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Cutwork is a fabric decoration technique which combines the removal of areas of fabric with embroidery. A very intricate and time-consuming technique.


The first step is to draw the motif that is to be embroidered and cut (cutwork - Indonesian name Kerawang) onto the "kalkir" paper (this is an Indonesian word and to be honest I am not sure of the translation but it is the normal standard chemical treated paper that is used for hand screen printing) . The kalkir paper is what is then stretched across the screen frame and on which the motif is etched so that the dye can seep through the holes in the kalkir and the motif can be seen on the fabric beneath.
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The second step is to hand screenprint the motif onto the fabric to be embroidered and cut. In some cases the fabric has already been cut and sewn up into a garment, on other occasions the fabric is still uncut. It is the motif and the style of the garment which determines whether the fabric should be cut and sewn 1st or printed and embroidered 1st before cut and sewing.
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Third step showing the white dye being spread onto the fabric beneath the screen which will result in a white outline on the fabric showing the motif to be embroidered on the fabric.
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This shows the fabric once the motif has been screenprinted onto it and before the embroidery and cutwork begins. The base fabric was hand dyed from white to red before the motif was handscreenprinted onto it .
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This photo shows a garment already cut and sewn with a cardboard insert so that when the garment is handscreenprinted the white dye will not seep through to the other side of the garment. The garment will have the screen placed on top and the dye will be hand pushed along the screen which causes the white dye to fall through the small "holes" of the motif which has been drawn onto the kalkir paper.
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This photo shows the garment from photo 5 with the screen on top and the white dye being pushed through the holes on the screen so that the motif comes out onto the fabric below.
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Here a motif being cut out of cardboard which will be placed on the fabric or a garment and then the dye will be blow gunned onto it. This is another way of putting the motif onto the fabric/garment. The choice to use the hand screenprint or blow gun technique is determined by the style of garment and the motif.
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This photo shows the fabric once the motif has been handscreenprinted or blow gunned onto it being embroidered. For normal standard embroidery an electric sewing machine can be used. The sewer follows the line of the motif which has been handscreenprinted onto the fabric .
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A close up of the fabric from the previous picture showing the motif being embroidered and the cutwork that has already been cut.
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A piece of dyed fabric showing the embroidery and cutwork after dying.
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This photo shows the embroidery process using an electrical machine . This fabric will not be cut in the cutwork technique but only embroidered.
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A close up of the cutwork technique, the fabric is being embroidered then cut. The sewing machine is a foot peddle machine so that their is more control , an electrical machine would be too fast and not controllable enough.
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The same picture as above but showing clearly the sewing technique for cutwork .This technique is traditionally from a small town in West Java called Tasik Malaya where they have achieved very high standards of embroidery. It is thought that the original cutwork came from China, traditional antique Chinese blouses can be found throughout Indonesia with full cutwork embroidery on the sleeves and neck and hem.
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