Band patterns like these can be applied to many uses, both historical and modern. Here are examples of bands graphed in a number of different formats from period sources, some more challenging to work than others.
Pattern darning can be frustrating with the wrong materials. It’s important to choose a background fabric that is not too tightly woven, so there is room for the design threads in between the woven threads. It’s also helpful to work with thread that is not too lightweight or slippery, so that it stays put and doesn’t snag easily when stitched.
In order to get good thread coverage in pattern darning, it’s helpful to use a design thread that is somewhat thicker than the background threads of your fabric. Many of the historical pieces of pattern darning were worked on linen in a relatively untwisted and fluffy thread, often several strands of silk held together.
One very good combination is worked on 28-count linen with four strands of fine silk. A good — though less authentic — combination for beginners in this technique is 22-count Aida cloth, which looks quite nice worked with 6 strands of cotton embroidery floss, just as it comes from the skein.
Pattern darning is one technique where it’s important not to pull the thread too tightly, especially if you want it to look attractive on the back as well as the front. It helps to gently stretch the fabric when you finish a row, to let the thread relax.
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This particular web page last updated on September 13 2006.