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Elizabethan Stitches

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10 January 2009

Elizabethan Stitches

I want to try as many Elizabethan stitches as possible on my Historical Sampler. (I don’t know if I’ll end up being able to do them all, In fact, I very much doubt it! :-)

I thought I’d list out all the Elizabethan stitches I know of, and show links in my blog to where I’ve used them in my sampler.

I’ll add in a link to the appropriate blog post/s as I use each stitch.

RSS feeders will get an update each time I re-publish. I hope that’s not too annoying.

I could just list the stitches and tick them off as I go, but I thought pointing more directly to useful tidbits I’ve come across on each stitch would be helpful. This project is going to end up with an awful lot of entries, and I’m going to get lost in what I’ve written and forget what I’ve discovered.

My sources for the stitches are

  • “Elizabethan Embroidery” by George Wingfield Digby

(source :

  • “Guide to English Embroidery in the Victoria and Albert Museum” by Patricia Wardle

(source :

  • “The Art of Elizabethan Embroidery” by Jane Zimmerman
  • The Plimouth Embroiderer’s Diary

  • “Three Raised Stitches in Elizabethan Embroideries” by Sabrina de la Bere

  • "16th Century Samplers" by Carol Hanson/Caryl de Trecesson

  • “Embroidery Stitches found in Period” by Mistress Octavia Jenon de Treves, OP and added to by Mistress Catherine Lorraine, OL OP.

from which I’ve used

Table 1 : A Pictorial History of Embroidery by Marie Schuette & Sigrid Muller-Christensen

Table 6 - English Medieval Embroidery by A. G. I. Christie

Table 7 - Batsford Book of Canvas Work by Mary Rhodes

Tables 3 and 4 are repeats of the Digby and Wardle lists that appear in the Grimfells PDF with two exceptions. Two extra stitches are listed under Wardle in the Treves document. Their source is listed as Wardle (Treves).

The opposite situation occurs with another Wardle stitch between the two lists.


I’ve left out the

canvas stitches, blackwork, whitework, applique, beading, pattern darning, eyelets and cord stitch, hemming stitches,

from my list. (and my project)

I’ve linked to entries that provide some tidbit of information about a stitch, not all of the entries that mention the stitch in passing

Stitch Source Link
Back Dig, Ward, Zim, Hanson used as an outline wherever Trellis stitch is used
French Knots Dig, Ward, Zim, Hanson, Christie

Chain Dig, Ward, Zim, Hanson, Schuette et al, Rhodes
Reverse Chain (line) Zim,
generally used as an outline for any type of detached buttonhole work (as per Plimouth recommendation)
Reverse Chain (filling) Zim
Twisted Chain Zim  
Heavy Chain Zim
Laced Chain Zim  
Double Chain (line) Zim  
Double Chain (filling) Zim

Square Double Chain Wardle (Treves),
Note : Square Chain is also known as Open Chain or Ladder Stitch (different to the Ceylon type Ladder Stitch)

ref :

but can’t find anything for Square DOUBLE Chain
Braid Ward, Zim, Hanson
Buttonhole Dig,Ward, Zim, Hanson

To be clear about this stitch, which has some debate about it’s name, I’m using which is referred to as the relevant diagram in the Surface Embroidery Stitch list at
Plaited Braid Dig, Ward, Zim, Plimouth, Hanson
Coral Dig, Zim, Hanson
Long and Short (Needlepainting) Dig, Ward (Grimfells), Schuette et al, Hanson

Stem (Crewel) Dig, Ward, Zim, Schuette et al, Christie, Hanson  
Split Schuette et al, Christie, Rhodes, Hanson
Speckling Dig, Ward, Hanson  
Satin Dig, Ward, Zim, Hanson, Schuette et al, Christie
Ladder (line) Dig, Zim, Hanson  
Ladder (filling) Zim  
Herringbone (Plait) Stitch Dig, Schuette et al, Hanson  
Interlaced Herringbone Zim  
Fishbone Hanson  
Feather Schuette et al, Christie  
Outline Zim
Overcast Zim
Oriental (Romanian) Stitch Digby, Hanson  
Ceylon (line) Zim, Plimouth
Ceylon (filling) Zim  
Double Ceylon Zim  
Open Ceylon - Overcast Zim  
Open Ceylon - Woven Zim  
Open Ceylon - Threaded Zim  
Vandyke (line) Zim
Vandyke (filling) Zim  
Loop (line) Zim, Hanson  
Loop (filling) Zim  
Loop Variation 2 Zim  
Threaded Double Back (Threaded Dot Stitch) Zim  
Detached Buttonhole Dig, Zim, Plimouth, de la Bere, Hanson
Detached Buttonhole with Straight Return Zim, Plimouth, de la Bere
Detached Buttonhole on Metal Thread Foundation Zim  
Metal Thread Detached Buttonhole on Silk Thread Foundation Zim  
Knotted Detached Buttonhole Zim  
Up-and-Down Detached Buttonhole Zim  
Up-and-Down Detached Buttonhole with Straight Return Zim  
Up-and-Down Detached Buttonhole on Metal Thread Foundation Zim  
Metal Thread Up-and-Down Detached Buttonhole on Silk Thread Foundation Zim  
Double Detached Buttonhole Zim  
Double Detached Buttonhole with Straight Return Zim
Double Detached Buttonhole on Metal Thread Foundation Zim
Metal Thread Double Detached Buttonhole on Silk Thread Foundation Zim  
Raised Effects with Detached Buttonhole (worked on needlelace pad) Zim, de la Bere  
Semi Detached Detached Buttonhole with Straight Return (with buttonhole bar) Zim, Plimouth, de la Bere  
Trellis Stitch Zim, Plimouth, de la Bere  
Spiral Trellis Zim, Plimouth  
Woven Web Stitch Zim  
Surface Darning Stitch Dig, Zim
(called “Braid Stitch” in this entry)
Bullion Stitch Zim, Hanson  
Hollie Point de la Bere

(debated for use in the 17thC)
Arrowhead Stitch Hanson ref:
Wirework Hanson  
Sequins Hanson
Goldwork Hanson  
Raised work Hanson
Laid work    
Laid and Couched Work Wardle, Treves, Hanson,

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Blogger The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure said...

This is very useful for students of Elizabethean embroidery, ER, so I am very glad you are doing it! Not only will you be able to easily see what you've done and where, folks curious about a stitch can find your source and your sample.

Well done!

Jane, cheering you on from CH
P.S. Feel better soon!

Sunday, January 11, 2009  
Blogger Kimberley said...

Yes, definitely something that is needed out there. I like how nicely you have documented everything. Thanks for your work!

Friday, January 07, 2011  

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