Pulled or Drawn Thread Tutorial
Written and Designed by
Janet M. Davies
It is not until you really start looking around the
different styles of embroidery that you see how many embroidery styles use the techniques
of "Pulled Thread". Every 6th page of the "Batsford
Encyclopaedia of Embroidery
Techniques" has a different style of embroidery containing pulled threads. Pulled
Thread techniques have been used in nearly every continent for the last few centuries,
from Germany, Italy and England, just to mention a couple. Im not going to try and
name all the different embroidery styles that Pulled Thread is used in, just explain the
principals of what makes Pulled Thread.
discussions have been had on the difference of "Pulled Thread" and "Drawn
Thread". After hours of reading dozens of history books, this is the definition I
have come up with and description that has been used 99% of the time.
are stitched with tension to produce an open patterned
lacy effect to the fabric. No fabric threads have been
removed from the fabric.
Pulled Thread: When embroidery threads
Drawn Thread: When fabric threads are removed from the fabric and then embroidery stitches
are placed around the fabric thread grid to form an open lacy look. Tension is used 90% of
An "even weave"
fabric has to be used to produce an even look to the pulled stitches. Even weave meaning
that when the weft and warped fabric threads are counted in the same measurement, there
are the same amount of threads. Traditionally a very fine weave of fabric was used. But
today a #25 Linen/Cotton to a #20 Hessian can be used. Fabric used depends on the final
look the embroiderer wishes for. #25, means there are 25 fabric threads in an inch
measurement. Also referred to as "25 count" fabric. The main thing being that
the fabric weave is open enough, that when tension is
placed on the embroidery
stitches, an open look to the fabric is produced and the fabric does not pucker.
rule, the embroidery thread used should be the same thickness of the fabric threads
themselves. But if working on a contemporary design, then go with what suits the look you
are after. The main consideration of what thread to use is, it can take the tension used
while stitching and not break easily. For threads: Cottons, Silks, Metallic can be used if strong enough. A Crewel needle (sharp point) is used for
stitching the design lines around the area to be pulled. For the actual pulled thread
stitching, a Tapestry needle (blunt point) is best, as this helps not to catch the wrong
fabric thread when stitching.
white on white colours were used for Pulled Thread in Europe. I think that keeping with
monotone colours for stitching the pulled fillings suits this embroidery style best. For
if the pathway of the pulled stitching is highlighted to much against the colour of the
fabric, the lacy overall look of the stitched pattern can be lost. Outline stitches around
the pulled area of stitching can be coloured with great effect, but the pulled area
stitched the same as the fabric colour works best. This of course being my personal
opinion and Im sure there are some beautiful examples produced where
colours have been used for the pulled area. Just be aware when designing, that the
patterned look of the actual pulled area can be lost with too many colours.
centuries in Europe, flowers were the most popular elements used in designs. An abstract
flower bordering on a Jacobean look was used. The large petals and leaves gave way to
areas for pulled fillings. Today any object can be given to a design. "The world is
your oyster." Do not be afraid to look "outside the square" for
Naversom style from Sweden is a Drawn and Pulled Needlework.
I have a full tutorial page for it.
All photos below have been
designed and stitched by Janet M. Davies
Filet Lace Sampler
Below is a sampler
(centre of design) of some of the stitches used in Filet Lace. For
the sampler the rectangle outline is stitched to reinforce the area.
Then a grid of fabric threads are removed to make and open grid.
Then Ground stitch is then stitched diagonally across the grid to
bring the thread grid into square formations. Then woven/darned
filling stitching are stitched to make the inner design. Around
the outside of the sampler are bees and leaves stitched in the
Blackwork style. The whole design area is 12 x 14 cms ( 5 x 5 1/4
Click on the photos to see them larger
Above Left: the bee's wings are woven
Linen stitch. The centre body of the bee and legs are Darning
Above Right: A woven flower motif.
Left: Ground stitch
Loop stitch. It looks like Doves Eyes stitched in Hardanger
needlework but the process of stitching is slightly different.
Pulled Thread Christmas Elf
The above Elf was
stitched on linen fabric with 20 threads per inch. I used pearl 8
thread to stitch with. I highlighted the inside of his belt and bell
on his had with metallic thread. The whole design area is 30 x 18 cms ( 12 x
7 inches). Below are some close up photos of fillings used.
Above are some close up photos of
fillings used in the legs and hair.
Pulled Thread Holly Wreath
The above holly wreath was
stitched on linen fabric with 19 threads per inch. I used pearl 8
thread to stitch with. The whole design area is 28 x 23 cms ( 11 x 9
inches). Below are some close up photos of it.
Pulled Thread picture of Kowhai flowers.
Pulled Thread picture of Iris flowers. Below are close up photos of the
filling stitches used.
This mat has 3 different pulled fillings
The edges have been double sided Buttonhole stitched so the mat can be cut to shape
on the outline of the design. #20 Linen fabric. Stitched with Cotton a Broder thread.
Design size 23cm (9 inches) round.
This teddy bear has 7 different fillings. Chain stitched
outlines. Stitched on 25 count fabric. Design size, 14 x 12cm
(5 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches)
Each section of the fan has a different pulled thread filling. The circles are pulled
Buttonhole rings stitched with rayon thread. Rows of whipped Chain stitch and beads
decorate the edges. The flower and leaves are wired S
tumpwork. Design measure 18 x 13cm
Needle Case design.
9 different pulled fillings have been used for these
"Sea Babies". Pulled Buttonhole circles have been stitched to create air
bubbles. Variegated Cotton floss has been used for creature outlines. Same coloured thread
for fillings as fabric colour. Design size: 36 x 12 cm (14 x 5 inches).
"Pulled Thread Embroidery"
by Moyra McNeil.
ISBN 0-486 27857-3. This book has a large stitch glossary of different pulled fillings. No
actual projects to stitch but lots of valuable stitching, design and history information
Open Canvas" by Carolyn Ambuter. ISBN 0-14-046-651-7. Do not be mislead by the name
of this book. All of the embroidery is stitched on fabric not canvas. This book not only
contains Pulled Thread techniques but also, Hardanger, Needle weaving, Hemstitching,
Filet, Reticello & Hedebo. Excellent diagrams and information.