Chicken Scratch Embroidery: Unlocking the Art of Gingham Stitching

Chicken scratch embroidery, also known as gingham embroidery, Broiderie Suisse, Australian cross stitch, and depression lace, offers a delightful way to add charm to your stitching projects. This traditional embroidery style is done on gingham fabric, a woven fabric with a white base and colorful check pattern. While gingham comes in different check sizes, you can also use printed fabrics that mimic the gingham look.

Mastering the Basic Stitches

To get started with chicken scratch embroidery, it’s essential to learn the basic stitches. Let’s explore the essential stitches you need to know:

Running Stitch

The running stitch is the backbone of chicken scratch embroidery. Whether stitching horizontally or vertically, choose to work on either the white or colored squares. To create a design, stitch in every other square or stick to squares of the same color. Follow these steps for stitching the running stitch:

  • Start by bringing your needle up in the middle of the left side of a gingham square.
  • Take your needle down on the opposite side of the square, at the vertical center point.
  • Continue this pattern, bringing the needle up in the next white square and down at its vertical center, until your line is stitched.

Cross Stitch

The cross stitch adds texture and detail to your chicken scratch embroidery. It’s a simple stitch formed by two diagonal stitches crossing in the middle of the square. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by stitching a row of diagonal stitches to form the X’s.
  • Complete the base line of cross stitches.
  • You can stitch horizontally or vertically across each cross stitch, creating a beautiful star stitch, also known as the double cross stitch.
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Woven Square

The woven square stitch builds upon the cross stitch or running stitch, giving your design a woven texture. It’s sometimes referred to as a woven circle. Follow these steps to create a woven square:

  • Start by stitching two rows of cross stitch.
  • Use a second color of thread or the same color as your previous stitches.
  • Bring your needle up near the upper right leg of the X and take it under the X stitch.
  • Weave your thread through the legs of the X, moving to the right, left, below, and above.
  • Repeat this process, weaving through all four legs twice to complete the woven square stitch.

Woven Loop

The woven loop stitch adds a delightful zig-zag pattern to your chicken scratch embroidery. It can be used as a leaf or combined to form a four-leaf pattern. Here’s how to create a woven loop:

  • Start with either cross-stitched or running stitch lines.
  • Bring your needle up at the lower right edge of the bottom stitch.
  • Weave your thread under the running stitch, moving to the upper right.
  • Return to the first stitch and pull the thread to the back, forming a loop around the two running stitches.
  • Continue this pattern, weaving your needle up and down, forming loops.

Choosing the Right Gingham Size

When it comes to chicken scratch embroidery, the size of the gingham squares can make a significant difference in your design. While gingham comes in various sizes, 1/4-inch or 1/8-inch checks are commonly used for chicken scratch projects. Experiment with different sizes to achieve diverse looks in your embroidery.

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Get Inspired with Chicken Scratch Embroidery

Chicken scratch embroidery offers endless possibilities for creative expression. Traditionally used for tablecloths, place mats, aprons, and more, this stitching style is perfect for fast and charming projects. Here are a few ideas to inspire your chicken scratch creations:

  • Mix and match different gingham sizes to add variety to your designs.
  • Use a tapestry needle for easy stitching on the woven fabric.
  • Design your own patterns on graph paper and transfer them to gingham for a personalized touch.
  • Experiment with different numbers of embroidery floss strands to achieve varying thread coverage.

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