Schwalm Bodices (3)


Not only were white Schwalm bodices components of the festive Schwalm costume but also blue bodices were sometimes worn over unadorned white bodices for especially festive occasions. For example brides and bridesmaids wore these additional bodices.

The bodices were very finely embroidered in white and then dyed to blue.
1_SM_3_blauThe pattern was similar to the pattern for the white bodice. The sleeves of the blue bodices were slightly shorter
2_SM_3_blauand the mid-arm section was somewhat wider than that of the white bodices.
3_SM_3_blauBecause of the somewhat wider cut in the mid-arm section, the folded sleeve cuff stuck out away from the arm
4_SM_3_blauand enabled a glimpse at the white bodice worn underneath.
5_SM_3_blauA painting by Emil Beithan shows the festive costume of a Schwalm bride. We can see the bride wearing both a white and a blue bodice as part of her intricate costume.
6_SM_3_blauTo reduce the bulk of the two bodices and thus making it more comfortable wear, sometimes a white strip was added to the blue bodice inside the fold. This makes the wearing of a full white bodice unnecessary.
7_SM_3_blauIn contrast to the white bodices, the embroidery of the blue bodices was not lined, as seen in the image below of a very old blue bodice sleeve cuff that has been turned inside out.
8_SM_3_blauThe bottom edge of the sleeve got a small hem and was additionally decorated with bobbin lace. In contrast to the white bodices, no needlelace was worked, but rather fine bobbin lace was used as decoration. (In this article I am showing a couple of different blue bodices. On one blue bodice the bobbin lace is missing. We can only see the remnants of some small stitches at the edge indicating that there was a lace edging. In the pictures here it is not noticeable.)
9_SM_3_blauWhereas the white bodices had needle-weaving bands at the top edges of the cuff, the embroidery of the blue bodices was bordered with initials and small ornaments in black Cross stitch embroidery.
Embroidered on this example are the initials A N G R D I (Annegret/Anna Margarethe …). Often these initials were used two times, both at the bottom and at the top of the whitework border. In especially wide Schwalm whitework borders, the bottom initials were covered by the fold.
10_SM_3_blauAfter completion the bodices were dyed to blue. Before Indanthren (colour fast stain from Indigo and Anthrazen) came onto the market, Indigo was used. I will write more about this special process in a future article.
The colour was not very solid; it dissolved as soon as it came into contact with water. To protect the bodices from abrasion and general wear and tear, they were heavily starched.

A Heart Band


I had a decorative wall hanging: a wooden heart, some metal, some felt, some cones.
1_HerzbandI liked neither the dark gray of the felt nor the composition. I wanted to pep it up with some whitework. Instead of the narrow band with the cones at one end, I thought of an embroidered border with half-eyelet scallops and a small heart at one end. And instead of the metal heart, I thought of an embroidered and then cutout heart. And finally, I considered changing the dark gray felt to red.

I asked my graphic designer for a line drawing of the design. Here it is:
2_Herzband_pdfMy graphic designer also made a separate design of the straight border. It is also included in the download file. With the help of the additional straight border design, I was able to lengthen the band to fit my decoration.
3_HerzbandI used linen with a 16/cm thread count. With short running stitches along one fabric thread, I marked the position of one edge of the band. Then I transferred the design to the fabric using an iron transfer pencil.
4_HerzbandUsing coton à broder No. 16, Coral Knot stitches were worked along the perimeter of the heart and along the straight lines. Using coton à broder No. 25, half-eyelet scallops were worked outside; and using coton à broder No. 30, Chain stitches were worked inside the Coral Knot stitches.
5_HerzbandInside the heart shape, a special Limet grid was established by cutting 1 and leaving only 2. This was done so that the planned square-eyelet pattern would remain compact and appropriate for the relatively small space of the heart.
6_HerzbandUsing coton à broder No. 30, filling pattern 481 A was worked.
The piece was boiled, starched, ironed, and then cut.

From my wall hanging, the dark gray felt was removed and replaced with red felt. The narrow light gray felt strip with the cones at the end was removed and replaced with my embroidered heart band.
8_HerzbandI sent a copy of the wooden heart shape to my graphic designer asking for a matching heart design. You can find it in the previously published article.
9_HerzbandI embroidered the heart on 13.5/cm thread-count linen and used coton à broder No. 25 for the filling pattern. I chose filling pattern No. 481 to match the small heart on the band. After boiling, starching, ironing, and cutting, I mounted the embroidered heart onto the wooden heart using double-sided tape.
10_HerzbandMy pepped up wall hanging is finished; doesn’t it look so much better than the original?
11_HerzbandAnother way to use the design is to make a bow by adding a heart at each end of the band. I made a mini version forgoing any filling pattern. I used it as a collar for my wooden reindeer.

Filling Pattern – No. 481


For special events like Valentine´s Day or Mother´s Day I looked for a special pattern. I wanted to have a filling pattern with hearts. I did not know of such a filling pattern for whitework. So I took needle, threads, and linen fabric and began experimenting. The results were very different, and not all patterns I established were what I had in mind. There was one that I actually did not want to publish, but a lady saw it and asked for a description. I have written up the instructions, and so I decided to share it with you, too.

No. 481
category: Limet-Filling pattern
stitches used: modified double Square Eyelet
longitudinal axis: withdrawn thread line (in other shapes or motifs: center = intersection of withdrawn thread lines
name: Little Hearts

First, establish a Limet grid by cutting 1, leaving 3, vertically and horizontally.

One heart spreads over 4 X 4 squares (4 X 3 threads horizontally and 4 X 3 threads vertically). And each heart is comprised of 25 stitches worked counter-clockwise around a center. Make sure that the center hole is open enough to maintain an orderly appearance of all the stitches radiating from it.

After each stitch give a slight tug on the thread. Please be careful to not distort the weave of the fabric.

Very special to this pattern is that the needle is not always taken down in the grid along the edges of a square – as is usual when working Square Eyelet patterns. Rather, stitches will also follow diagonal paths through squares. To give you a better overview, I made a graph. Red marks are the center points of the single hearts. Blue lines are the positions of the 25 stitches. The numeral “1” designates the first stitch.
1_481Bring the needle up in a center hole
2_481and take the needle 1 square (3 threads up and 3 threads to the left) diagonally left up, insert the needle and bring it up again in the center hole. Make sure that the center hole always remains well defined and open. (The “center hole” is not the center of the heart. While embroidering, always rotate the piece so that you can do a single stitch from right to left. For clarity, I show the steps without rotating.)
3_481For the second stitch, insert the needle 1 intersection of threads down and to the left of the first insertion point, and bring it up in the center hole again.
4-481The third stitch is made 1 intersection of threads down and to the left of the previous one.
5_481The fourth stitch is again 1 intersection of threads down and to the left of the previous one.
6_481Three more stitches are now made always moving 1 thread straight down.
7_481Then 6 stitches are made always moving one intersection of threads down and to the right. The sixth stitch is the bottom point of the heart.
8_481Work the second half mirrored – with 12 additional stitches (6 diagonally right up, 3 straight up, and 3 diagonally left up). After taking the last stitch, the needle travels diagonally under 3 squares (9 threads) up and 1 square (3 threads) to the left. This is the center hole of the next heart. Start here repeating the steps to establish another heart.
9_481Rows of hearts beside the first row are worked staggered. The distance between the center hole of one heart to the center hole of the next staggered heart is 2 squares (6 threads) up and 4 squares (12 threads) to the left (or to the right).
10_481Up from there a next heart is worked in the established way.
11_481A gentle boiling causes the remaining fabric threads to shift a little bit, so in the end the Limet grid is hardly noticeable.
12_481“Little Hearts” is a striking raised pattern. It is especially attractive in big heart shapes.

Forks – Practice Exercises (2)


The design, with a diameter of about 7.5 cm, is well suited for embroidering a band in combination with the same-size pattern of the Tendrils – Practice Exercises (1) and other same-size patterns that will be featured in future articles.
1_AÜ2The focus of this exercise is to practice the smooth connection of tendrils at the fork.
Abzweige_-_Uebung_2_pdfCoton à broder No. 16 is used for Coral Knot stitches, No. 20 for Blanket stitches and for the outer Chain stitches. At the outside edge, Coral Knot stitches are worked along the inner line. Chain stitches are worked a small distance outside these Coral Knot stitches. The outer Chain stitches are covered with densely worked Blanket stitches between the outline and the Coral Knot line.
3_AÜ2Using coton à broder No. 16 all remaining Coral Knot stitches are worked (remember, at the point where a tendril will fork off the main stem or shape, make a wider Coral Knot stitch).
4_AÜ2Using coton à broder No. 30 Chain stitches are worked directly inside the Coral Knot stitches of the center circle. The shape is filled with an openwork pattern without a Cable stitch grid – double crosses in straight rows. For a detailed description please refer to my book Openwork Pattern Samplers. Openwork is nice and pleasantly contrasts with the outside ring with the tendrils.

After finishing, the embroidered piece is washed (boiled), starched, and ironed
5_AÜ2The design also makes a nice ornament for trimming the Christmas tree. For that purpose, the circle is cut.
The result is one more nice ornament – next Christmas always comes before we know it!

Waltraud’s unique Artwork


Below is an article translated into English by Helmut and Waltraud Kater (German expats now living in Australia). Please enjoy reading about Waltraud’s wonderful embroidery and quilting projects.

For some years I have been in contact with Waltraud and Helmut Kater from Wagga Wagga in Australia. Waltraud is a gifted quilter and highly talented embroiderer. The enthusiasm for her hobbies leaves her little time for internet activities and for this Helmut is keeping me informed and provides me with interesting news.

I got the first impression of Waltraud´s artistry when I received a couple of photos of a masterpiece in the making. Waltraud is creating a king size quilt. She is embroidering it with a variety of patterns in white and soft pastel tones. Finally it will be hand quilted.


A small sample of Waltraud´s big quilt

As Waltraud’s grandchildren value the abilities and skills of Oma she promised the four grandchildren one quilt each. For this she interrupted the work on her masterpiece and begun to work on the quilts for the kids. Right now I have received photos of the recently stitched and quilted artwork.

Usually I am principally involved in the Schwalm – Schwalm traditional costume, Schwalm White Embroidery and everything related to it. However the individual use of various embroidery and filling stitches on textile background ties different embroidery techniques together. Waltraud´s stitched quilt is so unique, so felicitous and so beautiful that I have to present the quilt here. May be that someone gets an idea or motivation for White Embroidery out of it.


Waltraud´s quilt for Anneliese

The quilt is for the bed of granddaughter Anneliese. That explains the size of 2.2 by 2.4 metres.
Waltraud used light lilac shadow play fabric and some pattern books where the granddaughter chose some segments. Waltraud transferred these segments onto paper and combined them with other motives. She was moving the groups of segments back and forward until the motives matched her imagination

Sample of playing with motifs

Waltraud liked using motives out of the colouring book “Secret Garden” by Johanna Basford, for example just the well out of the round motive.
4_WQThe next hurdle – the transfer of the complete pattern onto the cotton background done with a fine permanent pen – was no problem.
5_WQHaving a good drawing is one thing but transforming this without guidelines into embroidery is something different.
6_WQWhich threads will be the perfect ones? Which colours on the whole? Which part should lighter or darker? Which thickness of thread shall be used? What kind of stitches will be used and where?
Which areas shall be covered with filling stitches or just with single decorative stitches or where will be just the contours stitched? With all these questions the embroiderer is on her own and has to use her vision, talent, empathy and daring to deal with the challenges.
7_WQIn May 2015 Waltraud and Helmut visited their home country Germany (they migrated to Australia a few years ago to follow their children). They also came to Eschwege. At that time I could see the first stitches of that just started embroidery.
8_WQAt this time I was not able to imagine the finished result. Almost every day Waltraud embroidered and quilted, and now – after just 18 months – a big and beautiful artwork has emerged out of a little embroidery.
9_WQNot only the embroidery is perfect, also the quilting patterns are unique: the leaves falling from the tree, the pebbles at the well or at the gazebo, the whole impression of the quilt is amazingly beautiful! There are no words to describe the admirable one of a kind Waltraud has created.
For quilting Waltraud used cotton threads and pattern from various sources. The combination of the pattern and the many details has been created by her.

The following pictures show how the quilting raises the stitching.
10_WQ_Madchen mit Giesskanne ungequiltetThe picture above shows the stitching completed, the picture below shows the same motive quilted.
11_WQMuch more visible is the difference on the picture of the gazebo.
12_WQ_Gartenlaube ungequiltetThe embroidered and quilted areas appear relief-like.
13_WQFor embroidering Waltraud used threads of more than 70 colours. To embody the easiness of objects like dragonflies or butterflies with the material she used silk sowing thread 50 weight for spiders and all flying objects. For all other embroideries she chose hand dyed pearl threads 12 and solid coloured pearl threads 16.
14_WQBetween them were variegated threads which she used to create leaves effectively,
15_WQas shown in the detail photo of the tree top.
16_WQThe complete picture is unobtrusive but expressive – a tightrope walk, only performed by an absolute master.
17_WQA piece of such a size cannot be shown properly in a blog article.
18_WQIt is better to see this as an original.
19_WQA unique quilt has been created where the granddaughter can always find new details. (By the way, the quilt can be machine washed at wool cycle if really necessary. For drying it has to lie flat with the embroidery facing down).
20_WQDiscover more of the beautiful details by looking at the following pictures.
21_WQThe floral arch above the garden gate,
22_WQthe garden gate with parts of the fence,
23_WQthe house with the stepping stones,
24_WQor the corner block.
25_WQAll lovingly and elaborate details show the pleasure in the hobby and the skills in designing.

Unfortunately the art of embroidery in the world has not the value it deserves. Waltraud is a real artist in embroidery and is contributing with her skills that this art is more focused on and more appreciated.

May Waltraud have the strength for a long period to create and complete other big artworks (they also can be smaller). Hopefully we can see her masterpiece in White. We will be happy.

If you have any question or would like to communicate with Waltraud and Helmut you can contact them via email on


Luzine Happel
Am Schindeleich 43
37269 Eschwege
Telefon: 05651-32233


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