Have you ever heard of Chicken Scratch Embroidery? It is a simple, traditional type of hand embroidery very popular from the 1930s through the 1950s. Sometimes it is referred to as Amish embroidery, snowflake embroidery, or depression lace.
The simplicity of chicken scratch embroidery is part of its appeal. One only needs to know a few basic embroidery stitches and have a few readily available inexpensive supplies. And something fabulous can be created. TRY THIS FREE CHRISTMAS TREE PATTERN!
Chicken scratch embroidery is an easy type of embroidery. Today's project, the chicken scratch Christmas tree, can be completed in an evening.
Normally, embroidery Chicken Scratch is worked on gingham fabric. Hence, some people will refer to this type of embroidery as gingham embroidery. Gingham fabric is recognized by its signature checkered pattern or design. The checks come in a variety of sizes ranging usually in 4, 8, or 16 blocks to the square inch.
For chicken scratch, a.k.a. Amish embroidery, the fabric with 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch squares is the most widely used size.
If you would like to learn more about this type of embroidery, go to our Chicken Scratch Embroidery page.
To learn to make this free chicken scratch tree pattern for the holiday season, simply watch our video or keep reading this post.
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how to make chicken scratch Christmas tree
- Chicken Scratch Tree Pattern (link below)
- Gingham Fabric
- Embroidery Hoop
- Embroidery Thread
- Embroidery Needle
STITCHES TO KNOW:
- Double Cross Stitch, also known as Smyrna Cross Stitch
- Running Stitch
- Woven Circle Stitch
INSTRUCTIONS for stitching Christmas tree pattern:
STEP 1: the fabric
When choosing the checkered fabric look closely. You will find on some gingham fabrics that the block is not square but oblong. For this Christmas Tree Chicken Scratch pattern, you want the blocks square.
An advantage of using gingham fabric for chicken scratch embroidery is it makes counting the stitches quite easy.
To begin, you will have to prepare the gingham fabric by pressing the fabric to remove all wrinkles.
Then, find the center of the fabric by folding it in half from top to bottom and then side to side. Mark with a pin where the folds intersect. This is the middle of the fabric.
STEP 2: reading the chart
Print the pattern. Scroll down the page for the link to the pattern. The pattern I am showing here is a black and white version but the pattern you will download is in color.
Let's take a closer look at the pattern.
For this chicken scratch design, according to the stitch key, you'll need to know three basic embroidery stitches - the double cross stitch, the running stitch, and the woven circle stitch. They're not difficult.
The pattern includes a color key. But you can use whatever colors you have on hand or want.
The pattern consists of nineteen rows. As you can see in the above pattern photo, I have marked the tenth row with a little arrow. The tenth row is the middle of the pattern.
STEP 3: OUTLINE THE TREE
Begin by embroidering the outline of the tree.
To stitch the tree outline, I recommend you start at the top of the tree (not at the star), the top of the tree.
Earlier you found the center of the fabric. From there count up eight rows and mark with a pin. This is your starting point.
Place the fabric in an embroidery hoop. This is important so you have even tension on all the stitches.
Thread your needle with embroidery floss. I used three strands of embroidery floss with my gingham print since the squares were slightly larger than 1/4 inch. But depending on the size of the squares you choose, normally one strand is used for a 1/16 inch block, two strands are used for a 1/8 inch block and three strands for a 1/4 inch block.
Referring to the pattern, hand embroider with the double cross stitch around the outside of the tree and the two horizontal lines. If your not sure how to do the double cross stitch, we have a Double Cross Stitch Video Tutorial.
After completing this portion of the pattern, it should look like the above example.
STEP 4: FILLING TREE WITH DOUBLE CROSS STITCHES
To give the tree some character, a different color is nice for filling in the tree.
Again referring to the chart, sew a double cross stitch where a little "x" appears on the chart.
It should now look like the following picture.
STEP 5: STRAIGHT RUNNING STITCH
In order to weave the woven circle stitch, which is a beautiful decorative stitch, you need four straight stitches. So, now, is the time to embroidery straight running stitches.
The running stitch is the most basic embroidery stitch and is used to make a simple line. Refer to the pattern for the placement of the running stitches.
When you finished the running stitch, your project should look similar to this photo.
STEP 6: WOVEN CIRCLE
The final stitch for filling in the tree is the woven circle stitch. This stitch is made by weaving a circle around four straight stitches that have a gap between them. That is why in the previous step you make the running stitches.
Don't know how to do the woven circle stitch? Our woven circle stitch tutorial will help.
When embroidering the Woven Circle Stitch for this project, you'll go around in a circle twice.
Now the tree part is complete and should look something like the above photo.
STEP 7: TREE STAND
Every indoor Christmas tree needs a tree stand and this project is no exception.
Thread the needle with the appropriate color embroidery floss for the tree stand. Check the chart and stitch it with the double cross-stitch stitch.
STEP 8: STAR
We're almost done.
One of the most common Christmas tree toppers is a star. So the last step for this Christmas chicken scratch tree pattern is to make a star at the top of the tree.
To embroider the star, make a double cross stitch at the top with some small straight running stitches radiating out from it.
Viola! The Christmas chicken scratch tree is complete.
You may be wondering what you can do with the finished embroidery piece.
Make a wall hanging for the holiday. Here you will find a tutorial on how to mount a design in an embroidery hoop.
Or make a pillow. This envelope pillow tutorial is an easy way to make a pillow and add a festive touch to your home. Or make as a gift!
A few other suggestions are to use the chicken scratch tree in a hot pad for the holiday table, a table topper as a table decoration or incorporate it into holiday placemats.
We hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.
Happy Holiday Fun!
Annette & Chris
If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video
comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.
A Few Popular Christmas Tutorials for You to Check Out
Candy Cane Vase
No-Sew Fabric Snowflake