Cretan 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 rows 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!
You can also use it in a freeform and adventurous manner to great effect. It really is a very versatile stitch that many people underestimate. Cretan stitch has other names, such as: Open Cretan, Persian stitch or long-armed feather stitch.
How to work Cretan Stitch
Work 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.
Move to the lower outside edge of the line and repeat the action.
Make sure that with each small stitch the thread is under the needle.
Continue working until the shape or line is filled.
Ways to use Cretan Stitch
There 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.
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.
Here 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.
You can also work two rows on top of each other . This can very effective particularly if you add beads etc to the arms.
In this sample on crazy quilting I added bugle beads to the space between the arms.
Here 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.
Another 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 comprises two rows of Cretan stitch worked in cotton perle #5 thread. I then added novelty beads stitched into the middle of the two rows.
This 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.
This 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. For the second one, I used hand-dyed crochet cotton, about the same thickness as cotton perle #5, and the last is boucle yarn.
Have you seen my book?
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. I profusely illustrated my book in order to make it both practical and inspiring.
My Crazy quilters templates
Have you seen my Stitcher’s Templates?
As someone who loves crazy quilting and embroidery, I designed these templates with other stitchers in mind. With my templates, you can create hundreds of different patterns to apply to your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily. They are compact in your sewing box. And we laser cut them ourselves in our own studio workshop to ensure the highest quality.
For more information, see what they look like, find out about the free ebook of patterns visit the information pages in the shop where you can also purchase them.