What is chicken scratch?
Chicken Scratch is a simple, traditional type of embroidery that is also called Amish embroidery, snowflake embroidery, or depression lace. It is used to decorate items such as aprons, table cloths, place mats, and pillows.
Traditionally, this is worked on gingham fabric, which is a checkered fabric, and it makes keeping counting of stitches quite easy. Chicken scratch utilizes many of the stitches of cross stitch, both using squares to count.
This simple embroidery technique on gingham gives a very lacy and sophisticated look. Don't be intimidated by the lovely finished work that appears to take so much time and energy!
A Bit of its History
This embroidery was very popular in the 1930's through the 1950s. During the depression era, women made dresses and aprons by using chicken scratch on gingham.
Gingham was an inexpensive fabric to use, but with the gingham or Amish embroidery, their dresses became lively and much prettier than plain gingham dresses. The embroidery is done on the edge of the fabric to imitate lace; this is quite likely how the name "depression lace" came to be.
Some historians believe that chicken scratch, or snowflake embroidery, is to have originated in America during the early years when the English settlers arrived.
This information remains unclear, yet it makes sense that as the settlers moved on to newer places, the name of the embroidery changed.
Modern Chicken Scratch
Many who enjoy needle work have become interested in the art of chicken scratch. There are many new and exciting modern twists to this art.
For one, needle workers are experimenting with the fabric that is used; Aida or weave fabric is sometimes used instead of gingham.
You will see that the newest to chicken scratch or Amish embroidery are experimenting with thread color and various stitches as well. Traditionally, the running stitch, cross stitch, double cross stitch, woven oval and woven circle were used, but the range of embroidery stitches used now is expanding.
Check out our links below to see tutorials, supplies, stitch samples and patterns!