Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rodi Stitch

Punto Rodi or Rodi Stitch is a Pulled Thread Stitch used for filling spaces of a design and creating a light, open area. It is used a lot in Italian needlework especially for filling the insides of flowers.

This image taken from the book Nuova Enciclopedia dei Lavori Femminili by Mani di Fata:

When I went looking to find instructions on how to execute it, I found that there are many variations! All have one thing in common and that is that Rodi Stitch is executed in diagonal lines.

I took needle in hand and made you instructions of two different variations. First we'll look at the way Vima deMarchi Micheli teaches it in her Italian Needlework Techniques class that she teaches for the Embroiderers Guild of America. I used 38ct Sotema 20L ivory coloured linen from Italy and DMC Spécial Dentelles #80 thread.

Rodi Stitch
- Technique 1

Worked from right to left, bottom to top, turn the work 180 degrees to do the return row. Pull the stitches firmly to open up holes which are bigger than the ground fabric holes for the desired effect. Each stitch is executed twice.

Click on the photo for a closer look:

I did it in coloured thread so you could see the stitches, then I did it in thread matching the background colour so you can see the effect. I also show you how the back looks:

With this method, the back looks the same as the front.

The second working I did was from Liliana Babbi Cappelletti's excellent booklet (see info below).

Rodi Stitch - Technique 2
Worked from right to left, top to bottom, you do not turn the work to do the return row. Again, pull each stitch to open up the fabric. Each stitch is executed only once. You must make a cross-over stitch at the end of the row in order to return.

Click on the photo for a closer look:

And here is the back:

As you can see, the back looks different from the front with this method. The overall effect is the same, though with only one stitch instead of two, this way looks a bit more delicate (it's hard to tell from these small patches, I know - it is the impression I get when looking at the two patches on my fabric here in my hand).

Liliana Babbi Cappelletti has at least six variations of Rodi Stitch in her instruction booklet: Il punto rodi e le sue varianti, il punto principessa e altri retini di fondo. Text in Italian but very clear diagrams. You can get this booklet from Tombolo Disegni. Click on "Libri/Books", then "Libri Ricamo", then "Ricamo Italiani", send an email request to order. (Note: there are no photos of this book on the page, it is the first entry in a listing.)

I believe the English terminology for this stitch is Faggot Stitch.

Here is a short video on YouTube.


  1. This is quite interesting..have to try some day.thanks for the links..

  2. Thank you Jeanine!
    You are a gem :)
    I believe it's the Faggot stitch as well.
    I just love that Mani di Fata's photo.
    Thank you very much for such a complete answer.

  3. Thank you so much for this! I'm nowhere near to doing this at the moment but I love having a reference point for when I do.

  4. Such another interesting form of embroidery design and pulled-stitch work! I appreciate your introducing us to so many forms of Italian embroidery that I may have never found on my own. I would like to try Rodi stitch, along with the Estense embroidery, and am glad to know there are books available to walk me through the stitches. Thank you, Jeanine!

  5. Dear Jeanine, I'm here again :) with another question. Long ago I was confused with two English expressions pulled threads and drawn threads and then Mary Corbet explained me the difference between both.
    But a while ago I've found the expression drawn thread naming a completly different embroidery to what I call cross stitch. You can see what I mean in this example Is this correct?
    Which are the Italian names to "pulled threads" and "drawn threads" - are they all Punto Antico? I refer as "drawn threads" what is called "Punti a Giorno" (I think) much used in Portuguese embroideries as well we use all kind of pulled thread stitches as filling spaces of a design.
    As you see there is a great chaos in my mind!
    Sorry taking your time!

  6. Thanks everyone, I'm happy to help.
    Meri: in this case (the link you sent) the Drawn Thread is the name of the company who made the Cross Stitch design.

    Pulled thread work in Italian is punto tirato or it can be referred to as retini di fondo (filling stitches), and Drawn thread work is sfilato or sfilature. Punti a Giorno is hemstitching, though it can also be referred to as sfilatura/e.

    Punto Antico mostly refers to a style of embroidery which has the basic elements of a few characteristic stitches but it does have elements of drawn thread work and cutwork (punto tagliato) as well. Just to be more confusing Punto Antico can refer to some antique lace stitches in both needle lace and bobbin lace too.

    I'm not sure if I've cleared things up for you or just made you more confused now!

  7. Ahhhh! :))) And I knew already that company! But never could thought that somebody could label a post as drawn thread referring to a company.... That hasn't even cross my mind.
    Thank you Jeanine!
    Yes my mind is much more cleared up :)
    I'll copy your answer. Here in Portugal we can find some of Italian magazines such as Mani di Fata or Rakam - I have many Rakam and few Mani di Fata, so your answer will help much for sure!
    I have a great need of learning Italian: next October I'll be grand mother again of a "luso-italian" girl - this time from my son and my Italian daughter-in-law :)
    Thank you Jeanine for your precious help.

  8. Meri, congratulations on being a grandma again! I don't know about in Portugal, but Italians love to embroider things for babies! Sometimes there is even a special magazine RAKAM Baby.
    Happy Stitching!