How to Do Candlewick Embroidery


Candlewick embroidery—or white work—was created in the 1800s. Candlewicking is characterized by white thread on white fabric. Unbleached muslin is also a favorite fabric for candlewicking. Unlike basic embroidery, which uses thin threads, candlewicking stitches use Perle cotton or crochet thread and large-eye needles. Embroidery hoops stabilize fabric for candlewicking. Any embroidery stitch can be used on a candlewick project, but candlewicking is distinguished by generous use of a variation of the French knot known as the colonial knot. Some candlewick patterns use the colonial knot for the entire design.

Things You'll Need

  • Muslin fabric
  • Candlewick pattern
  • Pencil or marker for transferring the pattern
  • Embroidery hoop
  • White Perle cotton or crochet thread
  • Size 22 or 24 chenille needles
  • Scissors
  • Transfer the candlewick pattern to the muslin fabric with a pencil or fabric marker.

  • Place the fabric in the embroidery hoop. Smooth the fabric out and tighten the hoop by turning the hoop screw clockwise.

  • Thread the needle with a 3-foot length of thread. Knot one end of the thread.

  • Pull the thread up from the back side of the fabric at a colonial knot point on the pattern.

  • Make a backwards C-shape with the thread; lay the needle against the C-shaped thread and bring the needle point to the back of the thread.

  • Wrap the working thread over the top of the needle (this completes a figure 8 thread pattern around the needle).

  • Insert the needle into the fabric next to the first stitch and pull through. The thread will gather into a colonial knot as the needle pulls excess thread down through the back of the fabric.

  • Repeat the colonial knot stitch until the candlewicking pattern is complete.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keeping a little tension on the thread while pulling it back through the fabric helps the figure 8 thread on the needle to collect into a nice, tight colonial knot.

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