Breton Stitch

Breton Stitch

Breton stitch is based on closed herringbone stitch, making it a member of the herringbone family. If you know how to work herringbone you will discover the working rhythm of the stitch much easier to establish.

Breton stitch is also known as widow’s stitch.

Breton stitch sample

This stitch is easy and quick to work. It makes a good border, or if you work it row upon row, it makes an interesting filling stitch. Changing the spacing of the stitch can completely change the look and feel.

Breton stitch spaced widely sample

Although this stitch is demonstrated between two parallel lines, you can work the stitch between curved lines, creating shapes. Breton stitch holds a wide curve easily and can be worked in rings radiating out of a circle. You can also change the heights of Breton stitch and it can also be laced or you can intersperse beads between the spaces.

How to work Breton Stitch

Work the stitches between two parallel lines from left to right.

Breton stitch step 1

Bring your thread out on the bottom line.

Breton stitch step 2

Move your needle diagonally to the top line and make a small stitch as you would herringbone.

Pass your needle under the crossbar of the stitch, from bottom to top, as illustrated. At this stage in the process, you are wrapping the bar with the thread, not going through the fabric.

Breton stitch step 3

Pull the needle through to wrap the bar.

Breton stitch step 4

Insert your needle on the bottom line, with the needle pointing to the left.  Take a small stitch as illustrated. Pull the needle through.

Repeat this along the line.

Breton stitch step 5

Here I have used it in crazy quilting. Two rows in cotton perle #5 is worked back to back along the seam before adding beads.

Light diamond detail 2

I hope you enjoy this stitch!

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Thread Twisties!

Experimenting with different threads can be expensive. You would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type of thread. My thread twisties 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 of 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. Twisting them around a needle makes experimental hand embroidery an interesting journey rather than a battle.  Many are hand dyed by me. All 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.


  1. I played with the stitch using #5 perle and decided to see what would happen if I tried to turn a sharp corner with it — and so I experimented with some #3 perle in my monochrome study: http://210920746822434353.weebly.com/1/post/2013/03/take-a-stitch-tuesday-stitch-59-and-sumptuous-surface-embroidery-part-1.html

    I LIKE this stitch! But I can see now thatI didn’t overlap the bottom portion of the stitch so it came out looking like a picket fence instead of a herringbone variation. Back to the “drawing board” —

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