method of working
For the cloth, on which you are going to embroider, it is necessarily to use a fabric with the same number of threads to the centimeter in horizontal and vertical direction. (The same number of warp and weft threads to the centimeter) We advise you to use white or ecru linen or cotton with 10, 11 or 12 threads to the centimeter.
DMC thread, number 16 is very suitable. This is not the well-known six-strand embroidery floss, but it's one threaded and it is sold in strands of about 23 meter. There are lesser colors, but that's not really a problem. You can use it on even weave linen that has 10 or 11 threads to the centimeter. DMC thread number 25, that's the six-strand embroidery floss, is also very useful. On the same kind of cloth I use normally 2 threads for the cross stitches and 3 for the running stitches ( Holbein stitches). For the "contour-border", normally embroidered in the same color as the cross stitches, I use also 3 threads. I embroider over 3 threads of the cloth. That's the usual way in making Assisi embroidery (see also below). Doing so, the background gets a somewhat open structure, witch is more beautiful and exposed on a wall, looking to it from a normal distance, it shows up well.
You have to be careful in choosing the colors. Because of the power of the design it's absolutely a mistake to use sweet and soft colors. Then the color of the background must contrast the color of the outlines of the design. I advise strongly to use the darkest color for the outlines of the motives. I gave the following combinations, which all have proven to be good choices (the numbers are DMC numbers):
For sure, other combinations are possible, but, with no doubt, the colors have to contrast.
Use a blunt needle to avoid splitting the fibres of the background.
Although the technique of making Assisi embroidery isn't difficult, it's wise to start with a simple design. For instance, a small border or a medallion. Mostly because the order of working is important. In using a clever working order you will discover a mistake at an early state, so correcting them is less work. Mistakes you can't ignore, because they will cause problems, later, when you fills up the background.
So, choose a pattern and make a print of it. Choose the colors and the kind of embroidery thread you want to use, DMC 16 or DMC 25. Buy a piece of linen or cotton cloth with 10, 11 or 12 threads to the centimeter and the strands and you can start.
!! It seems that embroidery floss DMC 16 is no longer available (2008)
The contours are embroidered, back and forth, in running stitch. They are worked in horizontal, vertical and diagonal direction. All the time you make the stitches over three threads of the cloth.
It's a bit annoying, but you can't permit yourself making little mistakes and not to correct them. Irrevocably it causes problems during the making of the background. But it's inevitable to make one, now and then. So to minimize the extra work and to discover mistakes as soon as possible it's wise to pay attention to the following rules of the game:
Embroider the contours by going forwards and back as shown
below. If you make the contours at once, it's much more difficult to undo and
after discovering a fault, it's twice as much work.
See figures 1 to 4 above: The small arrows give the working direction. The black line is the working thread on the upside, the dotted line on the downside of the cloth. Start in the middle of the pattern (fig. 1, big arrow). If you arrive at a part what is already made (fig.2, big arrow), then go back( fig.3), until you arrive at a new part of the contours. (fig.4, big arrow).
Embroidery of the cross-stitches.
In the pictures below,
the thin gray lines represents the threads of the cloth.
In Assisi embroidery you always pass over two holes of the cloth on witch you are embroidering to put the needle in the third hole. (That's the same as surpassing three threads).
Filling in the background
Start at the bottom left with a row of half cross-stitches. At the end of the row go to the right by making half cross-stitches in the row directly above the already made half cross-stitches. In this way, going from left to right and from right to left you fills the background with half cross-stitches. If it's impossible to go on, go back while you're finishing the half cross-stitches. As soon as you arrive at an empty part of the background, you go on with making half cross-stitches on that empty part until you can't go on. Then you go back again, finishing the half cross-stitches and so on and so on. Study the drawings down below. You will get a good idea how it works. In the beginning it's a bit difficult, but gradually it becomes much more easier.
Finally the border is embroidered. This border also is made, going back and forth, in straight stitch and always over three threads.