Linen hardkerchief, with cutwork, needle lace and embroidery. c. 1600, Italy Linen hardkerchief, with cutwork, needle lace and embroidery. c. 1600, Italy Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London, acc. no. 288-1906.

Cutwork is a form of decorative needlework, in which sections of the ground material (normally a cotton or linen fabric) are cut away and then sometimes filled in again. The filling in is done with stitching, generally with buttonhole stitch

This type of decorative needlework is related to pulled thread work, whereby warp and weft threads are pulled to one side, and drawn thread work, in which specific warp and/or weft threads are permanently removed from the ground material. Cutwork, or at least some form of it, may thus also be classed as a form of embroidered lace and is thus often referred to as cutwork lace.

There are two main forms of cutwork. The first is where the created holes play a minor part in the main design. An example of this type of work is Hardanger embroidery (also known as Hardanger lace). The second form is where the holes form the main element in the pattern. Examples of this type of cutwork, which is more 'lace-like' in appearance, are broderie anglaise and reticella.

In the fifteenth to early seventeenth centuries, cutwork was very popular, but in general also very expensive. References are known to Flemish cutwork in the mid-sixteenth century that was presented to Mary Tudor

Early pattern books completely dedicated to cutwork were composed in Venice by Matio Pagano (1542)

Also known as: Punto Tagliato

See also the TRC Needles entry on Italian cutwork.

V&A online catalogue (retrieved 29th June 2016).


Last modified on Sunday, 30 April 2017 14:31