Updated on July 31, 2022 by Sarina
What is Drawn thread embroidery?
Drawn thread embroidery is a counted thread openwork embroidery technique in which thread (either weft or warp) is removed from the fabric and decorative stitches and knots are formed over the remaining thread in a pattern. The work is traditionally done white on white (white fabric and white thread). The holes (open spaces) made by the pulled thread form a part of the design.
In this work, as the name suggests, you cut and draw the thread/threads and remove it from the fabric. One thread or many threads are simultaneously removed according to the pattern. Once you get a knack for this embroidery it is easy to make fascinating embroidery designs with it.
Best fabric for the drawn thread work
The drawn thread work is mostly done on linen but you can make this in any regular weave fabric with visible threads. It is best if done on a fabric with a smooth plain-weave structure (with single yarns woven in an even count of warp and weft threads). A fine, tightly woven fabric is preferred over loosely woven fabric – the threads will hold up better.
There are two ways to do this embroidery – you can tie knots on bundles of thread drawn in a pattern or fill the design with filing stitches all over. Check out these two methods here
How to do Drawn thread embroidery
Method 1. Bundling and knotting
Mark the area or the design for the embroidery.
Work buttonhole stitches around the edges where you will be cutting the thread. This is done so that the thread would not unravel from the edges. A close buttonhole stitch over 2 or 3 threads along the edge is appropriate and enough to hold the design.
I have marked 3/4 inch on the design for pulling out the thread. Usually, thread is counted on the fabric to be cut but this is also an alternative. The thread is cut from the back and the hanging thread is trimmed.
Cut and pull the horizontal thread (weft thread of the fabric) inside the design area on the 3/4 inch area . You can begin by cutting the fabric along the buttonhole edge ensuring that you are cutting only the horizontal threads. The vertical threads should be intact.
Cut on both ends . Use seam ripper or a needle to lift the thread one by one from the middle. Hopefully, this will be easy for you.
You have to bundle thread on the top edge and bottom edge. These knots will also bundle the threads for knotting later. For that make simple knots following the steps below.
Weave the needle through the buttonhole stitches on the sides on the back of the fabric to anchor the thread. Now Bring the needle up 4 threads from the side as in the picture below.
Then take the needle from the side and come up at the same place you had come up earlier ( 4 threads from the side edge) , enclosing the needle in the twist of the thread. Tighten the thread. This will form your first knot; continue making knots like this every 4 threads.
The completed work will look like this
Do the same knots for the bottom edge as well.
Now you should start knotting the threads together in a pattern which is what the drawn thread embroidery is all about.
Thread the needle with a thicker thread than the embroidery floss or two strands of embroidery floss. Anchor the thread under the buttonhole stitches (no need to make knot) then come up to the face of the fabric. You will have to make the knots so that the thread is always taut against the fabric.
You have already bundled the threads. Now knot these thread bundles together.
Follow the steps below to knot these bundles.
Bring the needle and thread around the two thread bundles once (Overcast). Tighten.
Step 2 Now make the simple knot. Bring up the needle inside the thread twist as in the picture below
The finished work will look like this.
Method 2. Filling stitches
Another easy way to do the drawn thread work is to fill the whole design with simple filling stitches. Here in this example zig zag stitches are used to fill the design. There are many other filling stitches you can use in drawn thread embroidery . You can also create a different effect by varying the thickness of thread used ; eg one thread vs 4 threads to make the filling stitches. Experiment and see which you like the most.
Outline the design with a backstitch. Here because we are not removing as many threads as a close backstitch is enough to keep the design intact.
Pull the thread ; remove 3 threads after every 4 threads . If you want smaller holes, remove less thread like 2 rows of thread.
This is how it will look from the front.
Make the zig zag stitches over the threads through the open spaces made by the pulled thread.
Check out this post on hemstitching to know how to incorporate drawn thread work into the hem, ie, stitch the hem along with making a drawn thread work.