Whitework Embroidery

Definition and Stitchers' Resources

Whitework is any type of embroidery worked in white or natural colored thread on a white or natural colored fabric ground.

Also known as white-on-white, this style of embroidery is beautiful, elegant and can be worked in a variety of techniques, including surface embroidery, hardanger & hedebo, pulled or drawn thread, schwalm, reticella, mountmellick, cutwork & richelieu, and more.

The sites listed below feature free patterns, or useful tips and tutorials for whitework embroidery.

  • 01 of 06

    Hardanger Pattern From the Caron Collection

    Mary Hickmott-Caron Collection

    Learn to work the "Delicate Essentials" Hardanger needlecase and pincushion with this design by Mary Hickmott. This project, presented in two parts, originally appeared in "New Stitches" magazine.

    You'll learn to work Kloster blocks, spider web and dove's eye fillings, woven bars, the four-sided stitch, straight stitch and the detached chain stitch.

  • 02 of 06

    Whitework Surface Embroidery Ornament


    The editors of the NeedleKnowledge site have posted a free whitework pattern utilizing basic surface embroidery stitches.

    Stitches used in this Victorian style pattern include chain stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch and French knots, making this a fast, easy project.

  • 03 of 06

    Counted Whitework Ornament

    Counted Whitework Ornament
     TW Designworks

    This ornament was designed several years ago by Teresa Wentzler of TW Designworks as a teaching piece and is now available as a .pdf download on her site.

    The project is worked on 28-count linen in counted thread stitches including Algerian eyelet, satin stitch (upright and diagonal), rice stitch, lazy-daisy stitch, diamond eyelet, square eyelet, and Smyrna cross stitch.

  • 04 of 06

    Nordic Needle Whitework and Embroidery Patterns

    Donna M. Olson-Nordic Needle

    The Nordic Needle ​website features a page full of free whitework and other embroidery patterns in a variety of techniques including Hardanger, Schwalm, and other counted thread techniques, including this Hardanger doily designed by Donna M. Olson.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Learn About Whitework Embroidery Types

    Whitework Embroidery Types
     Carol Leather

    Learn about the different forms of whitework embroidery, presented by Carol Leather of the needlework tips and techniques website.

    Carol has posted a free Whitework Sampler Stitch-Along that introduces you to many of the basic techniques used in a variety of whitework types, including how to work the hemstitch, honeycomb stitch, faggot and diamond eyelet stitch, and the four-sided stitch (which was used in the whitework version of the Prancing Reindeer Pattern here on this site).

  • 06 of 06

    Reticella Lace Squares


    Learn to work Reticella, a type of needle lace worked in white thread.

    Reticella is also known as reticello, point coupé or point couppe and is worked on a fabric foundation or pulled thread grid in intricate designs.

    Four different square lace patterns are available at the free-craft-patterns.com site. The patterns will walk you through the basics techniques of this form of lace-making.