Heirloom Embroidery With Linens


Old linens are wonderful palettes for machine embroidery. Just add an heirloom monogram and you have a work of art!

I am particularly fond of Damask linens. They are woven in layers to produce gorgeous sheen and pattern. The more they were used, the softer they are.

Delicate, open designs work really well on linens. Designs with heavy fill stitching would overwhelm the delicate heirlooms.

Redwork designs were common, but light designs like Rippled Garden Birds (above, left) and Rippled Flowers (right) by One By One Embroidery stitched up beautifully.

With pieces like this one, where the back will be seen, you can make the back pretty. Use the same colored thread in the bobbin as in the needle. Both sides will be beautiful.

Flea market frames add to the antique style of embroidered linens although this gold frame is modern and inexpensive. The monogram inside,  part of the Heirloom Alphabet by Artistic Designs, was stitched on a Damask napkin.

Just add a layer of batting between the linen and the frame back for a bit of dimension and it’s ready to hang.

For both of these pieces, water-soluble toppers were valuable during the embroidery process. They prevented the dimensional Damask linen from being snagged.


The topper also acts as a barrier. Not only does it protect the linen from embroidery needle and scissors snags, it makes it much easier to clip jump threads.

These designs could also be stitched all in one color for tone-on-tone effect if desired. That was common among traditional early heirloom stitchery.