DRAWN THREAD WORK

Characteristics

Threads are cut and withdrawn from the base fabric Corners, with both warp and weft threads withdrawn, are filled with stitches Stitches: loop stitch, woven wheels, spiders or fans Remaining loose threads formed into groups are tied together with coral stitch, wrapping or whipping, buttonhole or covered over with darning or needleweaving. Generally hemstitching and/or buttonhole on edges of withdrawn threads Fabric: traditionally worked on white or natural linen with same colour thread Designs: geometric. Threads: the thread drawn out of the material was once used to work the lacey stitches, but now linen or cotton threads in matching colour are used. Thread should be the same size as the thread drawn from the linen. Uses: for lingerie, handkerchiefs, sheets, tray cloths and tea cloths, towels, nightdress cases and other household requisites.

History

Drawn thread work, one of the earliest and most ancient forms of openwork embroidery, originating in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Fragments of, Coptic or Egyptian needleweaving on linen from The First century AD, exist.
There is no doubt that the embroidery mentioned in the Scriptures as being used for vestments of the priests and the hanging of the Temple, was drawn thread work. Arabic borders on fine linen also included needleweaving.

In time, this work was introduced into European countries – Greece, Italy, Russia, Germany and Spain under the names PUNTO TIRATO (threads drawn one way) and PUNTO TAGLIATO (threads drawn both ways). Also known as Hamburg Point, Indian Work, Broderie Nancy, Dresden Point and Sicilian Drawn-thread Work.

Still later it was used in Norwegian, Slav, Hungarian and Romanian national costume.
Towards the end of the 16th C, the art of embroidering on linen was taken up in England by members of the Royal Household, who being clever at lace making, introduced lace stitches intermingled with drawn thread work to enrich their clothes and household linen.

Elizabethan portraits show spectacular ruffs decorated with drawn thread work.

The embroidery of the 16th C had such a large number of threads cut and withdrawn that they were strengthened and decorated with darning and needleweaving, and with threads added diagonally and in curves which were held in place with bars. Large open areas were filled with close buttonhole stitches to form techniques known as RETICELLA and PUNTO IN ARIA.
(Latin and French terms were used, as they were the universal languages of the time, just as English is today.)

In the 19th and early 20th centuries an enormous quantity of drawn thread work was produced on linen and cotton to decorate bed and table linen. Trailing designs of stem stitch, satin stitch with crochet borders created a rich impression.

Many countries gave their name to particular methods
RUSSIAN: mesh background with a solid design or several rows of hemstitching and needleweaving spaced to form a pattern.
GREEK: wide borders with a skeleton of threads, regular repeating open areas closely stitched in buttonhole with bars and picots, woven wheels and quartered corners.
ENGLISH: Ruskin work under the influence of John Ruskin in the Lake District.

References

The Anchor Manual of Needlework, Batsford London 1990
Wark, Edna Drawn Fabric Embroidery, Batsford, London , 1979
McNeil, Moyra, Drawn Thread Embroidery, Batsford, London 1989
Weldon's Encyclopedia of Needlework London
Dawson, B. Whitework Embroidery Batsford, London , 1987

©Valerie Cavill, May 2007

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