How To Make Chinese Suzhou Embroidery - Plain Stitch

The Stitches of Suzhou Embroidery

by  Sun Peilan

Stitching is used to created embroidery, just as writing is used in calligraphy. Calligraphy is handwriting done on a piece of paper with a bush and ink. The dot, the horizontal stroke, the vertical stroke, the left-falling stroke, and the right –falling strike are all techniques of writing Embroidery is needlework produced from various types of stitches on a piece of base material.

Each stitch is made according to its own rules, and each has a distinctive effect. For example, the catch stitch ( back stitch) used in plain embroideries is made of plain ( or flat) stitch embroidery using two or more layers of cloth, with the two layers’ stitch marks connected.

The different stitches create different compositional effects, thus giving embroideries their own unique expression. The catch stitch (back stitch) embroidery has clear and even gradations, and is more decorative, while the point stitch uses well-blended colors and flat surfaces, and resembles Chinese traditional paintings. Therefore, the various stitching techniques are the artistic essence of embroidery. To become skilled at the art of embroidery, beginners must first learn how to make the numerous stitches.

In her book Shen Shou on Embroidery, Shen Shou, an embroidery artist in the late years of the Qing Dynasty, said that there were 18 different stitches in Suzhou embroidery. After the 1950s, the Suzhou embroidery artists classified their embroideries into nine major categories: plain ( or flat) embroidery, striped embroidery, point embroidery, braided embroidery, netting embroidery, gauze embroidery, crisscross stitch embroidery, and variation embroidery.

We introduce here the basic stitches of Suzhou embroidery on a daily basis, one stitch each day.

18-1 Palin Stitch (flat stitch)

In the plain stitch technique, lines are arranged neatly and evenly on a flat face of base material. The rise and fall of the stitch must be on the edge of the pattern, the lines must be properly spaced without overlapping or open base, and the edges must be neat. The plain stitches are divided into three types according to the directions of the compositional lines: vertical, horizontal, and diagonal twining.

suzhou embroidery plain stitch
vertical twining                               horizontal twining                        diagonal twining

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