Have You Heard The Hype Around Chicken Scratch Embroidery?

When you hear the phrase Chicken Scratch, embroidery probably isn’t the first thing that will come to your mind! But this mesmerising embroidery technique worked on gingham is everywhere right now and it’s awesome.

Even the quickest search on Pinterest will result in some truly wonderful Chicken Scratch embroidery projects. From pillows to table runners, ornaments to hoop art, there is a project for all. Chicken Scratch embroidery creates a beautiful effect using the pattern from gingham fabric as its basis. Using cross stitches and embroidery stitches strategically places you can start to built flowers and patterns which make for an eye catching creation.

Chicken Scratch Embroidery

Chicken scratch embroidery (also known as Broderie Suisse, Australian Cross Stitch, and Depression Lace) is a variation of cross stitch that is traditionally stitched on gingham fabric using perle mercerised cotton thread or stranded embroidery thread. The gingham squares act as stitching guides and help to form a lacy pattern.

This tutorial is from A Spoonful of Sugar by Lisa Cox, first shown on Quilting Daily.

Chicken Scratch Embroidery

First, prepare the gingham by pressing some fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric. Use an embroidery hoop to help maintain even tension as you stitch. Work the cross-stitch, then add the woven details to the embroidery.

These are the basic stitches used in chicken scratch embroidery:

Chicken Scratch Embroidery

Woven Square – Use the cross stitches to create the four corners of your woven square. Lisa uses this variation in her “Sweet Dreams Pillowcase” as shown in the image above.

Chicken Scratch Embroidery

Woven Oval – By weaving thread diagonally through two cross stitches (as pictured above) you can create the oval variation of the chicken scratch stitch. Lisa uses a combination of the woven square and the woven oval in her “Gorgeous Gingham Potholders” as shown in the image above.

So, what are you going to make using this incredible technique? In A Spoonful of Sugar there is a gorgeous shabby Chic pot holder pattern that uses it so well.

FINISHED SIZE: 7 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ (19.1cm x 24.1cm)

Floral, gingham and polka dots are combined in this lovely pot holder that features a panel of chicken scratch embroidery on the pocket. This fun project lets you practice your chicken scratch embroidery and adds some retro charm to your kitchen. If you’re making this as a gift for a baker, you might want to include some cookie cutters or other baking tools.


  • Basic sewing tools
  • 3/4 ” (19mm) bias tape maker
  • 1″ (2.5cm) wide masking tape
  • Safety pins
  • Embroidery needle



  • Fat eighth of cotton gingham (medium size gingham with the checks spaced  1/4″[6mm] apart) for chicken scratch panel.
  • Fat quarter of floral print for potholder front and back
  • Fat eighth of plain homespun for pocket lining
  • Fat quarter of polka-dot cotton print for ruffle
  • Fat quarter of small floral print for bias binding
  • Fat quarter of fusible fleece
  • Fat quarter of quilt batting
  • Fat quarter of insulated batting (such as Insul-Brite)
  • 1 skein of white perle 5 thread
  • 1 skein of red perle 5 thread
  • 1/4 yard (22.9cm) of 1/2″ (1.3cm) wide twill tape for hanging loop

Download the PDF of instructions here

If you don’t fancy a full sewing and embroidery project, there is a beautiful Chicken Scratch Embroidery Hoop project available in our latest free eBook Modern Embroidery Designs.

This Chicken Scratch Embroidery project has been excerpted from Hoop-La! by Kirsty Neale and is a perfect beginner project for this wonderful embroidery technique.

Modern Embroidery Designs features 9 stunning embroidery hoop art projects that will add a contemporary feel to any home. And it’s completely FREE!

Get your FREE copy of Modern Embroidery Design here 

A Spoonful of SugarYou can order your copy of A Spoonful of Sugar in store now. Have you tried Chicken Scratch Embroidery before? Let us know and tag us in your pictures using @SewandSoUK.


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Embroidery techniques, Free Embroidery Patterns

About Nadine

Nadine dabbles in a wide range crafts. If it's pretty and she wants to make it, she'll learn the technique to do so. She is also never without a cup of tea in her hands.