Basic Training: Hardanger Embroidery
Traditionally, Hardanger embroidery is a labor-intensive process created by hand pulling and cutting threads on even weave fabric. Learn how the latest machine embroidery designs create a similar look in half the time.
Hardanger, or “Hardangersom” (literally “work from Hardanger area”) is typically credited to an area in Norway; however, the technique can be traced back to ancient Persia and Asia. It was popular in Norway from the 17th century through the 19th century. Flax was grown, carded, spun and woven into white fabric and thread, and then used to create and decorate traditional Norwegian costumes, everyday clothing and household linens.
Traditional Hardanger is typically created on cotton or linen using coordinating white or ivory thread. Fabric threads are pulled and cut along the warp and weft and stitching is worked along pulled edges and in open areas. Most motifs are geometric designs formed by satin stitches, creating a sculpted appearance. Woven bars is a technique used in Hardanger that’s created by weaving the needle over and under groups of thread until they’re completely wrapped. Needle weaving is used to create a braided appearance. The featured Hardanger technique created for machine embroidery is a combination of freestanding lace and cutwork designs.
Cutting away the excess fabric from the embroidery design is crucial in order to create precise and professional-looking Hardanger embroidery.
Fabrics & Thread
Choose tightly woven fabrics, such as cotton and linen, as they look traditional and work well for Hardanger designs. Osnaburg fabric is a plain-weave fabric that’s similar to canvas and has a traditional feel that complements the look of Hardanger embroidery. Add stability to fabrics that easily ravel by placing a second fabric layer under the stabilizer. Experiment with different fabric types to create a variety of untraditional looks. In the featured sample, yellow chiffon was used for a linen ring bearer wedding pillow, adding an additional decorative touch (B).
Most Hardanger embroidery designs are digitized for 40-wt. rayon or polyester thread. Experiment with different thread types and weights, such as polyester thread that has a matte finish to create new and unique looks. Use monochromatic or tone-on-tone thread colors for a subtle look (C).
Purchase the March/April '11 issue of CME at quiltandsewshop.com to make the blouse below.
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