Drawn Thread Work and Cutwork

     © Lorelei Halley 2009

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Drawn Thread Work is a form of embroidery in which fabric threads are removed, by being pulled out (warp threads or weft threads).  Particular styles of this kind of work include hemstitching, needle woven drawn thread work borders, and Myreschka.   One of the early forms of Hedebo also falls into this class.  (Hedebo changed considerably in style and structure over time; some early forms were geometric cutwork and drawn work, and some later forms were curvilinear cutwork.)  See Compare for distinctions between pulled thread and drawn thread.  Hardanger, reticella, and Ruskin work also involve cutting rectangular holes in the fabric, so they are more properly called "cutwork".

There are 2 structural classes of drawn thread embroidery: 

Threads withdrawn in one direction only (just the corners will have threads drawn in 2 directions):

By Jenny Bargh of Sydney -

 637       640

  642 This one is a sampler, a sort of test piece on scrap fabric, but it is interesting to see how she thinks about planning a design.

A link to her blog: 


By Margaret  Bartlett   The first row shows the order of working as she adds detail to the piece.

    drawn thread embroidery 650

   651                          652

Marg's blog addresses:


  234 c/o MFB  This is hemstitching.  I can't quite tell what the diamond shaped part in lower center is: it may be a pulled thread work background.

   279 JL   drawn thread work      drawn thread work

More drawn thread photos

Threads withdrawn in 2 directions:

Jenny Bargh's pieces:

 635 drawn thread embroidery 636   638  639

     reticella 641   643 reticello 644 645


Pieces by Grace Lister:  In these she is using Russian drawn ground as the background, which means removing vertical and horizontal threads across the whole fabric (except where the white motif is).  She has left the white original fabric as the motif.  In the 2nd piece she did not cut all across, but did some interesting things with diagonal rows.

    667       671

 Grace Lister's photo page: 

Grace's Ruskin work:**tnN6k1oagnlnQsCvXft6phMJwdbbCQE76BNb2nikXSisf0lR07vyBhci20EL2ZSinFkP6SL8uwOf6BxMuIxru*/Ruskinworktraycloth1.JPG*Uhka2EkpzVpO*J8EmqBFZebo7EATWbX9H9ZPoSdSKJTS4pTlJqdeX65b3JIhsE/Ruskinworktraycloth2.JPG

Examples by Unknown Embroiderers

232 c/o MFB  This has a drawn thread background.  The yellow appears to be darning worked over the withdrawn area to fill in the motifs, a common practice.  The green griffons are fabric appliquéd on top of the drawn thread background. 362 JL work in process      
See Hardanger also.        




  Cutwork generally means a design where the cut threads do not follow the weave of the cloth itself, but are curvilinear or irregular shapes.  These shapes are outlined in buttonhole stitch, Hedebo buttonhole or overcast to stabilize the cut edge and keep the fabric from fraying.  The shapes are then filled with needlelace stitches.

       296 c/o JL   This one may be Hedebo.  

More Hedebo:


From a modern Hedebo workshop:*G0R9LhgpeJJHEd9fJ1SvJc9jiB7hYOzHHU4Av-OsrqlDM14CGRwOP3145zYzKifZ7GPC1DQDbPbe*zMSkVpQ-3mPkoRgFcXLjpXWEi514_/Hebedo.jpg

Another Hedebo:*e0g7BowgRIy*jfHNwMz5nazwvqAqO6err55KdS8F-bDox9TT3lS0fWyOXgnb/HedeboPincushion.jpg

A site with history, how-to, and photos:

    365 c/o BH      

Also see



Other online sources for photos of drawn thread work:

Carolyn Foley's blog    Look for tag "embroidery"        drawn and pulled corner        the actual piece

She has a wide variety of different styles of drawn thread and pulled thread work, all very well made.

D. Paula Banerji

Yvette Stanton.  Writes books on some ethnic drawn thread techniques.


Mary Corbett                  Specializes in goldwork, but also drawn thread and whitework

stitchinfingers photos search on drawn thread            also do search on whitework, pulled

Susan                           fantastic drawn thread   

Elissa K.

    Blog:              about her whitework sampler

Historic Italian drawn thread and early needlelace:

Julie Thomson 


  Needle Lace      Pulled Thread Work     Abbreviations  

        Last edited:   08/30/14