Victorian-era needlework stiletto with bone handle. Victorian-era needlework stiletto with bone handle.

A stiletto is a small pointed instrument with a long handle and blade, used in decorative needlework to make holes. The blade is round and tapering to a point. A stiletto pushes the ground warp and weft threads aside (rather than cutting them, as with a pair of scissors). 

A stiletto can be made out of a wide variety of materials, such as bone, iron, ivory, steel or silver. It is used for making holes in the ground material for a thread to pass through (using the point, as in goldwork) or for larger eyelets (using the full diameter of the blade, such as in broderie anglaise).

In the nineteenth century it was also called a piercer.


  • CAULFEILD, Sophia Frances Anne and Blanche C. Saward (1882), The Dictionary of Needlework, London: L. Upcott Gill, p. 462.
  • Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: ‘Stiletto’.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 17th May 2016).


Last modified on Wednesday, 03 May 2017 18:49
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