How to Hand Embroider Tete de Boéuf Stitch

How to Hand Embroider Tete de Boéuf Stitch

Tete de Boéuf stitch sampleTete de Boéuf stitch is based on fly stitch. It is also known as Bulls head stitch, Head of the bull and Ox Head Stitch because the two protruding stitches can look like horns.

Tete de Boéuf stitch is often confused with wheatear stitch but they are different. Tete de Boéuf is a fly stitch that is tied off with a detached chain stitch. Wheatear on the other hand, has a loop that looks like a chain stitch but it is actually made in the other direction by passing the needle under two straight stitches (see step 3 in my tutorial for Wheatear stitch.) The other stitch Tete de Boéuf gets muddled with is Slipped Detached chain or Tulip stitch. As you can see in my tutorial for Slipped Detached chain this is another stitch again that although similar the V like stitch is created at the tie off point of the chain stitch making it a very different stitch.

Tete de Boéuf stitch is easy and quick to work. You can scatter stitches over an area to create patterns or arrange them in circles with the horns pointing outwards,inwards or alternating the two. This stitch is effective worked in perle threads, wool, ribbon and fine metallic cords and adding a bead adds zest. You can work Tete de Boeuf stitch on either evenweave or plain weave fabrics

How to work Tete de Boéuf stitch

Bring the thread up through the fabric at the top left of where you want to create the stitch. Hold the thread down with the left thumb and insert the needle to the right and level of where the thread emerged.

Tete de Boéuf stitch step 1Make a stitch on a downward angle so that the needle emerges between the two points as illustrated.

With the thread wrapped under the needle, pull it through the fabric.

Secure the ‘V’ in position with a chain stitch. To do this insert the needle as illustrated, so that the point emerges below.

Tete de Boéuf stitch step 2Wrap your thread under the needle.

With the thread wrapped under the needle point pull the needle through the fabric to make the stitch. Take your thread to the back of the fabric and secure the loop with a small straight stitch.

Tete de Boéuf stitchYou have made a Tete de Boéuf stitch! Have fun with more of them.

Crazy quilt template set 2 Have you seen my Stitchers 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 and they are compact in your sewing box.

Templates set 1 you will find here 
Templates set 2 you will find here 
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  1. As you say this is a controversial stitch and can easily be confused with similar stitches.
    I recently used it in my private stitch challenge (Sunday Stitch School) but I based the instructions on information in The Embroidery Stitch Bible and Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches. It is there a Detached Chain Stitch flanked by two straight stitches at an angle. It looks more like a flower or the upper body of a person with both arms raised than a ‘beef’ head. Even the name is controversial!
    Depending on how you place it this stitch can make interesting patterns.

      1. On the internet I found lots of your Tete-de-boeuf, but in my Swedish and Danish books as well as the two I mentioned in my earlier comment it is worked the way I did it.
        I searched the Totsuka books and found an interesting version in Stitchbook 8 (stitch no 71); the Chain stitch is upside down. Can you find it?
        Enjoy your ‘outing’.

        1. Hi Queenie – what fun hey! I Love such varieties and you can see how stitches shift and change as different people use/adapt it. Found the stitch you are talking about and then got side tracked with the one above it!


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