Anatomical stitching


Inspired by the anatomical illustrations on display in Under the skin: anatomy, art and identity, we have created this embroidery pattern from a woodcut showing layers of the abdominal muscles. From Isagogae breves per lucide ac uberrime in anatomiam humani corporis by Jacopo Berengario da Carpi, published in Bologna in 1523, the figure in the image lifts his own skin to reveal the texture and shapes of the muscles beneath.


Stages in sewing an anatomical embroidery


Download the embroidery pattern here


Level: intermediate

This pattern uses a lot of half-stitches which may be a little difficult if you haven’t done much embroidery before. If you want to have a go, make sure you go in/out of your fabric at each point where the line on the pattern changes direction.

The pattern provides the outline - fill in the patterns of the muscles in any way you like.

Embroidery supplies

The minimum materials you need to sew your own Isagogae breves abdominal muscles are:

  • Thread in a colour of your choice (we used DMC black, but it would look good in any colour)
  • Fabric (we used 28 count linen, equivalent to 14 count Aida.)
  • A needle

It will also help if you have:

  • Scissors
  • An embroidery hoop

Finished examples


Completed colour and black and white embroideries

You can see the original woodcut in the online exhibition here.

Happy sewing!

Lowri Jones senior curator 


Lowri Jones ,
Senior curator

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