How to hand Embroider Braid Stitch

How to hand Embroider Braid Stitch

Braid Stitch is a linear stitch that is part of the chain stitch family. It is also known as Cable Plait stitch and Gordian knot stitch. Braid Stitch creates a textured braided solid line which is slightly raised and holds curves well. Braid stitch can be used anywhere that you need a solid line or a fine border.

This stitch can be worked on plain or even-weave fabrics in a thread with a firm twist such as cotton perle #8 or #5. Stranded floss is too flat to work this stitch well. When working on an even-weave fabric, one or two of the fabric threads can be drawn out behind the stitches to produce a lacy look.

It is important to note that this stitch depends on firm braiding to be successful.  Braid Stitch needs to be worked in a narrow band and with each stitch close together otherwise it will not stay in place. If it pops up or looks loose you need to either work each stitch closer together or work the line narrower. If you don’t want to work it narrower increase the thickness of your thread.  Braid Stitch is tricky even for intermediate to advanced stitchers as the tension is important, so it must be worked using a hoop.

How to work Braid Stitch

The stitches should be kept close together, small less than 5mm (1/4 in) high, otherwise the loops slip and become loose, and pull out of shape as the braided effect is lost.

Braid Stitch tutorial step 1Bring the needle up through the fabric at the base of the line. Make a loop with your needle as illustrated. Note that the thread is passing underneath and is to the left of where the thread came up from the fabric.The top thread is wrapped to the right. I make a little loop with my fingers, lay it on the fabric then poke my needle into it. Once I am in the rhythm I wrap the thread around the needle but to start I make a loop. Clumsy I know but it works! I  then insert the needle on the top line.
Braid Stitch tutorial step  2Bring the needle out on the bottom line directly below where it is inserted. Do not have the needle on the diagonal.
Wrap the thread under the needle.
Braid Stitch tutorial step 3Pull the needle through the fabric in a downwards motion to create the first stitch
Braid Stitch tutorial step 4Continue repeating these steps making sure you keep your stitches close together. In the photograph above I have opened out the stitch a little so that you can see what is happening but normally you would work the stitch closer to the last.

Braid Stitch tutorial step 5Keep each close together otherwise the loops slip and become loose

I hope you enjoy Braid stitch!

Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results  shares detailed practical methods on how to design and make a crazy quilt. I cover such topics as fabric choice, tricky challenges like balancing colour, texture and pattern, and how to direct your viewers eye around the block. I cover how to stitch and build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

Stitchers templates

My templates aim to help you take your stitching to the next level. Designed by an embroiderer for embroiderers. With them you can create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish your seams  with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

using my stitchers Templates set 2These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Stitchers Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 


  1. I had been struggling with this stitch for a long time, getting more and more confused by the illustrations in stitch dictionaries. Then I found Mary Corbet’s video where she is stitching from up to down. That video also taught me to form the first loop with the needle and not shaping it with my fingers on the fabric. Once I got the hang of it it was so easy and fun.
    When I see and read your directions I can easily understand how the braid if formed.
    It is SO important to check out a number of ways to make a stitch.
    Thank you for always supplying us with great illustrations, explanations and information for each stitch.
    Your stitch dictionary is a gold mine!

  2. Hi Sharon Just received your new book today. It really is lovely. I was really excited to get it after Mary Corbet’s review. Congratulations. I am looking forward to trying some of your ideas on my next Crazy Quilt.


    Betty Macpherson-Veitch

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