The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge – Embroidery for Surgery

Contemporary embroidery art via Mr X Stitch

Professor Julian Ellis OBE is a recognised expert in the field of Fabric Technologies. He has carried out extensive work exploring the “rapid design and manufacture of textile surgical implants using embroidery” and Embroidery for Engineering and Surgery.

Embroidered Surgical Device from Ellis Developments

The above device was featured on many of the posters advertising the Extreme Textiles exhibition at the Cooper Hewett National Design Museum (part of the Smithsonian) in New York during 2005. It subsequently was listed as one of the Amazing Inventions of 2005 by Time Magazine. It was also featured in the Power of Making exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (their most successful free exhibition since 1950) during 2011, and has been entered into their permanent collection.

The device was custom designed for a patient who had had a tumour removed from his shoulder and needed extensive reconstruction two years afterwards. The surgeon requested a wide range of possible attachment points so that he could use all the tissue he found in the patient at that later date. Hence this design, which has been described as a “beautiful snowflake”

Rotator cuff repair device


Primarily using Lockstitch, embroidered pieces were created from polyester strands and developed with the aim of helping surgeons graft skin to bones. It’s an ingenious idea and Professor Ellis’ research suggested that it was a viable solution.

A multi-hole bone repair device


What’s really nice about this project is that the embroidered pieces are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional and are a really smart idea for helping bones and tissues reconnect. (At this point you can tell I’m not a scientist.)

For the repair of the rotator cuff of the shoulder

For more information about this fascinating project visit the Ellis Developments website.


The Cutting & Stitching Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery!

Mr X

Jamie Chalmers, aka Mr X Stitch, aka the Kingpin of Contemporary Embroidery is the founder of the Mr X Stitch site, the world's longest running embroidery blog, the curator of PUSH Stitchery and the author of the Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch. He is also the founder of XStitch, the game-changing cross stitch design magazine which launched in Summer 2017.

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