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Chicken Scratch, Also Known as Snowflake Embroidery, Amish Embroidery, and Gingham Embroidery

Chicken Scratch, Also Known as Snowflake Embroidery, Amish Embroidery, and Gingham Embroidery

What is chicken scratch?

Chicken Scratch is a simple, traditional type of embroidery that is also called Amish embroidery, snowflake embroidery, or depression lace.  It is used to decorate items such as aprons, table cloths, place mats, and pillows.

Traditionally, this is worked on gingham fabric, which is a checkered fabric, and it makes keeping counting of stitches quite easy.  Chicken scratch utilizes many of the stitches of cross stitch, both using squares to count.

This simple embroidery technique on gingham gives a very lacy and sophisticated look.  Don't be intimidated by the lovely finished work that appears to take so much time and energy!  

A Bit of its History

This embroidery was very popular in the 1930's through the 1950s.  During the depression era, women made  dresses and aprons by using chicken scratch on gingham. 

Gingham was an inexpensive fabric to use, but with the gingham or Amish embroidery, their dresses became lively and much prettier than plain gingham dresses. The embroidery is done on the edge of the fabric to imitate lace;  this is quite likely how the name "depression lace" came to be.

Some historians believe that chicken scratch, or snowflake embroidery, is to have originated in America during the early years when the English settlers arrived.

This information remains unclear, yet it makes sense that as the settlers moved on to newer places, the name of the embroidery changed. 

Modern Chicken Scratch 

Many who enjoy needle work have become interested in the art of chicken scratch.  There are many new and exciting modern twists to this art.

For one, needle workers are experimenting with the fabric that is used; Aida or weave fabric is sometimes used instead of gingham.

You will see that the newest to chicken scratch or Amish embroidery are experimenting with thread color and various stitches as well. Traditionally, the running stitch, cross stitch, double cross stitch, woven oval and woven circle were used, but the range of embroidery stitches used now is expanding.

Check out our links below to see tutorials, supplies, stitch samples and patterns!




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 A Spoonful of Sugar

A Spoonful of Sugar

Treat yourself to 20 sweet and original Zakka style craft projects! These whimsical and practical sewing projects incorporate a number of techniques for embellishment, including patchwork, raw-edge applique, crochet, chicken scratch embroidery and sashiko. by Lisa Cox - Paperback - Published 2016 Affiliate Link to Amazon

 Chicken Scratch & Candlewicking

Chicken Scratch & Candlewicking

Chicken Scratch is an easy and fun type of embroidery done on gingham fabric. by Pegasus Originals - Paperback Affiliate Link to Amazon

 Chicken Scratch for all Occassions

Chicken Scratch for all Occassions

Many chicken scratch designs. by Pegasus Originals

 Even more Chicken Scratch

Even more Chicken Scratch

Designs include: Butterflies, Rooster Weathervane, Quilt Square, Lace Ribbon, Elephant, Windmill, Tall Ship, Daisy Field, Rose, Cherries, Chicken on a Stick, Panda and much more. by Pegasus Originals - Paperback



Chicken Scratch

This article explains what is chicken scratch, supplies, stitches and more. Nordic Needle

Chicken Scratch & Quilting in Kentucky

For Sale: One-of-a-kind, handmade chicken scratch squares.

Chicken Scratch Basics

Learn about the materials used, the stitches and basic instructions. Spruce

Chicken Scratch Embroidery

Examples chicken scratch embroidery stitched on aprons and stitch instructions. Feeling Stitchy



Chicken Scratch Embroidery

A free tutorial, free pattern and stitch guide. Pink Paper Peppermints

Chicken Scratch Embroidery Tutorial

The instructions are written in French. But the illustration is self-explanatory on how to do the double cross stitch. L'arbracigogn

Chicken Scratch Embroidery Tutorial

Learn about chicken scratch and how to do chicken scratch. Sarah's Hand Embroidery Tutorials

Chicken Scratch Tutorial + Small Heart Pattern

Discover the breathtaking elegance of an antique craft, Chicken Scratch. The sophisticated beauty and delicate designs produce an effect of hand-woven lace on gingham. Small heart pattern. Craftown



Examples - The Many Looks of Gingham Lace Stitch

See several examples of chicken scratch. Thread 'N Needle

Pattern - Cat PDF

A chicken scratch pattern. Nordic Needle

Pattern - Christmas Tree

A pattern for a chicken scratch Christmas tree. Thread 'N Needle

Project - Chicken Scratch Bookmark

A bookmark tutorial. Kerri Made



Smyrna Stitch (Double Cross Stitch/Snowflake Stitch)

Smyrna Stitch (Double Cross Stitch/Snowflake Stitch)

This video will show you how to do the Smyrna Stitch which is a textured stitch which can be used as a filler, as a border and in chicken scratch embroidery. This stitch is also called the double cross stitch or Snowflake stitch. Needlepointers.com

Stitches - Chicken Scratch Stitches

Learn chicken scratch stitches - cross stitch, woven circle, double cross stitch and woven oval. Sarah's Hand Embroidery Tutorials

Stitches - Chicken Scratch Stitches

Instructions for three simple stitches—the double cross-stitch, the straight running stitch, and the woven circle stitch. Stitch School

Woven Circle Stitch

Woven Circle Stitch

Do you need to embroider a small circle?  Try the woven circle stitch! This is a beautiful, decorative stitch that can be made on any type of fabric. It is a common stitch used in chicken scratch and floral embroidery. Needlepointers.com













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