Schwalm Parade Cushion Border (B)

One of the cushion designs shown in the previous post has met with great interest among my blog readers. Therefore, I now show this embroidery in detail. It is about a very special and rarely found Schwalm border pattern. It was embroidered on a parade cushion. The pillowcase is about 200 years old. It measures 45 cm X 82 cm. At 24 cm x 80 cm, the border occupies more than half of the cushion plate.

It is essentially early Schwalm whitework.
Coral Knot stitches are hard to find. But in addition to surface filling patterns, there is also a couple of withdrawn-thread patterns.

In addition to heart, tulips and sunflower, there are many other flowers, pomegranates and leaves in various forms. Some stems are kept wide and elaborately decorated. Blanket stitch eyelets are arranged in the shape of grapes. Instead of spirals, there are often intricate tendrils.
Not only the tree of life structure emanating from the basic vessel is interesting, but also the cross formations surrounded by the branches.

The embroidery also includes some very interesting filling patterns, which will be discussed in a separate article.

Schwalm Parade Cushion Border(A)
Transition from Early to Later Schwalm Whitework (1)
Transition from Early to Later Schwalm Whitework (2)
Transition from Early to Later Schwalm Whitework (3)

The Pomegranate Motif (1)

The pomegranate was an ancient symbol of the enticing joie de vivre in world culture; later it was also a sign of power and domination. In Schwalm whitework it was seen as a sign of fertility.

Old traditional – and in the next blog post, we will also see contemporary – embroidered pomegranate representations from the Schwalm can offer inspiration for different motif designs. The images also contain various examples of different embellishments using embroidery stitches or filling patterns.

Traditional Schwalm Door Hangings

Long ago, it was common to work samplers containing manifold Schwalm techniques and to use them as door hangings. Today, people also like to use hangings – mostly wall hangings – to show off Schwalm techniques they think most important and most interesting. There are a wide variety of such samplers.

Here are some examples (three traditional and two contemporary pieces); I will describe them in detail step by step and from left to right.

The traditional pieces are characteristically longer than the contemporary samplers. The old pieces measure about 30–40 cm in the width and 1.90–2.00 m in the height. Because people back then were not as tall as people today, I doubt these were actually used as door hangings. Regardless of whether they were hung in the door way or on the wall, they were hangings.

Also distinctive are the lace edgings found at the bottoms of the hangings.

The oldest piece of my collection – at the far left – dates back to 1801 (or possibly 1810). Its full length is not pictured – the top part is unembroidered linen.

It has a needle-weaving band below the year and a Sprang lace on the bottom edge.

In the middle a small whitework border was stitched bordered by needle-weaving bands having the same patterns as the bottom band.

The whitework border includes only circle shapes that are outlined with 2 short-2 long, Blanket stitch scallops, and knife points. Small flowers worked with half-eyelet scallops, rounded leaves, and tendrils can also be seen. All motif fillings are openwork patterns; the far right motif includes the letter “G” (and possibly there is the incomplete letter “A” in the far left motif).

A Cross stitch crown, initials, and small rectangular ornaments complete the embroidery.

The second from the left is a small door hanging from 1845. It includes openwork bands with endless patterns. These types of openwork bands were rare in the Schwalm – openwork bands were usually decorated with figured patterns. The door hanging also includes a whitework border, initials, the year, and a Cross stitch crown stitched with two colours – again, a rarity. Detailed pictures can be seen in the article Historical Schwalm Whitework and Machine-Made Lace.

All filling patterns are openwork. Pointed Blanket stitches, rounded and pointed leaves, tendrils, curved lines, Blanket stitch eyelets (partly outlined with Eyelash stitches), and cross motifs can all be seen. The hem was secured with Four-Sided stitches.

The hanging third from the left does not include a year. It shows two small borders designed with circles and a few Coral Knot lines and tendrils. All filling patterns are openwork and the outlines are Blanket and Satin stitch scallops. Between the borders a needle-weaving band was placed. The needle-weaving section is an extra piece that was inserted between the two embroidered linen pieces.

Peaholes were worked twice – bordering the needle-weaving band and bordering the inserted section.

The hanging includes a Satin stitch crown, initials, and small Cross stitch ornaments.

At the top a small border was worked along the Peahole hem. Small circles – outlined with Satin and Blanket stitch knife points – were further embellished with openwork fillings, pointed leaves, and wide stems worked with slanting Blanket stitches. Pairs of mirrored tendrils and triple scallops alternate along a Stem stitch line.

At the bottom a Sprang lace was attached.

It is interesting to see the manifold Schwalm whitework techniques of the particular era in these old pieces

I will present in detail the contemporary hangings in a future article.

Schwalm Whitework Sampler Cloths

Embroidering samplers was and is popular and common. Schwalm women also created samplers – samplers with very different appearances. I will present some of them in different articles; the first deals with sampler chloths.

In the 1920s Alexandra Thielmann established a school for Schwalm whitework in Willingshausen. Here older girls and young women learned to embroider the Schwalm technique. And when they were able to embroider perfectly, they worked elaborate pieces that were sold all over Germany.

Alexandra Thielmann´s work was characterized by a preponderance of flower motifs including a wide variety of different tulips and other blooms. She preferred pointed leaves and combined single leaves with two- or three-piece leaf objects.

The students had to work a square sampler cloth first. The embroiderer´s skills varied. The sampler piece I found is not the most perfect, but one can see the lesson´s contents.

The students had to learn a lot:

In the center, squares were worked with rows of different scallops and half-eyelet scallops, 2 short-2 long stitches, knife points made with Satin stitches, Blanket stitches, and Blanket stitches worked as pointed half-eyelet scallops, Eyelash stitches, and pointed leaves. Often four different small needle-weaving bands were added.

At the hem Peaholes were worked in combination with four different needle-weaving hems, and there were four different corner arrangements. Beside the hems four different small borders were worked.

The section between the center squares and the hem was filled with different whitework motifs. The typical Thielmann flowers (such as the tulips and daffodils) and hearts were worked with different outlines. Shapes on the straight of grain and shapes on the bias were embroidered. All three types of filling patterns – simple drawn thread, Limet, and openwork – were practiced. Often a crown was added.

Here are details – some perfect and some less than perfect:

Pointed leaves, Blanket stitch half-eyelet scallops, Blanket stitch knife points, Satin stitch knife points, 2 short-2 long, Chain stitches, Blanket stitches, Eyelash stitches, Satin stitch scallops,

and different small needle-weaving bands were worked in rows to establish squares in the center.

At the hem Peaholes were worked on both sides of needle-weaving bands.

Different small borders are found inwards.

In the above image, Herringbone stitches were added as a small border.

Depending on the skill of the student, additional elaborate motif borders were stitched.

Designs for such borders can be found in my book Schwalm Curved Lines, Narrow Borders, and Ornamental Stitches

Common corner solutions for needle-weaving hems in Schwalm whitework were practiced. These included grids or

of course different spiders.

Different corner solutions can be found in my book Fancy Hems.

Many pointed leaves as well as

tendrils (made with Blanket stitch half-eyelet scallops) were stitched.

All common motifs can be seen: baskets,


and, of course, hearts with different outlines (knife points or

pointed Blanket stitches).

Very different flower shapes and circles can also be found.

In addition, a wide range of openwork and Limet-filling patterns were worked. Figured patterns, such as stars, as well as

needlelace fillings are also found.

Topping off the work a crown was embroidered.

Many different Schwalm crown designs have been published in my books Schwalm Crowns and Grand Schwalm Crowns.

Most of the manifold and richly diverse Schwalm techniques were taught on a single cloth! Because pattern books were rare at the time, such a sampler cloth was a great resource for the embroiderer.

I just received pictures of another Thielmann practicing cloth. Especially interesting are the few early Schwalm whitework filling patterns. The pictures are of the center square, the four corner designs, and the four middle-section designs.