Friday, 8 May 2015

Chicken scratch bread cloth plus some VERY good news!

Chicken scratch embroidery of Broderie Suisse is a really cute use for gingham. You don't have to count anything much as you do with some embroidery and the whole idea is built on a few simple stitches. It is fast too and great for beginners. However, it is very addictive so please do not tell me that you were not warned!

I love the idea of practical uses for things so this time, we are making a bread basket liner which is something that every cosy home needs. See what I mean?


A bread basket liner may seem very uneccesary but it is actually one of those little luxuries that makes life sweet. It costs pennies to make and very little time.

But before we start, I have some happy news to share with you. I have just signed a book contract with Vivebooks in the UK!


My new book is going to be part of a series called I Wish I Could Sew and it is a whole collection aimed at complete beginners. There will be a bit in each section where I show you what is what and then this will be illustrated at the end with a pattern or two to help you to put it into practice.
The most exciting bit for me is that because it is to be a eBook format, it will have embedded videos so it will be just like having a teacher with you all the time. 

If you enjoy my blog style, you will LOVE the books. 

You can rewind the videos too. There are only so many times that you can rewind a teacher!

So watch this space! I will keep you posted as new things happen.

Okay and now let's make a bread cloth. Here is is in its basket...


I really need to buy more bread now, looking at it is making me hungry!
But wait, there's more....


To add to the over all lushness, I have used a floral print on the back...find out one reason in a minute....

So what do we need for this one?

Fat quarter pink gingham (medium squares)*
Fat quarter floral fabric to coordinate
Dark pink Perle 8 cotton
Water soluble marker
Your usual embroidery and sewing needs

OPTIONAL- ranger archival ink: jet black, funky stamp of your choice, 8cm piece of 2cm wide cream cotton tape. Label making instructions can be found here on an earlier post.

*when you choose your gingham, aim for about ½ cm squares – any smaller and the design becomes fiddly and hard to see, any larger and it is too loose.

You have a chart for this one and it is super simple. Each square represents a stitch, just as in 'normal' cross stitch.


The border is incomplete because then you can make it as long as you need to. It also emerges on the other side of the heart

Here’s How:
Cut a square of gingham 34cm x 34cm. Cut a piece of floral the same size.

TIP: do not make the mistake of thinking that you can count the squares to achieve this. Gingham is NOT exactly square. Measure and then 'go by eye' to make sure that it looks good.

Take the water soluble marker and the chart and mark out the pattern using primarily the solid pink squares. Begin with the heart in one corner. Count 4 squares in each way and make a mark in the solid pink square. Proceed from there to mark out the heart.

TIP: You do not have to use this method but it is much easier when you begin stitching. You just stitch over your marks and then erase them with water.

Mark the border as well, again, using the solid squares. I have 23 double crosses on the 'heart side' of the pattern and the two sides where there isn't an interruption, there are 32 double crosses but you can make this design larger or smaller and you can put a heart in each corner if you like.

There are 3 basic stitches in this design; double cross stitch, running stitch and woven circle.

The double cross stitch (Smyrna Cross Stitch) is made over a square just as you would a ‘normal’ cross stitch. Use the gingham square as your guide.


Then come back the other way...


You then come back and do another one over the top.


As you see in the photo above, a continuous running stitch makes this quick. Embroider a second row under the first so that the woven circles have something to 'cling to'.

Make the heart with double cross stitches around the outside using the chart as a guide and then begin the woven circles with a running stitch. The running stitch to fill in the heart is simply made from square to square. We will come to that more in a moment.


We are now ready to move on to the next lot of stitches which will fill in the heart and also give some extra interest to the border.

The woven circle which has a few variations is made in conjunction with the running stitch on the heart itself and the double cross stitches in the border. We are using two variations in the pattern. One is in the heart and one is on the border. The woven circles are known as surface stitches because they are mainly worked on the front of the project (the surface).

Variation 1(border): Start with the double cross stitch that you already have in place and then make surface stitches of petals by going from the corner of two diagonal ones. Just come up at the base of a double cross stitch, weave the thread under the opposite stitch and then go down where you came up and move to the next stitch.


I have a useful image with this stitch worked in blue to show you where to go with this stitch...



Those of you who are paying attention will notice that this image has three rows. It is not from this project so don't worry that you have missed a row! But it does show the stitch nicely. And it shows you another pattern with the same stitch - as I said, versatile!

As you can see from the previous photo, our bread cloth has a double row of these flowers worked on top of each other. To achieve this, just go back the other way on top of the previous row of stitches, doing exactly the same thing.

Variation 2: Remember a bit ago we talked about running stitches on the heart? Start with these running stitches (these will go in two directions) and here is the photo again....




and then make the surface petals by coming up with the needle at the corner of one running stitch and then securing the stitch at the corner of the remaining three. 
This is a similar stitch to the other one but this time, you are going across to the end of the running stitches. Here is a close up of the working....



Come up at one running stitch, weave the thread under the next three to anchor it and then go down where you came up. Repeat this until the area is all filled.


Work the heart and the border and remove the water soluble marker lines with clean water.

Make yourself a label – this is easy and fun and adds so much to your finished product! Choose a nice stamp which will fit onto the tape when it is folded in half. Fold the tape in half and stamp with the ink. That’s it!

Trim the completed top and then attach the label in the opposite corner to the heart to balance things a bit. Now lay the top face down onto the floral fabric with the right sides together and pin. Machine sew all around leaving a gap for turning out. Turn out through the gap and slip stitch the opening closed.

TIP: using floral fabric rather than a light coloured plain ensures both a pretty result and also that you will not see the threads on the back of your work as you may with a light, plain fabric.

Hand or machine top stitch all around the perimeter to keep things neat. Tidy any loose threads.

Well there you go! That is a very old and mostly forgotten European peasant embroidery technique. I think that it looks lovely and it really is easy once you get into the rhythm. Here it is again proudly doing its job....



Thank you so much for stopping by; I have really enjoyed your company!


Love and hugs
Debbie xxx