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Introduction to Schwalm Whitework 

part 1

Here is the first part of a series of 3 explaining step-by-step how to make a project using the technique of Schwalm Whitework.

It is a technique of Germanic origin that is one of many traditional embroidery techniques, often white, practiced in Europe in previous centuries.

You can download the pattern for this project HERE.

To make this project, I used

  • linen fabric 15 threads/cm

  • Cotton thread “Spécial à broder” DMC thickness n° 25

  • DMC cotton floss

  • Cotton thread for lace DMC n° 80 the same color of the fabric to attach the bundles of threads

  • Needles n° 26 sharpless for the main work,  crewel needles n° 7 for the Palestrina stitch and crewel needles n° 10 for the satin stitch.

This embroidery is most often done all in white, tone on tone but here, for the clarity of the photos, I chose to embroider with the color DMC 826 on cream linen.

To make this embroidery, I mainly drew on Renate Fernau’s book


I am showing you here the most general link, where, if you are interested, you can get this book from but it is also available on many other sites. Unfortunately, the original is in German but there is an English translation. It is very well illustrated and I used the pictures and diagrams in my explanations.

Using the drawing you downloaded, trace the outline of the pattern on the fabric. It is essential to respect the right thread direction of the fabric during this work. If necessary, run a temporary thread that will mark the middle of the design.

Start by surrounding each pattern to be openwork with chain stitch and the “Special à broder” DMC cotton thread n° 25.

Then embroider a tight coral stitch with the same thread along the outside part of the chain stitch. This work is important because it serves to reinforce the strength of the work. Do not forget that to achieve the interior of the patterns, we will cut and pull threads.

The coral stitch is very easy to do. It is actually a simple knot that is obtained by wrapping the thread around the needle. I find that the result is the most satisfactory when you start with the needle close to the chain stitch and you exit with the tip turned outward.

Here is a very simple diagram of this stitch.

The upper part of the pattern is embellished with blanket stitch made with the “Special à broder” cotton thread.

The top of the tulip is made with satin stitch and 1 thread of DMC stranded cotton.

The stems are embroidered with Palestrina stitch and 3 strands of stranded cotton, the leaves with satin stitch and 1 thread also of stranded cotton.

The outer part of the work is now complete. In the next post, we will begin to embroider the interior of the motifs. This is the heart of this technique and it is in its realization that the originality of each work lies.