Simplicity of Canvas Embroidery - Origin of Florentine Work - Endless Variety in Designs The Canvas Most Suitable - A Dainty Form of Embroidery

Embroidery on canvas has always been a favourite form of decorative needlework. From the kettle-holder, the first effort of childish fingers, to intricate needlework pictures, such as can be studied in the museum at South Kensington, there is a wide range of possibilities.

One great advantage of this kind of work is that no tracing is needed - that pitfall to many would-be embroideresses - and only careful counting is required to carry out the most elaborate pattern.

In this design for Florentine work three colours can be introduced, as, for example, blue, green, and mauve. The spaces at the edge of the design are filled in afterwards

In this design for Florentine work three colours can be introduced, as, for example, blue, green, and mauve. The spaces at the edge of the design are filled in afterwards

Several shades of silk will be required to carry out this Florentine work design. Stitches of equal length are bracketed together

Several shades of silk will be required to carry out this Florentine work design. Stitches of equal length are bracketed together

An Ancient Art

This article will deal specially with a kind of canvas embroidery which can be seen in Italy, generally on old church hangings, but which has taken its name from the work on the scats of a set of chairs in the Bargello Museum in Florence.

It can, however, be adapted to simpler uses, and makes effective and durable covers to books, card-cases, blotters, etc.

To work it a piece of fine single-thread canvas, forming tiny even squares, is required, several shades of filoselle silk or cotton, and a blunt wool needle.

The principle of the work is the use of graduated colours, arranged in bands or other shapes, completely filling in the piece of canvas required.

There are endless varieties of patterns, two of which are indicated in the accompanying dia-grams. In the first three colours can be introduced - for example, blue, green, and mauve. Five graduated shades of each colour are needed, and these are worked across the canvas in zigzag lines, each band graduating from dark to light, or from light to dark alternately.

For instance, starting from blue, work the darkest of the five shades first, then the next darkest, and so on up to the lightest. Then take the lightest shade of mauve, and work the five shades up to the darkest. Now start with the darkest shade of green, working up to the lightest. The blue band will then begin again, but this time the lightest shade of it will come first.

The stitches are all worked perpendicularly, all five holes in length, and each stitch is three holes higher or lower than the preceding one, according to the pattern, except, of course, where sets of two or three stitches occur of equal length; these are bracketed (see Diagram 2).

A Combination of Green and Blue

When the pattern has been carried out, it will be found that spaces at the edges of the canvas are still left unworked. These must be filled in afterwards, as is indicated in the top corner of Diagram I, so that an even line is left all round.

Very dainty work can be produced by using Pearsall's filoselle embroidery silks, three strands of each colour. D.m.c. filoselle cottons are also made, and can be substituted for the silk.

The illustration of a finished piece of work shows another effective pattern. In this case two colours are used, green and blue - three shades of the former and two of the latter.

Starting with the darkest shade of green, work the outer line of the curved shape, filling in with (1) the medium and (2) the lightest shade of green. Then work the lighter of the two blues, and finally a single stitch of the darker blue in the centre. These curved forms are repeated, fitting into one another till the piece of canvas is entirely covered.

To make up the work, turn in the margin of plain canvas all round, and line the work with silk or linen, finishing it with a fine silk cord to match one of the shades, sewn neatly all round the edges.

Finished example of Florentine work on canvas, a fascinating form of decorative needlework with a wide range of possibilities

Finished example of Florentine work on canvas, a fascinating form of decorative needlework with a wide range of possibilities