CharacteristicsMost commonly worked on an evenweave fabric, usually linen Wide range of stitches pulled tightly Pulled fabric, not to be confused with drawn thread work, originally was a form of whitework. Whitework is a general term for monochromatic embroidery in which the fabric and thread are the same colour. Traditionally, both were white or cream coloured. The emphasis of whitework is on the contrast of texture created by the stitches on the ground fabric. In pulled fabric embroidery this contrast of texture is achieved by stitching the patterns with a very tight tension.
During the 17th C, lace was a very important fashion accessory. The bobbin and needle laces from France, Germany and Low Countries were heavily taxed and very expensive, too expensive for anyone other than the very rich, so techniques were developed to emulate lace.
This lacy embroidery on fine linen handkerchiefs, collars, cuffs and petticoats allowed the lower classes to embellish their clothing in much the same way as the upper classes. Pulled fabric became an important part of fashion.
In Britain, Denmark, Germany, and the Low Countries exquisite designs were stitched on fine white muslin, lawn or cambric which closely resembled lace designs. In Scotland it was called Ayrshire Work, in Denmark Tonder Lace, in Germany Pointe de Dresde and in Belgium Flemish Work.
Traditionally, pulled fabric was worked in self colour, relying on contrasting areas of texture to produce a lacy effect. Pulled fabric on muslin was taught to young girls in Europe and North America and was frequently advertised in the curricula of boarding schools. Fine work was also done in Ireland where the children were paid a pittance to keep the needles threaded so as not to waste time.