How to Do Candlewick Embroidery

By Anita Holmes
Candlewicking is traditionally a white-on-white form of 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.

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.

Tip

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.

About the Author

A retired teacher, Anita Holmes is an experienced seamstress, wood worker and home decor specialist. She's designed and constructed new homes, gardens, remodeled multiple homes, built furniture, decks and cabinets and sewn everything from custom drapes to intricate quilts. Holmes holds a Master of Public Administration degree.