Venetian cutwork – not to be confused with Venetian needle lace – is a historical cutwork embroidery imitating Venetian needle lace (aka point de Venise). So Venetian embroidery is cutwork unlike point de Venise which is needle lace.
Venetian Cutwork Embroidery – The Basics
What Is Venetian Cutwork Embroidery?
Venetian cutwork embroidery is a historical cutwork and whitework embroidery. To make Venetian cutwork, spaces in the fabric are cut away. Then the cut-out motifs are reinforced with buttonhole stitches. And the spaces are filled with needle lace stitches.
‘Punto Tagliato when properly done is very strong and durable […] I have never found a thread give or pull out in my work’ (The New Lace Embroidery (Punto Tagliato), 1905).
Venetian Embroidery Vs. Venetian Lace
Even though there’s a similarity in name, Venetian cutwork, aka Venetian embroidery, shouldn’t be confused with Venetian needle lace. Venetian cutwork embroidery is an imitation of Venetian needle lace (aka point de Venise). However, Venetian embroidery is cutwork (aka punto tagliato) unlike point de Venise which is needle lace. The difference is that Venetian embroidery has a fabric foundation, whereas Venetian lace is made only with a needle and thread (without a fabric foundation).
‘Venetian embroidery […] an imitation on stuff of Venetian lace. Real Venetian point is entirely needle-made; in the embroidered imitations of it, the stuff takes the place of the needle-made lace foundation. To make it more like the original, however, the ground is seldom left plain, but is covered with fancy stitches’ (Encyclopedia of needlework, 1890).
Basic Embroidery Stitches Of Venetian Cutwork
In Venetian cutwork embroidery the cut-out motifs are usually filled with needle lace stitches. The basic embroidery stitches of Venetian cutwork are buttonhole stitch, running stitch (to outline the motif) and various lace filling stitches (that are also used in Venetian needle lace). Lace filling stitches are mostly a variation of open and close buttonhole stitches. But there are also other lace filling stitches like woven wheels, twisted bars etc. Also, Venetian embroidery is usually made without surface embroidery like satin stitches.
‘The lines both above and below the cut space are done in buttonhole stitch. It is better to do them in buttonhole than any other sort of work in order to keep the same style throughout and the Venise feeling. All solid embroidery should be avoided.’ (Priscilla Hedebo And Cutwork Book, 1916, pp. 26ff.)
Raised Vs. Flat Venetian Cutwork Embroidery
Venetian embroidery is usually worked in very high relief with padded embroidery stitches imitating raised Venetian point (aka gros point de Venise). But it can also be worked flat imitating flat Venetian point (aka point plat de Venise).
‘The space to be buttonholed, must be well padded, for thereon depends the roundness of the embroidery. For this purpose take 6 or 8 threads of Coton à repriser D.M.C No. 25, and fasten them down on the pattern with loose stitches, laying on extra threads, and cutting them gradually away, according to the width the line is to be.’ (Encyclopedia of needlework, 1890)
Buttonhole Bars Of Venetian Cutwork
In Venetian embroidery, the connecting bars are covered with buttonhole stitches. And the bars are usually made with picots. But the bars can also be made plain without picots.
‘All the brides [bars] throughout the work are also buttonhole stitch, and bear close resemblance to the brides in the point Venise.’ (Priscilla Hedebo And Cutwork Book, 1916, pp. 26ff.)
Difference Between Venetian Cutwork And Other Historical Cutwork
Venetian cutwork is a beautiful lacy cutwork which is similar to other historical cutwork embroidery like Italian cutwork, Roman cutwork, Richelieu embroidery or Colbert embroidery. However, there are some differences.
Related: How To Make Italian Cutwork
First, Venetian embroidery is all done with buttonhole stitches (including the bars) to imitate Venetian needle lace. Secondly, unlike Roman cutwork, Venetian cutwork is made with bars. Third, there’s usually no surface embroidery (satin stitches etc.) as in other historical cutwork like Colbert embroidery, Renaissance cutwork or Spachtel work. Fourth, the cut-out spaces of Venetian embroidery are filled with needle lace stitches in contrast to Richelieu embroidery. And fifth, Venetian cutwork is often worked in high relief (using padded buttonhole stitches) like Colbert embroidery.
How To Make Venetian Cutwork Embroidery
- cotton fabric (you can also use linen or silk fabric)
- cotton thread
- optional: embroidery hoop
1. Outline The Motif With Running Stitches
Mark the pattern on the fabric. Then outline the motif with running stitches.
‘Run in the outline with close stitches, being careful not to draw it tight so as to ripple the edge.’ (Priscilla Hedebo And Cutwork Book, 1916, pp. 26ff.)
Optional: Make bars like in Italian cutwork.
‘The brides [bars] in this embroidery are carried from side to side of the motifs as one works, and those stitches which are carried across and on which the buttonholing is done must be one, three, five, etc., because after having thrown the thread across one must get back in the buttonhole-work to the place from which one started.’ (Priscilla Hedebo And Cutwork Book, 1916, pp. 26ff.)
2. Cut The Fabric
Turn the fabric to the wrong side. And carefully snip the fabric up to the outline like in broderie anglaise.
By the way, you can also cut the fabric after stitching around the motif with buttonhole stitches and filling the spaces with lace stitches (step 3 & 4 below). But I find it easier if you cut the fabric first. It also creates stronger, more durable and tidier Venetian cutwork when you cut it first, turn the fabric under and then cover the turned fabric edge with buttonhole stitches.
3. Stitch Around The Motif With Buttonhole Stitches
Using the needle, turn the fabric under and cover the running stitch outline with buttonhole stitches. Stitch all around the motif with buttonhole stitches before you proceed to fill in the spaces with lace stitches.
4. Fill The Spaces With Lace Stitches
Using different lace filling stitches, fill the cut-out spaces with needle lace stitches. For this Venetian cutwork flower, I used plain net stitch, double net stitch, twisted bars and small wheels like in the Encyclopedia Of Needlework from 1890 by Thérèse de Dillmont.
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