Guest blog series: Cutwork

by kath_red on 05/03/2011

in Fibre+Needlework, Guest Series 2011

Welcome Maya from Little Treasures to Whipup.

Hello everybody! I cannot tell you how excited I am to be here! My name is Maya and I blog over at Little Treasures. My blog is about crafts and I am always elbows deep in projects. Drop by and say hi!

Today I would like to write about embroidered lace commonly known as cutwork. Cutwork embroidery is an enchanting and eye-pleasing form of needlework where portions of the background fabric, as the name suggests, are cut out and discarded, while the edges are worked over in variety of stitches (satin and buttonhole stitches being the ones used the most).

Once used to decorate bed linen, this method swiftly turned into a trend of decorating clothing. There are many kinds of cutwork, the simplest being Broderie Anglaise while the most elaborate of all is the Reticella cutwork (see example below).

The basic steps into employing cutwork are the following:

Transfer the pattern onto a cotton piece or linen and use the reinforced running stitch to stitch it all.

Carefully cut the fabric paying attention to those portions having bars. Cut carefully under the bars.

Use the buttonhole / satin stitches to embroider the piece tucking the cut-out piece underneath. * Note: Some people make the stitches first and then when finished do the cutwork, which should be immensely precise or you may cut into the stitched part, thus I am safer with this method.

You are done. When washed and pressed with a hot iron the cutwork will gain a fabulous, rich and neat look.

Since I am addicted to colors I used cutwork for my dress and made a necklace.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Siobhan March 5, 2011 at 6:49 am

Wow! :)


2 Maya March 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

Hi Kathreen!
Thank you for the lovely feature!
Just one suggestion: the link leading to the dress (the last link) leads somewhere else and not on the dress. Could you fix that please? Thank you a bunch!


3 Stacy March 5, 2011 at 10:34 am

This is stunning…and lots of patience must be used when creating something this beautiful.


4 cathy March 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm



5 Edie March 5, 2011 at 4:43 pm

yes, please fix the link to the dress; the link to your blog, within the text, is incorrect as well.
also, what did you use to stiffen the cutwork necklace?


6 kath_red March 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Sorry just fixed that last link


7 Maya March 5, 2011 at 8:20 pm

The trick for the stiff necklace Edie is starch.


8 KJ@letsgoflyakite March 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Hi Maya, I love cutwork (but I didn’t know it was called that) and starch! Wonderful, beautiful and informative post. I have a couple of older “cut work” pieces as table linens that I absolutely cherish. They are timeless.


9 Edie March 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Thanks Maya!


10 sofy March 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm

A nice post.
I actually cannot figure out whether I like cutwork or not…
I have quite a few pieces I have inherited from my grandmother that I cannot decide upon.
But, I must acknowledge the time, energy and love that was point into the pieces – and still is of course…
Fascinating to know that some actually still do this craft – and at some point in my life I am so going to try it!
Keep up the good work:)


11 kath_red March 9, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Cutwork looks fantastic – definitely a ‘slow’ craft! But sometimes you have to make time to slow down and appreciate the traditions.


12 Rosali March 8, 2011 at 10:59 am

Gracias por compartir el tutorial, es muy lindo. Saludos.


13 Seanna Lea March 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Lovely. I’ve done hardanger before, but it has been ages. I was wondering how close they were, but it looks like the method is completely different.


14 Seanna Lea March 8, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Urk. Mostly in order of operations that is. I remember doing all the stitching first before doing any cutting in hardanger.


15 Maya March 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm

An important update: I ‘ve consulted my mom (experienced in cutwork) and she suggested using interface for a stiffer look. How ingenious is that??
I am currently working on an interfaced piece and it’s true magic!


16 kath_red March 14, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Hi Maya
Thanks for the update – I know many crafters are going to be putting cutwork on their to-do list now :)


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