Herringbone Stitch is an old favourite of mine and of many other stitchers. I think it is a very versatile crossed stitch. You can work it for a border, as a fill, or along a curved line. You can use it in various forms of surface embroidery and I have seen it used traditionally on crazy quilting. It is not a difficult stitch, making it an ideal introductory stitch for beginners, yet it is versatile enough to be interesting for experienced stitchers.
It is an old traditional stitch used in many parts of the world and we know it by many other names such as Mossoul stitch, Persian stitch, Russian stitch, Russian cross stitch, Plaited stitch, Cat stitch, Catch stitch, and Witch stitch.
How to embroider Herringbone Stitch
Work Herringbone Stitch from left to right along parallel lines.
Commence by bringing the needle out on the top left-hand side of the line to be worked.
Make a small stitch on the lower line which points to the left, pull the thread through.
Insert the thread on the upper line a little to the right and make a small stitch which points to the left and pull the thread through.
Continue in the manner along the line
Ideas on how to use Herringbone Stitch
As I have said, there are many things you can do with Herringbone stitch. You can create patterns by working row upon row. I worked this sample in a hand-dyed variegated perle #5 thread on 26 count linen. I worked the herringbone stitches, then added the bugle beads afterwards. It would make an ideal filling pattern on any project that needed an area covered in decorative stitches.
Imagine this, worked on a luxury fabric such as silk and used on an evening bag or purse.
This sample is also Herringbone stitch worked row upon row but this time I have offset (or back to back) the rows. I stitched these on hand-dyed Aida cloth and the blue thread is cotton perle #5. I worked the rows and then added the beads. Once again, this pattern is a good filling stitch
This is another sample of two rows of herringbone, this time worked in wool, before I added the bugle and seed beads. It would make a great border pattern.
You can change the height of the stitch and use it to fill a shape.
Another idea is to alternate between working small and large stitches. If you do this, it will create a whole new batch of patterns and the combinations are many!
You can overlap lines of the stitch and stack them. This is fun, particularly if you change your threads.
Herringbone stitch can also be used to couch down another thread or ribbon. This sample is on a piece of crazy quilting and I have further decorated it with seed beads, stitching in the hills and valleys of the stitch.
Herringbone used in crazy quilting. Here the spacing allows for bugle and seed beads to be added.
Herringbone combines easily with other stitches. This sample is herringbone stitch tied with fly stitch.
Experimenting with different threads can be expensive, as you would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type. So I have made up my thread twisties which are a combination of different threads to use in creative hand embroidery. These enable you to try out stitching with something other than stranded cotton. For the price of just a few skeins, you can experiment with a bundle of threads with luscious colours and many different textures.
These are creative embroiders threads. With them, I hope to encourage you to experiment. Each Twistie is a thread bundle containing silk, cotton, rayon and wool. Threads range from extra fine (the same thickness as 1 strand of embroidery floss) to chunky couchable textured yarns. All threads have a soft and manageable drape so that twisting them around a needle makes experimental hand embroidery an interesting journey rather than a battle. All of these are threads I use. You may find a similar thread twist but no two are identical.
You will find my thread twisties in the Pintangle shop here.
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