Free Instructions for the Assisi Style Rabbits: Voided Work

Embroidery worked with 2 Strands of DMC No. 3750 cotton embroidery floss by Beppy Berlin

Embroidery worked with 2 Strands of DMC No. 916 cotton embroidery floss by Tanja Berlin

There are slight differences between the two embroideries, see if you can spot them. A chart for each of the embroideries is at the bottom of the page.

Origins of the Design

The Assisi style rabbits voided embroidery is an adaption of a design from Variety, Book No. 4. originally published by Carmela Testa Co. Inc. Boston Mass.1925 and from the website of Robin Berry who features a replication of the original design. Variations of this pattern have been used for Assisi work for the several centuries.

I adapted the design to fit into a  3 1/2 inch by 5 inch frame so that I could hang the embroidery in my bunny (real life bunnies) room.

Assisi Embroidery also Known as Voided Work

Voided Work is any embroidery where the design is left open and unworked and the surrounding area is worked to create a "void". Assisi embroidery is one such style of this work.

Assisi work takes its name from embroideries made in Assisi, Italy beginning with the 13th and 14th centuries. The earliest examples preserved in Italian museums and churches were worked by nuns in convents for use as altar cloths in the churches. They were worked on white linen with silk thread in one color; red, blue, brown, yellow or green. The embroideries background was completely worked in long-armed cross stitch or a drawn thread background of whipped stitch. Most often designs were of elaborately styled animals, birds, foliage, beasts and occasional classical or biblical scenes.

Assisi embroidery lost its popularity during the 18th and 19th centuries. At the turn of the 20th century women of Assisi began a revival of the art. Copying early embroideries, they selected the stylized animal and plant designs and simplified them. These women changed the function of the embroidery from ecclesiastical to secular and also changed the technique to a purely counted embroidery worked in Holbein and cross stitch. With the use of the Holbein stitch, the finished embroideries are almost reversible.

Working the Assisi Style Rabbits

I used the simplest method to work the voided work rabbits, I wanted a quick and easy picture to make up in an evening so I worked the background in cross stitch and motifs along the top and bottom of the design in running stitch/back stitch.

Fabric: The design is worked over two threads of the fabric on a 32 count Belfast Linen fabric for a finished embroidery size of 2 1/4 inches by 3 7/8 inches wide high (5 3/4 cm high by 10 cm wide) to fit in a frame 3 1/2 inches high by 5 inches wide. Any size counted fabric can be used, the size of the embroidery will come out larger on a smaller count fabric (i.e. 28 count fabric), or the same size if worked on a 16 count fabric over one thread of the fabric.

Thread: Two strands (separated from the six strands) of DMC Red No. 916 embroidery floss was used to work the red rabbits and two strands of DMC Blue No. 3750 was used for the blue rabbits, any colour can be used to work the embroidery, half a skein of floss is required. The design would also work well in red  Au Ver A Soie Red Silk thread

Needle: A No. 26 Tapestry Needle was used to work the embroidery.

Cross-Stitch: Background

There are 59 cross-stitches in a line above and below the motifs and 61 cross-stitches across the top and bottom of the trees.

Beginning a Thread: Begin the thread with an away knot (knot on top of the work about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) from where you are going to begin the cross-stitch, see the diagram below). Carry the thread across the back of the work and into position for the first stitch, the thread at the back of the work should be along where a line of cross-stitches will be worked and not across open areas of the design.

When you work the first row of cross-stitches ensure that the stitches at the back of the work catch the starting thread. When you have worked up to the knot, cut off the knot sheer to the fabric. Do not begin a thread with a knot on the back of the work as this can make the embroidery lumpy and knots can become loose making your stitches loose.

You can begin the cross-stitch at any position on the embroidery, I began the design along the top of the trees, working a row of 61 cross-stitches and then worked the sections on the sides of the trees and between the trees in rows.

Ending a Thread: Finish a thread by weaving the needle and thread behind the cross-stitches already worked.

Cross-Stitch: The needle is brought up in a hole of the fabric, count horizontally across over threads of the fabric and down vertically over two thread of the fabric to make a diagonal stitch over two threads of the fabric (see the left diagram below).

The needle is brought vertically across the back of the fabric under two threads of the fabric and brought up through the fabric to the front of the fabric, a diagonal stitch is worked over the top of the first stitch so that the two diagonal stitches cross at the center and is taken down across two threads of the fabric and vertically up over two threads of the fabric (see the middle diagram below).

Each cross-stitch shares the same holes as the previous cross-stitch and is worked in the same method as the first cross-stitch (see the right diagram and bottom diagram below).

Please note that the diagrams below shows the reverse of what some people will know as cross-stitch. The method below is how I was taught by my mother and is not incorrect. If you are used to working the cross-stitch with the top diagonal first this is fine. What is important is that the top diagonal stitch of the cross-stitch always lay in the same direction to ensure that the embroidery looks even (see the bottom diagram below).

There are sections of the background that have a lot of cross-stitches in one row. You may find it quicker and easier to work all the bottom diagonal stitches first in a row and then go back along the row working the top diagonal stitches of the cross-stitch (see the diagram below).

Running Stitch/Back Stitch: Motifs

    There are 9 motifs across the top and bottom of the design. These motifs are worked alternating between a running stitch over two threads of the fabric and a back stitch over two threads of the fabric (see the diagram opposite).

    The running stitch/back stitch is used in preference to the Holstein stitch (double running stitch) as the running stitch/back stitch makes a more even line.

    The Holstein stitch should be used if a two-sided embroidery is being created.

    There are six cross-stitches between each design motif (see the diagram below). Once you have worked one design motif, feed the thread behind the cross-stitches in position to work the next motif (see the dark stitch on the diagram below).


I am very interested to see the embroidery done in different colors and if you have made any variations to the pattern, please do email a picture of your finished piece. If you have any questions as you are working the the pattern please feel free to Email Me Tanja.

Blue Assisi Rabbits Chart

Red Assisi Rabbits Chart

If you have been inspired by my website and the free designs and tips I offer please consider donating, thank you, Tanja

Any comments or questions please Email Me!  |  Free Designs Webpage  |  Home Page!  |    View Shopping Cart

Hand Embroidery Kits

2-Sided Embroidery   •   Applique   •   Assisi   •   Beginners Kits   •   Blackwork   •   Blackwork with Goldwork   •   Carrickmacross Lace   •   Counted Thread   •   Crewel Embroidery   •   Cross-stitch Meets Blackwork   •   Etui Box Kits   •   Featured Designer   •   Free Embroidery Designs   •   Fine White Work   •   Goldwork   •   Hapsburg Lace   •   Jewelry   •   Kit of the Month   •   Modern Jacobean   •   Mountmellick   •   Needle Painting   •   Projects for Groups   •   Pulled Work   •   RSN Gold   •   Schwalm   •   Surface Embroidery   •   Shadow Work   •   Traditional Jacobean   •   What is Hand Embroidery?   •   Whats New?   •   White Work   •   Wholesale

Embroidery Merchandise

Acid Free Products   •   Blackwork  Supplies   •   Books   •   Carrickmacross Lace Supplies   •   Embroidery Accessories   •   Fabrics   •   Frames   •   Gift Certificates   •   Gift Ideas   •   Goldwork Supplies   •   Kid  Leather   •   Magnifiers   •   Metal Threads   •   Merchandise   •   Mountmellick Supplies   •   Needles   •   Needle Painting Supplies   •   Needlework Boxes   •   Organizers   •   Scissors   •   Threads   •   Tools and Supplies   •   Tools For Design Transfer   •   Whats New?


Classes   •   Commissions   •   Contact Me   •   Credentials   •   Currency Convertor   •   Discount Opportunities   •   Email Me   •   Embroidery Tips   •   Free On-going Critique   •   Free Designs   •   Frequently Asked Questions   •   Gallery of Customers Embroideries   •   Gallery of Tanja's Embroideries   •   Gift Certificates   •   Help!   •   Home Page!   •   Links   •   Mailing List   •   Mail Order   •   Metal Thread Glossary   •   Newsletter   •   On-line Classes   •   Personal History   •   Private Classes   •   Publications   •   Purchase Details   •   Sale Items   •   Site Map   •   Slide Show   •     Shopping Cart   •   Teaching Schedule   •   Tell a Friend   •   What is Hand Embroidery?   •   Whats New?   •   Work in Progress   •   Wholesale

Home Page!

I Accept:

Solution Graphics

Tanja Berlin © Berlin Embroidery Designs  

Address: 1481 Hunterbrook Road NW, Calgary, Alberta T2K 4V4, Canada Telephone: (403) 274 6293  Email: tanja@berlinembroidery.com