Time for a guest post! Today, Laurie Latour speaks about Gingham Lace, which is also known as “chicken scratch embroidery,” among other names. In today’s article, Laurie shares with us some photos of beautiful pieces from her own collection and tells us a bit about stitching on gingham. Enjoy!
Lace and gingham – hmmmmmm…. not usually thought of together, especially not as an embroidery stitch. While it’s not real lace-making, lace stitch is a type of needle weaving worked on gingham that produces many lacy looks. It’s not difficult to do and works up quickly. Inexpensive gingham and floss are the only supplies needed, which is, no doubt, one reason it was especially popular during the Great Depression.
Depression Lace, Hoover Lace, Snowflake Lace, Amish Lace – it goes by many names. Let’s take a look at some pieces from my collection.
Traditionally, Lace Stitch is worked in white as we see in these sweet Mother-Daughter aprons. Vertical and horizontal rows of running stitches are worked on all sides of the white gingham checks. Floss or pearl cotton is woven under four stitches, encircling the white fabric checks. Double cross stitches, or snowflakes, fill the dark gingham checks, adding to the lacy appearance.
As with anything, there are many variations! Usually needle weaving is worked on quarter-inch checked gingham. Here it was stitched on eighth-inch checks. This needle worker chose not to use any snowflake stitches, allowing the blue gingham checks to stand out, drawing the eye down to the flowing lines in the drawn thread work – a lovely detail on this apron:
It’s always fun to experiment and depart from traditional white floss or floss that matches the color of the gingham. In fact, sometimes the embroidery is difficult to see, or appreciate, because it “fades” away into the gingham background. Not so in this apron below! The needle worker used a contrasting thread color to create a more prominent design.
When my grandmother taught me to embroider as a child, I loved to stitch with variegated floss. What fun to watch the colors unfold as you stitch! I still love it. Apparently the maker of this apron thought so too. Just a single row of lace stitch along the waist, pocket and hem splashes a lot of color across the apron.
One rainy afternoon, a little stitch play, as Mary so aptly calls it, led to a pretty little bookmark I stitched with one ply of Caron Watercolors thread. Lace stitch is a nice filling stitch in any gingham project, and I especially like the look variegated thread gives it here.
You can weave around the white checks in the fabric, or why not weave around the dark squares? That’s exactly what you do in Reverse Lace Stitch. I tried to create a bit of drama on the bodice of this apron I stitched with #5 pearl cotton. Rayon floss highlights the center of the snowflakes and also helps to anchor them in the large 1/3” checks on this homespun.
So far, the needle weaving we’ve seen has been worked in circles, but why not try other shapes? On this black gingham apron, the needle worker wove around the running stitches and under the “feet” of the adjacent snowflakes to create squares rather than circles.
It can be difficult to avoid snagging other parts of the snowflakes when you weave under them with your needle. Those double cross stitches really give a nice lacy look but there are other, simpler ways to weave a square stitch.
You can weave the squares under the ends of cross stitches…
Or simply stitch rows of half cross stitches and weave under those. You could fill the white squares with snowflakes to create a totally different look, or leave it plain as I have here. It’s really up to you!
I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy the freedom I have to experiment and create something pleasing to my eye. With gingham embroidery, there is a myriad of possibilities without the fear of spoiling expensive materials – a real “plus” that appeals to my right brain need to play!
I saved the best for last! Designer and needle worker, Mary Polityka Bush, took gingham lace stitching to new heights in this exquisite apron featured in the May-June 2012 issue of Piecework magazine. Mary worked columns of square lace stitch between oval “leaflets,” all woven under the corners of cross stitches to create a delicate bodice on this stunning apron!
Gingham gets all dressed up in the delicate look of this combination of lace stitches. You’ll find complete directions for this apron in the magazine.
I hope you’ll try your own hand at gingham lace stitch.
Gingham embroidery is a great technique to use for teaching children to embroider, too. With a clear grid already mapped out for you on the fabric (thanks to the gingham checks), and with plain thread and a needle, a young child (I’ve taught the technique to kids 6 years and older) can pick up on this stitching pretty quickly. You can find various articles on gingham embroidery here on Needle ‘n Thread, including this tutorial on drawn thread embroidery on gingham. Just type “chicken scratch” or “gingham embroidery” in the search bar on the left column, and all the articles will show up!