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Ethnic Embroidery Patterns

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We can learn a lot about a culture through its needlework traditions. This list features free embroidery patterns based on traditional ethnic embroidery designs from around the world.

1. Traditional Uzbek Suzani

© Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com

Stitch this traditional Uzbek pattern and learn more about Central Asian Suzani embroidery. Information on the history and methods used in this traditional formm of embroidery are covered, and a full-color pattern with tips for working the design is provided.

While Suzani were traditionally worked in yurma, a form of chain stitch done using a tambour hook, a standard chain stitch filling can easily be substituted.

2. Largartera Embroidery of Spain

© Cheryl C. Fall, Licensed to About.com

Some of my favorite vintage materials are about the embroidery from the town of Lagartera in the province of Toledo, in the area known as Castilla-La Mancha, famous not only for its cuisine, art, needlework and culture, but also for the tales of Don Quixote. This is where a centuries old embroidery tradition, unique to the area, was developed and still thrives.

Spain is renowned for its needlework traditions, including blackwork, drawn and pulled thread work, and satin stitch embroidery.

Largartera embroidery is worked by stitching motifs in long-stitch – basically a long satin stitch – on evenweave fabric. The motifs are often framed with a combination of back stitches, the four-sided stitch, and running stitches (similar to blackwork), and often features areas of pulled thread work.

3. Spanish Blackwork

Carol Leather
Blackwork was introduced to the rest of Europe by Catherine of Aragon and is a popular form of counted thread embroidery. Here you'll find patterns and resources for Spanish Blackwork.

4. The Textile Blog

Textile Blog

This site, which has become a comprehensive educational resource for embroidery and textile arts, features a huge variety of ethnic embroidery and textile samples, resources, photos and information.

Although this site is lacking a "search" option, using the keywords "textile blog" along with the type of information you are looking for in your search (example: textile blog russian embroidery) when using your favorite search engine will yield results.

5. Japanese Embroidery Center

Japanese Embroidery Center
The Japanese Embroidery Center is a non profit organization dedicated to the preservation and instruction of Japanese embroidery techniques. Members have access to classes and workshops taught by master embroiderers, and receive the Nuido Journal quarterly.

6. Colcha Embroidery

Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Santa Fe

The word Colcha in Spanish refers to a bed covering made in Colonial Spanish America, particularly in the New mexico area. However, the stitch used and the style of embroidery has become know by this term as well.

Colcha is traditionally worked in wool hand-dyed fibers on a natural wool ground, and features colorful images of flowers, animals and birds.

Learn more about the history of Colcha embroider at the Spanish Colonial Arts Society site, or visit the Española Valley Fiber Arts Center.

7. Traditional Italian Embroidery

Bolsena Ricama
The Bolsea Ricama School of Embroidery and Lace offers classes in traditional Italian needlework techniques. The site is in Italian, however, the illustrations speak volumes, and the free embroidery designs on the site can be easily followed without translation.
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