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project: cross my heart dish towel

Cross My Heart Dish Towel

An on-going goal of mine is to try out new (or sometimes more accurately, old) forms of embroidery. Not only are they interesting, but they help me stretch and cause me to think differently about the "free embroidery" style that I love. Chicken scratch has long been on my list.

Chicken scratch uses cross stitches and works them on gingham fabric. The squares that are woven as the pattern of the fabric are perfect as a framework for your stitching, and there are all kinds of wonderful designs that you can create this way.

If you'd like to try this technique to make a dish towel, or anything gingham and chicken scratchy, here's a walkthrough of how mine went!

Cross My Heart Dish Towel

When I found this red gingham dish towel at IKEA (in their holiday section last fall), I instantly pictured it stitched with hearts for Valentines Day. But if you didn't catch one of these, fear not...gingham towels like this are usually not too hard to find.

I chatted with my mom about this project, knowing that the towel would end up as hers, and we both agreed that blue would be a nice color for the hearts. I wanted something that would both stand out and look nice in a Scandinavian kitchen. And it gave me an excuse to use some of the vintage floss that I tend to hoard.

Cross My Heart Dish Towel

First of all, a towel gets washed a lot, so that means knots are needed. They're hidden on the back of this, but trust me. I have really secure knots going on.

Next, it's a good idea to start from the center, so I folded the towel in half and made my first X on the very middle along the lower edge.

I started with the outline of the heart (which I sketched out on scrap paper) on only the squares with both red and white. That's kind of traditional for chicken scratch. But it didn't look right to me.

Cross My Heart Dish Towel

I decided to fill in in the center of the heart...and like that much better. But one little heart isn't enough, so I added one on each side of the first.

Cross My Heart Dish Towel

And to finish it off, I stitched running stitch as a border above and below the hearts, running from edge to edge.

Cross My Heart Dish Towel

It's simple and sweet and a fun way to show you care! (It also reminds me of the stitching I did last year around this time!)


  1. I'm Sara, an Italian blogger. I think your blog is fantastically wonderful. every post you write is interesting and I read them gladly!!


  2. Good Morning, Mollie! You are up early today. Love this because it is so simple. Have ever done traditional Chicken Scratch before? I tried with pearl cotton but wasn't happy with the look. I used a pink gingham with the intent of making placemats for Valentine's Day. Hmm, maybe I try it again with plain floss?


    1. I don't think I've ever seen it done with pearl cotton...I imagine it got rather bunchy. Definitely try plain floss. I used all six strands on this, although with thinner cotton gingham, less strands may be a better choice.

  3. wonderful idea! I never thought of using the gingham as a cross stitch! its perfect! I see holiday dishtowels in my future! thank you for the great idea. (too many exclamation points?)

  4. Ha ha, great minds think alike! I just tried some chicken scratch embroidery too:


    I love the look of blue floss on red gingham, too.

  5. Chicken scratch is one of my favorite ways to embroider - so easy and pretty! My daughter has made several napkins for me out of a tiny green gingham check, but I have to use the bigger squares for these old eyes :-)


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