I thought I’d start my blog with a large project that I’m proud of. It was very time consuming and repetitive, but it was worth it.
Hardanger Embroidery (usually called just “Hardanger”) comes from Norway and is a type of embroidery where you cut the threads of the underlying fabric. Traditionally it’s done with matching thread and fabric, and it’s usually in white. I learned how to do this from books. It’s not too hard; it’s just very repetitive. The nice part about that is you really get the techniques down pat because you have to do each thing 5,000 times.
I think I’ll focus this website less on how-to and more just on supplies, especially when it comes to highly specialized stuff like this. But I probably will do tutorials now and then.
That being said, here are my recommendations for supplies!
I get patterns from books and from Nordic Needle. The pattern for the red star above is from a German magazine called Lea (there are several all with different female names). You can follow the pattern without knowing German, but there are descriptions that can be helpful. They talk about the amount of fabric and what materials were used for the sample and things like that. I used the Google Translate app to help with that and needed to further use Google to convert stuff from metric. There are a lot of German patterns around and there are weirdly some Japanese patterns which are even harder to read. Also weirdly, I haven’t ever seen any Norwegian patterns.
The fabric used for Hardanger is called evenweave, which means the warp and weft threads are equally spaced. 22 count (22 threads per inch) is usually used for Hardanger and is in fact referred to as Hardanger fabric. I like to use a slightly smaller weave such as 28 count. 32 count (usually referred to as linen) is too small IMO. I usually get fabric from 123 Stitch. They list the matching DMC thread color for each fabric which is awesome. My favorite is called Lugana, a cotton/viscose blend. It feels great and doesn’t easily wrinkle. There is a definite quality spectrum for these fabrics. Problems I have with fabric include stretching and threads not being evenly spaced (i.e. they create a rectangle instead of a square). Unfortunately, the kinds you can find at big craft stores like Michaels are usually not the best quality. I highly recommend Lugana, although it doesn’t come in lower thread counts. For fabric that tends to stretch, you can use a stabilizer, but if it’s an adhesive stabilizer the glue inhibits the needle quite a bit and you’ll have to use the up and down stitching method rather than sewing, so it’ll be considerably slower.
For threads, you’ll use pearl cotton for most or all of it and regular embroidery floss for details. If you use 22 count, you’ll use size 5 thread for the main parts and size 8 for details. For smaller fabrics you’ll use size 8 for the main parts and possibly size 12 for details. DMC is usually the brand of choice because it has the most colors. There are also not many other brands of pearl cotton.
For scissors, my favorite by far are Gingher epaulette scissors. I have used stork scissors, but for me they are too small for hand comfort. Also, the tips on the stork ones are slightly rounded on the outside, if that makes sense, and on the epaulette scissors the tips seem more flat and less bulky. Although they are bigger, I feel that they get in the holes better. Tip for cutting: keep the stitched area to the right and use the scissors like a needle going through the fabric. Put the blade down in the first hole and bring it back out through the 5th hole so you can do it all in one step. That also prevents accidentally cutting into fabric or stitches.
For finishing, I put Fray Check on the edges, especially where I cut too far or did something where it might not be totally secure (this was the first piece I actually finished so I made lots of mistakes). If your piece doesn’t have an edge like this, like if your design is in a piece of fabric to be framed or stitched into something like a pillowcase, you don’t need to do anything to it.
I hope this info is helpful to someone!