Cutwork or cut work, is the name given by the ancient writers to denote specific types of needle work to which the drawing out of threads is a preliminary. It embraces various forms of open-work, and is derived from the primitive art of netting. Cutwork is a needlework technique in which portions of a textile, typically cotton or linen, are cut away and the resulting "hole" is reinforced and filled with embroidery or needle lace.
Cutwork is related to drawn thread work. In drawn thread work, typically only the warp or weft threads are withdrawn (cut and removed), and the remaining threads in the resulting hole are bound in various ways. In other types of cutwork, both warp and weft threads may be drawn.
This technique originated from approximately 14th, 15th, and 16th century Italy at the same time as the Italian Renaissance. Between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries the earlist forms of the lace-making, better described as cut-work, were known in France as point coupé, in Italy as punto tagliato and in Germany as opus seissum. After the fifteenth century the charm of cut-work and early lace-making flourished in convents, at Court and in the homes of the notability. It became the occupation of ladies of high society to ornament their fine linen with trimmings of cut-work and lace. The making and wearing of lace also became part of the life of the peasants; but as is always the case when an art is adopted by the lower classes, it was turned to more practical uses, and the peasant shirt and hood were favourite articles for ornamentation.
Additionally in the Elizabethan era, cutwork was incorporated into the design and decoration of some ruffs. In a fashion sense, this type of needlework has migrated to countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, India, and United States. Cutwork is still prevalent in fashion today, and although different, is commonly mistaken for lace. The eyelet pattern is one of the more identifiable types of cutwork in modern fashion.
This form is the most traditional form of cutwork. Here, areas of the fabric are cut away and stich is applied to stop the raw edges from fraying.
This form of cutwork allows for more precise and intricate patterns to be created. The laser also has the ability to melt and seal the edges of fabric with the heat of the laser. This helps against fabric fraying during the creation process. Additionally, using a laser for cutwork enables the embroider or creator to achieve unique designs such as an ‘etched look’ by changing the depth of the laser cut into the fabric.
- Cave, Oenone (1963). Cut-work embroidery and how to do it. London: Vista Books. pp. 13–14. ISBN 0-486-24267-6.
- Virginia Churchill Bath, Needlework in America, Viking Press, 1979 ISBN 0-670-50575-7
- S.F.A. Caulfield and B.C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework, 1885.
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