Category Archives: Stitching the periodic table

All elements partly done

From element 1 to element 94 are now all partly done. The parts of each element with linen thread are all complete. This gives an overall overview of the periodic table and where there is room for additional motifs.

hør færdig

The elements at the top are completely done. The rest of them are missing the parts made with the silk thread and the beads indicating the electrons and the filled orbitals. Besides this I “only” need to stitch some decorative motif and make the finishing before my periodic table can be hanging on the wall in my living room.

If you look closely at the picture with an observant eye, you will notice two elements being there two times. The reason for this is that IUPAC(International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) is in the process of making a recommendation relating to the placement of these elements. I hope they reach to a conclusion at their next meeting.

A link to the IUPAC project regarding this.

Shells, orbitals, and where to end the system

I have started to only stitch the linen thread part of each element, why I will explain further down in this blog post.

I have now stitched so much that I had to decide which element to stop at. There have been many considerations and options to choose from, but I have ended with Plutonium as the last element based on a combination of these two thoughts:

  • The half-life on the longest living isotope, so that all with a certain half-life are included in the system (which is around the age of our planet)
  •  That I like the idea of ending with three elements named after three planets on a row (which were defined as planets at the time of the naming of the elements)

This is why the last stitched element in this periodic system is the actinide Plutonium.

This ending on the amount of elements has given room for the orbitals names, the shells names, and the maximum number of electrons in each orbital – hopefully it is going to be easy to understand for those seeing the finisched project.

Elektron placering zoom

The shells names are under Plutonium. The orbitals names on the right side of Europium and the maximum numbers of electrons on the rigth side of Gadolinium.

Elektron placering

There is probably going to go some time before the next update on this project, since I am counting on it being when I have stitched all the linen thread on all the elements.


Why only linen thread?

Efter stitching more and more the work became more and more difficult to handle – which I had to find a solution to. The solution was to mount the work on a scroll bar and use a stand for it.

Set-up with frame

To protect what I have already stitched (especially to avoid the silk and the pearls from harm) I roll a white towel in the roll also.
At the same time I have started to only stitch with the linen thread on each element. The plan is to mark the rest of the pattern – the part which is going to be around the periodic system – and stitch this at the same time as stitching the silk and pearls on each element.

This is why I am only stiching with the linen thread for the moment.

vinklet elektronplacering

Group 3: Sc,Y,La, Ac

I have finally begun on the smaller groups – and have stitched the first element which doesn’t have an i in it’s name: Lanthanum.

gruppe/group 3

As you can see valence electrons begin to be in more than just one orbital per element (remember I illustrate them with the light coloured pearls).

Lanthanum and actinium gives the following groups, which are next in my stitching plan, their names: The Lanthanides and the Actinides.

Below here is a picture of the progress so far.  The ruler has cm as unit and i added to give you an idea of the size.

juni/june 2014

The alkaline-earth metals

The secon row in my periodic table is now done – the alkaline-earth metals – i had to restitch a bit because og wrong counting (the name and short name of strontium was placet to high – and that was very visible)

Here they are:


This group contain, among others, Calcium. Calcium is an important part of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), which is in limestone, bones, seashells, et cetera.

Some types of calcium carbonate can have variable amounts of magnesium or strontium incorporated, vere they then replace calcium. They can do this because they have the same amount of valence electrons (in the same type of orbitals, here the s-orbital) – the valence electrons are illustrated by the light coloured perls in my table. Naturally their sizes has to be teken into consideration and therefore this can not happen i alle types of calcium carbonate

These relations down each group i partly why the periodic table is such a practical tool.

I an already stitching the next couple of elements and it is starting to look like a table, so I will give you a little sneak peak.


Hydrogen and the alkali metals

Hydrogen and the alkali metals make up the first row in my stitched periodic system.

The most obvious relation between these elements is there lonely valence electron – leading to only one light coloured pearl in my periodic system.

I began stitching the linen part first in all these elements, thereafter adding the pearls and finishing with the silk.

Linen threadHør


hør og perler

Linen thread and pearls


hør perler og slike

Complete first row


Since I wanted to stitch theit full latin names I went looking for a list with alle their names together. I could easiely find their latin names along with the normal information if I looked each element up – but I wanted a collected list since it is easier to have in front of me when I stitch – And I found that I was looking at – along with entertaining intormation about their naming in general  on the Elementymology website.

It is worth a visit :  Elementymology and Elements multidict


While I have been stitching the full names and the number small changes have been made to the letters. I have not yet adjusted my “overview design” as I have not yet stitched alle the letters in the alphabet and therefor may make further tiny changes. But I do follow the overall design and is still satisfeid with my colour choices.

Hygrogen var my first posibility to stitch the symbol for gaseous phases (at standard temp. and pressure) while all the other until now are in a solid  phase (at standard temp. and pressure)

Some close-ups of each element (except francium) are below. I am not the best photographer, but hopefully you will enjoy the pictures anyway.







The final design and Francium

While stitching the first element on my periodic table the final design an pattern has been adjusted and polished. I needed to decide which stitches to go where and with which thread. I ended with chain stitch, back stitch and wupped running stitch as my main stitches. I have abandoned the idea of each element having its ovn signature speciality stitch – finding over 100 different ones, which would look nice in the same size, seem like a very big project. My fiance helped me making the final decision, because he thought it would look to messy. I followed his advise and used his idea about indicating the fase each element is in at standard temperature and pressure with three different stitches.

Beginning to stitch:orbitalerne - the orbitals

I chose to use pearls (in the size 9/0) for the electrons instead of knots for several reasons. Mostly because the fabric is semi transparent making the thread fron knot to knot visible. An other reason was my wish for more texture and variation in the design. 

Pearls and thread to attach them:perlerne - the pearls

Originally I wanted a pearl for every single electron in the orbital areas – but it got a little overcrowded.for mange perler - too many pearls

Afteasking other people, I removed the pearls and used a new approach in adding them. I every filled orbital I added one dark pearl and for every valence electron in an orbital I added one light pearl (for francium this was only one). 

 Francium – complete:Francium Francium vinklet - angled

The information I have desided to have in this periodic table are:

  • The full latin name in back stitch, with the silk thread.
  • The short name in wipped running stitch, with the running stitch in the linen thread and the wipped part in the silk thread.
  • Which fase the element is in at standard temperature and pressure(for francium solid), with the silk thread.
  • Shells are devided with chain stitches and each orbital fills one chain stitch in the linen thread.
  • Element number in back stitch, with the silk stitch.
  • Radioactive symbol in linen thread.
  • One dark pearl indicate a filled orbital
  • One ligth pearl is attached per valence electron in the orbital

After stitching francium, I redraw my pattern getting the final version. I have used francium as the example in this pattern. 
A pdf version of my core pattern can be found here.

My pattern in jpg format:periodic_system _core_pattern_and_francium


Thread and fabric

It is difficult to choose thread and fabric. So many possibilities. and it is what set the mood for the entire project. I have seen stitch projects which uses the same pattern but loot very different because of thread and fabric choice.

I have thought many thoughts about this – multi coloured, pink scale, two toned ?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI decided to have two different threads because to many colours maybe would make it too chaotic. I enden in the blue-green scale with variegated thread. One in silk and one in linen. They are dyed with the same colour palette they look nicely different as you can see on the picture. I  bought the thread from the webshop Stef Francis

The fabric have 14 threads per cm and is, i I recall it correctly, linen. I bought it at a  local shop “Broderi Moderne” which I am lucky to live near by.

Early planning

In the past I got the idea to stitch a version of the periodic table.
After a lot of thinking I decided it should contain the following information:
The latin names
The short version of the names
Overview of the eletrons and ther placement
lack of stabile isotopes (radioaktivity)
along with a speciality stitch for each element

The next thing I did was to design a basic layout for the elementsstrategi periodisk system

Thereafter the overview of the entire table (on two A4 sheets)


(In pdf format: Overall plan for the periodic table)