In this tutorial I’ll show you how to make basic drawn thread work by hand. Drawn thread work is a counted thread embroidery: some warp or weft threads are removed and the remaining threads are grouped together with hemstitches. Drawn thread work has been popular for a long time: It was already used in the Middle Ages (source), and was still popular in the Victorian and Edwardian era and the 1920s. ‘Drawn-thread work forms a connecting link between embroidery and lace work […] it is very durable, and washes well.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2)
- white fabric
- white sewing thread
I’m using (UK) muslin: I had some muslin scraps leftover from my Victorian sheer summer dress. Muslin is a white, thin, sheer, loosely woven cotton fabric. But you can use linen or any other fabric for drawn thread embroidery.
Pull out between 2 and 10 threads.
Pick up 5 threads – you can also pick up more or less threads.
Go around the same threads and pick up two or three threads of the fabric above. Pull tight.
Then pick up the next 5 threads.
Repeat the stitches on the other side.
This is the ladder stitch. There are many other stitches used in drawn-thread work, such as the double hem stitch which forms a zigzag pattern or needle woven spiders for a lace-like insertion with medallions. Here’s a drawn thread work sampler of my grandmother which she made in 1950 in the first year of her dressmaker’s apprenticeship. And another sampler with ladder hemstitching and tucks.
I used the drawn thread embroidery for my DIY lavender sachets.
Here you’ll find more of my lace tutorials.