Blackwork embroidery: a step by step guide

wip blackwork ladybug and daisy

In this post, I’m going to share with you some useful tips and some basic techniques to follow when stitching my blackwork designs.

blackwork embroidery equipment


First of all it’s important to choose the right equipment:

blackwork fabrics and threads

– Fabric: although many embroiderers use Aida (blockweave) for their blackwork projects, for my designs I always suggest linen or evenweave fabric, because they are perfect for the partial stitches.
– Thread: traditionally, blackwork was stitched in black silk but, today, we can choose from a wide variety of threads, like cotton floss or sewing thread.
– Needle: always use a tapestry needle which has a blunt end.
– Frame: a frame is optional but helps to keep the fabric tight. I always use a scroll frame with a seat stand but, for little motifs can be helpful a smaller ring frame.


blackwork ivy front and back

People often ask me how to stitch a piece of blackwork embroidery with a perfect back. In my opinion, this is only necessary if both sides of the embroidery will be visible, also because many patterns are very intricate and not always reversible.
Anyway, in the video below, I will show you some tricks: how to start and end stitching without knots, and how to work the Holbein stitch (also known as double running stitch) correctly, for a neater back.

“Tea Party” chart:


9 thoughts on “Blackwork embroidery: a step by step guide

  1. Diane Butcher

    Love your designs! I recently have moved to Italy and am looking for needlework stores and resources. Any information you could share would be wonderful. I live just north of Napoli.

    Keep the beautiful designs coming.

  2. Harriet Rose

    I found you through Jeanine. I know I will enjoy your blog and I love your contemporary interpretations. My daughter lives near Turin and I am interested to know about shops, classes and exhibits in the area. Thank you.

  3. delrez

    je viens de découvir votre blog et je suis fan du blacwoord mais seulement depuis 1 mois alors vos conseils son précieux merci

  4. motesinos

    je viens de découvrir le blog du blackwork emboidery , mais s’il y avait la traduction se serait mieux .Je ne sait comment faire pour commander ? ( traduction) cela est très jolie j’aimerais me lancer avec des explications claire. Mercie beaucoup

    1. Ajisai Press

      Les explications de nos grilles sont en français, en anglais et en italien. Pour plus d’informations, ou pour commander, vous pouvez consulter la FAQ (questions fréquemment posées) traduit en français: :-) Merci de votre visite! A bientôt!

  5. muriel dunn

    Thank you i just love your designs they are beautiful i will be making a order regards muriel uk

  6. Emily Bennette

    This is a fun little way to do embroidery. I love how it is reservable and it seems like a great thing to put on a blanket. It does seem like it would be me really time-consuming. I want to get a blanket embroidered for my nephew and it seems like I should look not getting a professional to do it for me.

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