Friday, July 10, 2009

Pulled thread on linen, tutorial

Bunny said she wanted to come stand over my shoulder and watch me do pulled thread. Well any and all are welcome, just give me a heads up so I can run a rag through the bathrooms. Until then this is the best I can do.

Jane asked if I got up in the morning and started pulling threads or if I cleaned up the kitchen first. I laughed right out loud. Because there are dishes in my kitchen sink right now. No I don't get up in the morning and pull threads. If I did, I would probably be done with all nine diamonds by now. I can do one diamond in about an hour and a half. That doesn't include the netting and darning. So here is my attempt at a tutorial, I think it should really just be a story in pictures. Not sure how tute like it is.

First off the method that Mirella uses is to mark your area with thread. This diamond will be 17 squares by 17 squares done in groups of three threads. These particular diamonds I started from the bottom up, using my drawn thread for the hem as a my point of reference to measure from. Mirella just pulls one thread up and across to place her marking thread, I found if I withdrew all three I could see better. So my center lines are marked by stitching a thread over and under every three threads. Where you see linen on top of the thread is where you clip. Mirella says that the marking thread tells you, "Don't cut me!"

The outer points are just one "square." I don't clip those threads until I have the diamond finished. It worked better for me to always have that bottom reference point and I mark each one with blue marker. Again so I could see. It is easy to lose your place when doing pulled thread on 1300 weight linen.

You have to train yourself to see the diamond in your minds eye. I found that if I worked in the left bottom quadrant each time I could "see" better. I rotate my fabric for each quadrant so that each time I am working in the same direction. The above picture if what you are going after.

So you are stair stepping up the side of the diamond. When I used to do cross stitch or even when I picture smock I talk to myself, "up one, out one"; " down one, out two" So for this pattern it is always up one, out one. I mark with a pin the bottom of the row I am going to pull. This keeps me from pulling too far. Ask me what a pain in the neck that is! Then you get to "learn reweaving" as Mirella calls it.

Then I mark where I am going to clip with another pin. On top of that pin is where I clip. (Try balancing a VERY sharp pair of scissors, the fabric and the pin while you try to take the picture!)

Then using a tapestry needle to pull with I withdraw my threads from the fabric down to where my "stopping" pin/needle was placed. Remember my bottom square of the diamond I didn't clip yet. So imagine that blue mark as one square. When I pull the threads on the right side of the marking thread I will have three squares across. I will increase the same way until I reach the middle of the diamond that will have 17 squares. Eight on either side of my marking thread.

Lori wanted to see how to use the do-lolly. As you can see in the pic of the do-lolly it has a needle threader looking side and a "hook" side. I come through the fabric at the bottom of my pulled thread row with the needle threader wire. I use the "hook" to pull those threads through the wire loop. (Sorry I just didn't have enough hands to hold everything and take a picture of the hooking action.)

Then I pull those threads to the back. Mirella leaves all of hers on the front. I found myself having a more difficult time "seeing" where I was if I left them on the front. So I pull them to the back.

Here I have pulled three more rows in the quadrant. I pull first the vertical then pull the horizontal threads out to the outer square for each row. Again I got lost if I pulled all vertical rows and then tried to go back and pull the corresponding horizontal rows. It sounds time consuming to watch each row, but like everything else you get in a rhythm and it goes more quickly than you expect.

Here is the first quadrant pulled with

the threads pulled to the back. (There is a boo-boo in there. Can you find it?)

I do an extra little step that helps me keep my place. I tack down those threads on the back to 1) keep them out of the way and 2) to protect them from shredding as I handle the fabric. If I keep them from shredding, then IF I have to reweave they are in decent shape to do so.

I have turned my fabric so I am again working in the lower left quadrant,

and again

until all of the quadrants are done. This diamond has already been back stitched around and the netting done. I will take pictures of that process next time.


  1. Martha,

    You do SUCH amazing work! Thank you for the tutorial.

  2. Thank you. My spirit is calmed with a needle and thread.

  3. My Heavens! Hermana Esperanza would be so proud of you!

    This is so intense. I am amazed at how in the squares that edge the diamond the negative spaces are actually on the diagonal. Surely it's not luck!?!

  4. No Bunny, it is not luck. :) That is why it takes such planning. ANd when I get finished with them you will be able to see that the center back one is larger than the rest because sometimes even luck isn't on your side when you plan.

  5. Am just trying to learn about drawn work so found your tutorial very helpful. My question is: how do you finish off the pulled threads?

    Thanks for your help.

    Barbara Gormley (


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