From string art to stitching cards: a brief history

The use of card as a base material for embroidery probably goes back almost as far as the production of card itself. In 1820 sheets of perforated paper became available to needle crafters. This started the Victorian craze for stitching mottoes and sayings on card. Designs were typically worked in long parallel stitches to form areas of colour. This inexpensive and versatile craft reached its peak in the 1870s when printing developments enabled the designs to be printed on the perforated sheets. By the 1900s the use of perforated paper or card as a base material had virtually died out.

We believe that today’s style of card embroidery, with crossing long stitches, was strongly influenced by the string art pictures that were popular in the 1970s. String art kits generally consisted of a soft board covered in felt, nails and string or wool. The nails were hammered in position through a paper diagram. Then the wool was wound around the nails to build up the picture. The early designs were mostly based on geometric shapes and mathematical formulas.

Click on the string art picture above for a template. Use your back button to return.

In the early 1990s Dutch designer Erica Fortgens started writing books with instructions and patterns for making stitching cards. In the book Borduren op Papier, translated as Embroidery on Paper, Erica tells how she got started. She made forty small dinner cards with gold embroidery for a birthday party. Because the cards were so popular she started to make patterns to embroider.

Thread and wool manufacturer Madeira produced some of the first commercial embroidery on paper kits during the 1990s. They were marketed under the trade name of Pickpoints. The instructions for Madeira Pickpoints were originally written in Dutch and only a small number of Pickpoints kits were produced.

In 1998 the first English stitching card kits were introduced.

Card Inspirations launched some stitching cards under the trade name of Form-A-Lines. Anne Harding and Linda Jefferson designed the first Form-A-Lines card sets. David Jefferson used a conventional computer drawing program to convert the cards into the patterns for the first two Form-A-Lines kits. These proved to be very popular with their customers and more designs soon followed.

The Stitching Cards web site was launched in 2004.

An advance in Internet technology meant that software to serve digital files automatically for computer download was now available. David Jefferson took the decision to launch this web site with some new prick and stitch card pattern designs. Now you can select your patterns and begin making your cards almost immediately.

You will find some more information about string art on the following web site: String Art Fun.

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