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Brick shading icon
Brick shading

Brick shading main image

​Brick shading is made up of rows of spaced stitches offset from one another to produce a shaded filling stitch.

It has similarities with long and short stitch: both start with a row of parallel stitches followed by rows of other stitches which intersect the first row.  However, for brick stitch the stitches are a consistent length, they start at the end of the previous row rather than splitting the previous stitch and they are alternately offset to form a regular pattern (like bricks).  This version shows the stitches remaining parallel but the stitches can alternatively be tapered to fit a shape, like in the image from Penelope at the end of this entry.  Burden stitch is very similar to brick shading, the only difference is that Burden stitch is padded with a single laid thread.

Some historic works use a version of brick stitch with each ‘brick’ made up of more than one stitch, rather than the single stitch which we have shown.

For a canvaswork version see brick stitch.

Brick shading was evidently in use at the start of the twentieth century as it features in a pamphlet from Penelope, the fabric and thread manufacturer.

Brick shading is generously sponsored by Marian Drum

Method

In this example, the stitches are parallel; some authors change the angle of the stitches as they work successive rows so that they to echo the shape of the design area.

Draw evenly-spaced parallel lines across the shape to be filled before you start stitching (you need the guidelines irrespective of your stitch angle).

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1

Bring your needle up through the fabric in the centre of the second line from the top and take it down at the top edge of the shape to create a vertical stitch (this is a full length stitch).

2

Bring your needle back up on the first line and take it down on the top edge (creating a half length stitch).

3

Work alternate full- and half-length stitches along the top edge in parallel lines, condensing as necessary to fit the shape to be filled. The shorter stitches should create equal gaps between the longer stitches.

4

Work the second line of full length stitches in a deeper shade bringing your needle up through the fabric at the base of the short stitch and take the needle down on the next free line down producing a full stitch length.

5

Ensure each vertical stitch lies perpendicular to the drawn line and parallel with one another. Complete a another row of the same colour.

6

Continue to fill the space, ensuring to change shade or colour for the next pair of rows.

Brick shading

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques

Identifying Brick shading

Brick stitch has similarities with long and short stitch: for brick stitch the stitches are a consistent length, spaced a thread’s width apart and remain parallel to each other.  Rows start at the end of the previous row and stitches they are alternately offset to form a regular brick pattern; long and short pierces the threads of the previous row and are irregular to provide a smooth effect.  Burden stitch is a slightly padded version of brick stitch and the laid thread can sometimes be glimpsed between the stitches.

References

  • Penelope, Jacobean crewel work and traditional designs (1900) , p.8

Examples of Brick shading

Penelope’s Jacobean crewel work and traditional designs

The left hand roundel shows brick shading.

17th century crewel panel, RSN Collection No. 18424100

The branch shows a version of brick stitch which uses more than one stitch to form each brick.

Image courtesy of Cooper-Hewitt/Smithsonian

https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18424105/