Heirloom Hardanger Bridal Pillow

By  Julie Norton  for  Charles Craft

  • Heirloom Hardanger Bridal Pillow


  • Royal Classic Pillow (Charles Craft)
  • Fabric of choice for lining
  • Pearl Cotton (DMC): White (#3), 3 skeins; White (#5), 1 skein
  • White pearls, 5mm, 50
  • White satin ribbon, 1/4”, 18” length
  • Wedding rings, two
  • Basting thread


  • Tapestry needles: #20; #22
  • Sharp, fine-blade embroidery scissors
  • Embroidery tweezers

Pattern - Pattern 1
Pattern - Pattern 2
Pattern - Pattern 3
Pattern - Pattern 4
Pattern - Pattern 5

  • 1. Hardanger embroidery is symmetrical - only a quarter of the pattern is needed as the design is repeated. Baste to find the center of the fabric. Place the basting stitches over four fabric threads and under four fabric threads in the weave of the fabric. The center is indicated by a basting thread straddling the center basted thread/space; having two fabric threads above, below, to the left and the right of the center basted thread/space. The basted thread/space is excellent reference points to assure that your stitches are properly placed.
  • 2. This pattern illustrates many phases of hardanger embroidery (Pattern 1). The diagram indicates basted thread and basted spacing; where to anchor and form the first kloster block (9) and where to place the second row of kloster blocks (6). It also illustrates the placement of the satin motif work and pearl placement. The entire kloster block design formation and satin surface work must be complete before you begin to cut and wrap.
  • 3. The purpose of the kloster block is to bind both the horizontal and vertical weave of the fabric so it is important to have accurate stitch placement. Even though we placed five stitches to form the kloster block, only four fabric threads are secure. One of the biggest fears of hardanger embroidery is the cutting. It is important to have accurate stitch placement and to remember this one simple tip "breath". The diagram illustrates what four fabric threads to cut along the bound edge of the kloster block.
  • 4. The pattern also indicates where NOT to cut by the placement of "NO". You will need a sharp fine blade embroidery scissors to cut the fabric threads indicated. An embroidery tweezers will aid with the pulling of the cut fabric threads as a 14ct Aida weave is a little stubborn to remove.
  • 5. A kloster block is formed by placing 5 stitches over four fabric threads (Pattern 2). Each basted thread stitch and basted space (which is the basted thread stitch on the back side of the fabric) represent a kloster block spacing. Count up to anchor and place the first most inner kloster block of the design over the 9th FULL basted thread/space. Using a 20" length of Pearl Cotton #3; stab down at the (X) bringing the needle up at (A) and down at (B) this anchor stitch is worked over the center two fabric threads of the basted thread/spacing. Tip the needle up at (1) and down at (2) placing the first of five kloster block stitches over four fabric threads. The second stitch of the kloster block (3-4) lays over the anchor stitch. The third stitch of the kloster block lays over the center basted thread/space. Continue to place the fourth and fifth stitch of the kloster block, working over the anchor tail. Continue in a clockwise direction following the diagram forming vertical and horizontal kloster blocks all the way to the center basted line. Once you have reached the basted center line and the third/center stitch of the kloster block has lined up with the basted thread/space you are free to turn your piece and form kloster blocks to the next basted line completing the entire inner kloster block formation journey of the design.
  • 6. To bind off the Pearl Cotton drop needle to the back side of the piece (Pattern 3). Slide the needle under the last kloster block stitch catching a fabric thread. Make sure you have not penetrated the front side of the kloster block with this bind off stitch. Slide the needle through and place the needle over the first stitch of the kloster block, catching a fabric thread and slide the needle through, clip close to the stitch.
  • 7. Once the fabric threads have been cut and removed; the remaining horizontal and vertical fabric weave threads will be wrapped using the picot wrap. 14-count Aida fabric is compiled of multiple fabric threads, creating the single fabric weave; as you can see each fabric weave is individually visible as one. From here on out the remaining four horizontal and vertical fabric weave threads will be referred to as a ‘bar'.
  • 8. Placing a knot at the end of a 20" length of Pearl Cotton #5 (Pattern 4) (referred to as the working thread); this anchor tail will be rethreaded and anchored under the wrapped bar once it is established. Stab down at (X) bringing the needle up in the center of the four fabric threads to be wrapped. Lay the working thread on top over the two bottom fabric weave threads bringing the needle up into the center of the four fabric threads. With a snug tension lay the working thread over the top two fabric threads, again, bringing the needle up in the center of the four fabric weave threads. Continue with this ‘figure 8' motion completing three upper and three lower wraps. On the four lower wrap draw the working thread to form a small loop making sure that the working thread is tipped to the left bring the needle up through the bottom of the loop once, twice and draw this loop down to the wrapped bar forming a picot knot. Bring the needle back up in the center and proceed with the formation of an upper wrap. Draw down to form a small loop, tip the loop to the left, bring the needle back up through the loop once, twice drawing the loop down to the wrapped bar forming an upper picot knot. Continue by bringing the needle back up in the center, form a lower wrap, followed by an upper wrap, continue to wrap out the remainder of the bar. When you are running short of thread, simply bind off by running the needle under the last wrapped bar on the back side of the piece.
  • General Information (Pattern 5)
  • 1. This satin surface work design is stitched in the center of the pillow design. Anchor and bind off in the same fashion as a kloster block. Using Pearl Cotton #3, start in the center of the design working to the outer edge. Travel back to the center by running the needle under the satin motif just completed on the back side. (Note: The first seven stitches of each satin motif share a common fabric weave hole. The charted design shows a space only for graphic purposes as without it, the stitch would look like one continuous line. Each satin motif of this center design is worked over 4-5-6-7-8-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 fabric threads.)
  • 2. Pearl placement is indicated by the black dot. There is also a pearl at the outer edge of each heart. The rings are attached by satin ribbon that is threaded through the weave of the fabric in the center of this satin motif.
  • 3. (Note: Stitching hardanger on 14ct is the exception not the rule.) This beautiful satin-backed Royal Classic pillow by Charles Craft was just too special to pass up. You might find it helpful to take a piece of 14-count Aida fabric cut 12"x12", using DMC Pearl Cotton #3 and #5 in a contrasting color to stitch a practice piece to familiarize yourself with the hardanger process. You may also find "Take the Hard out of Hardanger" available in both DVD and a reference style publication great resources to help give you a better overall understanding of hardanger embroidery.