Arabella De Mere

Drawn Work Handkerchief

Originally submitted as part of the Laurels’ Challenges in A.S. LV.

Original link:

After seeing an example of drawn work posted online, I got the idea to try it. I have never done this kind of embroidery, and was pleased with how it turned out. I made it into a mini handkerchief.

Body: 32 count linen

Thread: white dmc embroidery floss

Lining: navy blue silk

Finished measurements: 5.5in x 5.5 in

Drawn work is an open work embroidery technique that requires you to carefully remove threads from a piece of fabric, then use different gathering and wrapping techniques to make patterns with the remaining threads.

This technique has been used in many cultures, and has been seen as far back as 13 century Germany alter cloths. Traditionally this technique is done as white work embroidery, which is white/off white embroidery threads used on matching colored white/off white base fabric.

You have two options to remove the threads. You can cut them and stitch over the cut edge, or you can snip the middle of the thread, carefully unweave it, then re-weave the ends into its self, creating a selvedged edge, which is how I worked my piece.

Things I would change:

  1. I would want a more even base fabric. Even though this 32 count linen is sold for embroidery, the weave was a bit loose, and I would have liked to increase the thread count to at least 36. The threads were uneven in size, weakened and broke after some manipulation.
  2. Originally, I had a different stitch along two of the edges. I learned that to use that stitch, I would need to remove more threads. I decided to unstitch what I had done, on those two sides, and re-stitch using a different method. I think the new stitch uses the space in a better way. This process was made more difficult, as the piece was already off the embroidery frame, lined and backed with mitered edges in the front. So all manipulation of the embroidery had to be done with the piece in it’s finished configuration.
  3. I would like to work on my technique for corners. I wanted a square open area, but due to the threads not having much body, they were unable to keep in straight lines at a couple points, and they bend towards the connecting threads.
  4. At one point when I was unstitching, some threads of the original fabric were pulled out. I then took my thread and replaced those missing threads creating a new woven fabric to work with.

In conclusion, this new to me technique was a challenge! I learned a lot that I can apply to future projects, and I’m happy with the result of my labors.

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