How To Do Swedish Embroidery

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Things You'll Need

  • Huck fabric or monk’s cloth

  • Embroidery floss

  • Embroidery needle

  • Scissors

  • Straight pins

  • Embroidery hoop (optional, for thin fabrics)

  • Swedish embroidery pattern or motif

  • Steam iron

Use an embroidery hoop to hold soft or thin fabrics snug while stitching.

Swedish embroidery, also known as Swedish weaving or huck embroidery, was very popular in the 1930s and 1940s. This method uses embroidery and darning techniques to create a design that looks woven. It involves stitching embroidery thread or yarn onto specially woven fabric that has long 'float' threads on the surface. The embroidery thread is passed under these floats to make a design that shows on the front but not the back of the fabric. Because of this, Swedish embroidery can be done on both sides of the fabric.


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Step 1

Cut the fabric to the desired finished size plus two inches all around. Zigzag or overlock the fabric edges if raveling is a problem. Fold the fabric in half to find the center. Mark the spot with a straight pin. Place thin or soft fabric in an embroidery hoop; this is not necessary for stiffer fabrics. Do not mark the design motif on the fabric.

Step 2

Cut a length of embroidery floss 2½ times the width of the fabric. Do not cut the floss any shorter than this. Make sure it is long enough to embroider an entire pattern row. Thread the needle with the floss but do not tie a knot in the end.


Step 3

Embroider the design beginning at the center of the fabric. Slide the needle from right to left under the float at the center of the fabric. Draw the thread through halfway, leaving half of it hanging loose to the right of the float. Embroider the design from the center to the left edge of the fabric, following your pattern. Be sure each stitch goes under the float but not through to the other side of the fabric. Finish the edge by looping the embroidery floss around the last float and re-embroidering over three or four stitches. Cut the floss close to the final stitched float.

Step 4

Turn the fabric upside down (top to bottom, not right side to wrong side) so the completed row of embroidery is to the right of the fabric center. Thread the needle onto the loose half of the embroidery floss. Stitch from right to left to complete the row of embroidery. Notice that the embroidery pattern is upside down as you stitch this half of the motif. Finish the edge by looping the embroidery floss around the last float and re-embroidering over three or four stitches. Cut the floss close to the final stitched float.


Step 5

Stitch all remaining pattern rows in the same manner. Finish both halves of each row before continuing to the next one. Embroider the back of the fabric if desired. Gently press the item with the steam iron on the proper setting for the fiber content of the fabric.


You can also do Swedish embroidery on Aida cloth, which is commonly used for cross stitch projects. Blunt embroidery needles such as those used for cross stitch work well since they tend to slip under the float threads rather than skewering them. Many craft suppliers sell finished dish towels and aprons designed for Swedish embroidery. If you are left-handed, begin at the center of each row and stitch left to right, then turn the fabric to finish the row.


Always begin in the center and work toward the edges; stitching an entire row from one edge to the other will distort the fabric. Pull each stitch snug but not too tight or the fabric will pucker. Count the stitches carefully and refer to your pattern often or you may embroider the motif incorrectly. Be sure to pre-wash and dry the fabric if you intend for the finished item to be washable. Otherwise the fabric will shrink after embroidery and distort the design.


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