News Archive

Janome Releases Blackwork Collection: Embroidery Fashion From The Reign Of Henry VIII

17 October, 2006

Design from Blackwork Embroidery Collection
Elizabeth I painted by Hans Holbein the Younger

MAHWAH, N.J. – Legend has it that Catherine of Aragon, King Henry VIII’s first wife, brought blackwork embroidery to England. While she did not last as Queen—Henry divorced her so he could marry Anne Boleyn—the embroidery style remained popular among royalty throughout the next century. The clean, sophisticated look of blackwork has seen a resurgence in popularity recently.

The Blackwork Collection, released by the Janome Sewing Machine company, gives the owners of Memory Craft embroidery machines access to authentic designs that can be stitched out in minutes rather than the hours and days required by hand needlework.

Available on both CD-ROM and Janome’s proprietary PC Design Card format, the collection comprises 95 designs and motifs. Included are borders, stand-alone designs, and heraldic animals such as a lion, a bee, and a unicorn. The CD-ROMs are compatible with the Janome Digitizer and Customizer lines of embroidery software. Janome's PC Design Card format comes as a single Card and is compatible with Memory Craft 11000, 10001, 10000, 9500, 9700, 300E, and 350E. Janome PC Design Cards and CD-ROMs are available only at authorized Janome sewing machine dealers.

Traditional blackwork was a counted thread embroidery usually done on even-weave linen.

Black thread on white linen was most commonly used, but the designs were sometimes worked in red, green, gold, and even blue. It was often used to decorate the necks and cuffs of shirts and smocks, as well as household items such as cushion covers.

Initially it was known as “Spanish work” since Catherine of Aragon is said to have brought many blackwork garments from her native Spain. Once the Elizabethans got their hands on blackwork, they took it to extremes, decorating entire sleeves and skirts with it.

The most typical use of blackwork in Elizabethan times involved outlining leaves, fruit, and flowers on linen, then filling these in with geometric patterns. Hans Holbein the Younger was Henry VIII’s court painter and many of the intricate designs can be seen in his portraits. For this reason the double-running stitch employed in blackwork is often called a Holbein stitch.

Complete information, including the design menu, is available on the Blackwork Collection PC Design Card page.

Janome America is the largest subsidiary of Janome Sewing Machine Company of Japan, which produces nearly two million sewing machines annually as well as a line of related sewing products and embroidery software. It is a category leader in innovation, and Janome sewing machines are recognized throughout the industry for their ease-of-use and unsurpassed stitch quality.