Bonnet stitch

Bonnet stitch

 Bonnet stitch sample 5

The Bonnet stitch is a variation of buttonhole that forms a line of stitches that have upright twisted looped prongs.

Some stitches, when you look at the directions, look distinctly uninspiring. Bonnet stitch is such a case. It looks like a double buttonhole (I call it a herringbone with its knickers in a twist). However, I urge you to try it out. I think it will surprise you. You can use this stitch on even-weave or plain fabrics. It is quick and easy to work and will follow a curve well.

 Bonnet stitch sample 3

Bonnet stitch looks best in a thread with a firm twist. So if you are one of those folks using up old stranded embroidery threads to test your stitches, I can only encourage you to buy some perle thread. You are doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t try other threads. Many of the surface stitches look like nothing in stranded threads — but work them in a thread with a firm twist, and they come alive.

The sample below shows Bonnet stitch worked in different threads. The first row is cotton Perle 8, the next rayon thread, followed by silk and the last row being a metallic thread.

 Bonnet stitch sample 2

Since Bonnet stitch is a member of the buttonhole family, it can be worked easily on a curve. Worked in a freeform manner, you can produce organic textured lines.

 Bonnet stitch sample 1

Also, you can easily work this stitch in a circle.

How to work Bonnet Stitch

instructions on how to work Bonnet stitch 1
instructions on how to work Bonnet stitch 2
instructions on how to work Bonnet stitch 3

Work bonnet stitch from right to left between two imaginary lines. If you need to mark the line use a pen that will dissolve when moist or one of the quilters pen that disappears after a few days.
Bring the needle out on the bottom line. Make a small stitch on the top line with the needle pointing left.
Pull the needle through the fabric.
Slide the needle under the straight stitch you just made. You are not taking the needle through the fabric just slide it under the stitch with the needle pointing left. Pull the needle through.
On the bottom line insert the needle where you started to stitch.  With the needle pointed left and the thread wrapped under the needle as illustrated, pull the needle through.

instructions on how to work Bonnet stitch 4

Take the needle to the top line and take a bite of the fabric as illustrated. This is the start of the next stitch.

instructions on how to work Bonnet stitch 5

Continue along the line.

Bonnet stitch can be worked in rows or at different heights. Think of all the patterns you make with Buttonhole stitch, as you can adapt many of these to Bonnet stitch too. It is a case of experimenting a little.  It is also interesting if you work Bonnet stitch at different angles or use it to couch heavy threads to the fabric.

 Bonnet stitch sample 4

You can create patterns if you work this stitch row upon row or in this case in rows back to back.

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Happy stitching!


  1. I found the information on this stitch a little difficult to follow until I tried to stitch it, then it made perfect sense. The information you have posted is much clearer than other tutorials or my encyclopaedia of stitches. I made quite a few mistakes in my practice piece but will work on it over the week. I am sure I will use this stitch at some point in the future. Thanks for introducing the stitch to me.

  2. Well I am not sure if I did this right but gave it a whirl!

    I am so hesitant to post being such a new stitcher… I have crossed stitch for years but never learned embroidery……soooo as I make this journey I would greatly appreciate tips and feed back…

    Wishing all of you a great 4th!!

  3. I’m left-handed, so these directions, initially, seem very complicated. I think I finally figured out the stitch right-handed, which has my brain in a twist, so later I will try the stitch ‘right side up’, in other words, left-handed. I’m not ready to post yet. I just had to make my frustration known.

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