I’m trying to say that I really, really, really, really love your Masterpiece Jana and appreciate your dedication and expertise. You and Mary have made my day.
    Cheers, Kath.

  10. Jana,

    Beautiful…simply gorgeous…spectacular will surely become and heirloom. I commend you for your patience …. 5 months is a short time for that spectacular and intricate work & yet so long when you want to see the finished piece!

    Thank you, Mary for sharing with us…more inspiration to do better work!

    God bless you, Jana.

  11. CaraJane grazie del commento’mi sembra di aver capito che volevi spiegazioni del contorno dell’asciugamano”si chiama Punto Reale se vuoi lo schema dammi il tuo indirizzo e te lo mando. Ciao Claudia

  12. Hi Mary and Jana,

    The Schwalm runner is gorgeous and an absolute inspiration. What is the best way to transfer schwalm designs? I recently bought Luzine’s book “The Basic Principles of Schwalm Whitework” and she uses the hot iron transfer method. I am afraid of this process – can you suggest some other method?

  13. Hi Mary,
    Just wanted to say ‘hi’ all the way from Canberra, Australia. I stumbled across your pages and feel that Ive found a group of kindred spirits who also love embroidery, and/or em.design. I’ve always loved folk embroidery from around the world. Your collections are tasteful and beautiful- can’t wait to explore further.

    Thanks again,

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