Pulled Thread Embroidery : 5 basic stitches used in this work

Pulled thread Embroidery work is a counted thread whitework embroidery technique mostly worked on loosely woven fabric. In Pulled thread work, holes are made on the fabric surface, by pulling the thread stitched onto the fabric in different filling embroidery stitches. This work produces a fabric which looks like lace.


In this work, no thread is cut away or drawn, as in drawn thread embroidery. The thread is simply pulled hard as the stitches are made in a pattern. The lacy effect of this work makes it a favorite for decorating household linen-like napkins, lingerie as well as scarves

Fabric: This is a work best done on loosely woven fabrics, which can be pulled easily. You can use medium weave fabric as well; as long as the pulled thread work shows clear attractive holes without any puckering or unevenness. Loosely woven Linen is a favorite choice for doing this work

Thread: The color of the thread used in this work is usually the same as the background fabric. Traditionally it is worked white on white

Pearl cotton thread  is preferred because it is stronger to withstand the tension of pulling the threads.A tapestry needle is used. 

Here, the pattern made by the holes is more important, so instead of a contrasting colored thread which will stand apart, a self-colored thread is preferred.Try to find the same shade as the fabric and you will find that the holes form a lacy pattern which is what the embroidery is all about.

The pulled thread stitch can be worked as a border stitch or as a filling stitch. But usually, it is used as a filling stitch.

An outline stitch is made first and then the filling is done. The outline is done in a thicker thread; any braided stitch can be worked as a border stitch

For the filling stitches, you can thread your thick needle with three strands of embroidery thread. Do not start the stitching with a knot as this could end up on the top of the fabric through the holes. Start from elsewhere and carry on to the design.

1 Pin stitch

pin stitch

This is a hemming stitch which is also a pulled thread stitch. This is usually made along the hem of napkins and other linen. 

making cloth napkins

2 Four-sided stitch

pulled thread work

This is the most commonly used filling stitch for pulled thread work. Just follow the picture below (stitch direction is as per the numbers) and you will be able to make the basic blocks of this four-sided stitch. 

pulled thread stitch

3 Three sided stitch

Another easy filling stitch. You can repeat the stitches on the same hole so that the effect is pronounced.

pulled thread stitches

4 Window filling

This filling stitch uses a continuous zig-zag stitch to make the pulled thread embroidery effect. 

5 Eyelet Filling

This filling stitch is made by making cartwheel shapes. You will be making the cartwheel shapes in a continuous fashion throughout the fabric. 

pulled thread stitches

Pull tightly and make very close spokes ( each of the bars connecting the centre of a wheel to its outer edge.) and you will get a more lacy effect

Chikankari work incorporates pulled thread embroidery as a major part of its designs.


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