Pulled Thread Work Gallery: 

  Curvilinear & Geometric Designs 

  and Related Forms        

    © 2009 Lorelei Halley All rights reserved.

    Site Map      Drawn Thread Work  

For distinction between pulled thread and drawn thread see compare.  The initials LH indicate my original designs, worked by me.

  Pulled Thread Work    Pulled Thread Tutorial     Pulled Thread Tutorial 2    Pulled Thread Stitches    The White Sampler  

DESIGNING and kinds of designs for pulled thread work:

Designing for this kind of lace is a matter of juxtaposing areas containing differing kinds of holes, and varying this with surface stitchery of differing textures--smooth and shiney, or bumpy.  Also some traditional stitches produce puffy or ridge effects, and this, too, adds to the interest when used judiciously.  You want dense areas, different kinds of holes, simple holes and complex holes, and usually some textured surface embroidery to give relief and variety.  This form of lace is relatively easy to design for, and there are several approaches historically and in the modern age.

Curvilinear Designs:                                                                                                            *

One approach for curvilinear design is to create fairly large simple shapes and fill them with the chosen stitch.  Choose a surface embroidery stitch which has some width and texture to outline the filled area.  Begin by working the wide outlining stitch around each area and then fill in the shapes with a pulled stitch, hiding the beginning and ending tails of the pulled stitches under the already stitched outline.  It is also possible to start by filling the area with a pulled stitch and then work the outline stitch over the thread tails, covering and hiding them in the process (although this is harder to do neatly). In either case the outline stitching is not worked in tension.   Irregular blobs also work as shapes to be filled.

    m/b Tatiana Tara      m/b   Tatiana Tara

    m/b Lynette Hale          pulled thread work   Pulled thread work - detail pt 210   mb/ db/ LH

  Pulled thread embroidery pulled thread embroidery  pt39 Pulled thread work made and designed by Lorelei Halley

    LH 630        48  db/ mb/ LH


   676      670      675         674   

The four above by Grace Lister:   She calls the last 2 "pulled thread samplers".

A motif from Fangel, Winckler:*uzTHKL14kEDeVQSU8rPjJ5ApdlQtyDO870b0cJDhNXifjQooqEpnRVI9J7SNwLygk/pulledthread222.jpg


Curvilinear Design with background filled in:                                                                                        *

A second approach, again with curvilinear design, is to make a motif in a simple shape and leave it unworked.  The background is then filled with one pulled stitch.  The unworked motifs may be outlined and some surface stitching can be done on the motif to lend some realism.  For both of these forms one can make a simple silhouette shape of any plant or animal motif that you like, even starting with a photo and just using the outline of the figures -- the family dog or cat, a family photo, your house, etc. 

pulled thread background  47 mb/ db/ LH

pulled thread work background      pt 30 Pulled thread embroidery made by and designed by Lorelei Halley

pulled thread embroidery pt28a          pt28  mb/ db/ LH

April in Chicago.  This piece is arranged like a Chinese painting.  The bottom is what is right in front of you, the near objects, and the higher up the picture the further away.  The bottom row of hills is the beginning of April.  The hills are successive days and weeks.  The top hill is the beginning of May.

Curvilinear Design outlined in double back stitch:

Some historic examples show motifs outlined in double back stitch (similar to shadow work) and then fill the shapes with complex satin stitch grounds (damask stitches), with pulled thread stitches in the ground areas of the design (outside the motifs). (See Fangel Winckler and the DMC Encyclopedia of Needlework for examples of this kind of design.)   Mary Fry also has an example on page 177 in her book PULLED THREAD WORKBOOK, publ. 1978.

 Modern Design with random background:                                                                                              *

A more modern approach is to use the pulled stitches somewhat randomly as an irregular background to surface embroidery.  Or one can fill in irregular areas, arranged randomly, with pulled stitches, and work scattered surface stitches as a foil to the pulled stitches. 

The group below were all made by Margaret Bartlett and most use pulled stitches as part of the background.  The first row all leave the major motif empty and fill in the background, part of which is pulled thread stitches. The last also uses pulled stitches inside the butterfly.

 653  654   655 657

   658    656 659

See her other work at:


By Grace Lister.  these two are very large and slow to load.  Please be patient.

     669             668

Geometric designs:                                                                                                 *

 Another approach is to create geometric shapes or lines, straight, zigzag or diagonal, each in a different stitch, or to plan the work as a surface embroidery with counted stitches, using the pulled stitches instead of other more common ones.  Geometry is interesting if it is complex enough.

Made and designed by Lorelei Halley:

  pulled thread work  pt8   LH   Cable stitch, 3 sided stitch, square back stitch, eyelets, French knots, buttonhole stitch.

       pt10  LH Satin stitch, pebble stitch, braid stitch, square edging st.

        pt6   LH   Diagonal cable, square double back stitch, eyelets, ringed back stitch, squared edging stitch.

  pulled thread embroidery                 pt42  LH  The light colored little squares are square double back stitch.  It makes a puffy little square spot, which stands above the surface and gives interesting relief to the piece.  I also used upright cross, Greek cross and diagonal cable stitches in this piece.  Upright cross also makes a raised ridge.  Three sided stitch secures the edge.

 drawn fabric embroidery            pt7  LH   Pulled thread work. Diagonal cable, ringed back, 4 sided stitch, lazy daisy.

 "pulled thread work"               pt3  LH  Greek cross, eyelets, diagonal cable, upright cross, 4 sided, buttonhole, lazy daisy.


In these 2 below I borrowed layout ideas from Hardanger and applied them to pulled thread.

     pt 38   LH   Satin, colonial knot, double window, spaced faggot, eyelets, lazy daisy.  In this one I tried outlining the pulled area in satin stitches, not exactly the same way as in Hardanger, but similar.  Can't decide if it works.

              pt 2   LH  Small ringed back, coral knot, diagonal cable, Greek cross, long armed cross, Hedebo buttonhole.  In this piece I tried to use a layout that works in Hardanger, to see if it works for pulled thread.  Not sure.


      Pulled thread embroidery made by JL.  This is a geometric piece, but has the background filled in completely in a variant of 4 sided stitch.

 Geometric motifs made of several stitches:

One more approach is to invent geometric motifs made up of several pulled stitches and then scatter them on the cloth in some regular geometric array.

Patchwork quilt style:

Still another way to think about design for this form is to borrow ideas from patchwork quilts (especially very simple ones), canvas embroidery, or blackwork embroidery.  In canvas work one juxtaposes stitches with different textures and different colors.  In blackwork one works with differing degrees of light and dark.  In pulled thread work this becomes large holes and small holes, or simple holes and complex holes, with textured surface stitches as a foil.  One could use a patchwork quilt layout and fill the geometric areas with different stitches, using different kinds of holes instead of different colors of fabrics or kinds of prints.

Related Forms


A peasant or folk embroidery style from Germany using flower shapes and hearts as motifs, which are outlined in chain stitch and coral knot.  Inside the motifs some fabric threads may or may not be cut (to accentuate the holes) and pulled thread stitches are worked on the remaining threads.  Surface stitchery is added in the form of flowing lines and curlicues.  The designs are charming and pretty, intended for household linen, and usually worked white on white.  This style has gained in popularity recently and several books have been written about it in the last few years.  It is a hybrid form, with drawn thread and pulled thread elements.  Hessenstickerei is similar to Schwalm,  but not exactly the same.


Swedish birch bark embroidery is also a combination of drawn thread work with pulled thread work.  One starts by removing threads both horizontally and vertically from the fabric, usually remove 2 leave 3, remove 2 leave 3 intact across the whole fabric.  Then faggot and reverse faggot are worked to accentuate the holes and bind the remaining threads, and darning stitches are used to fill in some holes and recreate solid cloth.  The designs are always geometric.


 See the Nordic Needle website for books

A combination of drawn thread and pulled thread:   

Other Schwalm and Naversom:

Other pulled thread:

          collection of photos     (my pinterest page)


  Pulled Thread Work      The White Sampler   

Contact me at                       Last edited:   10/01/18