12 Aug 2022

Free Leo Zodiac Blackwork Embroidery Pattern

Recently I became obsessed with Blackwork Embroidery. I've done some in the past, including an epic
design called 'Pearl' of an elegant lady many years ago and designed the free blackwork heart pattern. I thoroughly enjoy blackwork and find it more interesting than cross-stitch, so thought I'd experiment with it.

Blackwork appeals to my maths nerd side with the repetitive often geometric-like patterns. You can also create different effects and 'shades' just by changing the density of a repeat pattern which is fascinating, especially as you can do that using just one colour of thread if you wish.

Blackwork Designing

I used to design and sell enamel pins, but it became virtually impossible to find a reliable manufacturer, so I went back to what I grew up doing- cross-stitch design. It seemed a shame to waste all the pin designs, so I set about converting them to cross-stitch patterns. But it came time to convert a very popular design of a squirrel, which has large solid areas and would be very boring to cross-stitch, so I needed a way to make the design more interesting- which led me to blackwork!

Now traditional blackwork normally has filling patterns that are very pretty but often non-specific and I felt more could be done with them. Possibly with my background of designing for various arts and crafts such as knotwork, quilts and scrapbooking papers I love playing with repeat patterns and patterns within patterns, so thought "Why not make the repeat fill pattern itself a picture?" and couldn't resist creating a squirrel filled with acorns and oak leaves... so I did! It's all kind of snowballed from there and I'm on a blackwork designing binge now.

By the way if you'd like the squirrel pattern, it is available now as part of the Pattern Library, exclusive to Patreon members- read more about that here.

Blackwork Zodiac Set

I was trying to think of other blackwork patterns to design and I'm a big fan of sets/collections, so thought I'd start a set of Zodiac patterns and release each one during the time of year that sign is in. We are currently in the sign of Leo so that is the sign I'm sharing first.

The set will be made up of the astrology sign filled with a repeat pattern combining the symbol (ie the Lion) and the sign itself in a variegated colour associated with that sign.

Free Leo Blackwork Zodiac Pattern

Leo Zodiac Sign

Represented by the lion, people born between 23rd July (my Mum's birthday) and 22nd August are apparently creative, bold, intelligent, ambitious, proud and make natural leaders. 

  • element: fire
  • colours: gold, yellow, orange
  • gem: carnelian
  • flowers: sunflower and marigold
  • numbers: 1, 3, 10, 19
  • ruler: sun

Free Leo Zodiac Blackwork Embroidery Pattern

Finished Size

8cm/ 3 1/8" x 9.5cm/ 4 3/4"

stitches: 50 x 60


  • cross-stitch needle
  • scissors
  • fabric- I used 32hpi ivory evenweave which you would need 20cm/8" square which leaves enough for finishing. 
  • thread: I used DMC stranded cotton 4124



  • Orange lines (fill pattern) DMC 4124 1 strand
  • Dark lines (outline) DMC 4124 2 strands

I hope you like the pattern! I'd love to know how you get on with it, so please feel free to comment below and tag me @KarenCreftor on Instagram!

Terms of Use

This pattern is free to use for personal use only. The pattern may not be redistributed, altered or copied in any way without the designers written permission. If you know someone who might like this pattern, please support a small business and send them the link to this page! Thank you x

5 May 2022

Gingham Valentine's Day Heart: Free Cross-Stitch Pattern

Gingham Valentine's Day Heart: Free Cross-Stitch Pattern

Gingham Heart Cross-Stitch Pattern

This quick and simple cross-stitch pattern uses the striking gingham pattern in beautiful reds. I think it would make an ideal gift for a loved one on Valentine's Day.

Use a basic frame to turn it into a reminder of your love, or use this pattern with waste canvas and embellish a piece of clothing or gift bag with it for a cute and affordable gift! Complete the set of three designs (see the other patterns below) for a stunning display that can be used to decorate your home every February.

What You'll Need

  • Stranded cotton thread in bright red (DMC 321), dark red (DMC 814) and white (DMC B5200)
  • White 18 count Aida fabric (approximately 7x7")
  • Scissors
  • Cross-stitch needle
  • Frame with 4x4" aperture (optional)

Gingham Valentine's Day Heart: Free Cross-Stitch Pattern

Cross-Stitch Key

DMC Thread
Bright red
321 (2 strands)
Dark red
814 (2 strands)
B5200 (2 strands)
Backstitch Outline
Dark red
814 (1 strand)

What Is Gingham?

Gingham is mostly a lightweight to medium-weight cotton cloth that's woven in a very distinct pattern. The stripes go both horizontally and vertically, creating a checked design. The first gingham fabric had stripes only going one way, though, and this type was available until the late Victorian period.

Gingham is most commonly made using two colours: white and a bright colour. The most common colours in gingham are the primary colours: red, blue and yellow. However, this design can be made with any colour.

How the Design Is Made

The design is created as the threads in both directions meet, creating various shades.

  • White + white = white squares
  • Coloured + coloured = dark-coloured squares
  • White + coloured = light-coloured squares

Popularity and Pop Culture

Since its invention, gingham has remained a popular fabric, mostly because it's affordable and is associated with summer. However, its use in popular culture has helped keep gingham in high demand.

  • Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz wore a gingham dress.
  • Gingham shirts were a favourite of the 1960s mods.
  • Designer brands such as Ben Sherman and Fred Perry have created gingham shirts.
  • The football club Man U wore gingham during the 2012–2013 season.

A Brief History of Gingham

Gingham is often associated with the dresses worn by southern belles in America, so I was surprised to learn that the famous checked gingham pattern was actually created in Manchester, England, during the mid 1700s.

It was originally composed of plain stripes, but a factory in England decided to play with an idea and created stripes going both horizontal and vertical, resulting in this instantly recognisable design that has remained popular today. The actual word 'gingham' originates from the Malay word for striped, 'genggang'.

Uses of the Pattern

Gingham is most widely used for casual dresses and shirts, and it has never really been seen as suitable for formal wear due to its low cost. You'll see gingham mostly in the summer, as the traditional fabric is lightweight and brightly coloured. It also has no right or wrong side, so it is ideal for reversible items.

Other popular uses for gingham include the linings of picnic baskets and outdoor table cloths, again because of its association with warmer weather. This led to gingham having the nickname 'tablecloth pattern'.

Make a Set of Three Valentine Hearts

This design is the second in a set of three cross-stitch hearts for Valentine's Day. Make them and explore various styles!

The full set includes:

Feel free to share the link to this pattern, but please do not replicate it or sell it in any way.

Free Blackwork Valentine's Heart Pattern


Free Blackwork Valentine's Heart Pattern

Why Use Blackwork Embroidery?

A sister to cross-stitching, blackwork is a beautiful form of embroidery that was hugely popular in Tudor England. With a romantic look, blackwork is ideal for patterns like this Valentine's heart. I added a contemporary twist by working with red instead of the traditional black. Blackwork is quick, easy, and takes very few craft supplies to do. It's ideal for people who are new to cross-stitch or are looking for a beautiful yet affordable gift. I hope you enjoy this pattern!

What You'll Need

  • Stranded cotton in bright red (DMC shade #321)
  • 18 count white Aida cross-stitch fabric, approximately 7x7"
  • 1x Cross stitch embroidery needle
  • Scissors
  • Small frame with 4x4" aperture (optional)

Blackwork Valentine's Heart Chart
Blackwork Valentine's Heart Chart

Heart Key

DMC Thread
Light Red
Bright Red (1 strand)
321 (1 strand)
Dark Red
Bright red (2 strands)
321 (2 strands)

What Is Blackwork Embroidery?

Blackwork is counted stitching in a repetitive geometric pattern. It's used to cover large areas of linen or counted fabric. Using a double running stitch, the designs use straight lines, detailed patterns, and different thread thicknesses to create a sense of depth and texture. It was traditionally only stitched in black silk (hence the "blackwork" in the name). Modern designs make use of a wide variety of thread colors and types.

Because you're essentially stitching a lacy pattern, blackwork is quick and adds a beautiful effect to any project, including garments. In fact, this was the main reason for its invention. Originally, blackwork was done on linen fabric because of its even weave, which made making uniform stitches easier. Nowadays, blackwork is less used as garment decoration and more for creating pictures to hang on the wall. Most blackwork today is created using special stitching fabric called Aida, normally used for cross-stitch, which has evenly-spaced holes.

A Brief History of Blackwork

The earliest known examples of blackwork embroidery date from 13-15th century Egypt and was found on linen discovered during excavations.

Blackwork's most famous fans were the English Tudors, with Henry VIII's wife Catherine of Aragon bringing many intricately stitched garments from Spain. Queen Elizabeth I then inspired many people to carry on the trend of blackwork-adorned clothing and furnishings, developing a more English style with lots of flora and fauna that were more free-flowing than the original linear Spanish style. Blackwork was most often used to embellish the cuffs and collars on dresses. This wasn't purely for decoration, as it helped strengthen delicate fabrics.

The demand for blackwork had a dip in the 17th century, replaced by new technologies and techniques (such as beading). However, it experienced a revival at the end of the century and has enjoyed a steady following. It is still not as popular as it's close relative, cross-stitch, but it is gaining popularity with the demand for quick, simple, and affordable crafts.

Additional Heart Patterns

Please feel free to use and share the link to this page, but do not replicate or sell this pattern. This heart is the first in a series of three designs for Valentine's Day. Complete all three for a beautiful yet simple display or gift.

I'd love to know how you get on with the design and what you do with it when it's finished, so please let me know below.