Chicken scratch embroidery – the name itself is so curious. Nothing to do with real chicken scratches of course. Unless you count the way you do embroidery or someone else judging it so. Mine does, especially when I tangle my threads midway. This chicken scratch, though, is beautiful and evenly done. The uniformity of stitches is part of the charm of this work.
Chicken Scratch embroidery is a type of embroidery done on gingham fabric (Chequered fabric). The even squares of the gingham fabric form a pattern of its own for the work. The chicken scratch embroidery can make your finished gingham fabric look like you have added lace on top of it.
There are many types of gingham fabric according to the size of the squares – some with small squares, some big, some with slightly oblong shaped squares. You will have to ensure that the gingham fabric you have has perfect squares for this embroidery to work.
4 stitches used in chicken scratch embroidery
1. Double cross stitch ( Smyrna cross stitch)
This is a cross stitch done twice over.
2 Straight running stitch
These stitches are done over the coloured squares, leaving the white squares blank.
3 Woven circle stitch
This stitch is done by weaving thread under the running stitches to create the circle, usually on the white squares.
4 Loop stitch
This is another woven stitch with a straight stitch connecting two stitches.
What kind of thread is used for chicken scratch embroidery?
Usually ordinary embroidery floss in white is used to do this embroidery. If you have to introduce colour make it a darker shade than the fabric . You can use two or three strands of embroidery thread for the cotton gingham cloth. You can add beautiful flower embroidery alongside this work to enhance it in complementary colours
Needle used for chicken scratch work
An ordinary embroidery needle is used for doing running stitches and cross stitch. The loop stitch and woven circle stitch are woven with a blunt needle.
Chicken scratch design
This work is usually done as a border embroidery. But you can copy any design to work this embroidery. Broad outlines are used for this work.
If you are designing a border design, Start to count the number of squares in the design area. This is necessary before you decide on how you will fill the area. You always need 4 straight stitches meeting around a square for the woven circle stitch.
You can design your own chicken scratch for filling a broad outline the following way
Draw the design on a grid paper
Find the center of the design you have and design it so that with every 4 running stitches intersects on a square- usually this is a white square. But when it is a coloured square a different effect is created. Double cross stitches are the first stitches made. This is usually used to make outlines.
Mark running stitches. Then the woven circles and then the loop stitches are marked.
The running stitches are worked over the coloured / white squares
How to do Chicken scratch embroidery – Border design
Place the fabric you have in the hoop. This is important so that you get an even tension to all the stitches.
The double cross stitch is worked on alternative squares.
Then the running stitch is worked. See that the running stitches intersect around a white square for woven stitches
After this the woven stitch is done.
Loop stitch is done then.
This embroidery can be done on fabric other than gingham – they work beautifully as border design for any kind of fabric . Checkout the tutorial for boxy top for more details.