Tulipan by Christine P. Bishop

25th September 2020

Hedebo is a style of embroidery originating in Denmark, which was first developed in the seventeenth century. It had humble beginnings, imagined and perfected by farmers from the area of Zealand known as the ‘Heath’ between Copenhagen and Roskilde.

Although the technique was originally used on domestic items which were on display within the household, by the 19th Century, Hedebo embroidery began to grow in popularity. First it extended from the countryside to the wealthy and middle classes of Copenhagen and soon after it started spreading to the rest of Europe and the world.

What isn’t always acknowledged is that the term ‘Hedebo embroidery’ refers to seven different techniques which have evolved over time.

The common characteristic of all Hedebo techniques is the use of white thread on a white ground, but within that boundary, there is a huge amount of variation.

Hedebo includes early counted and drawn thread work, as well as square cut work which was popular until the end of the 19th Century. Needlelace, inspired by Italian Reticella started to appear around 1840. Around 1850, the style known locally as ‘Udklipshedebo’ appeared.

Udklipshedebo included cutwork across the warp and weft of the fabric, with holes being filled with intricate needlelace patterns. Incorporating both scallop stitch and buttonhole stitch, the pieces were adorned with curves, points and Hedebo rings or wheels as well as leaves and petals worked in satin stitch. 

By the end of the 19th Century, this style of embroidery could be found in almost every middle-class home in Denmark, in the form of table linen, tea cosies, collars and cuffs. It is this style of Hedebo embroidery that Christine P. Bishop brings to us in her exquisite table mat, Tulipan from our new book ‘A Passion for Needlework | Blakiston Creamery’

Worked on fine, 45-count cutwork linen, this piece is a delicate riot of buttonhole bars, needleweaving and the unique, Hedebo buttonhole edging which is so characteristic of the style.

Success in this project comes from careful placement and the wonderful pleasure that arises from slowing right down and taking your time with your stitching. Although there is repetition in the stitches, it is so important to get each detached element even. 

For much of the detail inside the cut areas, a template is essential to ensure that each arch, picot and point matches all of the others perfectly. The result is an heirloom piece, so lacy in appearance that it almost defies belief. To hold it is to hold air, and to see it is to understand what true beauty really is.

When the early creators of Hedebo sat in a shaft of sunlight or in the cone of light from a sputtering candle, delicately cutting their threads and working their stitches, we can easily imagine that they wanted their efforts in perfecting this technique to go down in history.

We can now be thankful that we have such a dedicated and skilled designer as Christine, who through her work, encourages us to carry on the Hedebo tradition. She is the bridge to ensure that these skills can continue on for generations to come.


The gorgeous tulip pattern featured in ‘Tulipan’ is the same pattern Christine used in her project ‘Tulip’ from Inspirations issue #90.

LEFT – Tulipan Table Mat | RIGHT – Tulip Sachet

The Tulip sachet is a wonderful way of practising the tulip pattern before re-creating the table mat. It’s also a gorgeous compendium piece to Tulipan.

Make Your Own Tulipan

Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions

Tulipan by Christine P. Bishop from the book A Passion for Needlework | Blakiston Creamery is a superb table mat worked using Hedebo cutwork and needlelace techniques.

Printed Books

A Passion for Needlework 3 | Blakiston Creamery

Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit

The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Tulipan includes everything* you need to re-create this elegant mat: Fabric (unprinted), embroidery threads and needles.


Tulipan – APFN3 Kit

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