This form of embroidery has several names:  Chicken Scratch, Depression Lace, Snowflake Embroidery, Amish Embroidery and Gingham Embroidery for a few.

Chicken Scratch is worked on gingham fabric and gives the impression of appliqué lace. 

Only three stitches are generally used in this technique:  double cross stitch (aka Smyrna cross stitch), running stitch and woven circle stitch.

The charm of Chicken Scratch Embroidery is how one or two colours of thread and such simple stitches creates a lovely lace effect with shading depending on where the stitches are placed on the coloured squares of the gingham fabric.

This is a simple technique and has been especially popular for tablecloths and aprons. 

Since the stitches are quite simple and relatively large (depending on the size of the gingham, usually ¼ inch or 1/8 inch check) this is a good technique for teaching to young people, or for those with failing eyesight.

Dating back to at least the Depression Era, Chicken Scratch continues to be popular today.  You can find easy-to-follow tutorials online by googling “Chicken Scratch Embroidery”.  Why not make yourself a new apron?

Kerry Leslie


  1. Such a nice post Kerry and lovely examples of this technique pinned on the clothes line :)

  2. Thank you for sharing this information. The information was very helpful for me and saved a lot of my time.


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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.

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