1959 – Blackwork Embroidery

Simple stitching from a historical source.

Blackwork designs- February 1959 Woman’s Day Magazine

I was inspired by this mid-century craft article that appeared in the February 1959 edition of Woman’s Day magazine. It described the ancient art of blackwork and provided pages of blackwork designs that were inspired by a collection in the Smithsonian Cooper Union museum in New York City at the time.

These charming designs will give your linens a new and distinctive appearance. You can embroider them on place mats, tablecloths and napkins, you can use them on café curtains, draperies, bedspreads and pillow tops.

Unfortunately, the article was printed on the cheaper brown pulp paper that is ok for text, but not so good for graphics. It is hard to tell that some of the samples were stitched on fine linens. Other samples provided were stitched on monk’s cloth (used for rug making), or burlap. 6-strand embroidery floss or mending wool (a thin yarn) was either embroidered, or couched on to get the bold thick look. Traditional embroidery stitches such as bullion, chain, or outline were used. The article provided diagrams showing the stitches used.

I was further inspired when I found some modern day blackwork on Etsy. Today’s blackwork appears to be more delicate. The Woman’s Day article was clear to point out that mid-century blackwork was bold.

Today, however, its bold lines are at home with contemporary fabrics and interior designs everywhere, particularly in the United States and Canada.

Blackwork Samples on Etsy

The article is available for download below.

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