Friday, 29 March 2013

Number 73

vintage blackwork embroidery
All that's missing is a bike chained to the railings

I love the way blackwork, the monochrome counted-thread technique that was all the rage way back in fifteen-hundred-and-something, can look so modern, like a pen and ink illustration – and the patchwork effect of areas of different black and white geometric patterns side by side.

In Creative Needlecraft (Sundial Books 1979), author Lynette de Demme had the brilliant idea of depicting one house in blackwork (above) and in three other stitching techniques:

vintage embroidery
Colour embroidery, blackwork and a bit of applique

To me, no73 looks just like some of the grand Victorian houses around Highgate, north London...

vintage applique
Gritty realism in applique

I'd love to see these lined up together as if they were neighbouring houses on the same street.

vintage drawn fabric work
Close up on the drawn fabric work version

How nice the way the qualities of each technique emphasise different features of the building – the drainpipe, the balcony, the tiled front steps and three square decorative panels towards the top of the house.

If you'd like to sew your own house in black and white, you'll find a basic guide to blackwork here, and part 2 here.


  1. Love the comparison of needlework techniques! My favorites are the blackwork and the beautiful drawn work. Plus I love stitching Victorian houses.