How To Embroider Cutwork


by Shelly Smola of My Fair Lady

Supply List:

 Wash-away mesh stabilizer

Small embroidery nips

505 or Sulky KK2000 Adhesive Spray

Seam ripper

Fray Check


Cutwork Instructions

The following instructions demonstrate the method for embroidering a cutwork design from My Fair Lady. 


Other designers may use a different method.  Please read all instructions before stitching any cutwork designs.


Step 1
Spray the back of your fabric with adhesive spray.  Place it over the wash-away stabilizer.  You MUST adhere the fabric to the stabilizer to insure a clean stitchout.  This will keep your fabric from shifting when you cut out the cutwork area.  Always spray your fabric far away from your machine.

Step 2
Hoop the fabric and stabilizer together.

Step 3
To stitch a nice, “clean” design, pull the bobbin thread to the top before you start stitching each sequence.  This will prevent the tail of the bobbin thread from getting caught under the stitching in the cutwork area, which is very difficult to cut away and leaves your design looking messy.  To do this, lower your needle and bring it back up.  Use the top thread to pull the bobbin thread up through the fabric.






Tip:  Hold your hoop by the hoop!!  It’s easy to push your fingers through the fabric if you hold the hoop as shown.  This is a common mistake, and your fingers will displace the fabric.  This will lead to an unattractive and imperfect stitchout.


Step 4
Sew the first sequence.  Trim any jump stitches or thread tails on the top and bottom of the hoop.

Step 5
Sew the second sequence.  This is the cutting line for the cutwork area.   Use the same thread that you will use for the cutwork finish.  The outer line will help keep your fabric in place. 

Step 6
Take the hoop out of the machine.  Use the point of your scissors or a seam ripper to start a small hole inside the cutwork area.  Use a pair of sharp embroidery nips to cut out the fabric only inside the stitched guideline.  DO NOT CUT THE STABILIZER! This needs to stay in place to hold your fabric in position!  Trim the fabric close to the stitch line, but do not cut the stitches.


Tip:  Make sure that your hoop is sitting on a flat surface while you trim the fabric.  Be careful not to loosen the fabric inside the hoop.


Step 7
Place the hoop back in the machine.  Sew the finish for the cutwork area.  While your embroidery machine stitches the connecting bars and underlay, watch for any “whiskers.” If you see any (this will depend on your fabric), stop your embroidery machine and trim them before the satin finish is sewn so that you will have a nice, clean stitchout.

Step 8
Sew the last sequence - the Swiss dots. 


Step 9
Take your project out of the hoop.  Apply a dot of Fray Check to the back of each of the Swiss dots.  After the Fray Check is dry, rinse with warm water until it feels like the stabilizer is completely gone.  Soak the item in a container of soapy water for a little while to make sure that ALL of the stabilizer is dissolved.  Rinse your item again thoroughly, and hang to dry.



Tip:  If you accidentally cut part of the stabilizer, “float” a small piece of stabilizer under the cut.  To do this, cut a small piece of stabilizer slightly larger than the cutout area, and use spray adhesive to hold it to the bottom of your hoop.

If you accidentally cut all of the stabilizer, float a small piece of stabilizer under the cutwork area, and sew the cutting line again (go back one thread color on your machine) to hold it in place before going on to the next thread sequence).


Color Chart at a Glance
Heirloom Cutwork Freebie
Color 1   Dark Blue – Vines and Leaves
Color 2   Cutting Line for the diamond – Stop and trim the fabric inside the line.
Color 3   Light Blue - Cutwork Finish
Color 4   Dark Blue – Swiss dot accents


Washing and Ironing

  • Treat your cutwork item as you would any other delicate heirloom.  Wash the cutwork item by hand.  Use a detergent that will not harm your fabric.  If your fabric is linen, remember to use a gentle detergent that does not contain chlorine bleach, as this will break down the fibers and ruin the linen.
  • Hang the item and allow it to dry naturally.
  • Before your project has dried completely, iron it at a setting appropriate for your fabric.  Remember to iron from the back or use a pressing cloth so that the embroidery does not get flattened


Copyright Information
Sharing is Stealing! All digitized designs and instructions are copyrighted by My Fair Lady and are only for use by the person who originally purchased the designs.  Digitized designs and instructions are not to be shared, swapped, duplicated or sold in any way. Designs in their stitched out form can be used on personal items, gifts and items for resale on a small scale.  The digitized design itself remains the property of My Fair Lady.  Please help My Fair Lady continue to offer quality designs at reasonable prices by following copyright laws.


Free Design Download

Visit My Fair Lady's Heirloom Cutwork Design page to download both Project Instructions and the above freebie design.

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