The Dutch roots of embroidery on paper

I have been designing stitching cards for over ten years but the origins of the craft go back a long way in history. Card has probably been used as a base material for embroidery since card itself was first produced. In the 1800s sheets of perforated paper became available to needle crafters. This started the Victorian craze for stitching mottoes and sayings on card. Designs were usually worked in long parallel stitches to form areas of colour.

Today’s card embroidery designs are typically worked in long crossing stitches that form geometric shapes. The first mention that I can find about this style of stitching cards is by Dutch designer Erica Fortgens. She started writing books with instructions and patterns for making stitching cards in the early 1990s.

In the forward to her book “Embroidery on Paper” Erica Fortgens tells how she got started. She made forty small dinner cards with gold embroidery for a birthday party. The cards turned out to be very popular and she continued to make more embroidery patterns. Erica produced a number of books on the craft of “Borduren op Papier” in Dutch and published in the Netherlands. When they were later translated into English the craft was called Embroidery on Paper.

The first prick and stitch kits were marketed in Holland by thread and wool manufacturer Madeira during the 1990s. Their trade name was Pickpoints and the instructions were in Dutch.

In 1997 I helped develop stitching kits with English instructions for Card Inspirations. These were marketed under the trade name of Form-A-Lines. The Form-A-Lines collection has grown over the years and there are now dozens of prick and stitch kits to choose from.

I launched the Stitching Cards web site in 2004 with patterns available as downloads directly to your computer. There are now over 200 patterns in the Stitching Cards range.

When did you first start making prick and stitch cards? If you have been making them for years let me know by adding a comment to this post.

12 thoughts on “The Dutch roots of embroidery on paper

  1. Ros

    I love the stitching cards.. have been making them for just over a year, after seeing them at a local craft fair, where I was exhibiting wax art.

  2. Ginger Nash

    I have been stitching cards for around 4 years. I really love the art. I make all my own greeting cards for every occasion. Keep up the good work.

  3. Jasu

    I started in 2002 after buying my first F-A-L kit at craft exhibition held at Alexandra Palace. Since buying this kit I have also managed to create few on my own design but not as good as Davids. I am really hooked on the technique!!!

  4. Doris Gleeton

    In February 2006, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had to go to Rimouski for chemotherapy treatments and this is where I first heard of embroidery on paper through workshops volunteer workers had for the patients that were interested. I loved it from the start. When I returned home (in Gaspe, 400 km from Rimouski), I wanted to find out more about card making and through Internet I discovered your Websites.
    I make beautiful cards for all occasions for family and friends and everyone of them has his or her own way to save the cards I make for them. I am very lucky to have found your websites (Stitching, Form-A-Lines,etc.).
    Thanks.

  5. Char Thompson

    Has anyone heard anything about Erica Fortgens changing the date of her new book from February to next July? What’s up, anyone know?

  6. DJ Post author

    It depends where you are Char. “New Designs, New Projects for Embroidery on Paper” by Erica Fortgens was published in the UK by Search Press Ltd on 21 January 2009. A USA edition is scheduled for July 2009.

  7. rose mestre

    Being Dutch I can tell you that in the fifties these prick and stitch cards were already around.
    They were however more for children as a step up for “real” needlework.

    1. DJ Post author

      I regret that I do not know the official answer you would get from the publishers of Erica Fortgens books, Jo. I have just looked in one of the Erica Fortgens books and although it has the usual statement about not reproducing any of the book contents without permission there is nothing about the cards you might make and sell using the patterns.

      I can tell you the copyright policy at Stitching Cards because it is clearly stated on the patterns and the website. Any card made from a Stitching Cards pattern and offered for sale must include a copyright sticker with the words “Design copyright stitchingcards.com”.

      Regarding cards made from patterns from other sources, such as the Erica Fortgens books I would say that as a rule of thumb, if you are selling cards on a small scale to family and friends then the copyright holder would not be concerned. However, I would still advise you to give a credit to the source of the pattern on the back of the card.

      If your card sales become large enough to be classed as commercial, for example if you are planning to sell through shops or on the Internet, then you should request written permission from the copyright holder before proceeding.

      David.

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