Ladder stitch Tutorial

Ladder stitch that is great for borders and edges but also can be worked in a free form and chunky manner to create some great effects.

I have worked this sample in hand dyed perle 5 thread on linen. I used the thread of the linen as a guide for the stitch but you may find it useful to mark 2 parallel lines which can act as a guide. As usual make sure you use a dissolvable pen (these can be purchased in quilting shops)

How to work Ladder Stitch

Work Ladder stitch in a vertical line down your piece.

Bring your thread to the front of your fabric on the left side of the line you plan to work and make a straight  horizontal stitch across the width of line, taking your thread to back on the right.

Bring your thread to the front of the fabric just above and to the left from where it entered the fabric.

Make a small diagonal stitch, over the straight stitch. It will make a small small cross stitch, and in the process taking the needle to the back of the fabric.


Bring your needle from the back just below where you started to stitch on the left hand side.

Slide your needle under the horizontal stitch.

Pull your needle through to form your first edge.

Take your needle across to the right side and slide the needle under the crossed stitch as illustrated.

Pull the needle through to form a loop on the edge.

Take the needle to the back of the fabric just below the loop but on the line.

On the left hand side bring your needle out below the previous stitch but on the vertical line.

Slide your needle under the thread from right to left as illustrated.

Take your needle across to the right hand side, and slide the needle from right to left under the loop as illustrated.

Continue in this manner down the line.

As you can see the stitch form a broad line. This line can be wavy, and follow a gradual curve. You can also lace ribbon and interesting threads through the rungs of the ladder.

I hope you enjoy Ladder stitch!
Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results  shares detailed practical methods on how to design and make a crazy quilt. Topics such as fabric choice, tricky challenges like balancing colour, texture and pattern, and how to create movement to direct your viewers eye around the block are topics covered in detail. I also explain how to stitch and build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

using my stitchers Templates set 2Stitchers templates

My templates aim to help you take your stitching to the next level. Designed by an embroiderer for embroiderers. With them you can create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Stitchers Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 


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22 Responses to Ladder stitch Tutorial

  1. umasrinivasan says:

    I have tried Week 15 stitch and posted in my blog and Flickr.

  2. Annet says:

    I needed to step back from my CQ-block, so there was time to catch up with the ladder stitch. It’s on my blog:

  3. Sharon B says:

    Libby I fixed your link – all you need is the full address ie the http bit as well and it automatically becomes a link

  4. kay susan says:

    Just a little bit late and just a little bit of ladder stitch on the blog and the flickr group.

  5. Nancilyn says:

    I had a wonderful time with this stitch! Just finished blogging about it and will be posting on Flickr as well.

  6. brigitte68 says:

    just on time! I put the two last stitches on the flickr site

  7. anaslua2010 says:

    I put my "railway track" into the pool at Flickr. At the same time a bullion buttonhole flower – I copied the bead variation from Shirley – what do I say? I learned it from Shirley!!!

  8. Penny says:

    Late but not as late as last week. On my blog, if only I could keep a straight line! sigh.

  9. In my rush to catch up (I was weeks behind) I forgot to link the last few stitches. Remembered this one.

  10. Ruth Palsson says:

    I have had another go at ladder stitch – a slightly different variation from the one Sharon has above:

  11. Liz Ozselcuk says:

    I love this stitch, but life has intervened and is going to cause me to bag it for now. Here is a belated posting of last week’s stitch and improved images of earlier stitches,

  12. This week my sample is simple, so I have finished it yet. See my blog .

  13. Cindy B says:

    I have posted my ladder explorations on the flickr site.

  14. I have posted my sample on my blog. Even with a frame I found the tension could be a problem and it is easy to miss the correct row on evenweave. I guess that is why it is a good idea to mark the fabric [which I didn’t].

  15. viji says:

    I had given a trial of this stitch and posted in flicker group.

  16. Sandy Jandik says:

    I’ve posted the Ladder Stitch on my blog

  17. libbyquilter says:

    i’ve decided to give the TAST a try.
    i worked up last weeks stitch and this weeks stitch and posted it within my blog.
    i’m very much looking forward to seeing what others are doing with these stitches.
    thank you sharon b for offering this wonderful opportunity for learning more about an art form that i adore: embroidery/embellishment.


    p.s. hopefully i’ve linked in properly . . . not sure just how this works as it’s my first time with this set-up.

  18. Virginia says:

    Sigh – each and every stitch looks like so much fun. Someday, im going to print out all the stitches I missed, sit down and try ALL of them. Just as soon as I have a minute . . .

    Keep them coming! I’m watching, even if I’m not participating right now. 🙂

  19. Arlene White says:

    G’Day Sharon,
    I hope to start doing these shortly, now that I have caught up on a lot of stitching, and speaking of I have finally finished my final piece of your Ribbon Embroidery class I took with you last year. I have blogged it on blogger.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful challenge, you are so generous.


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