Spanish Blackwork

Catalina da Gata

Blackwork Diagram

Figure 1



Blackwork embroidery was a popular decorative element in the 16th century, used as adornment on cuffs, collars, necklines, headwear and even household linens. It is worked in backstitch (nonreversible) or double running or Holbien stitch (Reversible) (Fig1). While the most common color was black it could be done in a variety of other colors, most popular amoung those being red and green. It is also referred to as Spanish work (yay).

This piece

These three bands are for an elizabethan male shirt. I have done two cuffs in the holbien stitch and one neckband in the backstitch method. The Materials used are linen fabric and silk embroidery thread for the hemming and the embroidery. The design used is from a flemish painting of a spaniard Gabriel de Salamanca circa 1530. I did simplify the layout of the design slightly and omitted the radiating bands from the main line of embroidery, but the design itself remains as original (Fig 2&3). While simple I find it an elegant simplicity (and falling into the time I had to do this embroidery). This is my first piece of blackwork embroidery. The most difficult elements were trying to start and finish each thread discreetly on the reversible panels. In some areas I managed that better then in others (but having seen some period embroideries and the multitude of mistakes inherent in them, I do not feel quite so bad). To limit starting and stopping I used longer lengths of silk then I normally would have used.


Figure 2

Blackwork Bands

Figure 3



Hispanic Costume 1485-1530 Ruth Mathilda Anderson