Royal School of Needlework

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See examples of Whitework techniques


The term apples to a variety of techniques ranging from the bold stitches of Mountmellick and Hardanger to the delicate work of Ayrshire and Fine White embroidery. Traditionally worked with white thread on white fabric and used for bridal and christening wear and ecclesiastical embroidery.  Whitework techniques adapt well to contemporary designs and the introduction of colour.

Ayrshire work - developed in 19th century Scotland and traditionally used on christening gowns and handkerchiefs using satin stitch, eyeletsand needlelace fillings. You should have some experience of whitework before you attempt this technique.

Broderie Anglaise - a delicate technique using cutwork and satin stitch to achieve lace-like effects. Also called “eyelet” embroidery.

Hardanger - a Norwegian technique traditionally worked on even-weave fabric using counted and drawn thread in geometric “Kloster Blocks” to create patterns.

Mountmellick - an Irish technique worked on firm cotton with matt threads of various thicknesses to produce a textured effect. Ideal for newcomers to whitework.

Drawn thread work - creating stitches on fabric where the warp and/or weft threads have been pulled out to form the foundation of a pattern.

Pulled thread work - the patterns textures are achieved by pulling some threads together and others apart.

Richelieu - a cutwork technique using eyelets and ladders.

Shadow work - the stitches are worked on the reverse side of a transparent fabric to give a shadowed effect when viewed from the right side.

Fine whitework - delicate designs are created on two layers of fine linen with a layer of net in between. The design is worked using a range of stitches and textures before cutting away areas of the linen to facilitate working drawn and pulled thread stitches and net darning patterns. For stitchers experienced in whitework.

We run Whitework Classes for Beginners onwards and recommend our book
RSN Essential Stitch Guide-Whitework by RSN Tutor Lizzy Lansberry



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