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16th Century Samplers: Blackwork

by Carol Hanson/Caryl de Trecesson

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All charts are under copyright by their creators. Please ask for permission before anything other than private use!

Example 1: Blackwork
The wide availability and use of pattern books meant that similar styles of embroidery were known all over Europe. Pattern books were not only sold and reprinted in other countries, sometimes a new book would "borrow" patterns from others. Flowers, acorns, and scrolling vines were very popular in blackwork patterns and these samplers have many examples.

Blackwork is characterized by generally using a single color in double-running stitch (if reversible) and/or backstitch to create a design that looks as if it were sketched with pen & ink. It was called "Spanish work" in England and in Italian it's called "punto scritto" or "writing stitch." More elaborate designs were later made from outlined figures filled with speckling or geometric patterns of stitches. Blackwork was used on clothing and on household linens.

The patterns from the Jane Bostocke sampler and the second pattern from the Italian sampler were charted by Carol Hanson from photos. The first, third, and fourth patterns from the Italian sampler were charted from the original by Elizabeth (Zwanzig) Bennett, used by permission.

English, 1598: Jane Bostocke Sampler

Bostocke blackwork

Italian, 16th c. Sampler

Italian blackwork

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created and maintained by Carol Hanson
last modified on November 30, 2001

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