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Free Blackwork Valentine's Heart Pattern

Updated on May 7, 2016
Blackwork Valentine's Heart Free Pattern
Blackwork Valentine's Heart Free Pattern | Source

Sister to cross-stitch, blackwork is a beautiful form of embroidery that was hugely popular in Tudor England.

With a romantic look, blackwork is ideal for patterns like this Valentine's heart, which has a contemporary twist being worked in red instead of the traditional black.

Blackwork is quick, easy and takes very few craft supplies, so is an ideal for those who are new to cross-stitch, or are looking for a beautiful yet affordable gift.

Blackwork Embroidery Supplies

For this design you will need:

  • Stranded cotton in bright red (DMC shade #321)
  • 18 count white Aida cross-stitch fabric approximately 7x7"
  • 1x Cross stitch embroidery needle
  • Scissors
  • Small frame with 4x4" aperture (optional)

Blackwork Valentine's Heart Chart
Blackwork Valentine's Heart Chart | Source

Blackwork Heart Key

DMC Thread
Light red
Bright Red (1 strand)
321 (1 strand)
Dark Red
Bright red (2 strands)
321 (2 strands)

What Is Blackwork Embroidery?

Blackwork is counted stitching in a repetitive geometric pattern used to cover large areas of linen or counted fabric.

Using a double running stitch, the designs use straight lines, various detailed patterns and different thread thicknesses to create a sense of depth and texture and have traditionally only been stitched in black silk (hence the name). Modern designs make use of a wide variety of threads now available including different colours (including variegated) and thread types such as metallic.

Because you are essentially stitching a lacy pattern, blackwork is quick and adds a beautiful effect to any project~ including garments_ in fact this was the main reason for it's invention.

Originally, blackwork was done on linen fabric because of it's even weave which made making uniform stitches easier. Nowadays blackwork is less used as garment decoration and more for creating pictures to hang on the wall. Most blackwork today is created using special stitching fabric called Aida, normally used for cross-stitch, which has evenly spaced holes.

Blackwork embroidered tudor garments
Blackwork embroidered tudor garments | Source
Hearts cross stitch patterns
Hearts cross stitch patterns | Source

A Breif History Of Blackwork

The earliest known examples of blackwork embroidery date from 13-15th century Egypt, found on linen discovered during excavations.

Blackwork's most famous fans were the English Tudors, with Henry VIII's wife Catherine of Aragon bringing many garments with her from Spain, which were intricately detailed with the fine black stitching.

Blackwork was most often used to embellish the cuffs and collars to dresses, which weren't purely decorational, the blackwork also helped to strengthen the delicate fabrics.

Queen Elizabeth I then inspired many to carry on the trend of blackwork adorned clothing and soft furnishings, developing a more English style with lots of flora and fauna that were more free-flowing than the original linear Spanish style.

The demand for blackwork had a dip in the 17th century, in place of new technologies and techniques such as beading, but then had a revival at the end of the century and has enjoyed a steady following. It is still not as popular as it's close relative cross-stitch, but it is gaining popularity with the demand for quick, simple and affordable crafts.

Valentine's Day Heart Pattern

This pattern was created by me, Karen Creftor. Please feel free to use and share the link to this page, but please do not replicate or sell this pattern.

This heart is the first in a series of three designs for Valentine's which explore different styles. Complete all three for a beautiful yet simple Valentine's display or gift. The three are:

I'd love to know how you get on with the design and what you do with it when it's finished, so please let us know below.


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    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      A nice look at blackwork. I've always loved it and these examples are beautiful. Thanks for sharing this Valentine's Day Pattern!

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judith Hancock 4 years ago from UK

      I remember reading about blackwork years ago - I remember it was a popular Tudor craft. I love the heart and the history lesson!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Beautiful. I love blackwork. What a great history lesson you have provided. Up, useful, interesting, and awesome.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 4 years ago from USA

      What a beautiful heart design - I love all three actually. I usually call this redwork, and I thought of blackwork as a cousin, but it must be a parent! That's very generous of you to provide a free pattern. Voted up and across.

    • KarenCreftor profile image

      Karen Creftor 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      Thank you for such wonderful comments :D I'm glad you like the design.

      Millionaire, it's true Redwork is another name for this work, I'd forgotten about that :) I think Blackwork tends to refer to the technique as a whole, regardless of the colour as it was the original form. As you say it's more the 'parent'.

      Let me know if you give the pattern a try :)

      ~Kaz x

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