Embroidery,  German Brick Stitch Pattern #2,  Hand-Sewing,  Medieval finishing technique for borders

Craft with Racaire – Project #1 – Step 4 – medieval finishing technique for the border :)

Seam treatment at the border - RacaireOk, first we started with some embroidery and embroidered a nice “stripe” of fabric using a medieval embroidery technique – “German Brick Stitch” for our very first “Craft with Racaire” project – a small embroidered needle-roll.

…and yesterday I showed you in my detailed photo tutorial how to assemble the needle-roll.

Today I put together another very detailed photo tutorial for you. In this photo tutorial I will show you a nice medieval (or like some people like to call it: “period”) technique for the seam treatment at the borders.

“Medieval finishing technique for borders”

I am quite sure that some of you have already seen this kind of border at a pouch like an extant piece at a museum or at a pouch of an medieval re-enactor (mostly used by fans/friends of the 14th century).

What I mean with “medieval finishing technique for borders” is the technique which creates the following effect of the alternating yellow and purple “seam” at the right side as shown on the picture below:


In my opinion, and I already used this technique quite often, it is much easier than it looks like. Though the technique might appear a little bit tricky and difficult, if you use it for the very first time, but that’s just because of all this chaotic threads that you are looking at.
This technique is really rather easy when you don’t get discouraged by looking at the first pictures – my photo tutorial will guide you through the beginning and also tell you how to work round the corner. I am quite sure that after some stitches you won’t need my tutorial until you reach the end (or the beginning again). 🙂

This technique is really much easier then you think – just follow my tutorial step by step.

Extra information for Advanced and Premium Users:

To also provide a treat for the user of my advanced membership level as well as an extra information for my premium users, I dug up the first initial inspiration which pointed me in the right direction to “see” this special detail. You might know this very special problem – sometimes you look at a certain period piece and see so many beautiful details until someone else points out a very special detail you just didn’t realize and see before. I call this cases “eye-openers”.

For this very special technique which I really like – I saw it for the very first time at the blog of Isis and Machteld – Medieval Silkwork – in 2007. You can find and read the posting where I first got to know about it here:

Since I read this posting / “eye-opener” I have found this technique several times at several pouches on display at museums. I think it might be worth to spend some time digging through my museum photos. I have some photos of extant pieces with this technique which I could show you, I just need to find them. Well, I think I will put this on my endless “I have to blog about” list.

…and finally, the detailed photo tutorial of my border treatment you were waiting for:

Warning! Prepare for many detailed step-by-step photos after this point. [emember_protected not_for=4 do_not_show_restricted_msg=1]

…I am sorry, but the following content is restricted to users with Premium membership.

The beginning:


First “measure” the length of the thread you will need. This is a very easy step – just lay the thread along the border of your needle-roll until you reach the other end of your thread again. Take the length you get this way and triple it ( length x 3) – this is the right length for one thread.


Like you can see on the picture above – I have 2 threads in yellow and 2 threads in purple with the length we just “measured” before. You can cut 4 single threads or just two double – finally  it makes no difference for the technique or the needle-roll. Just one rule concerning the threads – better longer than shorter! 🙂


Now we are getting to the point where you will need the “Sturdy thread for the sewing – preferably the color of the border of the embroidery you are sewing into!” of my list of things you will need for this project (you can find this list and read more about it in my posting about step 3 of this project).

As you can see on the picture above – I made one small stitch through the inner linen layer of my embroidery fabric. Because we will focus mainly on the accuracy concerning working along the embroidery to make a smooth and nice border, lets start to focus on this side – the wool with the padding will adjust if pinned properly (you can see all steps about pinning it also in my posting about step 3). Make a small simple knot that keeps the thread in place (my knot is a combination of two knots as shown above).

Btw. a hint to the text above:
What do I mean with pinned properly? Well, take your pinned needle roll and just lay it somewhere in front of you with the embroidery on the bottom and the wool on top, facing you. If no side or corner of the needle-roll “stands up” or if you can’t see any parts with obviously more tension than the others,… Well, if you have a nice and flat needle-roll without any tension problems then you have pinned it properly. If you can see any of the mentioned problems just “repin” this parts – that means remove the needles at this section and give more fabric to remove the tension or take fabric away and add more tension.
Btw. things like this can happen rather easily – as long as you haven’t sewed it already, you can still adjust rather easily and get rid of small problems like this. Therefore don’t worry, head up, re-pin it and continue! Noone will ever get to know about it as long as you don’t tell anyone. 🙂


Now we are going to hide this small knot inside – this means we go even deeper into the inside of the needle roll and make a longer stitch to the border of the embroidery.

Btw. as you can see at the picture underneath – I “get out” again about in the middle of the short side – this has a special reason you will see as soon as you get to the end of this photo tutorial. There you will see that we will turn the ends of the thread which we use for the border decoration into the thread with which we will “close” and keep our needle-roll in a round roll shape – therefore it is good to place this stitch in the middle of the short side.


Ok, as soon as you pull this thread tight you will see why i placed the beginning of the next stitch so far inside. It has one special effect – it pulls the knot away from the border and pulls it inside the needle roll and out of your way. Take the other end of your thread and carefully plug the end into the needle roll.

Btw. working at the back of the embroidery you should take care that you don’t stitch through your embroidery – at the outer border is ok – somewhere in the middle of the embroidery is not ok because it can “destroy” the beauty of your embroidery.

…and finally we come to the medieval finishing technique:


…and now we can finally start. Make a small stitch – through the border of the wool layer and the border of the embroidery (as close to the embroidery as possible) and lay your 2 different colored pairs of threads inside – you should have 1 pair of color X and 1 pair of color Y (substitute X and Y with any color you like to use).

Ok, what you can’t see at the picture above – this 2 new purple and yellow laid in threads are about 30-40 cm long at the left side that is about 1/5th or 1/4th (=20% or 25%) of the “measured” length – I hope you remember the steps I started the photo tutorial with. The threads on the right side, we will work with now are just the “rest”. We will need this 30-40cm because we will later braid them and make our strings for the fastening out of them.

Ok – before we continue just one thing – caution! this threads are loose – be careful concerning your first steps and don’t pull too much. If you know that you use too much tension you can also make a small knot at this point (at this 30-40cm mark), make another stitch over it and while “going back”, make a stitch through the knot – that will help at least a little to keep the threads in place.


The easiest way to work at edges with this technique, which I figured out for myself, is to shut the pouch, needle-roll,… between my legs – this way I can use both hands for the technique and don’t need to hold the pouch,… while I am working at it.

At the picture above you can see the first step – divide both colors and carefully pull back one pair of the colors – I decided here to start with yellow first. The first stitch with the sturdy thread goes over the yellow threads,  and I stitch diagonally through the red wool fabric border to the linen fabric near to the embroidery (if you scroll down a little, there is one pictures that shows it even better). The point where I “go into” the fabric is at the same height but the point where the needle gets out again is slightly shifted – if you also work the needle-roll while it is shut between your legs, then you you just move towards yourself – or if you work to the other direction (whatever you prefer) you move away from yourself. I prefer to work towards me as you can see on the pictures.

Underneath you can see a closer picture of the photo before:


…as soon as you pull your thread through, it should look like at the picture underneath:


Ok, now the next step – divide and “open up” the yellow thread. Take the threads you just “pulled back” before – in my case the purple – and put it between the two threads.

Pick up the yellow threads…


…and “pull” them back now.


…and now you can make another stitch as described before – here I managed to get a better shot of underneath the thread which shows you better what I described before with “I stitch diagonally through the red wool fabric border to the linen fabric near to the embroidery”:


…and again – divide the threads at the bottom, take the threads you just pulled back before, lay them over the stitch and in the middle between the divided threads, pick up the threads at the side and pull them back now…


Here a closer look at it for you:


…and here with the purple pulled back again:


…and another stitch:


…and another change of threads:


…and another stitch:


…slowly but steady you add more and more stitches around the border – it really just takes a little bit of practise.




…and now to the border:


As you can see at the picture above, we now reached the first corner. Take out the last pin and you can nearly proceed as before. The only thing you need to know about this technique and corners is that you double your stitches at the point of the corner.


You need to go here “around” the corner that means that you need about 2 stitches at a distance you would normally just make one – that’s the whole secret for a nice corner with this technique.


…after the corner – the long sides:


…working at the long side I change one little detail concerning the sewing – this time I stitch a little (about 1-2mm) into the embroidery. This helps me to place the border decoration over the border of embroidery and linen and to hide the linen better than just working along the border of the German Brick Stitch embroidery.

Last but not least – the end:

2014-02-27_11_02_13_racaireIf you made it to the beginning of your embroidery and your first stitch – Congratulation – you are nearly finished! 🙂


If you are working from left to right – when you look at it from the side – just put the threads with which you started to the left side and the threads you were just working with to the right side and make one last stitch over all of this threads.


Because the threads you see here will also become our fastening threads, I highly recommend to add at least 2-3 additional stitch over it.

And now we are really finished with the medieval finishing technique for the border – what you can do with the rest of your thread to secure the several layers of your padding and how to make a flower with the lazy daisy stitch – I will solve this mysteries in the next posting.
Best regards Racaire