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Queen Stitch History and Variations

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16 July 2010

Queen Stitch History and Variations

Firstly, some pictures (got to have pictures!)
The sky has been done in Queen Stitch and is described as “shimmering”.
The original, and the full picture with two lions, can be found at·
Probably American, Philadelphia, first half of the 18th c.
Flowers in the margin done in Queen Stitch
(main page at )
Historical References to Queen Stitch
While looking through samplers to find a good design, I noticed a pretty little knotwork pattern (Browne and Wearden, p. 37, plate 9) done in queen and plaited braid stitch.
Although the sampler is dated to the early 17th century, this knot is quite typical of Elizabethan design.
Similar motifs were used as far back as the 1540’s when the then-princess Elizabeth made a gift to her stepmother Katherine Parr of The Miroir or Glasse of the Synneful Soul, a translation from French with an embroidered binding. This sort of design also shows up in many gardening books of the period (See the first chapter of Beck, Gardens, pp. 6-35, on Elizabethan Gardens).
Although none of the surviving examples of queen stitch can be firmly dated to the 16th century, there is an interesting written reference to the stitch in 1592 (quoted in Epstein, p. 73):

Pan: Not for want of matter, but to knowe the meaning, what is wrought in this sampler?
Syb: The follies of the Gods, who became beasts, for their affections.
Pan: What in this?
Isab: The honour of Virgins, who became Goddesses, for their Chastity.
Pan: But what be these?
Syb: Mens tongues, wrought all with double stitch, but not one true.
Pan: What these?
Isab: Roses, egletine, harts-ease, wrought with Queenes stitch, and all right.
In the 1640 edition of "The Needles Excellency," John Taylor printed this list of some of the stitches in use at this time:
"For tent worke, raised worke, first worke, laid worke, net worke,
Most curious purl or rare Italian cut worke.
Fire, fern stitch, finny stitch, new stitch, chain stitch
Brave bred stitch, fisher stitch, Irish stitch and Queen stitch,
The Spanish stitch, Rosemary stitch and mowle stitch,
The smarting whip stitch, back stitch and cross stitch;
All these are good, and this we must allow,
And they are everywhere in practice now."
Period : WILLIAM AND MARY (1689-1703), QUEEN ANNE (1702-1714) and GEORGIAN (1714-1809)
…… Another teacher advertised that she taught the following: Embroidery, Tent work, nuns ditto, Queen stitch, Irish ditto and all kinds of shading, also point, Dresden lace work, Shell work and artificial flowers.
The Isabella Brackin 1832 Sampler
Reproduction of an American sampler, reputed to be an Ohio sampler. The reproduction of the Isabella Brackin sampler is stitched on 28 count Sandstone linen from Wichelt Imports using au ver a soie silks from Access Commodities.
The Isabella Brackin sampler is stitched primarily in cross stitch over two threads with a small amount of queen stitches and cross stitch over one thread.
The reproduction measures approximately 17 and 1/8 inches wide by 16.75 inches tall.
Needlework as Art by Marianne Margaret Compton Cust Alford (1886) :

"Fine fern stitch, finny stitch, new stitch, and chain stitch, Brave bred stitch, fisher stitch, Irish stitch, and queen's stitch, The Spanish stitch, ..."
That’s the latest reference I could find.
Queen Stitch Variations
  • Diagonal Queen Stitch
This is a combination of cross stitch and queen stitch, and is very ornamental when properly done.
You work in plain cross stitch three rows, then leave three threads, and again work three rows as before ; thus proceed until your canvas is covered, leaving three threads between every triple row of cross stitch.
Then across the rows work in queen stitch with double wool ; but instead of taking two distinct threads for each stitch, you may take one thread of the preceding stitch ; this will give an added thickness to your work.
It will be advisable to work the wool over slips of card or parchment, as doing so will make it better to cut.
If you work it in squares, they should not be larger than seventeen stitches; and to look well, they must each be placed the contrary way to the other.
Velvet Stitch is also described at
Queen Stitch with a Centre Line :
(Step by step instructions with photos shown at the site)
and also from the same site :-
Apart from leaving out the centre line, there are a number of other variations that can be worked to queen stitch.
You can vary the number of stitches to the left and right. Two and three are most common but you could have four or even five.
Eventually you would be limited by the size of the hole at the top and the bottom of the stitch.

Queen stitch can be worked singly, in rows, blocks or clusters, and you can play around with the spacing.
You could experiment with different colours, perhaps using alternate colours or even different colours within one queen stitch although that would be rather fiddly.
Queen stitch looks particularly good worked in metallic thread, or in wool on a canvas background.

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Blogger Witch of Stitches said...

Thanks for posting this info, it is interesting and helpful.

Friday, July 16, 2010  
Blogger Kimberley said...

Definitely good info to have. Thanks for putting so much work into bringing it all together.

Friday, July 16, 2010  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Thank you for collating all this information for us!

Friday, July 16, 2010  

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