- Blanket edge
- Open buttonhole stitch
Blanket stitch consists of a row of loops each anchored by the following stitch to form an L-shape. It is stitched in a similar way to buttonhole stitch, the only difference is the spacing.
The earliest evidence we have of blanket stitch is from excavations of 4th century AD artefacts in Kellis, Egypt where a child’s tunic has been found with multi-coloured blocks of blanket stitch around the edge of the hood.
Blanket stitch has continued to be used in various embroidery traditions: within Guimarães embroidery from Portugal (the technique dates from the 10th century, although the use of the stitch may not go back that far); as one of the central stitches in Old Rabat embroidery from 17th century Morocco; in Jebel Haraz, Yemen where buttonhole is amongst a variety of stitches used to embellish indigo-dyed garments; an by embroiderers from the Siwa Oasis, Egypt.
Come up on the outside edge of the shape and take the needle down on the inside of the shape, a little further in the direction of travel.
Assuming you are working left to right, hold the surface thread in a loop to the right, then bring the needle up directly below, on the outside edge, ensuring the needle is inside the loop.
Hold the needle in the fabric securely with your surface hand while you pull the thread from the underside to tighten the slack against the loop.
For the next stitch, take the needle down through the fabric on the inside edge of the shape, leaving a gap to the right of the first stitch. Again, leave a loop to the right and bring the needle up on the outside edge within the loop.
Tighten the slack while holding the needle in the fabric, then pull the needle through and bring the thread to the surface. Repeat these stitches until the shape is filled.
Structure of stitch
Letitia Higgin, RSN Handbook of Embroidery (1880) , p.23–4
S. F. A. Caulfield, Blanche C. Saward, The Dictionary of Needlework (1882) , p.178
Anchor Embroidery, 100 Embroidery Stitches
Jennifer Campbell, Ann-Marie Bakewell, Guide to Embroidery Stitches (2004)
Sarah Whittle, The Needlecraft Stitch Directory (2012)
Mary Thomas, Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches (1934) , p.10–11
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, René Lugtigheid, 'Kellis Embroideries (Egypt)', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/middle-east-and-north-africa/ancient-middle-east-and-north-africa/kellis-embroideries-egypt (Accessed: 26 August 2021)
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Guimarães Embroidery', (2016). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/europe-and-north-america/embroideries/guimar-es-embroidery (Accessed: 12 August 2021)
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Rabat embroidery (Morocco)', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/middle-east-and-north-africa/pre-modern-middle-east-and-north-africa/rabat-embroidery-morocco (Accessed: 20 August 2012)
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Jebel Haraz embroidery', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/middle-east-and-north-africa/pre-modern-middle-east-and-north-africa/jebel-haraz-embroidered-dresses-yemen (Accessed: 20 August 2012)
Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, 'Siwa Oasis embroidery', TRC Leiden (2017). Available at: https://www.trc-leiden.nl/trc-needles/regional-traditions/middle-east-and-north-africa/pre-modern-middle-east-and-north-africa/siwa-oasis-embroidery-egypt (Accessed: 20 August 2012)