Incredibly messy handwriting. What does that have to do with needlework? Just kidding. Chicken Scratch is a type of cross stitch embroidery done on gingham check fabric.
It has many different names. One is Depression Lace. During the Great Depression when women wanted to add lace embellishment to their clothing they used this stitch as an alternative to real lace.
We couldn’t come up with any vintage pattern books that we could share here so we’re pointing you to a couple sites on the internet. They will explain how to get started and give you some ideas what it can be used for.
Some of the items you’ll need, besides the checkered fabric, is an embroidery hoop, tapestry or crewel needle and floss. Three simple stitches are used in chicken scratch embroidery – the double cross stitch, the straight running stitch, and the woven circle stitch.
It’s very quick to learn and we’ve found a couple sites that show you how to make these stitches. The West Virginia University Extension Service has a very good pdf file explaining what chicken scratch is and how to do it. The document is four pages with great illustrations.
The eHow information site has two articles we found that explain the technique well:
Since Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, it’s great that one of the most often used motifs for this type of embroidery is a heart. The Pegasus Originals website even has a heart pattern they’ve shared here.
Depending on the size of the check in your gingham fabric and the color thread, you can come up with some very pretty designs. We hope you give Chicken Scratch embroidery a try and if you do make something special for Valentine’s Day please share it on our Facebook page. Also be sure to check out the pretty vintage aprons VTNS sellers have for sale right now.