Cretan stitch

Sample of Cretan stitch 2Cretan stitch  can be used in many decorative ways. With it you can fill a shape, create a border, create a line, or if you arrange row of Cretan stitch in lines it makes a wonderful filling stitch to work within a shape. You can use it to couch down threads or to weave a thread through!

Sample of Cretan stitch 1You can also use it in freeform and adventurous manner to great effect. It really is a very versatile stitch that many people underestimate. Cretan stitch is also known as  Open Cretan, Persian stitch and long-armed feather stitch.

How to work Cretan Stitch

step by step illustrated stitch instructions for Cretan Stitch1Work from left to right between 2 imaginary lines. Bring the needle through the fabric at the start of the line. Move along slightly and insert your needle on the outside edge to make a small stitch by pointing the needle to the centre. Keeping the thread under the needle pull it through your fabric.

step by step illustrated stitch instructions for Cretan Stitch 2Move to the lower outside edge of the line and repeat the action.

step by step illustrated stitch instructions for Cretan Stitch 3Make sure that with each small stitch the thread is under the needle.

step by step illustrated stitch instructions for Cretan Stitch 4Continue working until the shape or line is filled.

Sample of Cretan stitch 6There are many ways to use Cretan stitch. Here I have added some seed beads to the arms of the stitch. I used cotton perle #8 thread to work the main band and then added detached chain stitches in silk thread at the tops of the arms before adding some seed beads.

Sample of Cretan stitch 5 Cretan stitch works very well if you stack it row upon row. In this sample I worked two narrow lines of the stitch. each stitch itself is wide but the arms are thin as each bite of the fabric I took was small. I worked both rows in cotton perle #5.

Sample of Cretan stitch 3Here is another sample also worked in cotton perle #5 but in this case the arms of the stitch are wider because with each stitch I took a larger bite of the fabric.

Sample of Cretan stitch 4You can also work two rows on top of each other . This can very effective particularly if you add beads etc to the arms.

Sample of Cretan stitch on crazy quilting 11In this sample on crazy quilting I added bugle beads to the space between the arms.

Sample of Cretan stitch on crazy quilting 10Here another example on crazy quilting worked in rayon ribbon floss. Bugle beads are are added alongside the V like shape of the stitch and the arms are topped with 5 detached chain stitches that have a bugle bead in the middle too.

Sample of Cretan stitch 7Another way to use Cretan stitch is to work on side of the arms narrower than the other or change the width of the arms to create patterns. This sample is two rows of Cretan stitch worked in cotton perle #5 thread with novelty beads stitched in the middle of the two rows.

Sample of Cretan stitch 8This sample is a similar idea as it is worked in two lines.  I varied the arm of the Cretan stitches so that one side they formed hills and valleys. I then added back stitch on each side to contain the Cretan stitches. Next I worked slipped detached chain stitches in line. The thread is a hand dyed wool.

Sample of Cretan stitch 9This last sample is an experiment with novelty yarns and organic type lines. From left to right the first thread is a feathery knitting yarn which would work for underwater seascapes and the like. The second is a crochet cotton that is hand dyed and is about the same thickness as cotton perle #5 and the last is boucle yarn.

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 about how to design and make a crazy quilt. From fabric choice, to balancing colour, texture and pattern, in order to balance and direct the eye around the block.  I cover how to stitch, build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim was to be practical and inspiring.

My Crazy quilters templates

My templates for crazy quilters aim to help you take your stitching to the next level.With my templates you are able to create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish your seams  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.

using my Crazy Quilt Templates set 2These 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 Crazy Quilt Templates

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

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147 Responses to Cretan stitch

  1. Pingback: TAST 2012 #4: Cretan Stitch - Studio Paars: embroidery cretan stitch

  2. Pingback: ,,,TAST 2012 #4: Cretan Stitch (Kretasteek) - Studio Paars: borduren kretasteek

  3. Pingback: Puntada cretense: instrucciones para bordar a mano | Gineceo

  4. My challenge is stitching on paper.
    I am posting once a month. The first 7 stitches are at this post.
    Sandy, UK

  5. Sharon says:

    Hi Sharon,
    Very late!!! I thought you may like to see my Crazy Quilt Journal Block for January. I have used the first four stitches from TAST January. I also combined them with other stitches to complete the block… While I am a bit slow TAST has given me lots of fun in not only viewing but also doing. My mind has been busy thinking of all the ways I can utilize my growing repartee of stitches… It is amazing what one can do with a needle and thread…

    Thanks heaps

    Sharon – Melbourne

  6. Marie says:

    M second attempt at cretan stitch – I'm pleased with this one! Here's my brittle starfish:

  7. Deborah-Anne says:

    My interpretation of Cretan Stitch

    I did not enjoy this stitch particularly

  8. Julia says:

    Still a little slow, but keeping up! I made a card for my mom with the Cretan Stitch sample. Take a look at

    Lovin' this!

  9. veronique says:

    j'ai aimé faire ce point :

  10. Liana D says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I had a bad cold & had to do extra hours at work, so I got very behind with my stitching… But here is what I did for weeks 3 & 4 of TAST, & also a picture of my sampler so far:

    It's been fun! thanks again, L.

  11. Yuma Tatter says:

    I love this stitch! I've now completed all 4 weeks of January on my sampler and CQJP Block. See the details here:

  12. Ulla-Britt says:

    I have not had so much time for stitching this week, but I have tried a few Cretan stitch.

  13. Romona says:

    Hi Sharon, Just squeaked in under the wire to get week 4 stitching done in time. I had a little question mark over my head. Being left handed I sometimes have to study the stitch for a minute or two to get the right angle to make the stitch because I'm going in the opposite direction from a right handed stitcher, but it eventually comes together. So it's on my blog now. Thanks, Romona

  14. I was away from my hometown during this week.
    So i am not able to try this stitch immediatly. Sure i will do some design with this stitch.
    I uploaded my trial during april26, 2010 at my blog
    Eaqurly waiting for next stitch.

  15. Preethi says:

    Here is my attempt in learning week 4 cretan stitch.


  16. Gayle Schipper says:

    Done! Just under the wire before Week 5 is posted.

  17. Jamie @ Beach House Quilts says:

    This was my favorite stitch, so far! I loved it! Everyone has done such fabulous work!

  18. Shami Immanuel says:

    Sharon, here comes my trial of TAST 2012, week 4 cretan stitch

  19. Susan says:

    I finished. I had a difficult time understanding and then remembering how to do this one, but I think I finally got it!

  20. Here's my effort for the week. I need to work on this some more. I used perl cotton thread on my own hand dyed cotton fabric.

  21. Kathryn Kempke says:

    Finally, I am posting for weeks 1-4, on Stitching Fingers

  22. Dianne says:

    My Cretan stitch sample was inspired by Australian Aboriginal art. I love the various shapes and forms they use in their art. It may be seen here on Stitchin Fingers :

  23. Please visit the Tuesday Sttichers. We are a friendly group of stitchers giving each other support as we work through the TAST challenge.
    Our cretan stitches are here:

    See you soon!
    ~Debra S

  24. Ann says:

    Finished experimenting with the Cretan stitch today. Included it in my weekly journal which has a personal entry about what's happening and how I'm doing; a list of things for which I'm grateful; and some images of Greek architecture (since the Cretan stitch originated in Crete).

    Here's the link to my post:

    Thanks for hosting this weekly challenge. I've learned three new stitches so far thanks to you – Sharon – and TAST.

  25. Kim Stapleton says:

    Week 4 cretan stitch can be seen here

    I had trouble being creative with this.

  26. Iris Lins says:

    I explored all the possibilities of the cretan stitch. Very interesting stitch.
    The photo is in my Flickr

  27. chitra gangadharan says:

    with this week's stitch also I learnt a lot and enjoyed the process. my experiments with cretan stitch are here-
    thanking you,

  28. I keep forgetting to add a comment, so the link will show you what I have done in January. I'm really enjoying doing the stitching and seeing what other people have done.

  29. Diane says:

    This week I posted a picture of the week's stitch from a project I created a couple of years ago, but removed. The center has a small antique gold charm of a nude woman, so don't go to my blog if something like that would offend you. The link to my post is

  30. Mandy Jewell says:

    I've finally caught up with the first four TAST stitches, taken a photo and put it on my blog! I hope you will be able to link to it from here.

  31. This was a really interesting week. I've done the stitch before in 2 different ways yet I found it hard to push the stitch and really make it work for me. I think I was trying to be too exact with my stitching but I came up with a few nice samples in the end. I just retreated a little into sampler territory and did individual blocks in a rough grid. Back to free-flowing next week I hope!

  32. Silky says:

    I knew how to work the cretan stitch, but hardly ever used it before, so it was quite a new experience. I think, I'll have to explore it a bit further some day.

  33. Penny says:

    Hi Sharon, I think what I have done is Cretan Stitch, on my very strange experimental stitch doll, go see on my blog

  34. The discipline of "really" working this stitch is great. Just like learning a new word.
    I blogged about it at and
    put up an image of my work at the Flikr site.

  35. Valerie L says:

    I finally finished my Cretan stitch sampler. I basically did a freehand picture. Not really of anything but I just used the stitch in different ways and with different threads. You can see it here at:


    Valerie L

  36. libbyQ says:

    this is a stitch that i have previously found intimidating. i enjoyed practicing with it and was able to gain enough confidence with it to feel good about incorporating it into the christmas stocking that i am working on.


  37. TeriK says:

    I finally finished my experiment with the cretin stitch.

    It was quite interesting. Difficult for my dyslexic brain to put together at first, but I really like the braided effect you get when you do the stitches very close together!

  38. Marg B says:

    Me again! And so soon!

    A little bit of cretan has been completed but is it really cretan or not when it becomes an insertion stitch? Or is it just semantics?

  39. Luiz Vaz says:

    I put together the first four stitches. Now, they are good friends!

  40. Marg B says:

    Hi, I am still TASTing but have been fascinated by week 2 and Buttonhole stitch – a couple of buttonhole insertions are over on my blog . I will try to do some Cretan today. A week is not enough at my snail's pace . I really enjoy the work other people are managing to produce. Now what do you have in store for us on Tuesday this week, Sharon? Thanks again for such inspiration.

  41. Hello Again! Hope you'll pop over to see my Cretan stitches. LOVE this stitch! Hope everyone is enjoying the TAST Challenge as much as I am…

  42. maneki says:

    My first time doing cretan stitches as far as I can recall. I liked it! I like all stitches in this "family" with looped stitches (cretan, feather, blanket/buttonhole, fly, lazy daisy etc).

    My attempts, included a few beaded versions, can be found here:

  43. Kirsty says:

    Here's my Cretan stitch sample. I really enjoyed playing with this one!

  44. Constanze says:

    This week's effort can be found here: I'm not in love with the stitch, but I did get it done.

  45. Hi Sharon, I must apologise for my stupidity ! I have just realised that my week 4 entry for Cretan stitch, is actually Herringbone stitch…..I dont know why I confused the two ?
    What do I do now……..When the Herringbone stitch is given, should I do cretan ?
    Totally confused, so sorry, but at least I have realised my mistake… shins are bruised from kicking myself !!!
    chris richards

  46. marjolein says:

    I used cretan stitch to embroider e few leaves. I really like how the veins turned out.
    You can see the results here:

  47. Rose says:

    Finally blogged about the feather stitch and the Cretan stitch.

    I too am enjoying all of the wonderful work this challenge is producing. Will be checking out blogs soon.

  48. Karrin Hurd says:

    Another of my favorite stitches, my examples were on my January Crazy Quilt Journal Project block. My examples of the Cretan Stitch are here:

  49. viltalakim says:

    I found it quite diffycult, but I think I worked it out in a good way, not sure, work in progress so far. sneak previeuw

  50. Gail says:

    I finally got my reserved 4 hours to stitch on Tuesdays done today, Friday! So much for schedules. I can't wait to go check out what you all have been doing this week!
    Happy stitching! Gail

  51. Ingrid says:

    My first comment that I posted here three days ago, hasn't been published. Probably didn't go through the first time, so I'll try again.
    Here is my Cretan st. I found it easy to manipulate and in general loved its performance.

  52. shirley says:

    I always enjoy this stitch, and have finished the cretan stitch sample. Not too much variety, but lots of colour.

    My samples are on my blog and also on SF and Flicker

  53. Julie Castle says:

    My cretan sample (Laisez les bontemps roulez) is here:

  54. Ty.Jecyka says:

    Here is my Cretan Stitch…it was more difficult for me than the other weeks…but I learned and thank you for that Sharon!

  55. Link to my post of the last 2 stitches on my primitive sampler. I am enjoying working on the stitches.

  56. Brigitte Otto says:

    I'll go on trying to get used to cretan stitch as it was new to me. My results so far are here:
    But I had a lot of fun with this week's stitch.

  57. hopscotch says:

    Having a devil of a time with posting comments! Hope this works?
    Adventures with Cretan stitch – not sure it's my favourite.

  58. Marie-Claude says:

    Hi! I hope you had a good week,my cretan stitch is online .Note I tranfer the tast from my first blog "Cocody art patch" to
    my second blog .

  59. Carol Harper says:

    Here's my attempt — this stitch was new to me and it took me a while to get it "right"…

  60. hopscotch says:

    just posted week 4s efforts here and on flickr

  61. Jules says:

    Hi everyone! Here is my attempt at Cretan Stitch – and if anyone has time to read the rest of this post and comment I'd be so grateful!

  62. Maggi says:

    A late finish this week for me but it is now on my blog at as is the book I have made in which to keep my samples. Love this stitch Sharon.

  63. Hi , this is my' FISHY' example of cretan stitch for week 4 of the challenge !
    I am finding that each week my freeform with one stitch (give or take the odd french knot ) is sailing along and I am so enjoying this experience…..Thank you Sharon xxx


  64. Debbie says:

    I'm proud of myself for keeping up with the program so far! 🙂 Here's what I made for the Week 4 Cretan stitch. I included a crop from a project I made years ago.

  65. Mary Ruth in NC says:

    I did not get a lot done on my gingerbread house this week. I am still trying to decide how to put feather and Cretan into my house. Check out what I have done and leave me some comments.

  66. Bernice says:

    The Cretan Stitch was a challenge for me to do. I find I prefer the Buttonhole Stitch. Even so I have enjoyed the January TAST. have enjoyed t

  67. Petra Weiler says:

    Hello everybody,
    I liked so much experimenting on the Kretan stitch – was not aware that it would be so funny. Here you will find the results:
    Have a good night

  68. Savitha says:

    Hi Sharon,
    I have posted my completed picture of the motif. I have used Cretan stitch as a filling stitch. Thank you.

  69. Cretan stitch was difficult for me, I never used it before. I completed my exercise in the evening and have posted it on my blog
    Please, be indulgent with me ;o)


    I'm trying to get my comment up for my progress Hope to be successful

  71. Liz Adams says:

    Here's my take on Cretan stitch. I found it puzzling to differentiate it from feather or running fly, but it was fun working on it anyway. I included it as usual, in one of the bigger pieces I'm involved in.

    See it here:

  72. Arlene says:

    Cretan stitch is probably my very favorite stitch. I've been trying hard to combine stitches, so was pleased with my attempt there, combining cretan, detached chain, and fly stitch, then adding some beads.

  73. luiz vaz says:

    Hi Sharon! this is my final post for the week.
    Thanks for all.

    PS Sharon, Its possible to change the photo I posted today in stitchinfingers without losing the comments?
    This link in the flickr (above) is more correct.
    If possible, tell me how.

  74. ani says:

    I had tried posting here yesterday but I don't see anything here so I will do this again, hopefully with more success. I am new to TAST but have been stitching most of life thanks to the wonderful examples and teaching of my mom. I have posted on the flicker group page some images of the stitching i have done for the last four stitch "assignments" and now am trying to also had my name into the comments. my blog has some updates too if you would like to take a look. thank you.

  75. Queeniepatch says:

    Two weeks in one. Here are the Feather and Cretan stitches.
    In spite of having had very little time, they were fun to work with.

  76. luiz vaz says:

    Hi All,
    my experiences with this lovely stitch!

    Sorry, but the image is high-contrast and saturated. My monitor was not calibrated…

  77. Kathy R says:

    I'm still working on my stitches. So far I must say I am inspired by everyone, Kathy

  78. Christine says:

    An other nice stitch! a little bit difficult….. You can see pictures here

  79. Cy says:

    Cretan stitch now completed and on my blog

    Thoroughly enjoyed this stitch, even when the knotted cretan wouldn't stay knotted, lol. I shall be very impressed with anyone who does the knotted cretan without any problems. If there is a 'knack' to it I certainly don't have it, lol.

    I 'played' with the raised cretan stitch a bit too.

  80. isabelle says:

    Here are my first embrodery with Cretan point, and the first stitchs of my daughter Pauline:

  81. Nathalie L says:

    My Cretan Stitch, really difficult for me this week, It's not easy stitch … thank you.

  82. Jenny Ross says:

    I have posted my Cretan stitch samples on my blog at

    and in the TAST Facebook group.

  83. ani says:

    Hello…I have been posting my stitches over at the flicker group page but thought I should also show what I have been doing via the comments here. I will be showing my work on my "wordless wednesday" post on my blog: (81/2×11: thread readings) and over at the flicker page. I've done all four so far but they are part of my other stitching projects. Thank you.

  84. konnykards says:

    I struggled with my blog but have now managed to upload, so the link is; Connie.

  85. konnykards says:

    Not a favourite with me but I enjoyed creating a 'tangle' this week.
    For some unknown reason I can't upload a photo on my blog just now so link is to Flickr:

  86. Luiz Vaz says:

    My first attempt at Cretan stitch. I liked it! Thanks all!

  87. Annet says:

    Today I wrote about a new Cretan border and some older experiments:

  88. Jackie K says:

    My latest stitch play is up on my blog – Feather stitch and Cretan stitch…

    Also posted to the Flickr group…you can link to them through here…

    Now…off to see what others have made!!

    –Jackie K

  89. Kay Warner says:

    Hi Sharon,

    cretan stitch done and sample on my blog!

  90. this is the first time i am working with cretan stitch and i am very pleased with my work though i really wish i could have nicer patterns to work with. waiting eagerly for next tuesday, and i really hope i become more creative as the weeks go by! this was done by tuesday night so am obviously well on the way to becoming addicted to this. thanks!

  91. this is the first time i am working with cretan stitch and i am very pleased with my work though i really wish i could have nicer patterns to work with. waiting eagerly for next tuesday, and i really hope i become more creative as the weeks go by! this was done by tuesday night so am obviously well on the way to becoming addicted to this. thanks!

  92. Erin Vaden says:

    Here's my little Week 4 work:

    Visit my facebook page, too, if you feel so inclined! 🙂

  93. Diane says:

    sorry my link up above doesn't work… try this one, please.

    Diane – yarngoddess

  94. My sample is on another journal page. One of my old favourite stitches.

  95. Savitha says:

    I liked to stitch Cretan Stitch, And I have posted somepictures in my Blog.
    Thank you for visiting my blog

  96. I have posted the Blanket and feather stitch on my blog
    Linda in NM

  97. I have posted the blanket and feather stitch on my blog.

  98. chitra gangadharan says:

    Hi Sharon,
    this challenge is so interesting, so many people , ideas,thank you for doing this .
    My earlier exploration of this stitch on my blog-
    my flickr page-

  99. Angela says:

    I really enjoyed learning this stitch. I will definitely use it again. I used it on my crazy quilt journal project (finally have an idea for that). You can see it here
    Thanks for looking!

  100. Niina says:

    I decided to join TAST last week after I read about it on Smallest Forest. I've done the first one now (because the OCD side of me commanded to start from beginning) and the result can be found here:

    P.S. I'd like to be on the Participant list too!
    P.P.S. Thank you for organizing this!

  101. Christina says: I didn't really think this would be a stitch to experiment with, but it surprised me. I'll defenitely use it for chestnut leaves someday, or for fuchsia petals. I also saw ways to use it in paisley patterns, and I like those. Or maybe even in an upcoming week in this challenge, as I've used buttonhole pinwheels to finish of this experiment.

    PS: I would like some comment if any of you visiting need translations. I think babelfish or google translate work well enough, but a translation into English would not be very hard for me to provide.

  102. ?????, ??? ????? ?????????? ???? ??????! ???? ??? ?????? ???, ??? ???????????? 🙂
    ??? ??? ??????????

  103. Audrey says:

    I started early this week!
    Thanks for organising this, I am really enjoying learning these stitches and experimenting with them 🙂

  104. In 2008 I made this one for TAST . but of course I will make something new this week.

  105. Diane says:

    I'm going to have to work on cretan some more, I think…

    I agree with Julie on the comments on blogs – there were about half of the 80 posters on the last stitch that I couldn't comment on. I tried over and over. I'm using Firefox and I usually don't have so much trouble. Sometimes the word ID box would flash on for a moment and then disappear. So like Julie says, if you aren't getting comments, test out your comment settings.

  106. Debra says:

    It took me a few weeks to get my act together but here are the first three weeks of my TAST.

  107. Bernice says:

    I didn't care for the feather stitch but I did like the way it made a heart when I did a second row.

  108. Annet says:

    I already thought this would be the next stitch! I didn't experiment much with it, so it should be fun to do that this week. My old TAST 2007 sampler is here:

  109. Julie Castle says:

    I have tried to leave positive comments on a number of posts for blogs on blogspot and the moderation enabling character identification thing has not worked so that I might leave comments on every single one of them. If you're not getting comments it might be because those outside the blogspot system aren't being allowed. Or something.

    I have enjoyed looking at everyone's work so much. Truly inspiring. There are so many real artists among those participating. Espcially those also doing the Crazy quilt journal project challenge at the same time. Amazing!

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