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Florentine designs

the style

example of Florentine embroidery
example of the Florentine style

In Florentine embroidery, also called Florentine tapestry, the surface of the fabric is complete covered with stitches. Only one stitch is used: straight stitch. This stitch is always worked vertically. Only the length of the stitch can vary. It is countable embroidery. The work consist of a running and repeating patron, worked in several shades of the same color or shades of two or three colors. The shades of one color are worked against each other, going from light to dark or from dark to light. Doing so you can create shadow or depth.



example of Florentine embroidery. This patron you can find on some chairs in the Bargello museum in Florence. It's from the  seventeenth century
covering of a chair in the Bargelo museum in Florence

The origin of Florentine embroidery is unknown. It has been made in the fourteenth century and there is an assumption that it started as an imitation of woven cloth imported from the East. In that period Florence flourished and in the Florentine workshops beautiful woven cloths and on canvas embroidered material were made. The Bargello museum possess furniture covered, in silk, with the pattern you can see on the picture. In America this kind of embroidery is also called "Bargello". The "Rijksmuseum" in Amsterdam also owns the same kind of embroidery, but from the seventieth century. Here it is called "point d'Hongrie"(Hungarian stitch). It's possible that the style originate in Hungary. Some embroidery in the style now called Florentine from the Hungarian princes Jadwiga, who lived about 1380, has been preserved.


example of Florentine embroidery
Another example of Florentine embroidery

Florentine embroidery can be made on every cloth, provided that it is countable cloth. And so you can use every kind of (embroidery)thread. One thing is very important: cloth and thread must adjust to each other. The cloth have to be totally covered by the stitches and in the finished work you don't see anything of that cloth.

Usually the embroidery is made on canvas with quite thin woolen thread. One-tread canvas with 5 threads per centimeter fits well. Then you can use thin wool, available in many colors in the good needlework shops. There are many producers and the thickness of the tread may vary, but in a good shop they can give you good advise. You don't need a frame, because all the stitches lies in the same direction. For the needle: every blunt needle of the right thickness will do.




Only one stitch is used, a very simple stitch, the straight stitch. The stitches are made in rows from left to right or from right to left. Often those rows of stitches, in one color, runs, rising and descending, over the whole work from right to left. If one such a row is done, no more counting is necessary, because all the other rows follows that first row and are exactly the same as that row. Only the color is different. All stitches are vertical stitches.
As an example the "flame-stitch": Begin at the left and start with the thread at behind the cloth and bring it to the front side. Work a vertical stitch over four threads of the fabric and bring the needle out two threads lower to the right. Repeat this and a skew row of stitches is coming in existence. At the highest point, go four threads down and two threads up at the backside ( see also drawing ).


example of Florentine embroideryTraditionally it was used for covering furniture. And still you can made beautiful coverings for that. So it is also applicable for cushions. In a tasteful Art Deco-like decorated house it fits wonderfully. And with a good choice of colors the more freakish designs are applicable in a real modern decorated room.

A very freakish design, made on fine cloth, for instance 10 threads per centimeter, can give a beautiful result if it's hanging on a wall.

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