Easy Elegance: Learn Cutwork Embroidery With 2 Step-by-Step Tutorials!

Cutwork embroidery looks so much harder than it really is. What once took weeks and even months to complete by hand is now extremely easy to stitch on today’s embroidery machines. All you have to do is hoop, trim, stitch and rinse! Here’s how.

Here are two cutwork embroidery tutorials to help you start on your most elegant embroidery projects yet!

Advanced Embroidery Cutwork Lace IrisPhoto via Advanced Embroidery Designs

Take these tutorials a step further and get around-the-clock instruction with Evy Hawkins’ class Machine Embroidered Cutwork. You’ll learn more about this stunning embroidery design as you work through fun projects, including a beautiful cutwork wrap shawl.

Cutwork Lace Rosebud Doily by Advanced Embroidery DesignsCutwork Lace Rosebud Doily via Advanced Embroidery Designs

Tutorial #1: Traditional cutwork

Cutwork is very similar to appliqué, but fabric is trimmed away instead of being added. Fabric is tacked to water-soluble stabilizer. Stitching outlines areas where fabric should be cut away. Once trimmed, open areas are then finished in satin stitching, creating beautiful embellishments on linens and apparel.

Free cutwork corner design by Advanced Embroidery DesignsFree cutwork corner design photo via Advanced Embroidery Designs


1. Begin by hooping water-soluble mesh stabilizer. Hoop together, pin the fabric to the stabilizer, or spray the back of the fabric with temporary spray adhesive and finger-press it to the stabilizer.

2. Run the cutwork tack-down stitch sequence to secure the fabric to the stabilizer (left).

3. Remove the hoop from the machine and leave everything in the hoop. Place the hoop on a flat surface and carefully trim the fabric away from the tack-down stitches according to design directions (middle).

Note: Be careful to not push on the stabilizer when trimming. If the stabilizer becomes loose, the cutwork stitching will not line up properly.

4. Place the hoop back on the machine and finish stitching the cutwork section. Remove from the hoop, trim away excess water-soluble stabilizer, and soak the rest away according to manufacturer instructions. Lay it flat, let it dry and press if necessary (right).

Get the free cutwork corner design here.

traditional cutwork design

Photo via Advanced Embroidery Designs

Tutorial #2: Cutwork edging

Cutwork edging is stitched in sections just like the corner sample above. After all edging sections are stitched, trim away excess water-soluble stabilizer and soak the rest away according to manufacturer instructions. Lay it all flat, let it dry and press pieces if necessary.

The separate pieces are butted up against ,and connected to each other, with zigzag stitches. The edging creates a framework whose inside edge is attached to the center fabric. Like appliqué, the excess center fabric is trimmed away close to the stitch line where it connects to the cutwork edging. Another row of zigzag stitching around the trimmed edge adds extra security to the doily.

Photos via Advanced Embroidery Designs


1. Stitch out, soak, dry and press all edging pieces. Arrange individual pieces according to the design instructions. It is helpful to use a cutting mat grid to square up edges.

2. Use a fine zigzag stitch to attach all edge pieces together. Match the bobbin thread to the embroidery thread so front and back of the lacework matches. The photo above shows red stitch lines where pieces are connected (left).

3. Carefully pin the framework edging over a piece of fabric. Measure edge widths to be sure all sides are square (right).

Photo via Advanced Embroidery Designs

4. Stitch around the innermost edge of the cutwork to attach the edging to the center fabric. Red thread is used to show stitching for the tutorial, but you should match your thread to the embroidery (left).

5. After securing the fabric to the framework, turn the piece over and carefully trim away the fabric outside of the stitch area, just as you would with an appliqué design (right).

cutwork edging doily

Photo via Advanced Embroidery Designs

6. Then run a line of zigzag stitching around the trimmed fabric edge to secure. Beautiful!

Get the Cutwork Lace Fruit Doily. 

Have a helpful cutwork tip? Share it with us in the comments section! 

  • (will not be published)

No Comments