Royal School of Needlework

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of Excellence for the
Art of Hand Embroidery

Home > Embroidery Techniques > Blackwork


See examples of Blackwork embroidery

Steeped in history, this technique involves using intricate patterns which have an almost graphic quality to create an embroidered picture.  Blackwork was traditionally used as decoration on caps, collars and cuffs and usually depicted small floral motifs in the repeat design.  Both sides of the embroidery were to be seen so it was worked in a double running stitch (also known as Holbein stitch), making the front and back identical.

Blackwork developed in the 20th century and is now used to portray realism and form through differing densities of thread and pattern to create tonal shading.
Using a counted thread technique with a variety of geometric stitches in one colour, dramatic effects are created which are particularly effective with portraits and architectural themes. Blackwork is a very diverse technique and although traditionally worked in black any single colour can be used. 

We run Blackwork Classes for Beginners onwards and recommend
our book RSN Essential Stitch Guide - Blackwork by RSN Tutor Becky Hogg
We also sell Blackwork kits

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